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Chiefs Name Gannon Starting QB


Marty Schottenheimer seems to be doing his best to keep Kansas City's protracted quarterback controversy as hot as possible.

Rich Gannon will start ahead of Elvis Grbac on Monday night against Denver, Schottenheimer said Tuesday. But then he suggested Grbac may return the following week against San Diego.

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"Elvis Grbac is the quarterback of the future for the Kansas City Chiefs. I have no doubt about that. None whatsoever," Schottenheimer said. "Rich Gannon is the quarterback for the Denver Broncos game."

In the past, Schottenheimer has always tried to stick with one quarterback.

"We're going to look at it week to week," he said. "Right now, my feeling is that we have to create -- if you will -- an energy that is the product of the style of play of Rich Gannon, his ability to move around, run around with the ball, run the bootlegs, things of that nature. That in my view is what is best for our football team now."

Starting Gannon, 32, is certain to please fans and media clamoring for Schottenheimer to bench the turnover-prone Grbac, who is 0-4 since coming back from a shoulder injury. Grbac, 28, was removed late in the first half of last week's 24-12 loss to Seattle after his second interception was returned for a touchdown.

Grbac signed a five-year, $20 million free-agent contract in 1997, but has been inconsistent. He's thrown seven interceptions and lost one fumble in the last three games as the Chiefs faded to 4-5.

A poll by the Kansas City Star last week found more than 70 percent of repondents preferred Gannon. Plus, Grbac has been booed mercilessly by the Arrowhead Stadium crowd his past two home games. With a nationwide television audience looking on Monday night, that may have been a factor in Schottenheimer's decision.

"I'd rather not get into what drove the decision," Schottenheimer said. "There were a number of considerations. There were ultimately two things that drove it, but I don't want to get into what they were."

It's the second year in a row the Chiefs have been plagued by a Gannon-Grbac controversy. Gannon was 5-1 leading up to the end of the regular season last year while Grbac recovered from a broken clavicle. Then, to the dismay of many fans, Schottenheimer opted for Grbac to start their first playoff game, which the Chiefs lost 14-10 to Denver.

This year, Grbac injured his shoulder in the season opener against Oakland, and Gannon was 3-1 in his place. But the Chiefs have not won since Grbac came back.

Schottenheimer said he had no regrets about reinstating Grbac this year.

"I went in with the idea that we would begin to pick up the ability to throw the ball effectively," he said. "I thought it would come back and we could get back to where we were at the outset of the season. I was obviously wrong. We haven't been able to do that."

Would it be safe to assume, Schottenheimer was asked, if Gannon would remain the starter if the Chiefs begin winning?

"I would think if that happens, yeah. Because the purpose in making the decision is to win games," he said.

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