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Wednesday, August 30, 2006

David Fleming On Bengals LB Odell Thurman For ESPN



I copied and posted and liked to this article by Dave Fleming because it contains evidence of why there should be more African American head coaches in the NFL: the "father figure" element.

In Thurman's case, he lost both of his parents, and until Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis, had no one really strong figure in his life who actually had control over his future and who cared. According to Thurman, that person is Lewis.

I'm not stating that the same relationship can't be established with a white coach, but that since so many young black men grow up in single-mother homes, the presentation of a strong black male figure is welcome to the kid.


First Person: Odell Thurman

By David Fleming


Bengals linebacker Odell Thurman sits in a green velvet chair 16 floors above the street with his back to Cincinnati's Fountain Square, or what's left of it, as construction workers below loudly tear apart and rebuild one of the city's most famous landmarks. In effect, the same thing has been happening to Thurman this preseason.


While growing up in an impoverished part of rural Georgia, Thurman overcame the deaths of both of his parents to star at UGA. Several off-field incidents in college caused him to fall to the second round of the 2005 draft. But in Cincinnati Thurman emerged as the Chad Johnson of the resurgent Bengals defense. From his Mike 'backer spot he led the team with 148 tackles (46 ahead of the second-place tackler) and led all NFL rookies with five picks while his Tasmanian Devil style of play drew comparisons to Ray Lewis and restored the team's defensive swagger. "The sky's the limit with Odell," said Bengals coach Marvin Lewis.

Those expectations, however, all came crashing down around him this summer when Thurman's second violation of the NFL substance abuse policy led to a four-game suspension to start the 2006 season. He says that missing tests while out of town this summer, as well as appointments with his NFL mandated counselor, are what caused the violation -- not another positive drug test result. (The NFL considers them the same thing.) And he denies, flatly, the notion that he skipped the tests because he was going to test positive. Now Thurman says he'll be tested several times a week and his next violation would result in a yearlong suspension.

Thurman, 23, was allowed to participate in all preseason activities but on Sept. 4 he will no longer be permitted to practice or be with the team on game days. As he neared the isolation of that cutoff date, Thurman, dressed in a striped Coogi polo shirt and sporting a massive chunk of tobacco in his right cheek, sat down after the Bengals' MNF triumph to clear the air with the first in-depth interview of his tumultuous preseason.


Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire
After a great rookie season in 2005, Thurman received comparisons to Ray Lewis.
He began by placing one finger on the corner of the dark wood coffee table in front of him, saying …

"If this is the edge right here then I got one foot over the edge, I got one whole leg over the edge and the fall would be … I can't even see the ground. A one year [suspension] for me, if I were to make that mistake, it would be like committing suicide.

"I just want people to know I wasn't out there using all types of drugs. Basically, it was me missing a test. To be honest it was my first NFL offseason and I was out doing too much during the summertime, being irresponsible about the whole thing and not taking it real serious. I made a mistake. And I'm living with that mistake. And now I'm refocusing. I just worry that the fans have gotten the wrong impression on me, that they think I'm an addict with real problems with using drugs. I've heard some wild stuff, rumors about crack, methamphetamine, people saying I came into camp 50 pounds underweight. When the main thing to all this was me missing a test -- not failing it, missing it. Even though if you miss a test in this system, it's the same as having drugs in your system. That's the way they see it.

"I'm not the kind of person that's been portrayed by the media, a bad guy or a drug user. I'm not. That's not the case at all. I want people to see the situation I'm in and how critical this is for me. I know some people will still believe whatever they want to believe. But the people around me, they know what kind of a person I truly am. Missing the test is not on the same pedestal as using. Missing the test is irresponsible. Using drugs is stupid. I blame it all on myself, I was just being irresponsible about the whole situation. In some ways I look at it like, man, I didn't really mess up but I still come across in all of this looking like the real bad guy. I'm not perfect but I'm not on meth or crack cocaine, either.

"I knew for a couple of months, I was just waiting to hear back from the league what the punishment would be. The biggest problem was around camp, when the news came out, I was embarrassed and scared and I separated myself from everyone. Coach called me like five or six times but I was in denial. I didn't want to face it. I didn't want to handle it. I was worried how everyone would treat me. I mean, I used to be the happiest guy in the building coming into work. And I wondered if guys would still follow me on this defense. But my teammates welcomed me back with open arms and the Bengals didn't turn their backs on me either. They're, like, 110 percent behind me. Coach is like a father to me. It's that simple.

"Looking from the outside in, I don't get mad at people when they say that [the Bengals have character issues] because there has been a lot of stuff going on with this team. But there's a lot of people in that locker room and coaches can't control everyone. The Bengals organization can tell people, 'don't do this, don't do that.' But they can't control everyone in that locker room. They can't.

"When I finally came back to camp I sat down with coach and he basically said this to me: 'You're mine. I drafted you, I'm not pushing you away, I'm still behind you 100 percent. Just stay focused from here on out. Don't get down. Don't mess up again. Just get back on the field.' I think he knew that I had heard enough how bad I had messed up. I know what I did and that I had to take full responsibility for what I did. So the team said to me, 'we still love you around here, we're still your family, we're not going to push you out the door because of one mistake.' [Coach] called me every other day making sure I was okay, asking if I needed to talk or if I needed anything. I had tried to push him away at first, I thought I should deal with it on my own, but that was the wrong thing to do. I was really just hiding.


Tom Szczerbowski/US Presswire
Thurman will miss Cincy's first four games in 2006 -- including games at Kansas City and Pittsburgh and vs. New England.
"I feel like I came in as a rookie and I made a statement right away. I may have made some mistakes but I made them at a 100 miles per hour. As a rookie on the field, I could be a tiny, half step out of alignment and coach Lewis would jump down my throat. Like, 'GET UP AND GET OVER THERE, RIGHT NOW ODELL!' And I'd move one tiny step over and that's how far off I was, a few inches. That was the kind of small stuff he stayed on my back about and that's why I had a great rookie season on the field.

"I think coach Lewis is doing the same things with me, only now it's with my life. If I'm two minutes late for a meeting, he's gonna get on me. If I'm not dressed properly for practice, he's gonna get on me. All the small stuff, he's gonna get on me. And I appreciate having someone in my life like that and I know I need it. Being young and being in the situation I'm in right now, I can't make any more mistakes, not one more slipup.

"Missing the test for me was like one more eye-opener or another kick in the butt for me. Like, it's time to get focused again. I've got goals set higher than just being in the NFL. I really do feel like I can be one of the best. But I can honestly say, too, that I haven't worked like that. I haven't worked like I'm the best. I lift weights. I do this. I do that. I run. But there are times when I slip and I don't want to work out and I'm just being young and irresponsible. I've always had that in the back of my mind: that I'm the best, I'm the greatest. What I found out was everyone thinks that. But not everyone prepares to be the greatest.

"But now that I have this mistake on me, the magnifying glass will always be on me. I gotta work. I can't slip. I can't falter. All I have to do is make sure I don't hang myself. I gotta live my life more organized. I gotta plan ahead. And I gotta see the big picture of my life, which is football has gotten me everything I have. That's the main reason for where I'm at: football.

"Looking back on my whole career, this is how it's always been for me. Like at Georgia. I got suspended, I messed up and I knew that if I made another mistake I was out of there. And I went straight. Now I messed up in the league at an early point in my career. I have no more errors I can make. So now I have to make this a 10-year run -- at least.

"I know it doesn't seem like it because I almost blew it all, almost let it all go, but I appreciate what I got now, especially after where I came from. I don't think everyone out there truly understands where I came from. The way I grew up, I had an elbow in the back of my neck my whole life. Like, 'you're gonna do right, you're gonna be the one who makes it.' But 90 percent of the people out there, if they had been through the stuff I've been through in life, they wouldn't be where I'm at.

"I lost both parents at a young age. Basically I came from nothing: I mean 15, 16, 17 people in a four-bedroom house, sharing clothes with my cousins, four people in a bed, man if you came home late you had trouble finding a spot to sleep. I'm serious. We were rich with love, though, we were rich with love.

"My dad's death was much harder to take than my mom's. Being at such a young age when she died [in a car wreck when Odell was in the fourth grade] I kinda didn't really understand it. It hurt but I didn't understand it. When my father died [of liver and kidney failure three years ago] it came at a key point in my life -- when I really needed him he was gone. I was 20, had just had a kid of my own [Odalyus, now 4] and it was the week before my first college game. At that point I didn't have a parent to support me. Nothing. I had uncles and family and my grandma but there's nothing like having your parents behind you.

"My dad came to watch me in the Red-Black scrimmage before my sophomore year at Georgia. I had a good game. We celebrated. Three or four days later my auntie calls and says, 'You need to come see your daddy.' Now, I had just talked to him earlier in the day and when I came home to see him in the hospital, he was already like a vegetable. A few days earlier he had been complaining about a stomachache. But it was kidney failure, they said. He was dying from kidney failure from drinking too much. But he wasn't a drunk. He went to work, sober, every day for eight, nine years. His body just couldn't take it any more.

"What I remember the most was the doctor's wording when I asked him a question about talking to my dad the next day. And he said to me: 'If he makes it through the night.' If? I caught that. I remember that. If? My family was hiding from me how bad it was. But I remember that word: if. I left the hospital and drove back to campus and in the hour it took me to get back to Athens, he died. He left me too early. That's what I think. He left me too early. I played that week. I didn't start. But I played a good game. I needed to get back around my teammates.

"And that's what I need now. It's gonna be a long month, I'm not gonna lie about it. But I think I'll be alright. Watching games, being close but not being able to get in there with my teammates, that's the worst punishment right there. Not playing, I've been looking at this team like this: Damn, they're good, but now imagine if they had me too? What if I was out there? I really do believe that I play a key role on this team. Then I look at our offense and it's like, they can just score whenever they want to. Most teams talk about the Super Bowl this time of year but for us, it's a realistic goal to set.

"Man, we could be like the Colts last year, winning 13, 14 in a row. That's not even thinking outside the box with this team. It's not. We've got a great team that can really do something like that this year. We're stacked at every position. Most teams this time of year are like, 'we need a quarterback, we need a running back, we need a safety.' But I can't name one position in that locker room that we don't have guys who are the best in the league at their position. This is a team full of Pro Bowlers.

