Originally created 04/17/99

NFL notebook: Elway's future still unknown



On the weekend of the NFL draft, the Denver Broncos still don't know the intentions of their 38-year-old, Hall of Fame-bound quarterback who has won back-to-back Super Bowls.

Apparently, neither does he.

Still, some of his teammates are preparing for the unthinkable: life without John Elway.

Of four players interviewed during off-season workouts, two said they believe Elway will retire this year. Another said he was surprised Elway came back for the 1998 season.

Only one, running back Terrell Davis, said he thought Elway would return for a 17th season this fall to try for an unprecedented third straight Super Bowl victory.

"My gut feeling is he's done it all and I think he'll retire," defensive tackle Trevor Pryce said. "For my own selfish reasons, I don't want him to. But he can't live for everybody else."

COWBOYS: For the fourth time in five years, the Dallas Cowboys must prepare to play without Pro Bowl defensive tackle Leon Lett -- and this time, it could be for good.

Lett is facing a punishment of at least a year after failing an NFL drug test for the third time, a league source who requested anonymity told The Associated Press. The violation also could carry a lifetime ban.

Lett has been enrolled in the NFL's substance-abuse program since 1995. He was suspended four games that season, then was suspended for the last three games of 1996 and the first 13 of 1997.

Lett, who seldom speaks to the media, has not commented. The team said it could not comment, citing league confidentiality rules.

PATRIOTS: Business leaders who want to keep the New England Patriots in Massachusetts met with state officials to talk about retaining the team.

Paul Kirk, a former chairman of the Democratic National Committee, led a delegation that included NFL officials.

Kirk said he felt "optimistic" after meetings with Gov. Paul Cellucci, House Speaker Thomas Finneran and Senate President Thomas Birmingham.

The Patriots have a $374 million stadium deal in Hartford.

BEARS: Bobby Engram, who led Chicago with a career-high 64 catches for 987 yards and five touchdowns, right guard Chris Villarrial and running back James Allen, signed one-year contracts. Engram and Villarrial, who started all 16 games last season, were both restricted free agents and signed deals worth $934,000.