Super Bowl Week proCane Photo Wrap Up

Check out photos of proCanes all around Miami during Pro Bowl and Super Bowl Week. We'd like to thank fellow Cane Katrina Campins for sending us the photos.

Alice Vilma, Ken Dorsey and fellow UM Alum and The Campins Company Founder & Owner Katrina Campins at Movie Director Michael Bay's house for the BIG GAME BIG GIVE during SUPERBOWL Week.

DJ Williams and and Katrina Campins at the Paparazzi Pool Party hosted by Terrell Owens, Chad Ochcocinco, Ludacris and Campins.

Tavares Gooden and Katrina Campins at the Paparazzi Pool Party hosted by Terrell Owens, Chad Ochcocinco, Ludacris and Campins.

Willis McGahee and fellow UM Alum and The Campins Company Founder & Owner Katrina Campins at Movie Director Michael Bay's house for the BIG GAME BIG GIVE during SUPERBOWL Week.

The Campins Company Sports & Entertainment real estate client Chicago Bears NFL Tight End Greg Olsen,  The Campins Company Founder & Owner Katrina Campins & Campins Chicago Luxury Real Estate Specialist Kara Olsen with Emily & Brett Romberg during SUPERBOWL Week at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

Kenny Phillips and Tavares Gooden at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

Edgerrin James and Clinton Portis at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

Ed Reed, Edgerrin James, Santana Moss, Andre Johnson and many more proCanes at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

The Campins Company Sports & Entertainment real estate client Carolina Panthers NFL linebacker Jon Beason & Chicago Bears NFL Tight End Greg Olsen,  The Campins Company Founder & Owner Katrina Campins & Campins Chicago Luxury Real Estate Specialist Kara Olsen during SUPERBOWL Week at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

The Campins Company Sports & Entertainment real estate client Carolina Panthers NFL linebacker Jon Beason ,The Campins Company Founder & Owner Katrina Campins & Campins Chicago Luxury Real Estate Specialist Kara Olsen during during SUPERBOWL Week at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

Antrel Rolle being interviewed at the Evening with UM Football Greats event.

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5 Things Sinorice Moss

Click here to order Sinorice Moss' proCane Rookie Card.

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McIntosh Reaches Out In His Own Way

Rocky McIntosh was feeling it--the anticipation of making a big play.

He had just stopped New Orleans Saints wide receiver Devery Henderson on an end-around, forcing a 3rd-and-1 in a Dec. 6 game at FedExField.

Next play, the 6-2, 238-pound outside linebacker set up behind the defensive line and attacked the line of scrimmage. He tackled running back Mike Bell for no gain, forcing the Saints to punt.

He jumped up after the tackle and pumped his fist as fans roared approval.

McIntosh is unafraid to show emotion on the football field.

In many ways, it is what drives him.

Off the field, though, he is quiet and maybe even a little guarded. He often shies away from interviews.

“I don’t believe that’s what I’m here to play the game for,” he said. “I’m here to be dominant and help my team win. All the other stuff is kind of nonsense to me. I’m focused on getting wins."

He prefers to communicate and reach out to fans in his own way.

McIntosh launched his own web site and he found an outlet on Twitter last year. He recently hosted a video on his web site in which he shouted “I love football” while wearing 1930s-era leather football helmet and dancing in front of the Redskins Players Lounge at Redskins Park.

His occasionally goofy sense of humor belies a real passion for football.

McIntosh enters the 2010 offseason with a degree of uncertainty, though.

McIntosh is scheduled to be an unrestricted free agent, but if the NFL and the players union cannot agree on a new Collective Bargaining Agreement, then the rules change. The 2010 season is uncapped and McIntosh becomes a restricted free agent.

Asked about his free agency status toward the end of last season, McIntosh brushed it off as the business side of the game.

He prefers to focus on football.

McIntosh arrived in Washington as a second-round draft pick (35th overall) in the 2006 NFL Draft. The Redskins traded up to get him because they figured he would not be available when they drafted at No. 53 overall.

Since 2007, the University of Miami product has started 44-of-48 games and proved to be resilient coming back from a serious knee ligament injury in the 2008 offseason.

Last year, McIntosh posted 115 tackles, second-most behind London Fletcher, two interceptions and two forced fumbles.

“I feel very comfortable in what I’m doing, and it’s showing up on the field and how I’m making plays,” he said. “I’m just trying to keep that approach.”

He is able to recognize plays as they develop and use his instincts to get in position to make plays.

“Definitely, I’m recognizing the offenses better,” he said. “I’m able to make quick assignment decisions and go ahead and make plays. I’m just playing with a swagger now.”

With that confidence comes an inclination to give back to the community.

McIntosh is a regular participant in the programs of the Redskins Charitable Foundation. He has spent time at children’s hospitals, schools and libraries. In November, he joined teammates and helped distribute food for the needy at Thanksgiving.

In 2007, McIntosh was selected as the Redskins’ nominee for the Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, given annually by the NFL to honor a player’s volunteer and charity work.

He seems to be at home in the community.

“I’m blessed to be here, so I definitely want to give back any way possible,” McIntosh said. “If anybody needs me, I’m bound to show up and help any way I can.”

Click here to order Rocky McIntosh’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Hester looks forward to Martz

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- Devin Hester is in a suite on the top floor of the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino.

On the ground level outside, around a striking and sprawling pool, Hester's celebrity guests -- who eventually included rapper Rick Ross and actress Kellita Smith (''The Bernie Mac Show'') -- arrive and pose with guitars on a red carpet in front of a dozen photographers. The classy event is courtesy of one of Hester's sponsors, the energy drink Red Bull, in the days leading up to the Super Bowl.