"And I'm still a part of this team, I'm still a Bengal. That's what I need to stay focused on right now. I've still got a job to do when I get back. I know I have to do the right thing now, so I'm not scared. It's all up to me. I control it. And in my mind I think I'll be a Bengal forever. It's gonna take time, I know, but I think I can be one of the most beloved players around here.

"Once I step back on the field I'm hoping all of this stuff will diminish. People will see that I'm still focused, that I'm still the player I was last year, that I'm still the Bengal they used to love. I think this will pass over. That's what I'm hoping.

"I just want everyone to see the truth: that I made some mistakes but that doesn't make me a bad person. I did make some mistakes. I'm not denying that. I did get in the program to begin with. And to get in you had to be doing something. But I'm not the first and I won't be the last to deal with this type of stuff. I just want people, however they looked at me beforehand, that's what I want to go back to.

"I just don't want to end up a sad case, you know? I don't want to look back one day and have to say, 'coulda, shoulda, woulda been.' I want to be able to look back in 10 years and say I was one of the greatest. I want to be a success story. I want people to say he came from nothing and made it all the way to the Hall of Fame.

"From nothing to the Hall of Fame. That's the story I want. A success story.

"I don't want to end up no sad story."

David Fleming is a senior writer for ESPN The Magazine. His first book, "Noah's Rainbow: a Father's Emotional Journey from the Death of his Son to the Birth of his Daughter" (Baywood 2006) was hailed by grief educators as a "deeply touching, insightful, fresh and credible voice on the complex journey of grieving and healing." His next book, based on the controversial 1925 NFL Pottsville Maroons (ESPN Books 2007) has been optioned as a movie by Sentinel Entertainment. Contact him at Dave.Fleming@espn3.com

Tuesday, August 29, 2006

NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Draws 86; Past Grads: Marvin Lewis and Herman Edwards



From NFLMedia.com

FOR USE AS DESIRED
NFL-50 8/23/06

IN 25TH YEAR, NFL MINORITY COACHING FELLOWSHIP
ATTRACTS RECORD 86 PARTICIPANTS

-- CHIEFS’ HERMAN EDWARDS BECOMES FIRST COACH TO LEAD TEAM WHERE HE INTERNED --

A record 86 minorities took part in this summer’s NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program in the 25th year of the program’s existence, the NFL announced today.

Also this year, the Minority Coaching Program produced its first graduate to be named head coach of the team where he
interned.

The graduate is new Kansas City Chiefs head coach HERM EDWARDS, who interned with the team in 1989. In 2001, he
became the first graduate of the program to be named an NFL head coach when he was appointed by the New York Jets.
“I am a head coach in the NFL today because of the opportunity the Coaching Fellowship provided me,” says Edwards.
“The program is really the thing that jump-starts your career. It really worked perfectly for me. I was in the right place at
the right time.”

Two other NFL head coaches are graduates of the program – MARVIN LEWIS (pictured) of Cincinnati and LOVIE SMITH of
Chicago.

The fellowship, instituted by the NFL in 1981, provides training-camp coaching positions for minority coaches at NFL
clubs. More than 1,000 minority coaches have participated since the program’s inception.

The fellowship had additional head-coaching success this past offseason. Two of its graduates were appointed head
coaches in colleges and another received a lengthy contract extension.

RON PRINCE, who participated in the program for four years in the late ’90s, was appointed head coach of Kansas State
and believes the fellowship was of immeasurable help to him.

“The NFL Fellowship Program was invaluable for me,” says Prince, who appointed another fellowship grad, RAHEEM
MORRIS, as his defensive coordinator. “The program gave me a great understanding of how to put an organization
together. I was exposed to everything from the position coaches to the scouting departments to the general managers
and I studied every aspect of it. In the end, it gave me the opportunity to advance past where I might have been as a
coach at that particular point.”

Joining Prince as a fellowship grad in the college head-coaching ranks this year is NORRIES WILSON at Columbia
University, who was appointed last December. Wilson spent three summers with NFL clubs in the 1990s and, like Prince,
says the program was a big help to his career.

“All three of my internships were great experiences,” says Wilson. “They were at different points in my career. I learned a
lot about the game, particularly at the NFL level, and a lot about football administration. It was very valuable for me.”
Yet another fellowship graduate who is now a college head coach, KARL DORRELL of UCLA, recently received a
contract extension through the 2010 season. He took the Bruins to a 10-2 record last year.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach JON GRUDEN, who had three minority coaches in his camp this summer, believes
in the program’s efficacy.

“The coaches come in to learn and be a second sound for our players, whether that’s encouraging them or talking about
basic fundamentals or techniques that maybe they’ve used,” says Gruden. “They help with team enthusiasm and in a lot
of ways that might not be so glamorous. I really love the program.”

Following is a list of some NFL coaches who have participated in the NFL Minority Coaching Fellowship Program:
NFL GRADUATES OF NFL MINORITY COACHING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
CLUB COACH POSITION

Atlanta - Ollie Wilson Running backs

Baltimore - Dennis Thurman Defensive backs

Buffalo - Eric Studesville Running backs
Tyke Tolbert Wide receivers

Chicago - Don Johnson Defensive line
Lovie Smith - Head coach

Cincinnati - Jay Hayes Defensive line
Ricky Hunley - Linebackers
Hue Jackson - Wide receivers
Marvin Lewis - Head coach
Denver Thomas McGaughey Ass’t. special teams

Green Bay Ty Knott Off. quality control

Houston Martin Bayless Ass’t. defensive backs

Indianapolis Gene Huey Running backs

Kansas City Herman Edwards Head coach
James Saxon Running backs
Miami Keith Armstrong Special teams
Bo Davis Ass’t. strength & conditioning

New England Pepper Johnson Defensive line

New Orleans Tony Oden Def. ass’t./secondary

NY Giants Andre Curtis Def. quality control

Oakland Robert Ford Off. quality control
Darryl Sims Ass’t. defensive line

Philadelphia Mike Reed Def. ass’t. quality control

Pittsburgh James Daniel Tight ends

San Diego Wayne Nunnely Defensive line
Brian Stewart Secondary

San Francisco Gary Emanuel Defensive line

Johnnie Lynn Defensive backs

Tampa Bay Jethro Franklin Defensive line

Ron Middleton Tight ends

Art Valero Ass’t. head coach

Tennessee Sherman Smith Ass’t. head coach/running backs

2006 NFL MINORITY COACHING FELLOWSHIP PROGRAM
CLUB COACH (BACKGROUND & PRESENT AFFILIATION)

Arizona James Harris (Former NFL player), George Hawthorne (Former NFL player), Chris Walsh
(Former NFL player)

Atlanta Ashley Ambrose (Former NFL player), Rodney Bivens (UAB), Natrone Means (Former NFL
player), Tom Williams (San Jose State)

Baltimore Bernardo Harris (Former NFL player), Chris Hewitt (Rutgers)

Buffalo Steve Little (Trinity International), Adrian White (NFLEL, Former NFL player)

Carolina Lonnie Galloway (Appalachian State), Charles Jones (NFLEL), Richard Shelton (Florida
A&M, Former NFL player)

Chicago Robbie Long (DePauw), Chris Wilson (Oklahoma)

Cincinnati Stan Davis (Grand Rapids Rampage-AFL)

Cleveland John Allen (NFLEL), Jimmy Lindsey (Gardner-Webb)

Dallas Larry Brinson (Former NFL player), Steve Smith (Unaffiliated)

Detroit Malik Hall (Fordham), EJ Jones (Aurora, Former NFL player), Marcel Yates (Boise State)

Green Bay Gary Brown (Susquehanna, Former NFL player), Chris Simpson (Wisconsin-White Water)

Houston Perry Carter (NFLEL, Former NFL player), Henry Frazier (Prairie View A&M), Manny
Martinez (Texas Southern), Michael Sinclair (West Texas A&M, Former NFL player)

Indianapolis Eugene Rafael Robinson (Former NFL player), Detron Smith (Former NFL player), David
Kelly (Duke)

Jacksonville William Bell (Edward Waters College, Former NFL player), Cheston Blackshear (Columbia),
Rick Comegy (Jackson State)

Kansas City Kimble Ambers (Avila College, Former NFL player), William Jones (Pearl River CC), Wandja
Muller (NFLEL coach, NFLEL inern)

Miami Cornell Brown (NFLEL, Former NFL player), Cris Dishman (Former NFL player), Eric Green
(Former NFL player)

Minnesota Henry Lusk (Weber State, Former NFL player), Kanavis McGhee (NFLEL, Former NFL
player), Corey Raymond (LSU, Former NFL player)

New England Fred Baxter (Former NFL player), Otis Smith (Former NFL player),
New Orleans Andrew Dees (Temple, Former NFL player), Tim Watson (Former NFL player)
New York Giants Fred Armstrong (Unaffiliated)

New York Jets George McDonald (Western Michigan), Sean Spencer (Hofstra)

Oakland Radames Carrillo (International - Mexico), David Duggan (NFLEL), Patrick Esume (NFLEL),
Derek Mason (Ohio University), Cedric Pearl (Alabama A&M), Tang Hai-Yan (International -
China)

Philadelphia Eugene Chung (Former NFL player), Frank Gonzalez (Monterey Tech), Alonzo M. Hampton
(Arkansas-Pine Bluff), Willie Taggart (Western Kentucky), Chris Vaughn (Arkansas)

Pittsburgh Kedrick "Ricky" Brumfield (Fairmont State), James Martin, Jr. (Alabama A&M), Curtis
Modkins (Georgia Tech)

St. Louis Thomas Balkcom (Central Florida), Ron Cox (Lake Forest College), James Lott
(Independence College),

San Diego Marvin Marshall (Former NFL player), Wilfred Martin (College of the Desert), Thurmond
Moore (Unaffiliated), Larry Porter (LSU)

San Francisco Eugene Lockhart (Former NFL player), Broderick Thomas (Former NFL player)

