03 January 2010

Cortez Kennedy Named An NFL Hall of Fame Finalist

On Friday Cortez Kennedy was named an NFL 2010 Hall of Fame Finalist. Kennedy was the third overall selection in the 1990 draft by the Seattle Seahawks. Kennedy was named to the Pro Bowl eight times and in 1992, having recorded 14 quarterback sacks, he received the NFL Defensive Player of the Year by the Associated Press. He was also named All-Pro 4 times.

Kennedy retired after the 2000 season. In 167 games with Seattle, he recorded 668 tackles, 58 sacks, and 3 interceptions. He announced his retirement in August 2002 after sitting out the 2001 season. He was given several offers by other teams, but wanted to finish his career in Seattle. He is generally considered one of the best defensive tackles to ever play the position in the NFL. He was a Semi-Finalist for the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2008, as well as a finalist in 2009.

In 2006, Kennedy was inducted into the Seahawks' Ring of Honor.

In 2007, Kennedy was named the best athlete ever to wear the number 96 by SI.com

Click here to order Cortez Kennedy’s proCane Rookie Card.

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McGahee backs Wes Welker

OWINGS MILLS, Md. - Ravens running back Willis McGahee has some special advice for injured Patriots [team stats] receiver Wes Welker.

“Be prepared to work harder than you ever have in your life,” McGahee said yesterday. “And when you’re back, expect to be mentally tougher. That’s a guarantee. If he does the work - and I know he will - he’ll be mentally tougher than he’s ever been in his life.”

McGahee, who played his college football at Miami, famously ripped up his knee in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, an injury so severe that when he was drafted by the Buffalo Bills it was with the understanding he would need a full year to recuperate.

Welker now faces a comeback of his own after ripping up his left knee in the Pats’ regular-season finale against the Houston Texans [team stats] last Sunday.

“The injuries aren’t the same, but the road back will be similar,” McGahee said. “From everything I’ve heard about him, he’s a hard worker. That will work well for him because, like I said, he’s going to work harder than he ever has.

“And his mind is going to be stronger,” he said. “When you go through things like this, you tell yourself you’re going to do whatever it takes to come back. The type of player he is, I’m pretty sure he’d like to do that.”

A Raven since 2007, McGahee led the team with a career-high and club record-tying 14 touchdowns this season. Yet the main threat is Ray Rice, who rushed for 1,339 yards.

“The running game helps out the receivers, and the receivers help out the quarterback,” said McGahee. “If we get the running game going, you know it’s going to be a great day.”

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Kosar's assets will be sold off

Former Browns quarterback Bernie Kosar had his bankruptcy converted to a liquidation after a judge granted a court-appointed trustee's request.

U.S. Bankruptcy Judge Raymond B. Ray in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., ordered Kosar's bankruptcy case to be changed to Chapter 7, according to court papers filed Jan. 6. Under Chapter 7 of the U.S. Bankruptcy Code, a trustee is automatically appointed to sell assets and distribute the proceeds to creditors.

Kosar filed for bankruptcy protection June 19 along with three of his companies seeking to restructure his debt under Chapter 11 of the Bankruptcy Code, court papers show. Businesses and some individuals use Chapter 11 to reorganize their financial affairs. Kosar listed $9.2 million in assets and $18.9 million in debt in court documents filed Sept. 23.

The most effective and efficient method to liquidating Kosar's assets is through a Chapter 7, Robert C. Furr, the Chapter 11 trustee appointed in October said in court filings.

Kosar had a Chapter 11 trustee appointed to take over and manage his case, at the request of his ex-wife, Babette Kosar, court papers show. Babette is owed about $3 million from a divorce settlement.

Kosar does not have any business prospects which justify the reorganization effort, and as of Nov. 1 he had missed child support payments totaling $105,000, Furr said in court papers.

Kosar, 46, started his 12-year NFL career with the Browns in 1985. He led the team to the playoffs in each of his first five seasons.

Before the appointment of the Chapter 11 trustee Kosar's lawyers filed what they called a "hybrid" plan to satisfy creditors' claims. Under the proposed plan his companies' assets, including a 6 percent interest in the NHL's 'Florida Panthers valued at $14.4 million, would be liquidated while he would keep assets including his NFL pension and a vehicle, according to court documents filed Sept. 30.

Kosar expects to make about $24,000 per month from radio and personal appearances and from providing services to companies such as Longaberger, court papers show. Kosar, who owes at least $15,000 per month for child support, estimates his monthly expenses at $13,800, leaving him about $11,000 to divide among his ex-wife and unsecured creditors.


Photo of the Week - Roscoe Parrish & His Bentley


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Belichick's man crush on Reed continues

It's no secret that New England Patriots coach Bill Belichick is one of Ed Reed's biggest fans, and whenever Belichick is asked about the Ravens' five-time Pro Bowl free safety, the coach gushes like a teenager in love.

So here is what Belichick had to say about Reed during his conference call with the Baltimore media. (Keep in mind that Belichick was answering a question about which Ravens unit is the most dangerous.)

"Ed Reed, I don’t think there is a better safety in the NFL than Ed Reed," Belichick said. "You look at the play he made against Indianapolis, that interception, to me, that’s got to be the play of the year in the secondary. That’s as good a play as any player can make back there, the way he set it up, and then reacted and played the ball. I mean, it was just a tremendous play."

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Beason talks Pro Bowl snub

Carolina Panthers linebacker Jon Beason has taken to his personal web site to say he's unhappy with being left off the Pro Bowl roster -- and to say he'll use the snub as motivation for a big 2010.

"Initially, I had a lot on my mind, a lot to say," Beason writes at JonBeason.com. "I had a lot of anger as well as disappointment."

Beason makes a specific point of saying he doesn't want anyone to perceive his words as a knock on either New Orleans' Jon Vilma, who was chosen as the NFC's backup inside linebacker, or on Washington's London Fletcher, who was chosen as the NFC's alternate. Beason doesn't mention San Francisco's Patrick Willis, who was chosen as the NFC's starter in the middle.

But Beason makes it clear that, in his words, "I felt like I was shafted from the Pro Bowl," and that when he found out he didn't make the roster, it was "a very demoralizing feeling."

Beason says he'll play in 2010 in a way that will remove any doubt about his Pro Bowl worthiness. 

"Maybe I should work out even harder and aim for being the NFL's Defensive Player of the Year and the Super Bowl MVP next year," he writes. "This won't be the last time you hear about Jon Beason being snubbed for the Pro Bowl. Because based on my play next year, they'll still be talking about it."

For as often as the Pro Bowl is dismissed as a meaningless exhibition, it's nice to see how important it is to Beason -- and how thoughtful he is about how to react to being snubbed.

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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McGahee a Starter in 2010?

Running back Willis McGahee held court in front of his locker today after coming out of a meeting.

In between questions about his up and down 2009 season, facing his little cousin on Sunday, and recovering from his knee injury (those questions came from a Boston-area reporter who wanted to relate McGahee's recovery process to the one Wes Welker will be attempting), McGahee was asked if he envisions himself becoming a starting running back again.

"I don't think nobody is comfortable with being a backup," McGahee responded. "I was always one of those guys who wanted more touches. But right now that's not the issue. The issue is keep going further into the playoffs."

I've got to hand it to Willis; for someone who has been "the guy" his whole life, from high school to college, to the NFL, McGahee has handled the transition to a backup role fairly well.

Sure, initially he wasn't too fond of the idea, but who would be? Instead of letting his frustrations carry over, he's come back this year, done all that he's been asked to do, served as a mentor to Ray Rice, and dealt well with the media along the way.

It would have been easy for McGahee to go on a rant about how he feels like he deserves more playing time, especially when he's racked up 14 touchdowns this season.

Instead, he's acted like a professional, which might help him get that starting job somewhere else next season if he doesn't end up back in Baltimore.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Payton ready for next run with Chicago Slaughter


Number 34.

Running back.


Quite the attention-getter, isn't it?

That no doubt is part of the reason behind the Chicago Slaughter's signing Thursday of Jarrett Payton as their new running back.

The son of legendary Bears running back Walter Payton now becomes the featured player on coach Steve McMichael's Slaughter, the 2009 Continental Indoor Football League champions who will try to match last year's success this spring in the Indoor Football League.

"There's going to be a lot of people saying, 'Why is he doing this?'" Payton said. "Let me tell you, there's a small window and you want to play as long as you can."

Payton has already been at it a while. He starred at St. Viator High School, played college ball at the University of Miami, had a brief stint with the Tennessee Titans, and then moved on to the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe and the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football League.

Now he's home again.

"I keep having visions of what it's going to be like when I step out on that field for the first time," he said. "It'll be a dream come true. I get to be home and play and kind of reintroduce myself. I'm not looking to go anywhere else after this."

Though indoor football is predominantly a passing league, Payton believes he can still be a big part of the Slaughter offense.

"I can help in a lot of different areas," he said. "I pride myself in being a running back who can catch the ball and do a little bit of everything."