Naturally, Hester wishes he could be playing Sunday at Sun Life Stadium, but he still feels at home because his roots are deep in the area (he was born in Riviera Beach and went to the University of Miami).

Besides, Hester needs the downtime.

''I'm trying to enjoy myself a little bit,'' Hester said. ''I was really banged up this year.''

That he injured his ankle and calf were well-documented during the season, the latter one sidelining him for three of the season's last four games. But Hester said his left shoulder was also ailing throughout the regular season.

''You're timid and weak on that side,'' Hester said of his shoulder injury, which he said he suffered in a 27-17 preseason victory over the Denver Broncos on Aug. 30. ''I really couldn't use my left shoulder, really.''

The injury slowed him but didn't sideline him, and he persevered because he prides himself on playing through pain.

''If I'm hurt, and I can at least go 75 or 80 percent, then I'm going to try to do it,'' said Hester, who missed only one game in his first three seasons. ''I want to fight through it.''

He didn't defend himself from the verbal jabs aimed at him because his stats didn't seem to match his paychecks (he signed an extension through 2013 in July 2008 that included $15 million in guarantees).

''You don't want to be the type of player who makes excuses,'' he said, ''or else people will find more reasons to talk trash about you.''
Hester won't need surgery, but he said his shoulder isn't ready for weights so he continues rehab to rebuild the strength.

Equally frustrating for him, though, were his ankle and calf injuries, which robbed him of his best asset on the football field.

''My quickness wasn't there,'' he said. ''I couldn't push off.''

That impacted his effectiveness returning kickoffs and punts, and he was focused on building a rapport with new quarterback Jay Cutler, something he couldn't do if he was sidelined for long stretches. After 10 games, Hester was tied for fifth in the NFC with 52 catches for 514 receiving yards. But his numbers tailed off from there until the season-finale in Detroit, when he caught three passes for 75 yards.

As he looks ahead to next season, though, Hester is excited about the offense's prospects, from his quarterback (''he brings a lot more than people think'') to his new offensive coordinator.

In fact, when he heard the news on the radio while driving, Hester asked his passenger to Google Mike Martz.

''That's a guy a receiver would love to work with, the type of coach who spreads the receivers out,'' he said. ''That's what we're looking forward to. If he brings that offense he had in St. Louis, we're going to be a tough team to beat.''

Hester sees himself in the Torry Holt role, snatching quick passes and beating defenders in space.

As for returning kicks and punts, Hester said he's open to doing "whatever coach wants me to do."

During the offseason, aside from getting healthy, Hester said he wants to continue working on his route-running. Backup Bears quarterback Caleb Hanie is Miami this week, and they plan to practice some at some point.

For now, Hester has been spending quality time with teammates such as Johnny Knox and Lance Briggs, who attended the Red Bull Pool Party.

''Whenever you get to see those guys, especially away from football, it's a joy,'' Hester said.

He also visited his alma mater, Suncoast High School, to speak to students, as well as the house he grew up in. Red Bull accompanied him on his stroll down memory lane, and they will release a video later.

''I think it's going to turn out to be a nice story,'' he said, ''so I can't wait to see it.''

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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No tag day for Vince Wilfork

FOXBORO - D-Day for Vince Wilfork [stats]’s contract situation turned into Z-Day.

As in, zero.

The first 24 hours of the franchise tag window came and went, and nothing happened. The Patriots [team stats] did not slap their two-time Pro Bowl nose tackle with the tag yesterday, though they have until Feb. 25 to do so.

The fact that such a move did not happen could mean the two sides are negotiating, or at least, open to negotiating.

Neither Wilfork’s camp nor Patriots representatives would update the situation. Wilfork has said he would consider the franchise tag “a slap in the face.”

Wilfork, who was drafted by the Patriots in the first round in 2004 and then signed a six-year deal, wants his first big-money, long-term deal. The Pats would like to hold onto Wilfork, but no agreement on a new deal has been reached.

If the team makes Wilfork its franchise player, he’ll make $7.003 million in a one-year contract, with the total being the average salary of the top five players at his position in 2009.

Wilfork vehemently objected to being franchised, though he has not specifically said what action he would take.

“I want a long-term deal or I want to be free. Point blank,” Wilfork recently told WEEI. “(The $7.003 million) is decent money for most people out there. What I do, it’s OK, but I don’t look at myself as an OK player. It’s just basically a slap in my face and an insult to me to basically tell me I’m an OK player.”

Wilfork, who had 43 tackles while battling injuries this past season, decided against holding out during training camp. He wanted to do the right thing and play out his final year, then be rewarded.

While Wilfork said he would like to return to the Patriots, he is also open to playing for a team in Florida such as the Dolphins or Buccaneers.
It is not clear what kind of deal Wilfork is seeking.

Redskins defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth last year signed a seven-year, $100 million deal with $41 million guaranteed. A player nearly as productive, Kris Jenkins of the Jets, signed a five-year, $30.25 in 2008.

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

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Quadtrine Hill – The Next Great Heavyweight?

One look at the cover of the December 28, 2009 issue of ESPN The Magazine, and you can tell that Quadtrine Hill has the look to be a heavyweight boxing star.

Talk to the affable former University of Miami fullback for any length of time, and it’s clear that he also has the personality to be a breath of fresh air in a stale division.

But the first two elements won’t get you anywhere in this game without the third member of the triumvirate. That number three is being able to fight, and if the 2009 Florida Golden Gloves were any indication, the 27-year old Hill could turn out to be the real deal, as he defeated Carl Frederich, Christopher Roberson, and Jarrett Brock in successive bouts, with the knockout of Frederich in less than a minute…

“Six seconds,” Hill clarifies with a smile.