Seattle Shelton Gandy (Louisiana Tech), O'Neill Gilbert (Unaffiliated)

Tampa Bay Shawn Gregory (Samford), Tracy Rocker (Arkansas, Former NFL player), Tyrone Wheatley
(Former NFL player)

Tennessee Granville Eastman (Austin Peay State), Lemanski Hall (Christ Presbyterian Academy, Former
NFL player)

Washington Michael Bryant (Prairie View A&M), Corey Chamblin (NFLEL, Tennessee Tech), Eddie
Robinson, Jr. (Former NFL player), Erik Ware (College of DuPage)

NFLEL = NFL Europe League
# # #

NFL and Telemoundo Join For NFL Kickoff 2006



NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
280 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
(212) 450-2000 * FAX (212) 681-7573
WWW.NFLMedia.com

Joe Browne, Executive Vice President-Communications
Greg Aiello, Vice President-Public Relations

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE CONTACT: Pete Abitante (212/450-2065)
NFL-51 8/29/06

NFL PARTNERS WITH TELEMUNDO FOR
NFL OPENING KICKOFF 2006


Spanish-speaking football fans can enjoy NFL events in their own language as Telemundo becomes the new Official Hispanic Media Partner of the 2006 NFL Opening Kickoff. This partnership, recently signed by both the NFL and the US Hispanic
network, involves the broadcasting of the upcoming September 7th NFL Kickoff Concert scheduled to take place in Miami, which will air on September 9th, and a Celebrity Flag Football Event, which will air on Super Bowl Saturday, February 3rd.
"We are excited to provide our Spanish-speaking fans with special programming to celebrate the start of the 2006 NFL season,” said Peter O’Reilly, NFL director of marketing. "Our Telemundo partnership will serve as the first ever Spanish television extension of NFL Opening Kickoff. We look forward to working with Telemundo to
better serve our Latino fans."

On Saturday, September 9th, at 9pm Eastern/ 8pm Central/ 9pm Pacific, Telemundo will televise a two-hour NFL Opening Kickoff special entitled “Coors Light Presenta NFL Kickoff 2006” that will include footage of a music concert in Miami with three-time Grammy winner Diddy, Cassie, reggaeton singer Tego Calderon, the Latino rock band Ozomatli and DJ Riz, as well as interviews with Hispanic NFL players.

“This partnership is significant and symbolic because it combines the strength of two powerful organizations and recognizes the importance of the Hispanic community that our network serves,” said Jorge Hidalgo, senior executive vice president of sports and news for Telemundo Network. “The NFL is the premiere professional league in the country and the fact that they, as an organization, have tasked themselves to become more involved with our viewers through this association makes them an ideal partner for Telemundo. We see this as the first step in what will hopefully become a greater association between the NFL and our community,” the Telemundo executive concluded.

For those viewers interested in watching NFL games this season “en espaƱol,” they can tune-in to NBC network and select the SAP (Secondary Audio Programming) of their television sets, where Telemundo’s renowned sportscasters Rene Giraldo and Edgar Lopez will call the Sunday night games in Spanish. This partnership also provides Telemundo with the unique opportunity to expand its coverage of the NFL throughout its existing properties, such as “Titulares Telemundo,”
in an official capacity. Both the NFL and Telemundo will present a public service announcement platform during Hispanic Heritage month as well.

Telemundo, a U.S. Spanish-language television network, is the essential entertainment, news and sports source for Hispanics. Broadcasting unique national and local programming for the fastest-growing segment of the U.S. population, Telemundo reaches 93% of U.S. Hispanic households in 142 markets through its 16 owned-andoperated stations, 36 broadcast affiliates and nearly 684 cable affiliates. Telemundo is wholly owned by NBC Universal, one of the world's leading media and entertainment companies.
# # #

Young Guns In The Big Apple



Most people are talking about The NY teams' two Starting QB's, the Giants Eli Manning and the Jets Chad Pennington. But the story behind the story is not the second stringers, but the youngsters holding the clipboards. Gang Green drafted Kellen Clemens this year from The University of Oregon. Early in Camp i spoke to a former reporter from the Hartford Courant who now works for the Oregonian. He was just another in a long line of people who had seen Clemens throw the heck out of the Ball. If Pennington's shoulder can't hold up a year or two down the road, this Kid can throw.

The Giants #3 has been around a bit longer. Jared Lorenzen, who at 6' 4-1/2" and 276 pounds has had a few nicknames regarding his size, like the "Pilsbury Throwboy", the "Hefty Lefty", and my favorite-"J-Load". But hey, Lorenzen is a bonafied NFL QB, even if he looks like a bonafied NFL DT! he even displayed some moved that players 40 and 50 pounds his lesser couldn't muster. Can you Imagine a single back set for the Giants with Lorenzen at QB and 2nd year Tower of Power RB ramblin Brandon Jacobs(6'-4 262 lbs)?

If i were a lesser man playing opposite them, i'd hope the training staff had an open spot on the list for whirlpool time. Lorenzen also made a move in Friday night's game vs the Jets that i have seen few Qb's with 10 years experience make. A left handed thrower, Lorenzen was moving to his left when he saw a "check-off", another receiver then the one the play was intended for, and made the difficult throw, back to his right, across his body while moving.

I look forward to both teams playing these guys down theroad so we can get a look atthe future of QB's in NY

Eagles' Todd Pinkston Available; ESPN's Len P Loses It On Radio - Profootballtalk.com

This is funy. Profootballtalk reports on a different side of ESPN's Len Pasquarelli and that Todd Pinkston's available

NEWS FLASH -- STINKSTON ON THE BLOCK

Less than a week after we posted a 48-second radio spot in which ESPN.com's Len Pasquarelli nearly threatens to throw down with Penner and Mac of WFNZ in Charlotte after they dissed Eagles receiver Todd Pinkston, the P-man is once again declaring his man-love for the pad-wearing scarecrow by making a cannonball splash with the news that Pinkston and agent Joe Segal have received permission to seek a trade.

Stop the freakin' presses, baby. Stinkston is available!

The story isn't only on the ESPN.com NFL page, but as of this posting it's smack-dab in the middle of the ESPN.com front page. (Len now owes someone in the editorial department a huge favor.)

And Len takes his devotion to Pinkston and Segal to new heights by suggesting that "[a]t least two of the three receiver-needy franchises would likely view Pinkston as a starter, if he is healthy."

Would "likely" view Pinkston as a starter? "Likely"? (Gee, who's the source on that?)

Pinkston is expendable because the Eagles have acquired receiver Donte' Stallworth. And as Adam Schefter of NFL Network reported on Tuesday's Total Access, Pinkston will likely be cut unless the Eagles suffer an injury elsewhere on the depth chart at the wideout position.

We've already received a flood of e-mails from readers, who based on our past reports can see right through what Len is doing. He's trying to help out his pay Joel by propping up a Segal client whose NFL career is quickly swirling down the drain.

Pinkston? A starter? That's almost as funny as hearing Joey Sunshine say that college quarterbacks turned receiver can only be successful if they're short.

Patriots Play Hardball with Soft Handed Branch

Walter Anaruk
Field Position Sports Media
http://www.fieldposition.com

The Patriots are really sticking to their guns. They have given top receiver, fan favorite, and former Super Bowl MVP Deion Branch permission to seek a trade. Now, given their restrictions on the trade, they obviously have no intention of letting Deion go. Instead, they have set the asking price at a first or high second-round draft pick. To make the deal even harder to consummate, they've given Deion to the end of the week to find a trade partner willing to offer the Patriots and acceptable deal. Clearly, Branch is meant to go nowhere.

Despite the best efforts of the front office in Foxboro, there are plenty of suitors for Branch. The Eagles were a top contender for Branch's services until they secured Donte Stallworth for a conditional fourth round draft pick and LB Mark Simoneau. The Bears were in the running for the speedy but completely and utterly handless Ashley Lelie but lost out in the three way trade consummated by Denver, Pittsburgh, and Atlanta. The Bears sorely want a weapon to compliment Mushin Muhammad. Branch would easily become the primier receiver for the Bears. But the Bears are unwilling to part with a high draft pick. The Patriots plan is working.

Is any of this a suprise to anyone? Does the name Ty Law ring a bell? The Patriots also got done waxing the Washington Redskins, a playoff team last season, in a 41-0 shutout embarassment of a non-game. The fact that it is preseason my lessen the significance but not the strength of the message.

The Patriots are saying to Branch:

"We can win against anyone, anytime, anyway ... and with ANYONE."

Tom Brady is angry. Fans are angry. Branch is pragmatic, classy, and diplomatic about the whole situation. But the Patriots 'valuation' methods aside, isn't a receiver of Deion Branch's caliber worth more than a measley $1.05 million he earned last year? Especially when you consider that he only made that much AFTER a $500,000 incentive escalator almost doulbed his salary?

The Patriots are going to find that less and less of their players are going to buy into their team concept when the team elects to pay some players and play hardball with others. The point isn't that the Patriots should pay everyone more than their worth. But the point is that when some one is performing at a certain level, they deserve to be paid at that level. Especially when they've lived out the majority of their undervalued contract without complaint. This is not Terrell Owens holding out after one year into a $49 million deal.

For those who are saying that Branch is under contract and should just play, keep in mind that no contract in the NFL is guaranteed. The team can cut any player, any time, anywhere. The hold out is a player's only bargaining tool.

So the stand off is under way. Branch and Belichek/Pioli are standing on opposite sides of the street staring one another in the eye. Who will flinch? I hope it's the Patriots. I hope they can realize that you can't treat players like so many Topps trading cards and then tell them they are part of 'the family' and should buy into a 'team concept.' It's hypocritical and dehumanizing. Pay the man what he's worth. All hold outs are not created equal.

Raiders Try USC's Darnell Bing At Outside Linebacker - Randy Johnson For Press Telegram

This is one reason why the Raiders Defense is younger and faster -- moving the former safety to linebacker. Check out the video on Bing at USC.



Darnell Bing changing his spot
Raiders like what they see in rookie 'linebacker'
By Randy Johnson, Special to the Press-Telegram


NAPA - He was a two-time national champion at USC, a menacing strong safety known for big plays and bigger hits.