The ever-demure McMichael sees the signing of Payton as a signal that things are headed in the right direction for yet another championship.

"Jarrett Payton is a high caliber player who was born with a football in his hands," said McMichael, a former teammate of Walter Payton. "The Slaughter is going to blow you away with the talent we are putting together for the 2010 season and will give you a reason to come out and cheer for a winning Chicago football team this spring."

The Slaughter, which plays at the Sears Centre in Hoffman Estates, opens its 14-game IFL season on Feb. 27 at home against the Rochester Raiders.

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Redskins' Shanahan ditching RB Clinton Portis?

Mike Shanahan is the man with the clipboard and whistle on the field now for the Washington Redskins and so it's his way or the highway. Running back Clinton Portis(notes) might want to head for the highway right about now, according to the FootballNewsNow.

Portis is set to make more than $7 million from the Redskins next season but that doesn't mean he's guaranteed a spot. Shanahan made it pretty clear that vets would need to earn their spots on the squad and that he is a big fan of the preseason Organized Team Activities.

OTAs will be a crucial time for Shanahan to start figuring out who he's going to play next season and Portis famously hates (and doesn't like showing up to) OTAs

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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McGahee's role set, but his future not so certain

Although his 14 combined touchdowns (12 rushing and 2 receiving) are tied for fourth-most in the NFL this season and his 2,422 rushing yards rank second in franchise history, Willis McGahee understands his role as the back-up to Ray Rice.

But that doesn't mean that McGahee has entirely embraced the notion that he can't be a starter elsewhere.

"I don't think anybody's comfortable with being a backup," he said Thursday. "I was always one of those guys that wanted more touches or whatnot, but right now, that's not the issue. The issue is to keep on working to the playoffs."

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Sailing a Dream

When I caught up with Clearwater's Olympic champion, Zach Railey, my spirits immediately soared! The familiar 'fwup, fwup' sound of wind on sail made communication erratic. At that very moment, he was out on the water "sail-testing."

Currently based in Miami, he's there preparing for the first stop of his 2010 world tour of sailing competitions.

Born and raised right here in Clearwater, Zach has always loved sailing, beginning in an Optimist Pram, sailboat at the age of 8. By age 24, against the odds, he had captured the 2008 Olympic silver medal. A replica of the medal is displayed at the Clearwater Yacht Club, where it all began. Subsequently, he received U. S. Sailing's 2008 Sportsman of the Year award.

This athlete's time is divided between practicing, fitness training, competing, and fund-raising. To keep fit, his rigorous workout schedule includes days of cardio training: swimming, biking, and running, alternating with days of sailing. Depending on workouts and peak events, his activities dictate when, and what, he eats. His rather scientific diet is monitored by a nutritionist provided by the U.S. Olympic Committee.

In addition to his demanding athletic schedule, Zach must raise half of the $150,000 required each year to maintain it. To meet this goal, he relies on continual support from the Clearwater Community Sailing Association and the Clearwater Yacht Club, as well as his family and friends. Official corporate sponsors include Speery-Topsider, Corro-Metrics, and Sunsail.

Zach sails a Finn, a single-person craft, one of ten Olympic-class boats. His favorite place to sail is a beautiful, serene location at the foot of the alps, LagodiGarda, Italy. He illuminates, "The great wind there is due to the temperature differential between the mountains and the lake."

Toward the end of February, locals may catch a glimpse of our sailor training out of his home place, the Clearwater Community Sailing Center. In late January, Sunsail, a world-wide yacht chartering company, will begin offering bookings for an October week-long sailing tour with Zach, in the British Virgin Islands.

Amazingly, Zach isn't the only Olympic competitor in the family. His sister, Paige, took second in the U. S. trials in the Laser Radial class. While the family has long-hoped for the pair to go together to the 2012 Olympics, in London, obstacles remain. First, both must triumph in the national 2011competition. Their mother, Ann Railey, explained that it could be a single regatta, or it may be more. Unlike other disciplines that allow alternates or qualifying-team entries, only the top-ranked sailor in each class will represent America on the Olympic team.

For those seeking to follow in his footsteps, Zach shares this advice, "They must be goal-oriented, not allow other things to interfere, and stay focused." He invites those interested in following or supporting his journey to check out his website, www.zach2012.com. Watch, as he sails toward the dream.

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Former Orioles Huff still looking for job

This time last year, Aubrey Huff and Melvin Mora were heading into their contract years with significant momentum.

Huff was the 2008 Most Valuable Oriole and the American League Silver Slugger Award winner at designated hitter after batting .304 with 32 homers and 108 RBIs.

One disappointing season later, however, both Huff and Mora are without jobs as spring training approaches. The Orioles have shown no interest in retaining either player.

Neither says he is concerned -- yet.

"I'm not worried about it. I did the same thing with the Orioles" as a free agent in 2007, Huff said. "It seems like every year it gets later and later. I don't know why it is. I'm just chilling out. I haven't heard anything. I've talked to my agents, and they're pushing teams and looking around. But it seems like unless you are a [Matt] Holliday, [Jason] Bay or [ John] Lackey, you have to fall in line."

Huff, 33, batted .241 in 2009 with 15 homers and 85 RBIs. He was traded to the Detroit Tigers in August and ended the season dismally, hitting just .189 with two homers in 40 games as a part-timer.

"It was frustrating," Huff said. "I was expecting to be an everyday player, but it just didn't happen. ... There's no doubt when I played, it wasn't pretty. There are no excuses performing like I did, but I have been an everyday player my whole life, and the whole situation took me by surprise."

Typical of Huff's easygoing style, he's not stressed about the lack of suitors. He is heading this weekend to Las Vegas to hang out with friends.

"Something will come along; it always does," Huff said. "And if it doesn't, it wasn't meant to be."

Mora, meanwhile, said several clubs have contacted his agent, including the Colorado Rockies, St. Louis Cardinals and Los Angeles Angels. Last month, Mora said, he spoke to Rockies manager Jim Tracy at length on the phone, and he said he talks regularly with Mets ace Johan Santana, who wants him to play for New York.

"You never know, but I hope not," Huff said. "If that's the case, I don't know what I'd do to be honest with you."

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Jarrett Payton to play indoors for Slaughter

Jarrett Payton, son of the late Bears' Hall of Fame running back Walter Payton, has signed to play arena-league football with the Chicago Slaughter.

Payton will wear his father's famous No. 34 jersey when the Slaughter begins play on Feb. 27 for head coach Steve McMichael, a former teammate of Payton's father.

Jarrett Payton played his college ball at the University of Miami before briefly becoming a member of the Tennessee Titans. Payton last played for the Toronto Argonauts of the Canadian Football League.

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Rolle Misses Practice

Free safety Antrel Rolle missed practice because of a bruised thigh, which caused him to sit out last Sunday. He declined to say how he was feeling, saying only that he would be evaluated as the week progress.

Click here to order Antrel Rolle’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Patriots Place Jenkins on IR

The Patriots placed leading receiver Wes Welker on injured reserved today, and his roster spot was taken by linebacker Thomas Williams.

Receivers Nick Moore and Robert Ortiz were signed to the practice squad, with one taking the place of receiver Darnell Jenkins, who was placed on injured list with an ankle injury. Jenkins was seen earlier in the week wearing a protective boot on his right ankle.

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Ray Lewis Not Worried About 'Brady Rule'

FOXBORO  –  During a conference call with New England reporters on Wednesday, Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis said he can’t worry about how referees are going to protect Patriots quarterback Tom Brady and enforce the so-called ‘Brady Rule’ during Sunday’s playoff game at Gillette Stadium.

“I’m so focused on trying to keep my team focused and try to get the Patriots and trying to deal with the Patriots,” said Lewis, who was upset at roughing the passer calls during his team’s 27-21 loss to New England on Oct. 4.

“I can’t even dwell back into that. Whatever’s going to happen is going to happen. If they’re going to throw a flag, they’ll throw a flag. Yeah, you’re [ticked] off at the moment because the way I approach the game and the way I play the game and that’s one thing. But when you talk about bringing it back up, that’s too much for me right now.”

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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McGahee named AFC Offensive Player of the Week

Willis McGahee was named the AFC Offensive Player of the Week for the final week of the regular season. He rushed for a career-high 167 yards rushing and three touchdowns.

McGahee won the award over two running backs (Kansas City's Jamaal Charles and Buffalo's Fred Jackson) who rushed for over 200 yards. But McGahee's performance helped the Ravens clinch a playoff berth.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Campbell plans to play with a cast

Cardinals DE Calais Campbell plans on playing with his left thumb in a cast on Sunday.

Campbell doesn't have to practice in order to play Sunday, especially because he went over the Packers' scheme throughout last week as well. We'd tentatively expect Campbell, who had seven sacks this season, to be there for the Wild Card game.

Click here to order Calais Campbell’s proCane Rookie Card.

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NFL Alumni vote Johnson top WR

Andre Johnson has been voted as the NFL Alumni Wide Receiver of the Year for the third time.

Johnson, who caught 101 passes for 1,569 yards, won the award for the second consecutive season.