Yes, six seconds. Just enough time for Hill to walk to the center of the ring and drill his opponent with a right hook that sent him sprawling to the mat and almost out of the ring, even surprising Hill.

“I didn’t even think I hit him that hard,” he said. “Then I watched the replay, and his head snapped back in slo-mo, and he almost flies out of the ring and the scorekeepers are ready to catch him from going through the ropes. And it isn’t like I laid into it, I was backing up when I hit him. It was a right hook and I was backing up when I threw it.”

And all this came after less than two months of training.

As far as learning experiences go, it wasn’t one for the memory bank, but when it comes to making an impression, Hill certainly did.
“I wasn’t worried about trying to show what I had because I know I’ll have the opportunity to do that eventually,” he said. “I couldn’t knock everybody out in six seconds. Don’t get me wrong, if I could, I would (Laughs), but the next guy I fought I dropped him in 40 seconds with another right hook. The first fight I didn’t get to show much except that I had power, second fight I showed that I had everything else, and third fight and every fight after that is destroying people.”

If Hill sounds confident, he is, and he has good reason to be. As an elite level athlete in football throughout high school and college, he’s proven himself on the field of battle. As an amateur boxer he’s had nothing but success. But on Tuesday, at the Hard Rock Live arena in Hollywood, Florida, it all becomes real when he makes his pro debut against the always dreaded TBA. Yet if he’s nervous about jumping into the professional shark tank, he’s not showing it.

“I’ve never really been one to get nervous,” he said. “Ever since I was little I never got nervous for stuff. It’s more like anxiousness.”

Fight fans should be anxious as well, because if this experiment works out, heavyweight boxing may be changed for the better. Experiment, you might ask? Well, it’s the best description for what entrepreneur Kris Lawrence is doing with his Heavyweight Factory promotional company, as he takes athletes who were successful in other sports, predominantly football, puts them in the Lucky Street Gym in South Florida, and now attempts to make them into heavyweight contenders and hopefully, champions. Hill is without question the star of the first wave, the most successful pre-boxing athlete, and the one who looks to have the most potential in and out of the ring.

“I was an established football player – a four year starter at the University of Miami when we were the best team ever – so people already knew who I was,” said Hill. “They’re like ‘yeah, this guy is a phenomenal athlete and now he’s picking up boxing. Can a top-conditioned football player switch over and do something as well?’ And I think it’s picked up a lot of steam. I was shocked, but I know that everybody’s itching to see the next great fighter. If there was a great fight to come around for the heavyweights, everything would blow up. Boxing would blow back up so quick if you could put five or six heavyweights out there that people wanted to see. Hopefully, other people will follow the lead and bring some more good athletes into boxing.”

As a marketing tool, it’s brilliant. As a realistic venture after only a handful of amateur bouts, only time will tell. But one thing’s for sure, and that this isn’t a lark for Hill. He’s not a jock looking recapture past glories, and he’s taking this seriously – so seriously that he put his goal of returning to play in the NFL on hold when the opportunity to box came along.

“To me, football never even ended until I actually got serious into boxing,” said Hill, who spent time on the practice squads of the Texans, Bears, and Patriots in 2006-07. “I know I can still play football, without a doubt. With my athletic ability and what I did in football, it was one of those things where every time somebody saw me play, they’re like ‘how the hell are you not playing?’ I’d be on a team and they’d be like ‘damn, you’re so good, how’d you end up in this situation?’ I really didn’t have an answer for them. So I still knew that eventually, if I kept driving and kept pushing, I’d get my shot. It just so happened that my shot came in boxing first. Then things kept picking up and I got serious into that, and I just kinda let the football go. I had to ease my way out of football training to pick up some more boxing training. It was one of those things where football never really died until boxing picked up, so I never really lost that athletic bug.”

That’s not to say Hill seamlessly transitioned from football training to boxing training. Not only is it a different type of training, but in competition, the mindset changes in a subtle, but key, way.

“In football, you’re doing a lot with your legs, a lot with your core, a lot with different muscles, and everything was a hundred percent,” he explains. “When the ball snaps, there’s no relaxing or resting; you’re going full speed, full contact, you hit somebody, you’re driving them forward, and you try to burn all that energy. Then you break for 30 seconds and do it again for another four or five seconds. Boxing’s almost the complete opposite – you want to pace yourself and move yourself through the round, and that was the biggest thing for me to learn – not to go a hundred percent all the time and gas myself out. I have a lot of speed, I punch hard, but you can’t always pound somebody through the floor. Sometimes you’ve got to slow down your pace, take a little something off some punches, load up on others. You can’t always be full throttle all the way through the round. That was the hardest thing for me to learn.”

Especially when you’re dropping guys in six seconds, but what may set Hill apart from his peers in the gym and maybe throughout boxing here in the States, is that he is a diehard student of the game. Training for him doesn’t mean fighting every day and calling it sparring; he knows when to take the foot off the pedal and he spends as much time watching film and observing the action in the ring as he does in it. Along with his physical conditioning, that’s another gift from his days on the gridiron, when, for example in New England, the days would start at 7am and end at around 6pm. That’s not the case in boxing, so Hill (whose father Eddie was an NFL running back for five years from 1979 to 1984) is making sure to fill in those extra hours with studying time.