Now he's a rookie fourth-round draft pick fighting for playing time with established Oakland Raiders veterans, and he's being asked to learn how to play outside linebacker on the fly.

Welcome to the National Football League, Darnell Bing.

So does he drift back to his Pop Warner career in Long Beach or high school days at Poly to remember how to play the position?

Nope, he can't.

"I've never played linebacker before in my life," Bing said with a smile following a recent training camp practice at Redwood Middle School, in the wine country that is Napa Valley.

"It's just another challenge for me to go out there and go hard and compete."

Still, Raiders coach Art Shell is pleased with Bing's progress in learning the new spot.

"Darnell, like all the rest of the guys, is working his tail off to become a better football player," Shell said. "He's making the transition from strong safety to outside linebacker in a big way. I expect good things and big things from him down the road."

Bing has been working


Darnell Bing of Poly High played safety with USC, but he has been moved to linebacker with the Oakland Raiders in his rookie season in the NFL.
(Jed Jacobsohn / Getty Images)

with the second-team defense in recent workouts, shucking his No. 20 college jersey for a more linebacker-like No. 59.

And while his listed dimensions of 6-foot-2, 230 pounds made him a really big safety at USC, they leave him as one of the smallest linebackers on the Raiders' roster.

But, football is football, and Bing is adjusting well according to linebackers coach Don Martindale.

"I think he's doing a great job and he's right on schedule," said Martindale. "Each day he gets better, and anywhere he makes a mistake he comes back and corrects it. He's doing a heck of a job for us. He's a good, tough, physical kid."

While at Poly, Bing was named to numerous national teams, including the prestigious Parade All-American team in 2001, and was a part of three CIF Division I championship teams that combined to go 39-1-1.

He was also named to the first team of the Press-Telegram's Dream Team and Best in the West team.

At USC, Bing was a First-Team All-American and All-Pac 10 Conference pick with the Trojans in 2005. He returned four interceptions for 119 yards last season, including one score, and recorded 50 tackles.

As far as his own assessment of making the switch thus far, Bing was more reserved.

"It's going pretty good. I'm making some plays here and there, and I'm getting my keys down, so I'd say it's going pretty well."

Though a position change may be an uncomfortable proposition for most incoming players, Bing was perhaps more NFL-ready based on who he practiced against every day at USC.

Bing lined up against fellow 2006 draft picks like Heisman Trophy winners Reggie Bush and Matt Leinart, as well as Titans rookie running back LenDale White.

"Of course. They're all wonderful players, so I'd say being at 'SC helped a lot," he said.

Matt Leinart Breaks Out! - A Video Look

Here's a video of the Arizona Cardinals preseason victory against the Chicago Bears, where new QB Matt Leinart posted great passing numbers in his second game:

Broncos Use Same Playbook To Beat Texans 17-14 on Saturday

Watch the video and you'll see mirror-image offenses.



Broncos spoil Kubiak's return, top Texans

NFL.com wire reports

DENVER (Aug. 27, 2006) -- Gary Kubiak took the playbook and plenty of knowledge with him to Houston after serving as Mike Shanahan's apprentice in Denver for more than a decade.

If only he could have taken some more of the talent he left behind.

The Broncos beat Houston 17-14 on Sunday night, spoiling the return of the Texans' first-year coach who spent nearly two decades in Denver, first as John Elway's backup and then as Shanahan's assistant.

"Coming back doesn't feel real good right now," Kubiak said.

Although Houston's front seven thoroughly impressed Shanahan, it was Denver's defense that had an answer for just about everything Kubiak tried.

"It was like practice," Broncos linebacker Al Wilson said. "We saw so many things that were so similar to what we do, which was expected. But at the same time, Kub put a twist on a few things and had us guessing and thinking a little bit. But it was like practice all over again."

After covering a deep pass that fell incomplete along the Texans' sideline, Broncos cornerback Darrent Williams smiled and wagged his finger at Kubiak.

"What we saw, we see every day in practice," Williams said. "It wasn't anything new to us."

And what the Texans saw wasn't anything new to them, either.


Gary Kubiak couldn't come up with anything to fool the Broncos.
Kubiak took five members of the Broncos' coaching staff with him to Houston, and they were soon joined by general manager Rick Smith, who had been an assistant GM in Denver. Plus, the Texans signed tight end Jeb Putzier, who had been cut by the Broncos in a salary cap purge over the winter, along with former Broncos tight end Patrick Hape and tackle Ephraim Salaam.

"That entire organization is becoming a mirror image of this organization," Broncos wide receiver Rod Smith said. "Which I think is a good thing for them because we set a standard a long time ago and he's been a part of that for 20-plus years and you can see those guys are playing a lot better football than they played the last couple years. They're going to win a lot of football games."

Like many homecomings, however, this one was bittersweet.

"I saw a lot of people who were a big part of my life, and that was special," Kubiak said. "Once the football game starts, it kind of all goes out the window. It was nice to see everybody. This was a good challenge for our team, and I liked the way we fought all night. We were not very clean at all early in the game, but I liked the way we played hard to the end."

After the game, Kubiak and Shanahan embraced.

"I just told Mike, thanks for all he's done and giving me the chance," Kubiak said.

The biggest return belonged to Javon Walker, who caught three passes for 41 yards, his first receptions since tearing up his right knee in the season opener for Green Bay last year.

"It's been behind me since Denver got me in the trade. I was just ready to go out and be the person I was in Green Bay," the former Pro Bowl receiver said. "It felt good because you don't get hit in training camp. To get that done lets me know, `Hey, I'm all right and ready to get this season kicked off."'

Tatum Bell scored from a yard out and Cedric Cobbs followed a big block from right tackle Adam Meadows for a 26-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.

Denver's Jake Plummer (10-for-22, 96 yards) was off target all night and David Carr, although a respectable 15-for-22 for 128 yards, fumbled once, threw an interception at his own 20-yard line and couldn't lead the Texans into the end zone in seven possessions.

As might be expected from two offensive minds who know each other so well, the first 25 minutes was a stalemate until the Broncos got the ball at the Texans 45 and took advantage of the short field.

Their drive stalled at the 14 and Jason Elam nailed a 32-yarder, but Houston tackle Alfred Malone was whistled for an illegal procedure that gave the Broncos first-and-goal at the 9. Bell spun his way across the goal line three plays later.

On the next play from scrimmage, linebacker D.J. Williams picked off Carr at the Texans 20 and Elam followed with a 23-yard field goal that made it 10-0.

The Texans pulled to 10-3 on Kris Brown 's 29-yard field goal just before halftime. His 32-yarder in the third quarter made it 10-6 and came after rookie tight end Owen Daniels lined up offsides on fourth-and-1 at the Broncos 9.

After Cobbs' TD made it 17-6, Sage Rosenfels threw a 19-yard TD pass to Derrick Lewis with 2:53 left, and Vernand Morency's 2-point run made it 17-14.

Notes: Houston CB Phillip Buchanon bruised his ribs. ... Broncos WR Todd Devoe aggravated a shoulder injury.

Stephen Colbert On Slavery and The NFL Draft

Say, you may not like or agree with this video, but it's worth listening too. Stephen Colbert gives his take on the NFL and specifically the NFL Draft as it compares to slavery.

Check it out:

Monday, August 28, 2006

Raider Nation Scratches Head - Oakland Raiders Bring Back JEFF GEORGE



Even the Raider Nation's scratching its collective head over this one, with fans warring on message boards like Raiderfans.net over the Oakland Raiders decision to bring Jeff George out of mouthballs:

...They must have changed the headline, because that his not what I read when I clicked on the link. But can you blame the sports media for looking at this move as whacko? First Art Shell after six other candidates turn us down, then Tom Walsh now Jeff George. Did they check into Art Slchichter too? I'm sure he's staying in good shape in prison and can still gun it.

There's also an idea that this wasn't Head Coach Art Shell's call; this Tribune article seems to imply that Al Davis overrules his coaches.


There's more at Raiderfans.net

Oakland Raiders Bring Back JEFF GEORGE



I think this not the best move at all. To me, it's right up there with bringing Tom Walsh out of retirement to be offensive coordinator. Jeff George -- as I recall -- had lockerroom attitude problems. He was best known for his run-in with then-Atlanta Falcons Head Coach June Jones. Maybe he's grown up. Heck, I'd take Troy Aikman rather than Jeff George. This is ...ok. Enough from me. Here's the report from NFL.com.

Hey, I just realized they could pay Jeff George the NFL minimum and get an experienced guy in the process -- but five years out of the game? I just shake my head about that one.

See, what was so great when the Raiders did use the West Coast Offense is a GM/ Coach could just dial up a QB from the waiver wire that had experience with the terms and ideas behind it because about one-third of the NFL employs the system. The Raiders don't have that luxury anymore.



Raiders sign QB George after long hiatus
NFL.com wire reports
ALAMEDA, Calif. (Aug. 28, 2006) -- The Oakland Raiders signed Jeff George to a contract, bringing back a player who hasn't thrown an NFL pass in five seasons.

George, the No. 1 overall pick by Indianapolis in 1990, joined the team in time for Aug. 28's afternoon practice. He previously played for the Raiders in 1997-98, starting 23 games and throwing 33 touchdowns and 14 interceptions.

It is not immediately clear what his role will be on the Raiders, who already have Aaron Brooks, Andrew Walter and Marques Tuiasosopo on the roster.

George played with the Colts from 1990-93. He was in Atlanta from 1994-96, then spent two seasons with Oakland and one with Minnesota before joining the Redskins in 2000, first as a backup. He was signed by Seattle as insurance midway through the 2002 season, but didn't play. Chicago signed him late in the 2004 season, but he never played for the Bears either.

George, known for his strong arm and clashes with coaches, has a 46-78 career record as a starter and has never lasted longer than four years with any one of them.

George hasn't played since 2001, when he was cut after two games with the Redskins. In his last two games with Washington, George had a quarterback rating of 34.6, completing 23 of 42 passes with three interceptions.

