Originally created 02/07/99

Elway, White may be playing last game



HONOLULU -- The Pro Bowl could be the last NFL game for John Elway and Reggie White.

Or maybe not.

Elway, 38, had intended to retire after this season, but the prospect of an unprecedented third consecutive NFL championship might prove irresistible.

The MVP of Denver's 34-19 Super Bowl win over Atlanta a week ago, Elway said he'll make a final decision within a couple of months.

White, who at 37 led the NFL with 16 sacks and was selected the league's defensive player of the year, said earlier this week that he planned to retire, but he seemed to leave a slight chance that he'll return.

Ray Rhodes' hiring as Green Bay's coach gave White some second thoughts about ending his career, since he's close friends with Rhodes. White retired last April, then changed his mind.

Elway is the second-oldest player on either Pro Bowl team, younger only than 39-year-old Gary Anderson, the Minnesota kicker.

Symbolic of the NFL's 1998 season, when older quarterbacks stood out, Atlanta's Chris Chandler is the baby at the position at today's all-star game -- and he's 33.

Elway, expected to play sparingly, is joined on the AFC squad by a couple of comeback "kids," Buffalo's Doug Flutie, 36, and the New York Jets' Vinny Testaverde, 36.

"We're the old men in a young man's game," said Flutie, who returned to the NFL after playing in Canada for eight years. "I guess you could call us survivors. I know I am. At the beginning of the year, if you said Flutie, Chandler and (Randall) Cunningham would be in the Pro Bowl, people would have thought you were crazy."

Their counterparts along with Chandler on the NFC are San Francisco's Steve Young, 37, and Minnesota's Cunningham, 36.

"We're just getting started," said Young, voted the NFC starter. "Look at Chris and Randall, they're just coming of age."

Cunningham, who retired in 1996 but signed with the Vikings the following year, had no explanation for his late success.

"I can't say why all the quarterbacks are along mature lines," he said. "We're just the seasoned vets of the group."

Elway, voted to start for the AFC, plans to play only one or two series, saying, "Anyway, Flutie's a lot younger than I am."

The AFC has a Broncos' air about it, with nine Denver players in uniform. Running back Terrell Davis, however, pulled out of the game because of a sore shoulder.

The Jets' Curtis Martin will fill in for Davis; the other AFC running backs are Indianapolis' Marshall Faulk and Tennessee's Eddie George. AFC wide receivers include Denver's Ed McCaffrey, the Jets' Keyshawn Johnson and Jacksonville's Jimmy Smith.

Among the Broncos on defensive are linebacker Bill Romanowski and free safety Steve Atwater. Jason Elam is the kicker.

The NFC running backs are Jamal Anderson of the Falcons, Emmitt Smith of Dallas, and Robert Smith of Minnesota. Robert Smith is a replacement for Detroit's Barry Sanders, who has injured ribs.

The NFC receivers include sensational rookie Randy Moss of Minnesota and Jerry Rice of San Francisco.

Dennis Green of the Vikings coaches the NFC, the AFC is coached by Jets assistant Bill Belichick.

Jets head coach Bill Parcells decided not to participate on the advice of his doctors. Noting his past heart problems and the toll of the season, they advised him to skip the Pro Bowl.