The only other Texans to win the award were kickoff returner Jerome Mathis (2005) and defensive end Mario Williams (2007).

Johnson will receive the award during the NFL Alumni banquet during the week of the Super Bowl.

Click here to order Andre Johnson’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Edgerrin James eyes return to playing

Edgerrin James and his run to the Super Bowl while with the Arizona Cardinals last year did not lead to an encore during this NFL season.

The potential Hall of Fame running back — he ranks 11th on the all-time NFL rushing list — wonders what 2010 will bring.

James, a 1996 Immokalee High School graduate, endured the pain of losing his common-law wife, Andia Wilson-James, to cancer last April.

After her death, James made an effort to be there more for their four grieving children. He declined NFL offers until signing with the Seattle Seahawks after training camp, joining the team in late August.

The Cardinals had cut James at his request following last year's NFL Draft. Seattle cut James after he rushed for just 125 yards on a career-low 46 carries. He played in only seven games for the Seahawks and sat out the rest of the season.

"I wasn't able to put in the work last year to play at a high level due to a long offseason with personal things," James said. "I'm going to put in the work this year, and if a good situation comes along, I will play."

Then again, maybe James will retire.

"Having fun on a daily basis right now," James wrote in an e-mail to The News-Press. "If I get hooked on fun, you never know. ... Ha ha!!"

James, for the first time since turning professional out of the University of Miami in 1999, celebrated Christmas on Dec. 25. In previous years, he and his family waited until after the regular season ended in January.

But if James does return to playing, he has a good chance to ascend into the NFL's top 10 rushing leaders. With 12,246 yards on the ground, he needs 34 more to pass 10th-place Marshall Faulk, and he needs 67 to pass Jim Brown for No. 9 on the list.

Click here to order Edgerrin James’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Wilfork ready to return

FOXBORO - Dressed in a Patriots [team stats] warmup jacket instead of his usual No. 75 uniform, Vince Wilfork [stats] settled into his club seats at Gillette Stadium to watch his team play the Jaguars. With his wife, Bianca, the Wilforks received an ovation when they settled into the stands.
The support was nice. The experience of Dec. 27 was not.

“I’ve never seen a game from outside looking in on the stadium,” said Wilfork, a two-time Pro Bowler. “Now I can say that I’ve been on both sides. I’ve been in the stands and on the field. I don’t like the feeling. I’d rather be out with my guys, sweating and getting bruised up.”

After a three-game absence, that opportunity comes Sunday against Baltimore in the playoff opener. Wilfork’s presence, along with Ty Warren [stats], is critical for the Pats run defense against Ray Rice, Willis McGahee and the NFL’s fifth-ranked rushing attack.

“We pride ourselves around here on stopping the run,” Wilfork said. “Sometimes we did this year, sometimes we didn’t. But it all starts over now.”

His streak of 51 straight games played was snapped because of a foot injury. He missed wins against Buffalo and Jacksonville and the loss to Houston.

“Sometimes you have to take a seat and get healthy,” Wilfork said. “And that’s where I was. I’m looking forward to this week. I feel a lot better.”

Without the 6-foot-2, 325-pound former first-round draft pick, the Patriots put duct tape on their defense. They created the “five and dime” scheme to pressure the quarterback without any defensive linemen. And they relied on rookies such as Titus Adams, Ron Brace and pleasant surprise Myron Pryor.

“Those guys that played basically on the defensive line the last couple weeks certainly have gotten a good workload,” coach Bill Belichick said. “And I think in the long run that will benefit them.”

But when it counts, when the team needs to stop two players who have combined for 1,883 yards and 19 TDs, it helps to have one of the league’s finest to improve upon a unit that is allowing 4.4 yards per carry.

“(Wilfork is) the main anchor of the defense,” Pryor said. “He’s that dominant player that we need. Happy to have him back here.”

Teams often discuss how studying an opponent’s previous three games is key. For the Pats, those don’t include Wilfork or Warren. It creates a dilemma.

“Well, what you have to do is put them in there in your planning,” Ravens coach John Harbaugh said. “You understand a little bit what their skills are and what they like to do with them and guess, I guess.”

Wilfork suffered his foot injury against Carolina, tossing his helmet to the field in frustration when he stormed off. He missed practice time hasn’t had game action since.

How will he get acclimated for the physical game?

“That’s what practice is for,” he said. “To get back in the groove.”

Wilfork said practice went well yesterday, and that players are staying later and later to work. He also noted how his team no longer is an overwhelming favorite.

“We know what we have in this locker room,” Wilfork said. “We have a bunch of guys that want to win. We trust one another. We’re not where we want to be - there are more steps - but this is the first one.”

Click here to order Vince Wilfork’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Salmons finally heating up for Bulls?

John Salmons hit 7-of-12 shots for 19 points, seven rebounds, three assists, a steal and three 3-pointers in Tuesday's loss to the Bobcats.

Salmons was just 1-of-8 for three points in his previous game, but has scored 15 or more in four of his last five after struggling for most of the season. Maybe he's on the verge of finally getting it turned around and playing consistently, but that's far from a guarantee.

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Mike Rumph Works Out With DeMarcus Van Dyke

According to DeMarcus Van Dyke’s twitter account, he worked out today with former proCane Mike Rumph. Van Dyke said the workout was helpful but very cold. It’s great to see Mike Rumph helping out the current Hurricane defensive backs.

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McGahee in running for weekly award

Willis McGahee's 167-yard, three-touchdown performance in the Ravens' 21-13 win against the Oakland Raiders Sunday has made the running back one of three finalists for the FedEx Ground NFL Player of the Week honor.

McGahee is vying for the award with Kansas City's Jamaal Charles (259 yards and two touchdowns in the Chiefs' 44-24 win over the Denver Broncos) and Buffalo's Fred Jackson (212 yards in the Bills' 30-7 win over the Indianapolis Colts).

To vote, go to NFL.com/FedEx. The polls will close at 6 p.m. ET on Wednesday, Jan. 6.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Record-breaking Beason

CHARLOTTE -- With a 13-tackle performance in Sunday's win over the Saints, Jon Beason broke his own team record for tackles, finishing the season with 169 -- nine higher than his previous standard established as a rookie two years earlier.

He now has the top three single season tackle totals in team history with the 169 tackles this season, 160 two years ago, and 159 last season.

Beason’s three-year total of 488 is third on the Panthers career list, trailing only Mike Minter with 953 and Mike Rucker with 553. He moved past former linebacker Dan Morgan, who finished his career with 452 tackles.

With one tackle for a loss against the Saints, he finished the season with a team-high 12 tackles for losses as well as three sacks, two fumble recoveries, and three interceptions.

Beason's three seasons as a Panther have witnessed the three top tackle tallies in franchise annals -- 160 in 2007, 159 in 2008 and 169 this year. The next-best figure in history is by linebacker Micheal Barrow, who, like Beason, is a University of Miami product.

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Will McGahee Be A Raven Next Year?

Gordon: When used, Willis McGahee has proven to be a potent weapon. After the Oakland Raiders game, coach John Harbaugh praised his work ethic and attitude. McGahee seems to be in the best health and shape of his career. Why would the Ravens release McGahee next year, as has been rumored? Do you think he'll be back

Mike Preston: I'm not sure the Ravens are willing to pay McGahee the kind of money his contract warrants to be a backup. Basically, every team needs two good backs, but you don't want to overpay. I'm sure McGahee would like to move on and play for a team where he is the No. 1 starter as well. It took him a year, but McGahee has found his niche and accepted his role. But he still has plenty of juice left and can be a prime-time starter somewhere else.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Pro Bowler Ed Reed plays through pain for Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — It’s been a strange Pro Bowl season for Baltimore Ravens safety Ed Reed, who has unwillingly gotten an early jump on his desire to get into coaching after his playing career ends.

After missing four straight games because of injuries, Reed returned in a limited role Sunday in Baltimore’s 21-13 win over the Oakland Raiders. The victory enabled the Ravens to earn a wild-card berth, and they will open the AFC playoffs Sunday in New England.

Reed intends to start against the Patriots [team stats]. But the eight-year veteran also expects to again share playing time with Tom Zbikowski, who started at free safety during Reed’s absence and saw plenty of action against the Raiders.

"It’s hard, but if I can be that sixth man coming off the bench, I’ll do that," Reed said, comparing himself to a basketball team’s top reserve player.

When healthy, Reed is one of the finest free safety in the NFL. Playing as the last line of defense on a unit with a reputation for hard hits and big plays, Reed has knack for turning the game in Baltimore’s favor. The 2004 Associated Press Defensive Player of the Year and six-time Pro Bowler has a franchise-record 46 interceptions and 13 career touchdowns. He is the only player in NFL history to score by blocking a punt, and returning a punt, interception and fumble.

Reed has been hindered over the past two seasons by a damaged nerve in his neck, but it was hip, ankle and groin injuries that forced him onto the inactive list in four December games. From the sideline, he drew from his experience to provide advice and guidance to Zbikowski and the defensive backfield.