In his next-to-last game with Washington, he and coach Marty Schottenheimer had an animated sideline discussion after George committed four turnovers and was removed from the game.

George also had a sideline argument with coach June Jones when he was with the Atlanta Falcons in 1996, and the team suspended him and then cut him.

George played well his first season in Oakland, throwing for 3,917 yards and 29 touchdowns in 1997. He struggled with injuries the following season, starting only seven games, and was replaced the following season by Rich Gannon, who was a better fit in coach Jon Gruden's West Coast offense.

Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones Angry With Leak On T.O.'s Fine



I still believe I'm correct about the Dallas Cowboys playing possum about T.O.'s fine and injury. The mainstream media's so -- well, whatever -- he's going to play the first game of the season.

Dallas Cowboys Owner Jerry Jones is more concerned about the person who leaked the information about T.O. than any perceived problem with Terrell Owens.

I really don't think there's a problem at all. It's not a big deal. And I don't think there's any real tension; the media makes the problem in this case.

Sunday, August 27, 2006

Terrell Owens Fined $8,500 For Missing Team Meeting - SO!?



Ok, according to the Dallas Morning News and ESPN, Dallas Cowboys Wide Receiverm Terrell Owens was fined $8,500 for missing a meeting, and a rehab session.

SO WHAT?

How many players get fined and we don't know about it? Why T.O.? I'll tell you why? Because the media consists of voyeurs, activists, entrepreneurs, and racists and sexists, and in the case of T.O., all of these people come into play. In this case, it's the racist guys who just want to see Terrell do something wrong, so they create news around little crap like this.

Get real.

(Oh, I'm an entrepreneur.)

Here's the news: T.O. will play on opening day, and the Dallas Cowboys are playing the media and the NFL.

Just watch.

Minnesota Vikings Give Up On Koren Robinson



Just a week plus away from his DUI and police chase, the Vikings gave up on Koren Robinson, cutting him from the team. I believe everyone gets a second and third and sometimes more and more chances. That's certainly true for Robinson.

Looking from a business view, the Seahawks got the better Vikings receiver in Nate Burleson, it seems.

Saturday, August 26, 2006

NY Giants Pass NY Jets 13-7 -- NFL.com

NY Giants O-line did run block very well.

NY Giants hold off Jets 13-7

NFL.com wire reports

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (Aug. 25, 2006) -- With the Giants defense playing so well, Eli Manning can afford to have an off day.

While Manning struggled, the defense put in another stellar performance, notching five sacks and three turnovers in a 13-7 victory against the New York Jets. Neither offense did much of anything, but neither team seemed too concerned.

Manning went 10-for-20 for 107 yards with an interception. Chad Pennington started for the Jets, but also played inconsistently, going 11-for-20 for 125 yards with an interception.

"We just couldn't get a good rhythm," Manning said. "We got something good going at the end of the first half, but the Jets did a good job of making it tough on our passing game by dropping a lot of guys."

Tiki Barber was about the only player producing on either team. His 20-yard run into Jets territory helped the Giants finally mount a drive late in the second quarter.

The Giants (3-0) scored when Brandon Jacobs plowed in on a 1-yard run with 56 seconds left in the half. Manning played one series in the third quarter and led another scoring drive, capped by Jay Feely's 39-yard field goal.

Barber finished with 11 carries for 60 yards in one half of work, and the Giants ran for 142 yards on 36 carries in the game. But it was the defense that stood out once again. Darrell McClover's blocked punt return for a touchdown late in the fourth quarter prevented the Giants from posting their second successive shutout.

"This is two straight weeks we have played well on defense," said linebacker Brandon Short, who had two sacks. "The sky is the limit for this defense as we all get comfortable with this system."

The Giants defense hasn't allowed a touchdown since the opening series against Baltimore in a 17-16 victory to open the preseason. They had five sacks against the Jets, with several more knockdowns on Pennington and Kellen Clemens, and forced three turnovers.


Brandon Jacobs' 1-yard plunge opened the scoring and sent the Giants on their way to victory.
"We're setting a tone and a precedent for the season," Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington said. "It's not the prettiest, but it's something to keep building on."

The Jets (1-2) need to find something to build on, and cut down on the miscues. Running back Kevan Barlow, acquired in a trade with San Francisco last Sunday, lost a fumble on the Jets' second possession of the game.

On their next drive, rookie D'Brickashaw Ferguson was whistled for a false start, and Doug Jolley was flagged 15 years for unnecessary roughness when he used his head to shove Sam Madison while the two were out of bounds.

After Erik Coleman intercepted Manning and gave the Jets great field goal position, Ferguson was whistled for a false start again. This time it was on fourth-and-1 from the Giants 28 late in the first quarter, and it took the Jets out of field goal range.

There were other errors. Mike Nugent missed a 49-yard field goal when the ball hit the upright in the second quarter. The Jets tried their hurry-up offense to close the half and got down to the Giants 40, but Antonio Pierce sacked Pennington.

The quarterback stayed in for two series in the third quarter. But R.W. McQuarters intercepted his badly thrown pass on the first drive, and the Jets went three and out on the next. Clemens came on in relief and struggled badly, going 3-for-11 for 24 yards with an interception.

The play of the Jets offense in three preseason games could be cause for concern. Pennington has led no scoring drives in the two games he has played. He missed the victory against Washington last week to be with his ailing father in Tennessee.

"The name of the game is inconsistency," Pennington said. "We have a few good plays, and then we have self-inflicted wounds to stall our drives. ... We've shown some spurts of real good football. Our effort is there. But we can't confuse effort with results."

While Clemens did little in his appearance, Jared Lorenzen had some success. Lorenzen, known more for his girth, put together a nice drive against the Jets' defensive starters. He went 5-for-7 for 44 yards on the series to set up Feely's 34-yard field goal early in the fourth quarter.

Vikings Defense May Be Gelling; Vikings Over Ravens 30-7 -- NFL.com

One year after the great makeover, the Vikings defense may be comings together at the right time -- before the regular season

Vikings shut down Ravens 30-7

NFL.com wire reports

MINNEAPOLIS (Aug. 26, 2006) -- Fred Smoot turned a fast move on Steve McNair's pass into six points. The Baltimore Ravens weren't nearly that sharp.

Smoot highlighted a big night by Minnesota's defense with a 69-yard interception return for a touchdown as the Vikings blanked Baltimore's first-team offense and beat the Ravens 30-7.

"We're just playing team ball. It's not a hero defense. Everybody's making plays, not just one person," said Smoot, who forced one of four Ravens turnovers. He bruised his ribs trying to make a tackle in the second quarter, but said later he was fine.

McNair, the new Baltimore quarterback, gave another efficient performance (13-for-17 for 80 yards) but showed his age a bit in the pocket.

He took two sacks, by Pat Williams and Kenechi Udeze.

And a slow throwing motion on his second-quarter toss toward the sideline to Mark Clayton made it possible for Smoot to jump the out route and sprint untouched for the score. Coach Brian Billick said Clayton ran the wrong pattern, and McNair said he could have thrown the ball more in front of his receiver.

But Baltimore's problems went much further than that play.

"The hesitation. The lack of execution. The mental errors. Preseason or not, you can't dismiss it," said Billick, who returned to Minnesota for the first time since he was the offensive coordinator here from 1993-98. "That was a regrettable performance."

About 15 pounds heavier and humbled by a bad first year with the Vikings, Smoot will be an important part of their new Tampa 2 scheme under defensive coordinator Mike Tomlin.

After picking off McNair and wrestling the ball away from Clayton, the sixth-year cornerback raced untouched, cocked his right arm with the ball in hand against his helmet, struck a Heisman pose with his left arm for the final 20 yards and finally bowled the ball through the end zone in an elaborate preseason-game celebration.


Mark Clayton couldn't catch Fred Smoot, and the Vikings ran away from the Ravens.
The Vikings certainly had reason to praise their defense. Both teams' first units played until halftime, and the Ravens gained only 86 yards while falling behind 10-0. Mike Anderson and Musa Smith managed 7 yards rushing apiece with Jamal Lewis resting a strained hip flexor muscle. Perennial Pro Bowl tackle Jonathan Ogden returned to action after missing most of training camp following his father's death.

"The whole offense struggled tonight. When you struggle up front, it's not a good night for the running backs, and that's what happened tonight," Smith said.

Minnesota's front four put plenty of pressure on McNair.

"He didn't have much place to step up and throw that football," coach Brad Childress said.

McNair was more concerned about correcting his own offense.

"It wasn't about them. It was more about us," McNair said. "I think we made too many mental mistakes for the third game."

Minnesota's Chester Taylor couldn't find running room for the third time this preseason, carrying 10 times for 27 yards against his old team. He's gaining 2.8 yards per rush.

Brad Johnson went 9-for-15 for 95 yards, with three completions for 43 yards to Troy Williamson, but Baltimore's defense was stingy as usual and yielded only a 45-yard field goal by Ryan Longwell -- who made three of his four three-point kicks.

Jason Carter, also a punt returner who is fighting for one of the last receiver spots on the roster, was the only offensive star for the Vikings. He caught two passes for 107 yards, including a 77-yard score from rookie Tarvaris Jackson in the fourth quarter to make it 20-7.

Wendell Mathis rushed 10 times for 41 yards, taking advantage of some extra snaps in a thin Minnesota backfield. Ciatrick Fason hurt his left shoulder in the first quarter and didn't return, and Mewelde Moore missed his second successive game because of a knee injury.

McNair has completed 31 of his 40 preseason passes, and this was his first interception. Acquired in a trade with Tennessee this summer, the oft-injured, three-time Pro Bowl pick is trying to give the Ravens the stability they've lacked at quarterback for years.

Kyle Boller, whom he replaced, went 9-for-15 for 105 yards with second-stringers. He guided an eight-play, 77-yard drive in the third quarter -- topping it off with a 1-yard scamper for a touchdown by sneaking the ball with his left hand just inside the pylon.

Boller had success with Clarence Moore, who made two impressive catches for 60 yards -- including a one-handed grab over Dovonte Edwards at the Minnesota 2 to set up Boller's score.