“I’ll sit down and watch film because I’m used to being prepared,” he said. “It’s like a learning preparation for what you want to do. We have a week to prepare for a game. We have a month to prepare for a fight. If I can learn an entire team’s tendencies – 11 guys and their backups - and what a team’s gonna do in a week, what can I do with a month to learn what a fighter’s gonna do? I can have someone read inside and out if you give me a little film. I sit in my gym, since I’m not gonna be training for any specific fighter right now – I’m still building myself as a fighter – and I just watch film on a lot of great fighters from back in the day who I would like to emulate and take some different things from.”
He’s been even picking up pointers and techniques from former heavyweight champions Oliver McCall and Michael Moorer, both of whom have been training the Heavyweight Factory roster. Ironically, both are two of the last vestiges of an era of American heavyweights that may not have produced Louis, Marciano, Ali, or Foreman, but that did have solid US-born big men like Riddick Bowe, Evander Holyfield, Ray Mercer, and Chris Byrd. Now, the landscape is barren, leaving the door wide open for Lawrence to bring in fresh faces like Hill, who is well aware of the situation he is walking into.

“I couldn’t name you two American heavyweights that were young and contenders,” he said. “And it’s one of those things where boxing goes as the heavyweights go. Boxing dropped because the heavyweights dropped. That’s the excitement and what everybody wants to see. As far as athletics go, it’s just a natural thing. People want to see people that are bigger than them and stronger than them doing things that they can’t do. As exciting as the smaller guys are, and there are a lot of great, young fighters, it’s not going to be as exciting as the heavyweights when they’re at their prime.”

“It’s sad, because America has the best athletes in the world,” Hill continues. “You can’t question that with the different sports we do, but all the big athletes are going to football and basketball, and they don’t really leave much for boxing. Boxing’s not the glamour sport it used to be. The heavyweight champion was the most famous athlete in the world back in the day. Everybody knew who Muhammad Ali was, even people without TV’s knew who he was. Mike Tyson, he hasn’t been in a fight in forever, and he’s probably still the most popular heavyweight in the world. When the heavyweight division’s strong, boxing’s strong. And we need to get some guys in there that are athletes and who can fight and do the sweet science the way it was created, instead of just sitting around and leaning on each other until whoever lands the big punch first.”

Quadtrine Hill is volunteering for the job, and on Tuesday, we get the first indication of whether he can pull it off or not. If he sticks with it, it’s going to be a long journey, but it’s obvious that the physical ability is there, and more importantly, he’s got his head on straight. That’s a fact made evident not by his graduating college in three years or being one class short of his master’s degree, it has to do with his understanding that more important than seeing great fighters, people want to see great fights.

“I’d love to get to that level where no matter who you put me in the ring with I’d make them look bad and completely destroy them, but at the same time, I know people want to see me actually have to sit down and fight with somebody and get in there with someone they think can actually beat me,” he said. “But right now it’s just good to bring some spark back into the heavyweight division in the United States.”

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Accusation casts shadow on Irvin’s sincerity

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. | Michael Irvin may have hustled me Thursday afternoon. But I really don’t know. I don’t think he did. I hope he didn’t.

About six hours before news broke that a woman filed a civil suit accusing Irvin, a former Dallas Cowboys great, of rape, he wowed me with a provocative, intelligent, mature 40-minute conversation inside the Super Bowl media center.

I wrote a column about our conversation. Thankfully, my editors canned the column late Thursday night when the Miami Herald released its story about the 3-year-old rape allegation at the center of the civil suit filed Friday.

The decision to pull the column is not an opinion about Irvin’s guilt or innocence. It’s a reflection of my mental conflict about the sincerity of my conversation with Irvin.

Irvin and his attorneys had to know the story and civil suit were coming. The woman, listed as “Jane Doe” in the lawsuit, appears to have purposely planned her attack on Irvin to coincide with Super Bowl hoopla.

She’s had close to three years to file a civil suit. Police and prosecutors said her original criminal rape allegation — a claim that came two full weeks after the alleged July 4, 2007 rape — lacked the necessary evidence to pursue. It’s also being reported that Irvin’s accuser previously asked Irvin, an NFL Hall of Famer, for $1 million to drop the case.

With thousands of sports reporters in town and Irvin here to broadcast his ESPN Dallas FM radio show, “Jane Doe” and her attorney apparently alerted the Herald she’d file her suit on Friday.

Irvin grew up in Fort Lauderdale, starred at the University of Miami and still maintains a large public presence in the Miami area. Given his history of misconduct as a Cowboy and public-relations disasters as a television broadcaster, Irvin is extremely vulnerable to allegations of criminal misbehavior.

Within hours of the Herald report, ESPN fired Irvin. So far, the NFL Network, which also employs Irvin, has said Irvin will keep his job.
Me? I don’t know what to think. Was Irvin on his absolute best behavior Thursday because he knew the Herald story and civil suit were coming?

Before I speculate, let me provide you a little background on my dealings with Irvin.

I’ve long been a critic of Irvin’s television work. When he worked for ESPN — at the same time that I did — Irvin’s shtick really bothered me. I thought he was too flamboyant, a stereotypical caricature of the irresponsible black athlete. When police busted Irvin with a drug pipe in his car, I began calling Irvin the “Pipemaker,” a play off his self-given nickname “The Playmaker.”

Irvin was aware of all this, though he never complained to me. ESPN TV and Irvin eventually parted company. During the 2008 NFL season I caught Irvin doing a radio broadcast of an NFL game. He was terrific — charismatic, insightful, articulate and passionate. He was the broadcaster I wanted him to be when he was on ESPN. I wrote a few words of praise about Irvin in a column I do for

A few months later, Irvin invited me on his Dallas radio show. He couldn’t have been any more polite and professional. He told me that he understood my job and that I had a right to express my opinion about his work.

Thursday was the first time I’d seen Irvin since being on his radio show. It was the first time we’d ever had a chance to really talk. I was blown away by his intelligence and passion.

He sounded like a mix of Harry Edwards, Jim Brown and Billy Graham. The loud-talking, all-style/little-substance trash talker had transformed himself into an extremely thoughtful person, someone with an important message for young professional athletes and the men who supervise them.