"It gives me a different perspective. Coaching is something I want to do, but not being out there effects you because you’re not able to communicate the things you want," Reed said. "Yelling from the sidelines, guys don’t like that."

Reed didn’t realize how much he missed being a part of the team until he returned to practice last week.

"It felt real good, just practicing and being around those guys," he said. "They push you. Being around them, it honestly helps you to get through whatever you’re going through. Pain and injuries or whatever. So, they helped me more than anything."

If the 31-year-old Reed can stay healthy, it will be years before he begins his pursuit of a coaching job. Playing with a slight groin tear and relying heavily on instinct after nearly a month of inactivity, Reed registered five tackles Sunday in Oakland.

"We knew this was a playoff game. I had to go," he said. "I felt rusty; all I did is knock off the rust. It felt all right. I’ve still got pain in it."

Reed’s return coincided with that of offensive tackle Jared Gaither, who also missed a month because of injuries.

"I think they both looked pretty good," coach John Harbaugh said. "Obviously, it’s tough to just go out there and play for the first time in four weeks. They haven’t had a lot of practice. I think they’ll get even better, but it was good see them out there."

Reed has only three interceptions this year, but makes no apologies for earning another trip to the Pro Bowl.
"It wasn’t a weird nomination. I played the majority of the season," he said.

His groin injury will probably keep him out of the Pro Bowl, although there remains a chance Reed will send his regrets if the Ravens play in the Super Bowl the following week.

"I don’t know about the Pro Bowl yet, as far as playing in that game. I’m not even thinking about that," Reed said. "I’m appreciative of the honor, but I’m just focusing on finishing the season."

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Portis Not in Redskins Future?

Running back Clinton Portis is another major question mark. Portis, who was drafted by Shanahan's Broncos in the second round in 2002, played in just eight games this season before suffering a concussion Nov. 8 at Atlanta. Portis finished with career lows in carries (124), yards (494) and touchdowns (one), and Shanahan also engineered the trade with the Redskins that moved Portis out of Denver in exchange for cornerback Champ Bailey.

Portis has a base salary of about $7.2 million in 2010, $6.4 million of which is guaranteed. He has roster and workout bonuses of a little more than $500,000.

Two weeks ago, Portis said during his final appearance of the season on ESPN 980's "The John Thompson Show" that he would have no problems playing for Shanahan. Whether Shanahan would want him as the featured back at age 29, coming off a season in which he was injured remains to be seen. Shanahan is known for being able to fit a variety of runners into his scheme.

Since the Redskins chose Ladell Betts in the second round of the 2002 draft, every team has selected at least two running backs. The Redskins have not drafted a single running back -- excluding fullbacks -- in that time.

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Campbell fires back at Portis

Washington Redskins quarterback Jason Campbell blasted Clinton Portis for his poor work ethic and lack of understanding about "what real leadership is," responding to Portis' comments earlier in the day about Campbell.

Campbell, selected one of six team captains by teammates the last two seasons, called out Portis for putting himself above the team and, in his opinion, an overall lack of professionalism Portis has exhibited in Campbell's five seasons in Washington.

"How is he going to say I'm not a leader?" Campbell said in a lengthy phone interview. "I mean, that's just not true. To me, that's somebody who shows that they don't know what a real leader is. A leader is not someone who leads by the wrong example. A leader is someone who is trying to do the right thing and trying to lead by example, and not just [being] about themselves. There's a reason guys get selected as captains, and there's a reason guys don't get selected as captains. Obviously, he doesn't have the respect of the locker room to be a captain. For someone to try to take a shot at me at the end of the season, after they haven't even been around, only speaks about their character anyways.

"There have been a lot of things I could have come out and said. But I never went out of my way to make those things known. I never wanted those things to leave the locker room because it's no one else's business. And for those things to be said, questioning my character and questioning my leadership, I think that's not the way to go, especially when you're supposed to be a team guy. Is that being a good teammate? If that's the case, why is no one questioning my leadership and everyone is questioning his work ethic? Everyone looks at that. I'm not going to get into an argument; I don't even like talking about stuff like this because it makes no sense and it doesn't help the team, but I'm going to speak my mind on it when this is what he's saying about me."

Portis's seemingly cozy relationship with owner Daniel Snyder has stirred resentment in the locker room because he rarely practices. Campbell is "not ready for that situation," Portis said of the quarterback's captaincy. "I think Jason has enough trouble in getting the plays in and worrying about this, compared to controlling the huddle and making sure, 'Oh, we do this and we do that.' But you go and vote Jason Campbell [as captain] -- you know Jason Campbell ain't go and tell the coach, 'Well, we need to do this or we need to do that,' or 'This is how the players want it.' The only person I think would do it is London Fletcher."

Campbell said the comment pointed to Portis' obliviousness to the facts, Campbell said.

"We [all the captains] do go to the coaches. It's not our fault if the coaches decide they're not going to [do what the captains suggest]," Campbell said. "But we have some guys who go above the coaches. And that's another problem. You have some players who are not team players.

"They don't do the things teammates do to help each other. And then at the end of the season, when it's been a hard season, you want to point fingers at other people because you're upset about your own shortcomings? You're upset because you get into it with your teammates because of what you do?"

During a 16-13 victory Oct. 4 over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Portis went to coaches in an effort to have Pro Bowl fullback Mike Sellers demoted for what Portis deemed to be poor blocking. Sellers eventually confronted Portis during a heated locker-room exchange in which no punches were thrown, team sources said, but Mike Sellers essentially told Portis his teammates did not respect him because of his me-first approach.

"Not one time have I come out and made any excuses about anything with my situation," Campbell said. "I never do anything to try to hurt my teammates. Some people need to stop being 'me' guys and start being 'we' guys. And another thing, and I want you to write this, too, how does he even know what's going on with our team?

"How's he [going to] question anything when for those four or five weeks before he was on IR [the season-ending injured-reserve list], he never even came around. He wasn't with us. He was never at practice. Who does he think was holding the offense together? He should go ask the coaches and the players if he wants to know. But he wasn't around to do that. He doesn't know anything about leadership."

Campbell said he was disappointed about airing private team matters in public, and especially frustrated that Portis would verbally attack him with the Redskins apparently close to making a long-anticipated announcement that former Denver Broncos coach Mike Shanahan has been hired as their next head coach. This is not the type of thing Snyder, General Manager Bruce Allen and Shanahan need to be confronted with at a time like this, but Portis left him no choice, Campbell said.

"You've got guys out there working their butts off, guys out there practicing and doing everything they need to do to prepare for Sundays, and you see him over there getting special treatment," Campbell said of Portis. "What does that say about him? I go out, I get beat down on Sundays, and I still have to go out and practice and get ready for games. And that's what your supposed to do.

"If you're about your team and trying to help your team, if you're not about yourself, you deal with the pain and that's what you do. What makes it so different for others? I mean, this is what's wrong with our team. Instead of a guy coming to you if he has a problem, instead of going to talk to the person, you go speak out loud in public. How does that help? How does that help the team?"

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Seminole Hard Rock Super Bowl Festivities Include Star-Studded Parties And Events

Hollywood, FL, United States (CNS) - While the 44th annual Super Bowl takes place at nearby Dolphin Stadium on February 7th, the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino in Hollywood, FL has lined up an entire week of events to celebrate the game day, including parties, concerts, and a host of NFL superstars.

"Rock the Game" will feature music-filled, star-studded events in order to kick off the Super Bowl festivities. Among them are a Celebrity Golf Challenge Dinner which will include appearances by Washington Redskins' Santana Moss, Colts player Reggie Wayne, the Giants' Sinorice Moss, and the Baltimore Ravens' Ed Reed for an exclusive red carpet event.

A Lingerie Bowl features teams of models sporting a sexier take on uniforms, with the event open and free to the public for the first time. An exclusive "Football After Dark" party follows with lingerie models, live music, DJs, VIP lounges, and player meet and greets. On Saturday, February 6th, Passion Nightclub also hosts the "Penthouse Magazine Super Party," complete with open bar specials and an AdultFriendFinder Private Room.

Reggie Bush and Devon Hester host the Red Bull Pool Party on Thursday, February 4th. It'll feature poolside fashion shows from the Kardashian sisters' DASH store and "Project Runway" alum Mychael Knight. Rapper T-Pain will make an appearance along with various other celebrities.

Also adding some music to the mix are blues legends B.B. King and Buddy Guy, whose concert is timed appropriately to the festivities. Jamie Foxx will also host a star-studded party at Passions Nightclub on Thursday, February 4th.

For those who want to participate in some actual football watching on game day, the Hard Rock Live becomes the biggest "watch party" for the 44th Super Bowl. Seating is free with drink and food specials available in the venue.

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Portis: Shanahan 'perfect guy for the job'

We already know that running back Clinton Portis would like to be reunited with his former coach, Mike Shanahan, in Washington. In his weekly appearance on ESPN 980's "The John Thompson Show," Portis provided more details about what Redskins fans -- and Redskins players -- can expect if Shanahan becomes coach. At the very least, he says, things under Shanahan won't be like they were under Jim Zorn.