Third quarterback Brian St. Pierre struggled, throwing an interception to Willie Offord and fumbling after Ray Edwards' hit. The ball was scooped up by Khreem Smith and returned 29 yards for a touchdown with 1:30 remaining.

"I think this was the best game for the defense this preseason. We made a lot of splash plays," Offord said.

Matt Leinart Breaks Out! 15 of 21 for 144 and 1 TD; 'Zona Tops Bears 23-16



Once he gets set in the system, look out!

Leinart shines in Cards' win over Bears


NFL.com wire reports

CHICAGO (Aug. 25, 2006) -- Matt Leinart showed why the Arizona Cardinals selected him with the 10th pick in the draft.

Leinart took over for Kurt Warner in the second quarter and completed 15-of-21 passes for 144 yards and a touchdown to lead the Arizona Cardinals over the Chicago Bears 23-16 in preseason action.

He entered the game with 5:13 left in the second quarter and completed 12 consecutive passes at one point, while leading the Cardinals (2-1) to a field goal at the end of the first half and a touchdown early in the third quarter.

Leinart completed all six passes on his second possession as the Cardinals drove 54 yards in the final minute of the half, Neil Rackers' field goal extending their lead to 10-6.

After Antrel Rolle intercepted Rex Grossman on the opening possession of the third quarter, Leinart went 4-for-4 as the Cardinals drove 42 yards against the Bears' first-string defense for a touchdown that made it 17-6.

Warner wasn't bad, either, going 8-for-11 with 73 yards and touchdown pass.

As expected, the Cardinals' Edgerrin James did not play much. He carried three times for minus-2 yards on the game's opening possession and did not return. In three preseason games, he has 1 yard on seven attempts.

Grossman was 13-of-21 for 117 yards and an interception after two rough preseason games for Chicago (1-2) but did little to end the quarterback debate among fans.

Backup Brian Griese was cheered when he entered with about five minutes left in the third. Then, he went 10-for-14 for 131 yards and a touchdown, and heard a "Griese! Griese!" chant late in the game.

Bears running back Thomas Jones did little to distinguish himself, rushing for 3 yards on four attempts in the first half after missing the first two preseason games with a pulled left hamstring.

Jones, who rushed for 1,335 yards last season, was dropped from No. 1 on the depth chart for missing voluntary offseason workouts. But the anticipated competition between him and Cedric Benson hit a snag before the first practice at training camp.

Jones pulled his hamstring while running during a physical on July 27.

Benson, meanwhile, got hurt and got into trouble.

The No. 4 draft pick in 2005, he missed his third game with a sprained left shoulder and is questionable for the preseason-finale at Cleveland. And the Bears disciplined Benson for leaving the sideline last week against San Diego and missing a mandatory postgame meeting.

After completing 10-of-25 passes for 130 yards in the first two preseason games, Grossman hit his first five and led a first-team offense that was scoreless in the preseason to a field goal on the Bears' first possession.

The Cardinals took a 7-3 lead early in the second quarter, the 67-yard drive culminating with Warner's 4-yard pass over two defenders to a leaping Leonard Pope in the right corner of the end zone.

Chicago's Robbie Gould kicked his second field goal - a 39-yarder - with 5:21 left in the half to make it 7-6, and he lined up for a 32-yarder with 1:00 left in the half. But the Bears called time, went for it on fourth-and-1, and Adrian Peterson got hit for a loss.

Leinart, who reported late and passed for 45 yards against New England last week in his preseason debut, hit Larry Fitzgerald for a 27-yard pass that helped set up Rackers' field goal. Leinart's 4-yard touchdown pass to Bryant Johnson made it 17-6 early in the third.

Ben Roethlisberger Getting Sharp, But Eagles Top Steelers 16-7

Akers, Eagles defeat Steelers 16-7


NFL.com wire reports

PHILADELPHIA (Aug. 25, 2006) -- David Akers ' transition to a new holder is going well.

Akers kicked field goals of 40, 49 and 52 yards to help make Donovan McNabb's brief appearance a productive one, and Jeff Garcia connected with Greg Lewis on a 61-yard touchdown pass to lead the Philadelphia Eagles over the Pittsburgh Steelers 16-7.

McNabb led the Eagles to a pair of field goals before going to the bench. Meanwhile, the Steelers didn't get any points during the two series Ben Roethlisberger played. Charlie Batch threw a 23-yard TD pass to Cedric Wilson for Pittsburgh's only score. Kicker Jeff Reed missed field goals of 50 and 47 yards.

Akers made all three of his kicks with punter Dirk Johnson holding. For years, backup quarterback Koy Detmer held for Akers. However, Detmer figures to be the No. 3 quarterback behind McNabb and Garcia, so he likely will be inactive on game days.

"The 52-yarder was the best operation so far between me and Dirk, the most rhythmic," Akers said. "I'm going to learn from him and he's going to learn from me. We'll be good either way."

Roethlisberger finished 9-of-14 for 52 yards and one interception. McNabb was 7-of-9 for 79 yards, though he was sacked three times.


Kicker David Akers and holder Dirk Johnson are gelling at the right time.
The Eagles took a 9-7 halftime lead after Garcia drove the offense 35 yards on six plays in 38 seconds to set up Akers' 52-yarder just before the second quarter ended. Garcia completed passes of 15 and 18 yards to Reggie Brown on the drive.

Garcia's TD pass to Lewis put the Eagles ahead 16-7 in the third quarter. Lewis, fighting for one of the final wideout spots on Philadelphia's roster, beat cornerback Ricardo Colclough on a deep middle route, caught Garcia's pass in stride and streaked into the end zone. Lewis had his first two catches of the preseason for 91 yards.

"It was good to be able to do something positive," Lewis said.

The Steelers, 0-3 for the first time since going 0-4 in the 1987 preseason, remember that their starters didn't score a touchdown on offense last preseason -- but the team went on to win the franchise's first Super Bowl in 26 years.

Roethlisberger, whose June 12 motorcycle accident left him with a broken jaw, broken nose and a concussion, played two series in the first two games, leading the offense on one drive that ended in a missed field goal and one touchdown while mostly using a no-huddle.

Roethlisberger didn't speak to reporters, but coach Bill Cowher said he's pleased with his quarterback.

"I like where he's at," Cowher said. "I like his mindset. I like the way he's operating the offense and I like where he's at -- not just in games, but in practices."

McNabb, who missed the final seven games last year following surgery for a sports hernia, has played well for the Eagles. He's led the offense to two touchdowns, four field goals and 26 points on nine drives. Overall, McNabb is 23-of-31 for 283 yards, one TD and no interceptions in four games.

"If you look back to last year, we had about 19 or 22 guys injured. You just can't win any sport like that," McNabb said. "All of us are healthy. All of us are playing well together."

Roethlisberger looked sharp while driving the Steelers to the Eagles 35 on the opening drive. But he took an intentional grounding penalty, was sacked by Darren Howard on the next play, and his pass was picked off by Brian Dawkins on third-and-38.

The Eagles' first drive almost ended when Ike Taylor stepped in front of McNabb's pass to Brown and appeared to make an interception, but the play was overturned after Philadelphia challenged just before the Steelers' offense snapped the ball.

Akers then kicked a 40-yarder for a 3-0 lead, and hit one from 49 yards out on the next drive.

Eagles wideout Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season after tearing his right Achilles tendon in training camp, played in his first game since the Super Bowl 18 1/2 months ago. He had one catch for 4 yards.

Philadelphia running back Correll Buckhalter, who has missed three of the last four seasons with knee injuries, looked strong in his second game. Buckhalter ran for 31 yards on seven carries and had four catches for 16 yards.

Randy Moss Scores Twice; Raiders Beat Lions 21 - 3 - NFL.com

Randy Moss escaped the Detroit secondary. And yes, we do link back to the Mothership

Moss, Raiders rout Lions 21-3

NFL.com wire reports

OAKLAND, Calif. (Aug. 25, 2006) -- Randy Moss and Aaron Brooks look as if they're already in midseason form.

Moss caught two touchdown passes from Brooks and the Oakland Raiders opened the preseason with four straight wins for the first time since 1975, beating the Detroit Lions 21-3.

"It's going in the right direction," coach Art Shell said. "We're making progress in all aspects of our team. But it's still a work in progress. We have a lot to do."

Brooks got off to a slow start in his first season in Oakland, completing only one pass in each of his first two exhibition games. But after an improved performance last week against San Francisco, Brooks showed signs of being able to click with Moss better than Kerry Collins did last season.

On just the third play from scrimmage, Brooks lofted a deep ball down the middle to Moss, who easily beat Fernando Bryant for a 63-yard touchdown catch and dove into the end zone. Moss flipped the ball to the fans in the Black Hole after his first touchdown catch from Brooks this preseason.


Quarterback Aaron Brooks has looked solid since his arrival in Raider Nation.
"It was nice to finally hook up for six," Brooks said. "He ran a hell of a route. The safety bit on the crossing route. Randy did his job diving into the end zone. It was a great effort on his part."

Brooks went 5-for-7 for 65 yards on the Raiders' third drive, connecting with Moss on a 14-yard pass on a third-and-7 and then finding the big-play receiver on a twisting 25-yard catch in the back of the end zone.

Brooks went 3-for-3 for 59 yards on the next drive, which was capped by LaMont Jordan's 14-yard touchdown run that made it 21-0 midway through the second quarter.

The Raiders also excelled on defense, forcing three turnovers and holding the Lions scoreless until Jason Hanson 's 38-yard field goal late in the third quarter. The performance improved Oakland to 4-0 in the preseason for the first time since Shell was a player.

Shell, brought in to change the attitude in Oakland after three straight losing seasons under Bill Callahan and Norv Turner has the Raiders looking good with one exhibition game remaining.

"He is leading us in the right direction and the best thing about it is we're following," defensive tackle Warren Sapp said.

Detroit tried to revamp its offense in the offseason by cutting quarterback Joey Harrington loose, bringing in Mike Martz as offensive coordinator and hiring Rod Marinelli as head coach. With one preseason game remaining, the Lions still need plenty of work.

Detroit's only touchdown the past two games came on a 15-yard drive after a turnover in last week's 20-16 loss to Cleveland.