“There’s so much to be gained from process,” Irvin told me and two Miami radio hosts. “Professional athletics doesn’t have time for process. Athletes are given wealth instantly. We live in a society that used to prepare meals in a process and put them in the oven to bake and now we put things in a microwave and eat right away. We’re into instant gratification. We’ve lost the process. We’ve lost patience.”

I’m not doing Irvin’s message justice. He spoke eloquently and at length. I scribbled notes as fast as I could. I needed a tape recorder. His point was that athletes, particularly athletes from dysfunctional, broken homes, struggle when they’re handed instant wealth and fame but haven’t been provided years of training on how to handle wealth and fame.

He acknowledged that was his problem when he was a Dallas Cowboy. The allure of sex and drugs swept him up in his youth. And now at age 43, he finally has an understanding of who he is and what his purpose in life is.

“See, our problem as men is we find our worth in our women,” Irvin said Thursday. “That’s not right. Your worth is in the work you do. Your work is your purpose in this life. When you find your worth in women, you spend all your time trying to please this woman rather than pleasing God.”

Irvin said he found his purpose in his two sons, age 12 and 11. He said he lives in fear of his sons punching his name into Google and reading negative stories from his wild days. He says raising his sons has caused him to become more self-aware and self-reflective.

He talked extensively about a book, “The Edison Gene: ADHD and the Gift of the Hunter Child,” that he said helped him understand himself, his boys and other athletes.

Irvin won me over. I was impressed and thrilled that he’d evolved so dramatically. He gave me his e-mail address and cell number. I promised I’d stay in touch. I tried to contact him Friday afternoon to find out whether our conversation was genuine. I didn’t hear back. I hope it wasn’t all a hustle. I don’t think it was.

Click here to order Michael Irvin's proCane Rookie Card.

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Tracking proCanes - Mike Rumph - Part II

In Part II of our interview with Mike Rumph he talks about the differences between Coach Davis and Coach Coker, Terrell Owens, what the Hurricanes need to do to get back on top, "The U" Documentary and much more! Click here to read Part I of our EXCLUSIVE interview with Mike Rumph.

proCanes: Talk about Butch Davis and Larry Coker as coaches. They say Butch was a disciplinarian and Larry was loose. Talk about that difference and was it that obvious of a difference between the two and did Larry have as much control as Butch?
Mike Rumph: The good thing that Coach Coker had was great assistants. When you’ve got great assistants you’re always going to look good and I think that really helped him. I think he did a good job when he came in. I was a senior he didn’t bother the seniors really, but he would get on the young guys and I think that’s smart. Just overall discipline of how things go kind of changed when Coker became the coach. We did a lot of initiations and stuff like that [with Butch Davis] but he came in and stopped it. I thought that was important because that made me and my class really close because we had to stick together. We had to earn our respect with the older guys and I think that’s very important, but it comes to a point when you’re getting too physical with the guys when there’s fights and stuff. It comes to a point where you don’t want injuries, but I think there’s still got to be something. You’ve got to make those freshman earn it. The freshmen felt like they didn’t have to earn it, they felt like I’ve already arrived I’m here and nobody will give them a bother. With Butch Davis though, he was like turning the other shoulder, like I don’t know what’s going on and in the meantime we were fighting for our lives in there. [Laughter]

pC: What sort of initiations?
MR: You had to shave your head. If you play slick and go home and shave it without us doing it they try to do your eyebrows so you’ve got to deal with that. We had to jump off the big platform diving board off the pool. One day we were out there stretching, it was two-a-days, hot, it was like day 10 and he’s like ‘hey go over there and take those pants off and go to the pool.’ We were like 'awe here we go again,' but we didn’t know they were going to make the freshman jump off the tallest diving boards and I’m afraid of heights! We had two guys that couldn’t swim and they had to jump anyways. Kenny Dangerfield and Anthony Fisher, they had to jump anyway and they had the lifeguard waiting for them at the bottom. Shaving your head, singing, sing at lunchtime. That’s as far as I can get into all that. But like taping your locker up, that’s one thing that got me as a freshman. You would practice and get a little break in between practice and you didn’t want to hang around so you would go somewhere else because if you stayed in the facilities there would be horsing around and you would get no rest and you might have to fight somebody, so you would disappear until five minutes before it’s time to go back to meeting. We would come in and five minutes before the meeting your locker has so much tape around your lock. So, you’re like oh shit, you don’t want to be late and you’re trying to undo this tape and they’re just dying laughing. Other times, five minutes before practice you come and get dressed and your helmet is missing and they’re like I don’t know and you’re the like last one in there and another guy in there says ‘you might want to check the ceiling’ and you go up and check and find your helmet there. Can you imagine that as a freshman? You don’t want to mess up, you don’t know nobody, you’re coming in and you’ve got this much tape (Rumph shows two inches of tape with his hand) on your lock and the meeting is in two minutes.

pC: Did former players come back and train you?
MR: Ryan McNeill. Duane Starks. To this day I still get mentored by Duane. He’s a good business man too. But Duane Starks, we did a lot of drills together. Reggie [Wayne] and all of them always came back. Edgerrin is one of the guys who started all that stuff. I look at him as one of the god fathers of going through the probation years and then coming and being one of the first guys that started the first round draft pick streak. He was one of the first guys of being a first round pick and one of the first guys that said I’m not going work out at the combine. Why train in Indianapolis and go through the combine there when next week they are going to be doing the same thing in South Florida in the sun with the fans behind your back. So, we all decided were not going to work out up there and we’re going to train in Miami. Edgerrin was one of the first guys to do that, so I always look at him as one of the god fathers. He’s a really smart guy as business man and as a football player and most people don’t know that but he helped me understand how things were going to be as a junior and senior and what to look forward to. Al Blades too. He was a crazy guy but really emotional leader and the big brother on the team. You would always go to him if you had a problem because he had your back no matter what. He was a good guy to be on the field with because he intimidated a lot of the other players.