"I think [Shanahan] would be the perfect guy for the job," said Portis. "I think coach Shanahan is one of those guys who you either going to play for or you're going to be gone. It's not going to be any in-between, you're not going to, like the situations we have now, where people didn't know where they stood, or who's getting in trouble. I think coach Shanahan will [stop] that. You either going to do what you're supposed to be doing or you're not going to be here. It's that simple."

As an example, Portis mentioned how quarterback Brian Griese and defense end Trevor Pryce were both highly-paid Broncos who were shipped out when they didn't mesh with what Shanahan wanted.

Of course, Portis didn't mention that he also left Denver after two years and came to Washington to continue his career.

"I think with Coach Shanahan, he's a straight shooter, if you're doing the stuff you're supposed to be doing, you're fine with him," Portis said. "If you're not, no matter how much you're getting paid, he's going to get you up out of there."

Portis said that accountability would be a dominant theme of the Shanahan era. For players, he said, "you either get in line or you get gone." But at the same time, Portis thinks the leash won't necessarily be a short one.

"I think coach Shanahan give you an opportunity to be a man. He's not going to come in with many rules and many guidelines," Portis said.

"He's going to tell you what he expects out of you, and it's not going to be second-, third- or fourth chances. He's going to tell you what he expects, what he's looking for and you either going to give it or you're going to be done."
Also, Portis doesn't expect Shanahan to come here and limit himself to Xs and Os. In Denver, Shanahan was the personnel guy, and he's the one who helped broker the trade of Portis to Washington.

"If he do come, I think they going to give him full control to change this team and run this team the way he want to run it," Portis said.

"Along with Bruce [Allen, general manager] and Mr. [Daniel] Snyder, get this team going in the right direction."

Click here to order Clinton Portis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Jack McClinton Statistical Roundup

Here are Jack McClinton’s Statistics through four games for his Turkish team Aliaga Petkim which has an overall record of 5-8. McClinton has played in 11 of their first 12 games.

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Brian Asbury Statistical Roundup

Here are Brian Asbury’s Statistics through 13 games for his Israeli team Hapoel Kiryat Tivon which has an overall record of 7-6. Asbury is averaging 27.3 points a game.

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NFL U Week 17 Photos

Check out Week 17 photos from around the the NFL of our proCanes. Click here or above on the proCanes Gallery link.

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3 proCanes Make Peter King's All-Pro Team

RT Vernon Carey, Miami.
Good idea by the Dolphins in not forcing him on the left side and allowing him to find a home here.

NT Vince Wilfork, New England.
For his versatility (he played some end) and how well he held the point in run-defense.

MLB Ray Lewis, Baltimore.
Had his most tackles since 2004 at age 34. How about this for consistency: Starting in Week 4, he had 14, 10, 8, 7, 8, 7, 8, 9, 7, 9, 9 and 12 tackles.

Near Misses:

WR Vincent Jackson, San Diego.
He's very slightly more consistent and just as game-breaking as Andre Johnson.

WR Wes Welker, New England.
Very tough to leave Reggie Wayne off this team, but it'd be tougher for me to leave the best slot receiver of this era off too. Welker led the NFL with 123 catches despite playing, in effect, 13 games with the early season-ending injury Sunday in Houston.

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Cardinals are optimistic that Campbell will be able to play

The Cardinals are optimistic that Campbell will be able to play in Sunday's Wild Card playoff game despite a fractured left thumb. Campbell underwent surgery Monday to repair his fractured left thumb. Campbell says he still has a chance to play Sunday against Green Bay, but "nothing is certain.

Click here to order Calais Campbell’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Coughlin Says Kenny Phillips Doing Very Well

Giants coach Tom Coughlin said that S Kenny Phillips is "doing very well" and "on schedule" in his rehab from knee surgery.

We're not exactly sure what that schedule is and the Giants probably aren't either. There were rumors that the patellofemoral arthritis could end the playmaking safety's career. Phillips' status for training camp remains in doubt.

Click here to order Kenny Phillips’ proCane Rookie Card.

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Carey To Undergo Surgery

Dolphins RT Vernon Carey is scheduled to undergo surgery on his right knee.The Dolphins have not detailed the severity, but it's likely just a routine scope. Though Carey merited Pro Bowl consideration this season, his play had slipped of late with the nagging knee and back injuries.

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Reed should be ready to play; Gooden close

At his Monday press conference, Ravens coach John Harbaugh said he was pleased with the way Ed Reed and Jared Gaither played against Oakland, despite not practicing very much, and that both should be healthy enough to play again this week against the Patriots.

"I think they both looked pretty good," Harbaugh said. "Obviously it's tough to just go out there and play for the first time in four weeks. I think they'll get even better. They both came out of it real well."

Harbaugh said linebacker Tavares Gooden was close to playing, but the Ravens ultimately decided to hold him out for another week.

"I didn't think he was good enough or ready to play, although he did," Harbaugh said. "He always thinks that. He always wants to play. Hopefully we'll get him back."

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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McGahee bided his time

OAKLAND, Calif. –- Behind a powerful stiff-arm delivered by running back Willis McGahee and the instincts of rookie linebacker Dannell Ellerbe, the Baltimore Ravens had just enough resolve to hurdle their final remaining road block standing between them and the playoffs.

McGahee’s emphatic left arm maneuver sent Oakland Raiders free safety Hiram Eugene flailing to the ground before the veteran runner accelerated up the sideline into the end zone for a 77-yard touchdown run in the second quarter.

McGahee rushed for a season-high 167 yards and three touchdowns during a 21-13 victory Sunday as Ellerbe contributed a clutch interception and a fumble recovery in the second half to propel the Ravens into the playoffs for the second year in a row.

Triumphing in a must-win situation before 38,400 at Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum sets up a rematch between the Ravens (9-7) and the New England Patriots (10-6) in an AFC wild-card game next Sunday at Gillette Stadium.

McGahee’s second touchdown run was the Ravens’ signature moment Sunday, capping a regular season defined by close losses, lots of penalties and a few squandered opportunities.

The former Pro Bowl runner busted through the line of scrimmage up the right sideline before faking Eugene off-balance and grabbing the defensive back by the shoulder pad and pounding him into the ground.

“I don’t know if it was a stiff-arm or a beat-down,” Harbaugh said. “That was a physical play, as physical a play as you’re ever going to see.”

McGahee had just enough energy left over to make it the remaining 55 yards, diving over the goal line.

“I wasn’t expecting it to work that well,” McGahee said. “I was shocked just like everybody else was shocked. I knew I was going to stiff-arm him, but I didn’t know he was going to fall backwards. There was no looking back.”
The Ravens overcame their share of struggles, especially Joe Flacco who was sacked four times and passed for a season-low 102 yards.

So, they relied on a strong running game and a stout defense to get the job done.

The Ravens rushed for 240 yards and three touchdowns on 35 carries for their second-highest total of the season behind their 308-yard output in a 48-3 win over the Detroit Lions last month.

Defensively, they stonewalled the Raiders. Oakland was limited to 51 rushing yards, an average of 2.6 yards per carry.

“With that type of formula, that’s how you win playoff games: with defense and an aggressive running game,” outside linebacker Terrell Suggs said. “You win a lot of games in the playoffs like that. We knew we had to win by any means necessary to give ourselves a shot at redemption. Now we’re in the playoffs and anything can happen.”

McGahee’s 36-yard run to convert a third-and-four from his own 15-yard line allowed the Ravens to run out the clock with Flacco kneeling three times.

McGahee served notice that he was going to be a factor on the Ravens’ second drive as he was untouched on his two-yard touchdown run behind the blocks of Grubbs, fullback Le’Ron McClain and center Matt Birk.

McGahee is now in the Ravens’ record books.

With his 14th total touchdown of the season, he tied former wide receiver Michael Jackson and former running back Jamal Lewis’ single-season record for touchdowns.

Afterward, he carried the game ball into the press room for interviews.

McGahee hasn’t complained about his reduced workload this season, accepting his role as Pro Bowl running back Ray Rice’s primary backup.

“It means a lot, but I thought my season went pretty well,” said McGahee, who has rushed for 528 yards. “I have 14 touchdowns, so I can’t complain. I might not have all the yards, but I had a lot of touchdowns. It was basically having fun watching Ray run and earning his first Pro Bowl. The ability this offense has, there’s a lot of power behind it.”

The Raiders seemed like they had prepared solely for Rice, who still rushed for 70 yards on 14 carries, and ignored McGahee during their preparations.

“I think they did game plan for Ray, but they had to stop the run,” McGahee said. “We were doing such a great job running the ball with the offensive line blocking like that, so it didn’t really matter.”

McGahee’s strong performance was a testament to his unselfish approach.

“Willis took over the game with the way he ran,” Harbaugh said. “And I think our offensive line deserves a lot of credit. Obviously, there were holes, but this guy was running north and south.