"It's no reason to panic and start doubting what we're doing," quarterback Jon Kitna said. "There's no reason for that."

The team came out flat after flying into Oakland Friday morning, instead of the usual practice of traveling a day in advance.

Kitna went 11-for-22 for 118 yards and one interception and the team managed only 76 yards rushing. Dan Orlovsky, who has moved ahead of Josh McCown as the No. 2 quarterback, went 7-for-15 for 88 yards and one interception.

"The first half wasn't what we want. We had two or three breakdowns, and those things just can't happen," Marinelli said. "It's inexcusable. Those types of things can't happen. ... I would have been disappointed (even) if it was a scrimmage."

Brooks, who was let go after a rough season in New Orleans last year, is showing signs of a revival in Oakland. He was 9-for-15 for 187 yards, while Moss had three catches for 102 yards.

After being challenged for the starting job by Andrew Walter early in camp, Brooks has solidified the job with the two string performances. He is 19-for-32 for 312 yards, three touchdowns and one interception the last two weeks and appears ready for the season.

"I will say this, we would love to have that kind of performance on Monday night," Brooks said, referring to the season opener against San Diego. "That's what we're working for."

Seattle Seahawks Ready For Regular Season - Anja Crotts



Well fans, preseason is halfway over and we are only a few short weeks from starting a regular season sweep. In past years, Seahawks preseason has not been indicative of the upcoming regular season. We have been known to win three out of four games, then go on to a terrible season. Last preseason we went 3-3, then went on to win the division championship, and then on to get cheated out of a Super Bowl ring. Bottom line, they are practice games after all.

However, these games do show us a glimpse of what it to be seen in regular season. Hasselbeck is steady and strong and right on target, which is exactly what we want to see from our fearless leader. Alexander only had a few touches, which was expected, but we know he will be fine and will b-line for the spotlight when the regular season rolls around.

We have also seen a few starters earn their spots back, such as Trufant and Herndon at cornerback, Boulware at safety along with key returner Ken Hamlin, who we are extremely lucky to have back on the field…. And lets not forget that! However, we do have an up and coming players to take note of – Jordan Babineaux. He can play all positions, plays them all very well, and is fighting for each one of them. On top of that, he is smart and has learned all the positions so he can fill in at any time, and he is also much respected on the field. He will be a key player to watch as the season goes on.

Preseason training camp has now come to a close, and Holmgren is pleased with the efforts and play by his team, as are the players. In every interview and article I've read, the whole team is optimistic for the upcoming season and very pleased with everyone's play so far. It's going to be a great season, and all of Seattle knows it, which is why every game is sold out! Atta Seattle!! Get ready, because it's time to win back our rightfully owned Super Bowl!

GO HAWKS!

Matt Leinart? Kurt Warner? NFL Fantasy Football - Anja Crotts

Baseball season is slowly coming to a close, and football preseason has begun! Fans are getting excited, and of course, the main talk is who is doing what on the field right now, but in reality, preseason games mean nothing.

However, these games do give us a taste of what it to be seen in regular season. We often see some players come out in shine in preseason, and therefore most fantasy football (FF) 'team owners' make their decisions based on preseason with a hint of remembrance from last season.

You'll see a lot of FF teams pick up Matt Leinart and Kurt Warner, two great examples of quarterbacks which are sure to be picked up by those inexperienced FF teams. The best strategy is usually to be calculated, smart, and steady… so fill your teams with players who are such.

Of course you know I'm going to say some Seahawks, such as Hasselbeck and Alexander, they have proven themselves to be great, steady, constant-numbers players.

There are the big name players as well, such as Tiki Barber, Steve Smith, Santana Moss, Larry Johnson, Larry Fitzgerald, Clinton Portis, and Marvin Harrison, just to name a few.

Will anyone be so risky as to take Terrell Owens? Probably. If he's in the game, he'll make plays. Chad Johnson is sure to make a solid return, but Tomlinson and Priest Holmes are sidelined… sure lots of unknowns this year with some big names! No matter what, stay smart and steady – you'll win the race!

Thursday, August 24, 2006

Carson Palmer To Play On Repaired Knee Vs. Packers

Just after having his knee rolled on by then-Steelers Nose Tackle Kiko Von Olafen, after the start of the new year 2006, Cinninati Bengals Quarterback Carson Palmer's made a great and remarkable comback just to be penciled in to play this Monday night against the Green Bay Packers.

I think Bengals Head Coach Marvin Lewis could have waited a week and given him more time to heel. In other words, treat him like Terrell Owens, who's being kept out of practice because of a hamstring pull of some sort.

NFL Driving ESPN and ABC's Sellout Of Commericial Ad Space - SBD



The Spots Business Daily reports that ESPN The Magazine's sold out of its ad space and it's upcoming NFL preview will have 110 pages of ads. They use a "Monday Night Football Surround Strategy."

"Prime-time Monday Night Football on ESPN and Saturday night college football on ABC has resonated with advertisers," said Ed Erhardt, president of ESPN ABC Sports Customer Marketing and Sales, who oversees sports programming sales for both ESPN and ABC. "And the heavy demand has allowed us to price it very aggressively at top of the market cost-per-thousand increases across all of our platforms."

What's not explains by ESPN and not uncovered by SBD is if the magazine's sold out, how's Monday Night Football doing? The report -- which you can read with a click on the title of this post -- leaves more questions than answers given the no-so-hot ratings performance of Monday Night Football in the recent past.

Wednesday, August 23, 2006

NFL Network's Deion Sanders Press Conference



From NFLMedia.com

NFL Network – 08.22.06 1
An interview with:

DEION SANDERS
ERIC WEINBERGER


DAN MASONSON: I want to welcome you to our conference call with the NFL Network's newest talent Deion Sanders. I'd like to turn it over to the executive producer of the NFL Network, Eric Weinberger, for a few brief remarks.

ERIC WEINBERGER: Hello, everybody. We here at the NFL Network are real excited to add Deion to our team. He will be on NFL Game Day, our highlight show, at 11:30 PM eastern on Sunday nights. He will also be part of our pregame show crew and Super Bowl coverage this year. More importantly, what we're so excited about is Deion being part of this team and contributing in more ways than just on-screen. Deion is so knowledgeable of this business, so knowledgeable of entertainment, has even before hitting the air already contributed in many ways to bring great football ideas that our NFL Network fans will even be drawn more to the network for. With that being said, again we're so excited to kick the season off with Deion. I turn it over to Prime Time.

DEION SANDERS: How is everyone? First and foremost, I thank you all for taking the time out for being on this conference call. It truly means a lot to me. I thank Eric, all my partners and friends at the NFL Network for just allowing me
the opportunity to get back on the television. Man, I missed it thoroughly in the last two years. Thank you, guys, for giving me a chance to do what I've been blessed to do.

DAN MASONSON: Let's open it up to questions from the media.

Q. Deion, do you look at it any differently working for a network owned by a league as opposed to a typical network? Also,
there's a bit of a tension with Tagliabue critiquing Bryant Gumbel. Do you feel if you say something, the commissioner will be like, Bring it back in?

DEION SANDERS: First and foremost, I think it's an asset to be working with the NFL Network. I don't view it any differently, although I do view it pretty much in a better sense of having the access to more coaches, more players inside the locker room than the normal networks would have. I'm thankful the NFL Network allows us to go more in-depth than the other various networks that cover the NFL. In response to your secondary question with Mr. Tagliabue, I don't think we're going to be censored. I think their desire is for us to be who we are. They hired Deion Sanders and they wanted his opinions. I don't think those opinions will be censored.

Q. There's a lot of ex- players that make their way over to the NFL Network. What attracted you to come there? What is your
general view of the network and where it's going?

DEION SANDERS: I like where they're going. I like where they're headed. They're young and fresh, innovative. They have the insights that are unbelievable. The access is unbelievable. I think it creates a tremendous platform for me to do what I'm gifted to do.

Q. Which is what?

DEION SANDERS: Which is be me and say what I feel and feel what I say.

Q. When people talk about the greatest athletes of all time, your name is mentioned quite often. Recently people have been saying Tiger Woods might be the greatest athlete of all time. What do you think of that? You had some pretty interesting comments about Bill Parcells with regards to TO. Would you expound on those as well.

DEION SANDERS: Okay, the first question, greatest athletes. I don't think you're an athlete if you don't have to get taped up before the game. If you don't have to get taped up or sit in a cold tub or get treatment afterwards, that's not an athletic sport, that's a sport that you have great skills at doing. In regards to Tiger, he's the best at what he does, so that puts him in the upper echelon. In regards to what I was saying about Bill Parcells, I live in Dallas, I live in the country in
Prosper, Texas, where I get the newspapers, the press, and I hear all the things. I was just sick and tired of the whole TO issue. I don't think we would be speaking of the Dallas Cowboys at length if it wasn't for the fact that TO is involved with the
team. It's just a circus. This guy has never had his work ethic questioned or had an injury questioned. Just to prompt him to get back on the field, I think that's nonsense, when he has pretty much a decade of film in the archives stating what he does. What he does, he does it well. Just rushing the guy back on the field, this is your horse, and you don't rush a horse back on the field before it's time just to satisfy your desires.

Q. Maybe you could expand a little bit on what Gumbel actually said that got Tagliabue upset. Gumbel said on Real Sports
that Tagliabue had Gene Upshaw on a leash. What is your opinion of his take on that?

DEION SANDERS: First of all, I'd like to speak on Gene's behalf. I think he's done a tremendous job. I'm coming in the fifth pick of the overall draft and I think received a signing bonus at $2 million. Now a few years later, many years later, these guys are receiving $20 million and $30 million. I think he's done a tremendous job with the salaries. Most of these guys can retire off the signing bonus alone, and that's a tribute to Gene Upshaw. I don't know what personal vendetta Bryant Gumbel has against Gene, but I think it should be taken care of personally if it's personal, not nationally. I really don't understand two African Americans who have worked their butts off to get where they are, one has a personal vendetta and would carry it out nationally on him. I really don't like that. I think it should be discussed privately. Both these men have been an asset not
only to the public but to the various communities and private sectors and their perspective (sic) fields. It sounds like a personal vendetta, it really does. I don't think it should be dealt with publicly if it's personal. I really don't agree with that. That's nonsense.