pC: He was one of my favorite players to come through “The U.”
MR: He was a great, hard hitter. Really pretty athletic guy. Understood the defense but really good on the motivation and intensity he brought to the game, like a Ray Lewis. When I went to the 49ers, Dorsey went there and Al Blades was there already and he had gotten so much better. I could just remember watching film and I was like “that’s Al?” His footwork was so much better. He got so much better being out there with the 49ers. He passed you know at such a young age.

pC: Why the number 8?
MR: I was 4 in high school. So I figured I was going to be 4 but it wasn’t available. Najeh [Davenport] had it. So I got 8.

pC: Any nicknames?
MR: When I was at UM, “eight ball.” When I played the 49ers they called me Old G. That’s because I was one of the oldest players in the locker room I was like 24.

pC: Really?
MR: 25 is old man!

pC: You were drafted in '02 and you were the last Hurricane drafted in the 1st round. Talk about how a lot of people might call you a bust. You went through a lot of injuries and they tried to move you to safety. What was the hard part of transitioning and did you play as long as you would have liked?
MR: The tide changes in the NFL a lot just like the ocean. I was in a lot of rough tides. I went through three different coaches in the 49ers in the last four years and that’s tough even in the business. If you’re in the business and you got a new boss every year it’s hard to adapt and most new bosses want to bring in their own employees. I went from Mariucci and the playoffs. He got fired the day after the playoffs which was stupid. Then to Dennis Erickson for one year, then to Mike Nolan for two years and with Nolan he moved me to safety so I said, “great here we go I’m going to show you how I can play safety” and in the first day he moved me to safety I tore a ligament in my foot. So I came back a year later as a safety. I was jacking people up every game, I was player of the week, I was jacked up killing people as safety and he moved me back to corner. Right after that they traded me to the Redskins. I was upset but the Redskins just came off of second playoffs in ‘05 so I was like okay. I’m playing with Sean [Taylor], I’m playing with Rocky McIntosh, Santana [Moss], all my guys are there so I’m good. So when I went to the Redskins I had what’s called a cage locker. Its not a real locker it’s just a moveable one for guys that are not going to last. I had that locker, I had never had that being a first round pick, I never had a locker like that so I just took that to build my fire and I went out there and had one of the best pre-seasons of my team.

So right away I made a team, they brought me to replace Shawn Springs who was hurt but he came off his injury like midway through the season and they deactivated me right when he got healthy. That means you could watch but you can’t play. They deactivated me for six games. I had a knee bursa which means that there’s fluid in my knee but I had that week one and I played all seven games with that and my stats weren’t bad. I had good stats. I didn’t get scored on and that game he came back I got scored on with Peyton Manning and Marvin Harrison on a five yard slant for a touchdown. That’s the only time I got scored on the whole year. All the other guys got scored on every game and Shawn came back and they deactivated me, so after that I went to free agency as a guy who only played seven games in the season and people want to know why I only played that much. That was messed up. It’s hard to come home and explain to your son because he was like ‘why you not playing’ and whatever so it was kind of tough but then I went into free agency and I went to the Rams and that was one of the worst mistakes. That’s like leaving UM to go to Florida State.

pC: Did you have a choice?
MR: Yeah, but my agent was saying that’s the best position for me and the whole time he was the best agent but at the end it kind of faded away and he couldn’t get too much going for me. So I was just upset with the unloyalty of the league and jumping from team to team. I was always like I bleed for whatever team I’m on that’s my team. I hated moving around and I had to move my family like three times and my kids leaving school every few months. I just told myself I can make more money if I really work hard, I can make more money without football and as a business man instead. I really believe that. It’s taking me a little long but who knew that the recession was going to come up. I retired in ‘07 and the recession hit right there. So it was hard to start my puppy business and Play Fast in the middle of a recession.

pC: Was it a hard transition to safety?
MR: It is. The change from corner safety is tough but what helped me is, being a corner I knew what I wanted my safety to do. I knew what I would like in my safety because I had some really good safeties playing with me so I instantly became that guy who I wanted my safeties to be; a communicator, and intimidator, a guy that could cover, a guy that could come up with plays against the run and that’s pretty much it as a safety. You could call all the plays but you’ve got to be thinking on the run but it wasn’t a hard transition for me because I played it. I had so much success I knew what I would want a safety to be. I never shut up. I was always talking. Watch this one, watch that one, when the motion comes they’re going to do this, when they switch covers and all that stuff. I was just constantly talking and that way we would always know what’s going on and we might be wrong but when we’re wrong everybody’s wrong not I’m wrong and you’re right. The communication aspect of it, that’s what I brought to the game and I think I didn’t have enough time as a safety because I told Reed, I always messed with Reed a lot saying "I’ll be a better safety than you in the league man." But he has really good hands. It wasn’t a bad transition for me at all and I shocked a lot of my teammates and a lot of my coaches how I came up and was really aggressive with the run.

pC: Who was one person that was influential in developing your game?
MR: I've got to say Nick Ward was the guy. I just couldn’t understand. I thought he was one of the best corners out there but I think he got into Butch Davis’ doghouse and they didn’t play him. In practice he was outstanding but in games it never really turned on in the games. But he was a guy that taught me a lot. Jeff Popovich was a guy who I trained with a lot my sophomore year that helped me improve. He was the guy where we worked out for two hours with Swasey and then I'd say "Jeff let’s do 30 more minutes of football drills" and he was like ‘let’s go!’ That same guy that Jeff was for me in college I had guys like that in high school. I always picked the guy that I knew they didn’t mind working. If I was going to work out, I was going to work out with the hardest worker, Delvin Brown. If I’m going to run sprints, I’m next to Santana. If I’m going against a receiver, I’m trying to go against the best, so I was always putting myself with people that were going to push me to the next level. Influential players Nate Webster, the tenacity, everybody knows Nate. Nate was an inspirational player, Al [Blades] was, Coach Pagano, Coach Shannon.