“He was powerful. He was explosive. And I think he’s worked really hard all season to have this kind of game. His attitude, his work ethic has been off the charts. Willis McGahee is a leader on this football team, and it was so good to see him step up the way he did.”

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Coach Smith High on Spencer Adkins

With 4:09 remaining in the second quarter, Adkins sprinted down the field during the Bucs' kickoff return. Shedding a would-be blocker, Adkins took down Tampa Bay returner Micheal Spurlock on the 12-yard line, right where he caught the ball kicked by Atlanta's Michael Koenen.

"I ran down and made my indicator reads," Adkins said. "He made the kick into the corner, which makes it really easy. You know right where to go."

Bill Kramer, who coached Adkins for the Naples Golden Eagles, watched that play from the sidelines.

"That made it seem like old times," Adkins said.

Adkins' parents, Mable and Lester, were in the stands sitting in Section 110 on the 50-yard line. They reunited with their son with about a dozen other family members and friends outside the stadium by the team's bus.

"I'm focused on 59," Lester Adkins said of his son's uniform number. "If you blink, you miss it. Players run faster and hit harder at this level. I know he belongs.

"It was an excellent tackle. He does what he loves. You're always going to do your best if you love what you're doing."

Falcons coach Mike Smith said he has noticed Adkins before and during his rookie season. Smith hopes to notice Adkins even more when approaching next season.

"He has the skill set to be a linebacker in this league, even though he had not played a lot at Miami," Smith said. "We liked his measurables. We like his mental makeup. He's had the opportunity to contribute on special teams this season.

"This offseason will be a big opportunity for him to become more familiar with our defense. When he gets more familiar with our defense, I think he'll have some more opportunities to play. He's shown a lot of progression. He's a young player who has great size and runs extremely well."

During the game's opening kickoff, Adkins pushed and then knocked down an incoming Lynch for a successful block.

Afterward, both players remembered seeing each other's uniform numbers - Lynch wore No. 41 - but neither player realized they had grown up 30 minutes from each other.

Lynch and Adkins were selected in almost the same draft spot in consecutive years.

The Bengals took Lynch in the sixth round with the No. 177th overall pick in 2008. Cincinnati cut him and then signed him to their eight-man practice squad this season. The Buccaneers signed him before the third game.

Atlanta selected Adkins in the sixth round with the No. 176 pick in the 2009 draft. Smith waited until mid-December to activate the 5-foot-11, 242-pound rookie.

Spencer Adkins carried a boxed pizza from Pizza Hut on his way to the bus.

Lester Adkins, who at 6-4 stands five inches taller than Spencer, held his son's bag and pizza, but he didn't dare open the box.

Said Lester Adkins: "He's too big for me to eat his food."


Reed returns for Ravens just in time

OAKLAND, Calif. – The Baltimore Ravens gained some reinforcements just in time for the playoffs.

During the Ravens’ 21-13 victory Sunday over the Oakland Raiders, star free safety Ed Reed returned after being out for a month with a slight groin tear.

Reed registered five tackles. Most importantly, he didn’t aggravate his injury.

“I felt rusty,” he said. “All I did is knock off the rust. It felt all right. I’ve still got pain in it.

“Coming into this game, we knew this was a playoff game. I had to go.”

Reed moved around well, but the former NFL Defensive Player of the Year understandably didn’t seem as instinctive as usual. Reed displayed good range and reactions.

The six-time Pro Bowl selection estimated his health and capabilities at roughly 85 percent.

Reed was substituted for occasionally by safety Tom Zbikowski, who played well while filling in for Reed for the past four games.

During his absence, Reed missed the camaraderie with his teammates.

“It felt real good when I got to practice, just being around those guys,” Reed said. “They push you. Being around them, it honestly helps you to get through whatever you’re going through. Pain and injuries or whatever. So, they helped me more than anything.”

The Ravens will need a healthy Reed next Sunday against the New England Patriots during an AFC wild-card contest at Gillette Stadium.

“Glad to win, man,” he said. “That was No. 1, getting to the playoffs and trying your best to stay healthy and not really worrying about it.”

Click here to order Ed Reed’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Salmons Struggles on Monday

John Salmons hit just 1-of-8 shots (a 3-pointer) for three points and one steal in Monday's loss.

Salmons has had a rough season thus far and may not get it going as long as Vinny Del Negro is his coach. We still recommend keeping him around on the bench, as he should eventually get it turned around. However, if you can't take it anymore, we wouldn't blame you for cutting him loose. If nothing else, you'll probably sleep better at night.


Q&A: “slowly but surely” is Lauryn Williams’ theme moving forward

American 2005 World 100m champion, Lauryn Williams, on her recent visit to Trinidad & Tobago, the country of her father’s birth, discussed with Trackalerts.com senior correspondent Clayton Clarke, her plans for 2010 and beyond - the US performance in 2009, Carmelita Jeter, her poor performances in the past two seasons, drugs in the sport among several other things.

The below are the questions and answers with Clarke and Williams.

Clayton Clarke: How do you feel returning to the land of your father’s birth? Lauryn Williams: I have never been to Tobago before. I have been to Trinidad one time when I was 11 years old. It’s really good to be back. I am really looking to reconnect with my family and find more about him and where he was and where he was from. As we speak I am heading to Charlotteville to look for some of the relatives. We don’t know very much about who remains there because a lot has gone to the States. So they gave me some names of some people that I just going to ask around and hopefully…

CC: What is the purpose of your visit? LW: I brought my grandmother (Mazi Williams) down for Christmas because she is getting close to 80 years old and didn’t want her to travel alone. It has been a week and I saw plenty of my family. As I said it is just reconnecting with them and getting to know about the area my father was born and the culture, which is part of me too. My grandmother has 13 brothers and sisters. I am staying at one of her brothers, Preston Williams. I have met his children. I went to the Maracas Beach in Trinidad. I went on the glass bottom boat to the Nylon Pool in Tobago where according to the legend I will live forever because I bathed in the pool.

CC: Who are some of the persons you had a chance to meet? LW: Ato Boldon escorted me around. I was very fortunate for that.

CC: What do you know of the sprinters in this country? LW: Definitely Hasely Crawford and I met Ato Boldon. The ones are competing with me now Marc Burns, Darryl Browne, Kelly Ann Baptiste, who I know is from Tobago and the new boy Renny Quow, I have not met (him) yet.  Kelly Ann is a really nice girl, she is always very friendly.

CC: What do you think of the US team’s performance in Berlin? LW: I think we did well. We had a lot of medalists. Some are saying we didn’t do as well as we did in the past but it is how you look at it. I really felt like they put their best foot forward and got very good results. I am very proud of the US team in Berlin.

CC: As you look back on your 2009 season how would describe it? LW: I think I could have done a little bit better. I am not going to make excuses for myself but I think my father’s passing took a little more of a toll of me than I thought it would. Everybody mourns a little bit differently. I was fine a good part of the season and I just sort of fell apart. I don’t think it was the best Lauryn Williams had to offer so I am really looking forward to turning around and pumping my self and getting ready for these times these girls are going 10.6 and 10.7’s. I would like to be in that same range as everyone else. I am really looking forward to putting my foot forward in my training and getting the best out on the track.

CC: You look forward to the season ahead, what are your plans? LW: I am taking it one day at time right now. I want to make sure I am in proper shape. It is an off-year now (no major championship) so what is important to me is being healthy and not go out there and do anything silly that would not have me ready for Worlds and Olympics in the following two years. I want to really work on my technique and the details. The theme for my coaching staff and I for this year is ‘’slowly but surely”. We are not going to try to rush anything. Usually you have to do so much in the fall. This time we are taking it slowly but surely and pay attention to the details and try to make the most of that and be prepared for 2011, 2012.

CC: Do you have plans to run indoors and why? LW: I had not made any plans yet as I said one day at time. When January comes around my coach will evaluate that and advise me.

CC: Are you planning to run at the World Indoor in Doha? LW: I have not thought of World Indoor as yet. It is not a big deal as a World Outdoor or the Olympics.

CC: You have not won any medals since 2007? What do think is responsible for that? LW: I think in 2008 I came out a little bit short. I was ready, I was fit. At the end of the day you could have eight people on the line who are capable of running the same time. Everybody can’t do it all at the same race otherwise you would have an eight person photo finish and (that) don’t happen often or ever.

CC: You are known to be a championship performer. You come through the season just among the rest and one can expect at a major championship Lauryn Williams is going to show up. What do you think is responsible for that tenacity for championships? LW: I have to give my coach (Amy Deem) the credit for that. She makes sure I am ready to peak at the right time. You know I will love to be dominating and winning all the races all year long and go to Worlds and win that too. It is always a process, everything is a process. I put out good times sometimes but not always the winning times. We are always working as I said to get technically in shape and race shape. I am always ready to get ready by the time we get to major championships because we set the schedule up to do just that.

