The biggest story in the NFL playoffs is Peyton Manning and the Indianapolis Colts, which, of course, has me thinking about the show “Bosom Buddies.”

I can't watch Manning without wondering what happened to Ryan Leaf. And I can't mention Leaf without recalling Peter Scolari.

If you don't know who Peter Scolari is, that's the point. Back in the early 1980s, he co-starred with Tom Hanks in a TV show called “Bosom Buddies.” The premise: To beat the high cost of housing in New York City, good friends Kip (Hanks) and Henry (Scolari) dressed in drag and rented a cheap apartment at an all-women's hotel. Despite the limitless possibilities that scenario offered, the show lasted only 37 episodes. That was still enough to launch Hanks in a career that made him one of the top actors in Hollywood.

Scolari? He got some more work, most notably on “Newhart” But you never saw him making Oscar-acceptance speeches or producing HBO miniseries as Hanks did.

So now, to my friends and I, his name is a verb. “Scolaried.” As in, left behind by someone considered an equal at one time.

And there's no better example than Leaf. In 1998, after Leaf led the Washington State Cougars to their first Rose Bowl in 67 years, there was legitimate debate over whether he or Manning should be the No. 1 pick in the NFL draft. The Colts took Manning. Leaf went to San Diego and lasted only three seasons, proving equally inept at dealing with NFL defenses and the media.

More people who got Scolaried:

•Tim Couch and Akili Smith, the quarterbacks taken right before and after Donovan McNabb in the 1999 NFL draft. While McNabb makes Campbell's soup commercials, Couch and Smith could be in the soup line for all we know.

•Ralph Sampson, by Patrick Ewing and Hakeem Olajuwon. A double Scolari. While at Virginia, Sampson beat Ewing and the Georgetown Hoyas in one of the most hyped regular-season college basketball games ever. Drafted No. 1 overall by the Houston Rockets, Sampson and Olajuwon formed the Twin Towers alignment that was supposed to change the face of the NBA. Sampson never reached the Final Four in college and played in only one NBA Finals. Ewing won an NCAA championship, became the New York Knicks' all-time leading scorer and was on the original Olympic “Dream Team.” Olajuwon won two NBA championships and a most-valuable-player award. The last we heard of Sampson, he was arrested last year for allegedly failing to pay child support.

•What USC football is to tailbacks, Georgia Tech basketball is to Scolaris. First there was Bruce Dalrymple. Remember when everyone talked about Dalrymple and Mark Price as the country's best backcourt? Price lived up to the hype, going on to a 12-year NBA career and annually ranked among the league leaders in assists and free-throw percentage. Dalrymple never played in the NBA.

Next there was Brian Oliver, the third member of Georgia Tech's “Lethal Weapon 3” attack. Apparently, he wasn't as lethal as Kenny Anderson and Dennis Scott, who went on to lengthy NBA careers; Oliver lasted only 118 games.

•And then there's Delino DeShields. Maybe no one else thought he was equal to Pedro Martinez, but then-General Manager Fred Claire did and Dodger fans have paid for it ever since. DeShields shouldn't take it personally. A lot of people got Scolaried by Martinez, including his brother Ramon.

•Penny Hardaway, by Shaquille O'Neal. Hardaway officially hit bottom with this description of him by LeBron James: “He had flair, he could pass, he'd dunk on you and he could shoot jumpers.” If you're only 34 and still in the league, yet are spoken of in the past tense, it means you're done. Hardaway and O'Neal were supposed to be one of the most talented combos of all time, but it turned out that O'Neal was Cher and Hardaway was Sonny.

Or, as they used to say on “Bosom Buddies,” “Sonny, Sonny, Sonny.”

That was Hanks' line. Nobody remembers anything Scolari said.

(J.A. Adande is a columnist for the Los Angeles Times.)

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