Q. There were some problems I think Upshaw had with a report Bryant did a couple years ago on overweight linemen. I think it stems maybe from some of that.

DEION SANDERS: It sounds personal and should be handled personally. It's just ignorance, and I don't think Mr. Gumbel handled it correctly.

VOICE: You mean Mr. Tagliabue handled it correctly?

DEION SANDERS: I don't think Mr. Gumbel handled it correctly. Mr. Tagliabue did
handle it correctly.

Q. I wanted to ask you, in the off-season, the Green Bay Packers acquired Charles Woodson, probably their most
high-profile free-agent acquisition. I wonder if you thought Charles Woodson was an elite cornerback? Is he among what you consider an elite cornerback in the NFL?

DEION SANDERS: I don't think Charles Woodson presents the fear factor that he once did. I think Charles Woodson is an excellent cornerback, but I think he's going to make a great safety in the near future. They have two cornerbacks, formidable, in Green Bay. Adding a third, and one of them could possibly nickel back, that gives them a tremendous tandem.
No, I don't look at him presenting the same fear factor that he once held. But he's still a great athlete. Green Bay should use him dearly. Their problems truly are not on the defensive side. Most of them stem, but I would give Brett Favre some
help also.

Q. What do you mean by "fear factor"?
DEION SANDERS: When a quarterback drops back, looks over the defense. When you look over to find a Champ Bailey, you look over to see where De Angelo Hall is. I don't think they're looking over there to see where Charles Woodson
lines up. That's what I mean. visit our archives at asapsports.com

Q. If you were a player on the Jets, Eric Mangini, first-year coach, came in and told you not to talk to the media, not to say anything, what would be your reaction as the player? What would be the reaction in the locker room? What do you think the reaction is in the locker room?

DEION SANDERS: If I'm a first-year player?

Q. If you were a veteran player, you're Deion Sanders, in the locker room when Eric Mangini comes in, first-year coach, he basically implements a don't say anything to the media policy, don't reveal anything to the media, be as bland as possible, how would you react as a player?

DEION SANDERS: Well, I probably -- first of all, I wouldn't do anything to be a distraction to the team. I've never thought I did do anything as a distraction when I played the game. Also, I viewed myself as an entity as well as the New York Jets. I was out there trying to do what I needed to to command the millions of dollars for my family and the security of my family.
If that meant being charismatic and charming and energetic in a press conference, that's what I would do. I never said anything to talk negatively about my opponent or my organization. I would keep those morals intact. That's a hard rap to put on players as well as coaches. I understand the Parcells, the Belichick philosophies of the coaches not speaking to the media. You really can't sensor a player because you really want the player to -- you can't in one state want him to be emotional, outrageous, go out there and tear someone's head off, but after the game you want him to be subdued. That's really forcing a man to have two gears. Some of these players don't feature two gears.

Q. How do you think the Giants and Jets will be this year?

DEION SANDERS: I think the Giants will do well. I don't know if the Jets have solved their quarterbacking situation as well as who they're going to start at running back or the offensive line. I don't think they've answered a lot of those questions.

Q. Eric, regarding Gumbel, do you want Gumbel to be part of NFL Network? Do you think he will be part of NFL Network?

ERIC WEINBERGER: For me to answer that, first of all, I'm here to talk to Deion. Secondly, what my group out here oversees is the studio portion of the network. We're excited to have him as part of the network, but I think it is more important for our group here to concentrate on what we're doing in the studio and on our pregame shows.

Q. Deion, here in Philadelphia Andy Reid doesn't like to use Brian Westbrook or Edell Shepherd to return kicks for fear of injury. You did dual roles all those years. Can you talk about why you did that and whether you were ever worried about getting injured on kick-offs, whether you think it would be a good idea to use Westbrook or Shepherd for the Eagles?

DEION SANDERS: Usually what people fear the most in life, that's normally what happens to them. When a person is on their sickbed, they're thinking about dying, sooner or later it eventually happens. I never really concerned myself with the negative part of it. I always thought in the positive. I'm going to return this for a touchdown, my team needs this, it creates field
position for the offense, so forth. In regards to those players not returning kicks or whatever, I played on a couple teams that
didn't allow me to return kicks also. I didn't understand. When I played in San Francisco, I may have returned one kickoff. That might have been in the playoffs. As well as my first two years in Dallas, I never returned any kicks. I do understand the method. I don't agree with it. But I think you should go with your strength at all time and not concern yourself with the negative.

Q. You're going to be talking to more of a hardcore football audience than during your time at CBS. Will you change your approach? Eric, will you use him in a different fashion than Deion was used on CBS? It seemed like sometimes there was a little bit of showbiz in there in addition to trying to pass on information. Will you be more of a serious analytical guy or pretty much the same?

DEION SANDERS: I think when the situation calls for me to be serious, you will get the serious side of me. But when the situation calls me to give you numbers and to give you statistics, I really don't think -- the fan doesn't care if the
Baltimore Ravens offense averaged 2.3 yards a carry. I really don't. I think they really care about why are they averaging only 2.3 yards a carry. I'm not really the one to get into statistics; I'm the one to really explain what's the problem, what's the
situation, how do we correct the problem. And if I could offer this in a charming and charismatic way, I think it's a two-fold win for the network because not only are we being informative, but we also are entertaining you while we informing you.

ERIC WEINBERGER: We also think we have a whole different platform for Deion as well where he has more time to talk about games that have already happened. He's going to have 90 minutes on a Sunday night and he's going to have three hours on a pregame show leading to our games, plus leading up to the Super Bowl he's going to have a full week to show all the different personalities and analytical skills that he does have. Deion, as you can hear from this call, he's incredibly current and incredibly analytical in what goes on in the National Football League. To no fault of their own, sometimes the pregame shows just don't have the time to dedicate to analyzing all 32 teams.

Q. I was curious about your thoughts on Mario Williams' potential here. I suppose the horse is out of the barn whether they did the right thing in taking him over Reggie Bush. Curious about what you've seen from Kubiak thus far, including that particular draft decision?

DEION SANDERS: First of all, Kubiak sat up under one of the best offensive minds in game of football to me, Mike Shanahan, whose offense is always proven and had the defense to support the offense. In regards to their first-round pick, there's a
reason he was the first pick of the whole draft. There's a reason they turned away from Reggie Bush. There's a reason this team is getting ready to play Peyton Manning and so forth in a division where you don't want to have a shootout
offensively; you need someone to stop the offenses that you play against. So I do agree with that pick.
Yeah, it's hard to turn away from a Reggie Bush because you never know the upside, you never know what you're going to get. But solid defensive players like that, you pretty much know what you're going to get. I'm happy with that pick.
I know a lot of thought and consideration and testing and concern went into that pick. I applaud them for having the guts to make that pick.

Q. How do you see football now that you're outside playing that sport?

DEION SANDERS: I'm much more appreciative of what goes behind the scenes as well as the product that is placed on the field. I really am. I took for granted a lot of things in football that were going on when I played the game. So stepping away from the game, then having the luxury to step back into the game, now having the luxury to step outside the game and
work with a network who has the emphasis on being direct, telling the truth, showing you what life really is inside the locker rooms of the NFL, regarding the cheerleading, making the squad in the NFL, just capturing the whole essence of the
NFL, I am happy and thankful and I've learned alot. It's been a tremendous learning process retiring from the game, going back into the game, and on television. I've pretty much completed the Trifecta and I'm thankful for it.

Q. What is your opinion about the international part of NFL, talking about outside games of NFL outside your country?

DEION SANDERS: I think pretty much every time we go to Mexico, it's sold out, isn't it? It's, what, 80,000, 90,000, something like that. I think we should continue to do so and branch out even into San Juan, Puerto Rico, and other places.

Q. Now that you're coming back into TV, is there anything that you've noticed that you'd like to see more of and less of? Are
there any cliches or sort of mistakes that folks make when they're broadcasting NFL games?

DEION SANDERS: I'd like to see more of the truth being told. I'd like to see less of us having a buddy system. You take care of your buddy, I take care of my buddy. I don't get off on that. In reality, I have so many friends in the NFL with regards to coaching, management and players, it's unbelievable. So I couldn't dare to even start to venture into, you know what, I'm going to take care of my buddy today because I know he was wrong, but I'm going to take care of him anyway. I don't
have time for that. I really want to give the fans what they deserve and want, and that's the truth and insight that they wouldn't normally get.

Q. What do you think of Bill Cowher getting kind of ticked at Jerome Bettis for Bettis saying he thought Cowher was going to
retire after this season?

DEION SANDERS: You know, it's sort of like what I just said. That was his buddy. I guess his buddy wasn't supposed to say that. I applaud Jerome for having the audacity to say so.

Q. What do you think of the Cowboys secondary? How do you think they'll be this year?

DEION SANDERS: I think they're going to be better, for one simple fact, they're practicing against a man who doesn't know but one speed. It's like lining up against Jerry Rice in practice, lining up against TO in practice, lining up against Andre Rison, the various teams that I played on. They challenge you. We're not cutting a deal here where you take it easy, I take it easy. TO doesn't cut deals. Mike Irvin doesn't cut deals. Jerry Rice doesn't cut deals. He's that same form. Challenging those guys each and every day will make them a better unit. One constant that people really negate to say that Dallas has had in the few and the last decade, the defense has always been a capable unit. Why? It's a guy by the name of Mike Zimmer, who is the defensive coordinator here. He has always been there, even when it is unheard of, a guy like Bill Parcells, this micromanaging head coach, wants to put a finger on everything, Jerry Jones said, You know what, you can bring in who you want, but there's one guy we're not leaving here, that's Mike Zimmer. I think that defense will always be up to par. Remember, this was the
No. 1 defense just a few years ago.

DAN MASONSON: Thanks a lot, everybody. Thank you very much, Deion. We'll see you on the air September 10th.

DEION SANDERS: Appreciate it. I can't wait, man.

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