pC: Do you have any game day traditions? Songs?
MR: Yeah, Sade. That’s my girl. She’s like my girl that my wife don’t know, but she don’t know either. [Laughter] But that’s my favorite, man. As a corner you gotta manage the rah, rah, rah, to be really focused and calm. I would warm up real intense but when I got into the locker room right before the game I’d kinda put on my Sade and mellow out. Just relax and start really mentally focusing on my technique and how I’m going to place my receiver. I would listen to her, Sade’s greatest hits, and Lover’s Rock. When I got a little older Lover’s rock became my one and I’d play between tracks #2 thru #4 and I’d fall asleep sometimes in my locker. You know you’re so nervous and you’re just like already relaxing and you fall asleep. But that’s my girl before the game I always listen to her.

pC: What do you think is the biggest difference between playing in NFL and college?
MR: The overall speed of the game. People say the speed of the receiver or corner. I didn’t see a big difference because I had going up against a lot of talent but those offensive lineman and defensive lineman, they’re so fast and so agile . The first game in the NFL I see a lineman come in and I was like I’ll do a little move like this and the lineman did the same thing and I was like how’d he get me like that? Those big guys, they’re just so agile like that and those big guys as soon the quarter back says hut they’re already at you. You gotta learn to hit them low. When you hit them in the knees they have to fall anyway.

pC: You were TO’s (Terrell Owens) teammate he wasn’t as crazy in San Francisco as when he went to the Eagles, and Cowboys. How was he as a teammate?
MR: TO was a good teammate. He’s great to have on your team. He has his circle of people who he really trusts, that he deals with on a daily basis and sometimes he may not let everybody in on his circle. He’s from a country town, grew up with his grandma just like me and I guess he just didn’t have a lot and once he got the money they say money doesn’t really change you it just brings out who you really are, so he was just like a damn country boy with an attitude and what people don’t understand is TO played under Jerry Rice and that’s where he gets that work ethic from. He has great work ethic but at the same time, I think he just talks himself out of a lot of money. If TO just shut up and played, he’d probably be one of the richest, best players in the league, but he talks his teammates and coaches under the bus sometimes and that just gets him into trouble. But this guy, he never worked out with us. He has his own little workout regimen. I call him a genetic freak. I saw a picture when he was 14, he looked the same. We’re all in the gym going hard and TO doesn’t work out or anything he’s just all ripped up. [Laughter]

pC: He tore up the locker room in Dallas, can one guy really do that?
MR: Yeah. TO would come in like, if the meeting is at 8 he would come in at 7:59 and I think he did that on purpose, like to say this is me. He would always be like I’m the last one, always the last one to come into meetings. He’ll be in practice and the quarterback might misthrow a ball and he’d be like ‘give me the damn ball! Get the ball to me!’ You’re like, man it’s not that serious you know? That’s the guy who’s going to help you make more money. Who’s going to help you with the longevity of the game. Why are you yelling at him? Talk to him and tell him what you want and he’ll get it to you. Be professional too. So I just think in those instances he could have been more diplomatic and he probably would have stuck with a team a lot longer. But he always had those days. Some days he was cool and some days he’s TO. Some days he’s Terrell some days he’s TO. But I can tell you one thing he was probably one of the hardest workers I played with in the NFL and the thing with him, he was always injured but he would go for like 8 weeks without practicing but every single week he would have 150 yards, 155 yards, 160 yards and it was like the most amazing thing. I’m seeing this guy never practice and he’s just putting up 100 yards every game, so I just think he’s probably one of the best receivers; if he just went out there and played.

pC: You think he was faking the injuries?
MR: No, I think he was injured and he had a whole medical staff come in and take care of him and stuff and San Francisco is just so much more advanced compared to other cities. As far as training-wise, so we had the best, I had acupuncture. I had an old lady 100 yeas old that would rub a special oil on my leg and my hamstring would be better in two days. They were so serious about the training. That’s the technology area so they got all the technology. But he had all his little teams flying in, his personal trainer and a guy that got his food to make sure he was eating the right food. I think if you’re eating right and living like that you’re going to have an advantage over most guys any day.

pC: Going back to Hurricane football, the last few years the program has been down, why do you think it got like that, are we on the right track, do you think Randy is the right man?
MR: Great Question. Randy is the man.

pC: You think he can do it?
MR: In my heart I think he’s the guy because he reached out to a couple of former players and asked us stuff like how can he get more former players to be involved with the guys. He picked me, I was one out of five guys that he asked to go to that meeting to see how he can get things back on track. So I think he’s the guy being that he’s reaching out and trying to understand it. I think right now he’s still a young head coach and it’s tough trying to be the coordinator and the head coach. I know he has somebody with the title of defensive coordinator but you know who’s making those calls. I think that if he just simplified himself and just was the head coach, address the team, call timeouts, be the head coach and let your coordinators do their thing. Every once in a while be like 'hey run that blitz we did in practice,' but you need to get two good coordinators that are better than you are and you’re always going to look good. I think that’s what we’ve got to do. Butch Davis had a great staff, Coker had a great staff .