CC: Carmelita Jeter was been one of the surprises of the 2009 season, becoming the second fastest female sprinter all-time. What are your views of her performances? LW: Her performances are amazing, you know the second fastest in history. It is something definitely everybody has been gunning for, getting the times down. You see the 10.8’s sometimes.  I think for women it is a little bit harder for women to be consistent and she was very fortunate to not only be consistent but to start the season off healthy the whole time. 10.8 has been kind of the bar for the fastest run each year and to come on down all the way to 10.6 is great. We had a lot of 10.7’s run last year. It is just a matter of being healthy and everybody stepping up their game a notch.

CC: Jamaica vs the US. Who do you think have the better sprinters? LW: Hmmm, I don’t see that there is one better than the other. I think the rivalry is good for the sport, for the media to cover it. But at the end of the day this is one world, one planet, one people.  We should walk off the track and it should not be US versus Jamaica.  I think some people are trying to make it so big that it creates a lot of tension and I don’t think that’s really the way the athletes see it. We all get along really good. Everybody is going to train to represent their country to the best of their ability. So, one is not better than the other. They are both very well right now.

CC: Lauryn, you have been one of the new faces of American sprinting after the drug-use, drug allegation period. What are your views on the current status of American sprinting and the issue of clean track and field? LW: I think that is one of the major things about me. The media continue to cover me even though I have not gotten a medal in the last two years.  At the end of the day the race is what is important. That is what gives you a platform to speak to people but your character is even more important so I could rest my head at night and know I didn’t do anything that would jeopardize what people think of me as far as being an athlete. Even my body, as a woman you would want no child born years from now with three eyes and twelve toes. There is never been an issue for me thinking about using drugs because my character is something that once you damage it, it is hard to repair.  I have said I want to represent the kids. I make sure I can give to the community. Your character at the end of the day is something you are going to have far after track and field is over. You have to make sure you don’t damage it.


proCanes Extend TD Streak to 122 Regular Season Weeks

Did you know that a former Miami Hurricane/current proCane has scored at least one touchdown in 122 consecutive regular season NFL weeks? Dating back to Week 15 of the 2002 season where Clinton Portis scored 4 TDs, at least one proCane has scored a TD in each regular season week since then. We have chronicled every touchdown since 2002. See below:

Week 17 2009:
Willis McGahee - 3 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Frank Gore - 2 TDs - San Francisco 49ers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 16 2009:
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 15 2009:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 14 2009:
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers

Week 13 2009:
Andre Johnson - 1TD - Houston Texans
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Week 12 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 1 TD - Baltimore Ravens

Week 11 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Andre Johnson - 1TD - Houston Texans

Week 10 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 2 TDs - Indianapolis Colts

Week 9 2009:
Greg Olsen - 3 TDs - Chicago Bears
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Week 8 2009:
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 7 2009:
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Brandon Meriweather - INT returned for a TD – New England Patriots
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 6 2009:
Jeremy Shockey - 1 TD - New Orleans Saints
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Week 5 2009:
Clinton Portis - 2 TDs - Washington Redskins
Ed Reed - INT returned for a TD - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 2 TDs - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 4 2009:
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins

Week 3 2009:
Santana Moss - 1 TD - Washington Redskins
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Sinorice Moss - 1 TD - NY Giants
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Greg Olsen - 1 TD - Chicago Bears
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts

Week 2 2009:
Antrel Rolle - Blocked Field Goal Return for a TD - Arizona Cardinals
Andre Johnson - 2 TDs - Houston Texans
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Frank Gore - 2 TDs - San Francisco 49ers
Bruce Johnson - 1 TD - New York Giants

Week 1 2009:
Willis McGahee - 2 TDs - Baltimore Ravens
Kellen Winslow - 1 TD - Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Reggie Wayne - 1 TD - Indianapolis Colts
Jeremy Shockey - 2 TDs - New Orleans Saints
Frank Gore - 1 TD - San Francisco 49ers
Devin Hester - 1 TD - Chicago Bears

Click below to see the rest of the list:

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proCanes Stats from Week 17

Andre Johnson: 6 catches 65 yards


Brandon Meriweather: 10 tackles, 6 solo tackles



Santana Moss: 6 catches 55 yards


Rocky McIntosh: 6 tackles, 4 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss, 1 Interception returned 9 yards

Calais Campbell: 2 solo tackles


Kelly Jennings: 2 solo tackles

Frank Gore: 23 carries 107 yards, 2 TDs, 2 catches 25 yards

Kellen Winslow: 5 catches for 56 yards

Roscoe Parrish: 1 catch, -1 yards, 4 punt returns for 18 yards

Greg Olsen: 5 catches, 94 yards, 1 TD

Devin Hester: 3 catches, 75 yards

Darrell McClover: 1 solo tackle

Willis McGahee: 16 carries, 167 yards, 3 TDS

Ray Lewis: 12 tackles, 8 solo tackles

Ed Reed: 5 solo tackles


DJ Williams: 11 tackles, 10 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Sinorice Moss: Played but did not record a catch

Jeff Feagles: 7 punts for 306 yards with a 43.7-yard average

Bruce Johnson: 1 solo tackle, 1 pass deflection

Reggie Wayne: 5 catches 21 yards

Jon Beason: 8 tackles, 7 solo tackles, 1 tackle for loss

Damione Lewis: Played but did not record a tackle

Phillip Buchanon: 1 solo tackle

Antonio Dixon: 1 solo tackle

Spencer Adkins: 1 solo tackle

Orien Harris: 5 tackles, 3 solo tackles

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Kellen Winslow wins beat writers MVP vote

Tight end Kellen Winslow won the annual St. Petersburg Times most valuable player vote.

Each year, we ask writers who regularly cover the team for local media in an informal poll who their team MVP is. Winslow won in a close vote. Most noted that Winslow was the most consistent player on the team as he finished with 77 catches for 884 yards. Even when the offense was horrific, he oftentimes was a bright spot.

Second place went to -- and this may surprise you -- quarterback Josh Freeman. The rationale from those who voted for him: That he was the biggest contributor in the team's three wins. Frankly, that's difficult to argue. And even in some losses, he was the one who gave the team a chance to win. His numbers probably sunk his chances of winning, but there's no arguing the fact that he turned in a few performances to build on.

Click here to order Kellen Winslow’s proCane Rookie Card.

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49ers ride Gore to another victory

It appears all the worry about how the 49ers' move to the spread offense would drag down Frank Gore's fantasy value was unwarranted. Gore continued his strong finish to the season, rushing for 107 yards and two scores as the 49ers slapped the Rams 28-6. While it's true that San Fran's pass-happy offense with Alex Smith running the show initially hurt Gore's numbers, he bounced back nicely, rushing for 452 yards in the last four contests. But here's an even more important stat to make owners feel better about Gore's prospects for 2010: the 49ers were 7-1 when Gore had 16 or more carries; they were 0-6 when he had 15 carries or less. The 49ers know Gore is the key to their success and will keep him as the focal point of the offense in 2010.

Looking ahead: Both San Francisco and St. Louis are in offseason mode.

Gore will be the top fantasy option for the 49ers again next season, but Vernon Davis won't be far behind. He had another great game in Week 17, catching six passes for 89 yards and a TD. That gives him 78 catches for 965 yards and 13 scores on the season, and he could easily be the first TE drafted in 2010. Also, keep an eye on Michael Crabtree (3-58), who figures to make significant strides in his second season, and Smith (222 yards, TD), who will be a fine QB2 with QB1 upside facing weak NFC West defenses.

Click here to order Frank Gore’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Campbell Injures Thumb

Cardinals DE Calais Campbell fractured his thumb and might need screws put in there this week.

Click here to order Calais Campbell’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Giving Willis Some Love

For starters, let's throw some love Willis McGahee's way. Not just for his performance against the Raiders -- 167 yards and three touchdowns -- but for his attitude this season.

Yeah, I know you're supposed to be a team player, and that perhaps you shouldn't get any extra credit for doing the things you're supposed to do as a professional. So we won't praise him to the moon and back just for not causing a stir in the locker room when Ray Rice emerged as the Ravens top running back. But don't let it go completely unnoticed either.

Swallowing your ego and doing what's best for the team is a difficult thing for an elite professional athlete. All your life, you've been living in a world where you're considered "The Man" by your coaches, your family, your friends and your fans. And then one day, it ends, and that's a rough transition for some guys to make. This season, McGahee handled that beautifully. Last year, he was clearly a little annoyed, but maybe it dawned on him that he was going to get paid either way, so if he simply played hard when he got the opportunity, that would be enough satisfaction.

He's been given numerous opportunities to stir up trouble this year. Every week, reporters have checked in with him, asked him how he's doing, just to get a read on whether he's still happy. And his answer has been pretty much the same: Doing whatever I'm asked. He proved today that he could still be a very good starting running back in the NFL, and that he can still be an explosive playmaker. That stiff arm on his 77-yard touchdown run was one of the best you'll ever see, and one of those rare plays that makes you stand up and say "Wow!" as a fan.

None of that should lessen what Rice did this year. Putting up 2,000 all-purpose yards is proof that he is someone the Ravens can build around. Rice is a more consistent player in the passing game, he's younger, he has a great attitude, and he's great in pass protection. So going with him, in the long run, was definitely the right move. But McGahee helped make it work by stepping aside and allowing it to happen without a fuss. Locker room chemistry and harmony are really important in professional sports, because there is nothing collegiate to bond players together. They're independent contractors who understand that it's a very cold business. A little complaining can easily undo the concepts of brotherhood and selflessness. McGahee can still play a big role on this team in the playoffs, and he'll be glad, 10 years from now, about all the carries did didn't get during the regular season.

Click here to order Willis McGahee’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Olsen goes out on high note

Greg Olsen had five catches for 94 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's win over the Lions.

Our View: This was one of Olsen's best performances in a season filled with too many dud games. Still, he did manage eight touchdowns and over 600 yards. He should manage an even better line next season with more consistent play from Cutler.

Click here to order Greg Olsen’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Adkins makes contribution for Falcons close to home

TAMPA — The first thing Spencer Adkins noticed as he prepared to play his first professional game in his home state Sunday was just how darn cold it was at Raymond James Stadium.

“I didn’t really feel at home today,” Adkins said. “It was a little nippy out there. I was expecting a little sun today.”
It was cold, 44 degrees when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicked off to Adkins’ Atlanta Falcons. But the former Naples High standout still had a warm feeling knowing that more than a dozen friends and family members had made the two-hour drive north to watch him put a lid on his rookie season. Head coach Bill Kramer was expected to make the trip as well.

“I take every game seriously, no matter where it’s at,” Adkins said. “It was definitely nice to come back home and know I had family here, though.”

The year ended about as well as Adkins could have hoped. Not only did his Falcons defeat the Bucs, 20-10, but Adkins made an important play on special teams to help secure the victory.

As any hopeful rookie should, Adkins downplayed his role.

“It was just another play,” Adkins said.

Humility aside, it was, in fact, a key play at a critical moment for the Falcons.

Click here to read the rest of the story.

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Beason's Pro Bowl snub will keep him from playing in front of home crowd

CHARLOTTE -- Panthers linebacker Jon Beason was among the notable Pro Bowl snubs last week. He never came out to talk about it, but not making the game clearly galls him, considering it's being played on his home turf. The South Florida native, who played at the University of Miami, was excited about the chance to make the all-star game in his hometown.

Instead, the honor went to Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma, also an alum of “The U.”

“Everybody can't go, but with his numbers, what he did this year, (Beason) should have been one of those guys,” said defensive tackle Damione Lewis, a college teammate of Vilma.

According to the league's game-day stats (teams keep their own by coaches grading tape), Beason had 134 tackles through 15 games, second in the league behind only Patrick Willis of San Francisco, the other NFC honoree. Vilma had 110, which was 16th in the league.

Beason had 3 sacks to Vilma's 2, along with the only forced fumble of the pair. Both had three interceptions. Vilma had the advantage of playing for the Saints, who started the season 13-0.

“Fans, players and coaches, I guess their opinion is different than mine,” Lewis said of Beason. “He played an awesome season. You look at him and Willis, their stats are almost identical.

“He did the work to be there. … You can't get hung up on it. Yeah it's disappointing, but people see and people know what he's done. That doesn't mean you can't have next year.”

Click here to order Jon Beason’s proCane Rookie Card.

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When is a Pro Bowler not a Pro Bowler?

The Baltimore Ravens and the NFL are involved in a dispute over the number of times Ray Lewis was a Pro Bowler. You must be asking yourself, "Is this serious?" Well, I am not joking, but I hardly take the issue as serious.

It seems that a couple of years ago, 2006 I believe, Lewis was voted to the Pro Bowl but was injured and did not go to Honolulu for the game. Instead, he chose to stay home so that the alternate, his friend and teammate Bart Scott, could go. Having been voted to the Pro Bowl, Lewis was paid the incentive money stipulated in his contract by the Ravens. The Ravens also paid Scott the incentive for making the Pro Bowl.

Where the dispute arises is that the NFL does not count that year as a Pro Bowl season for Lewis, while the Ravens do. Why does this matter? If that season is counted as a Pro Bowl season for Lewis, his recent selection this year moves him into second place for the most Pro Bowls by a Linebacker. Not counting it, Lewis is tied with two or three others. More to the point, with it counted, Lewis is one closer to passing Junior Seau for the most Pro Bowls by a linebacker. That seems to be important to some people, and I suppose in a way it is.

The NFL apparently feels that Lewis cannot be recorded as a Pro Bowler for that season because counting it as a Pro Bowl season is one of the incentives to get players to participate in the game. It is important as a marketing tool to get the stars to show up. By not attending, Lewis apparently reduced the luster of the game and opened the door for other stars to not attend but to still be called a Pro Bowl player. That move seems to threaten the NFL's cash flow from the game, which is apparently the whole point of what is otherwise a pointless game.

Click here to order Ray Lewis’ proCane Rookie Card.

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How John Salmons Could Alter History

Once upon a time in 2000, Allen Iverson(notes) was traded to Detroit. Except then Matt Geiger, a throw-in who somehow had a no-trade clause in his contract, didn’t feel like making the trip, and the deal fell apart. Two winters ago, Devean George(notes) prevented Jason Kidd(notes) from heading to Dallas on similar grounds; lucky for him, a trade was worked out that didn’t need his approval.

The situation of John Salmons(notes) in Chicago is less whimsical, and Salmons a better player than either Geiger or George. However, according to the Chicago Tribune, he could end up holding a similar place in one team’s history:

Should Salmons exercise his $6.7 million option, the speculation is the Bulls wouldn’t be able to offer a maximum contract to any of the big names in the most decorated free agent class in NBA history. That isn’t entirely accurate. But if Salmons opts in, achieving that optimum financial flexibility becomes more difficult and might involve renouncing the rights to restricted free agent Tyrus Thomas(notes).

Oh wait, I guess someone does care about 2010 cap space after all. Fantastic! The dream is still alive! But seriously, regardless of what you think of Tyrus Thomas, there’s something distinctly demoralizing about thinking that John Salmons could keep Chicago from realizing an imaginary Derrick Rose(notes)/Dwyane Wade/Tyrus Thomas human video game. Recent slump notwithstanding, Salmons is better than Thomas, but TT still gives Bulls fans just enough to keep them enthralled by his potential. Kwame Brown(notes), he isn’t.

More to the point, say "Tyrus Thomas" and at least there’s the hope that the future might be awesome. John Salmons is a perfectly good NBA player, but if he’s the fork you take in the road, mediocrity prevails. Why that would matter if the team landed a max player, I’m not quite sure, but it just doesn’t feel the same.

What does Salmons think? Not surprisingly, he had no clue: "I didn’t even know my situation had that big an impact and don’t look at the numbers like that." Nor is there any reason he should do anything but go for self.


US/Jamaica sprint rivalry blown out of context, says Williams

PORT-OF-SPAIN; Trinidad: Lauryn Williams believes the sprint rivalry between United States and Jamaica has been blown out of context, but says it’s good for the sport of track & field.

“I think some people are trying to make it so big that it creates a lot of tension and I don’t think that’s really the way the athletes see it,” explained Williams, winner of the 2005 Helsinki World Championships 100m event. “We all get along really good.

Everybody is going to train to represent their country to the best of their ability. So, one is not better than the other. They are both very well right now,” continued Williams, who was recently in Trinidad & Tobago where she conducted a seminar for young female athletes.

In the last two years, Jamaica dominated the sprints. In Beijing, the 2008 Olympics, Jamaica finished ahead of USA in all but the 400 metres and sprint hurdles event. Usain Bolt won the 100 and 200 metres in then world record times of 9.69 and 19.30; Shelly-Ann Fraser took the women’s 100m and Veronica Campbell retained her 200m crown. Jamaica also won the 400m hurdles women’s event with Melaine Walker while the men’s 4×100m team collected gold in a world record 37.10. The women’s team failed to make the baton exchange on the third leg.

A year later in Berlin at the World Championships, Bolt again stunned the world with world record breaking runs of 9.58 and 19.19 while Fraser took the 100m; Brigitte Foster-Hylton the 100m hurdles, Walker (400m hurdles), along with both sprint relay teams.

But asked, Jamaica vs the US who do you think have the better sprinters?, Williams, replied: “Hmmm, I don’t see that there is one better than the other,”…But at the end of the day this is one world, one planet, one people. We should walk off the track and it should not be US versus Jamaica,” added Williams who lives and trains in Miami, Florida.

However, she was quick to point out that “I think the rivalry is good for the sport, for the media to cover it.”

Meanwhile, Williams also believes despite Jamaica’s sprint dominance in Berlin, her US team did well.”I think we did well. We had a lot of medalists. Some are saying we didn’t do as well as we did in the past but it is how you look at it. I really felt like they put their best foot forward and got very good results. I am very proud of the US team in Berlin,” she said.

NOTE: Trackalerts.com senior correspondent, Clayton Clarke, conducted the interview with Lauryn Williams