pC: Jimmy Johnson had the greatest staff
MR: And recruiting. Recruiting is so important. You’ve got to get your Florida guys and I think he believes in that. We were letting Louisville, West Virginia, Rutgers take all our players from down here and UM should be getting them man. I think we’re missing out on a few players like that. We should be in the top three recruiting classes every year. I think that’s one of the goals that we’ve got to set and then your seniors seeing that you've got good talent coming in this year they’ve got to be able to set the tone and groom these younger guys into something special. We’ve got to set our sights high we’ve got to know we’re going to a BCS bowl game this year. Without a doubt we’re going to a BCS bowl game and I think things are starting to turn around. They are start trusting him, I just hate that the season ended 9 and 4 instead of 10 and 3. 10 and 3 would have looked so much better.

pC: We were just manhandled against Wisconsin.
MR: They dominated every aspect of the game. We’ve got to get those big boys up front. Coach Shannon told me one time he’ll go anywhere for a defensive tackle , anywhere in the country, but everything else he’ll stay in Florida for. But we have to see that. Go get us a defensive tackle that’s going to help stop that run. My defensive line my senior year was so good we barely blitzed and until you get that, it’s hard to compete man. You’ve got to have that defense that’s going to set the tone. Defense wins championships.

pC: Why do you think the program went down the way it did?
MR: I just think recruiting took a hit. That whole Brock Berlin era. I love Brock, but that was just tough to swallow man because the whole look of the team really changed in that era and that was due to recruiting, due to the newness of the team and the new coaches, it takes time. See Miami fans want wins right now and that’s not going to happen. I heard it on the radio this morning. ‘Why do these guys keep switching coaches every two to three years?’ You’re not going to win like that and we went through so many coaches in the last few years we’ve got to get one guy and believe in him for at least five years and let him do what he can do. If you’re switching every two years you’re never going to have stability. It’s hard.

pC: Talk about Butch. Did he say I’m not going anywhere and then left for the Cleveland Browns?
MR: Yeah he said that and it bothered a lot of players, but it never really bothered me because I understood him. I just put myself in his shoes. I got kids and a family and somebody offered me 11 million dollars, I’m going to be gone too. I’m going to pack my bags up too. Now the way he did it? That wasn’t right. As a coach, you’ve got to have that leadership position and show yourself as a leader and he was saying with his words that he wasn’t going to go anywhere, but when it came down to it, those guys offered him that money and they offered him that job and his plans kind of changed but until the end he was being Butch Davis and being the leader of the team. What kind of coach is going to come in and say ‘oh I’m thinking about going to Cleveland.’ He can’t say that. That would have been worse. He was just playing the politics of it and he made a decision and went with it. I wasn’t mad at him but a lot of guys were pissed about that and I guess how it ties into the recruiting process and he left right before the recruiting process and it was in shambles because Pete Garcia wasn’t there. We took a hit because of that.

pC: The story goes that a bunch of seniors went to Paul Dee and told him to hire Larry Coker, because the rumors were that UM was looking at Barry Alvarez.
MR: Yeah. That didn’t sit good with us, that didn’t sit good in our mouth. We didn’t like the sound of him [Alvarez] coming in and we knew coach Coker and we felt like he could do it. So we vouched for him. I wasn’t the guy that went over there and talked to Paul Dee but we all pretty much said that’s how we felt. We didn’t want Alvarez we wanted Coach Coker somebody from our house.

pC: As far as let’s say corners, why do you think we haven’t developed some good corners since you left other than maybe Antrel Rolle who is now a safety? Brandon Harris looks good, but what do you see in their development or lack of, when you watch them play. Does something jump out at you?
MR: I think they just don’t have a lot of pride and they’re not taking full pride in what Miami football should be. Is that the coaches job to get them like that? I don’t know. I can honestly say that all that stuff reflects on the coaches. As far as how the secondary is playing and how the defense is playing that’s a true reflection on the coaches and the coaches understand that, so I just think maybe they need to be more tenacious, intimidating, how Wisconsin played is how we should have played, they looked how we should’ve looked, when they were hitting our quarterback late and giving those hard hits on the sidelines, that’s UM football and I was getting excited at how they were playing but UM wasn’t playing like that. When they’re quarterback is falling they were easy on him, they were helping guys up and all that crap. I’m like you’re in war time like Kellen Winslow said. After the game I’m you’re best friend but during the game… They’ve got to get that tenacity back. When we were on the field we felt like we were going to intimidate those guys and we were going to make those guys quit. That’s how we felt when we came out the smoke, but I don’t know if they feel like that. They feel like oh we’re just playing a game of football. There’s more to it than that I think. I don’t know, I like the staff but like I said you better have people under you that are going to make you look like a good head coach and as a coordinator you’ve got to have some good assistants too, but it takes a while to get that stuff going together, to get to know each other and stuff, but I think to get it back, the coaches have to set goals for themselves and look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘is this enough?’ ‘We’re not going to sit here and point fingers at these players, we’ve got to hold ourselves accountable and we’re not going to stop fighting until we win, we get to a BCS bowl game or win a National Championship. We’re not settling for a 9 and 4 [season] no more. They’ve got to take that attitude to the players and that attitude the players will pick it up because that’s what young guys want, they want that, but you’ve got to instill that in them.

pC: You mention running out of the smoke. You ran out of the smoke in the Orange Bowl. Now we’re playing at, this week it’s called Land Shark stadium. What do you think of that move?
MR: I get chills right now when I think about coming out of the smoke. Honestly. It’s just, money cant buy running out of the smoke. You can’t compare sex to running out of the smoke. [Laughter] I mean you never, it’s just a feeling you can’t imagine it’s like you’re on top of the world, you’re anticipating the game, you’re warming up and getting ready and you know you’re so psyched and it goes back to me seeing Tony Gaiter play and watching the guys in the tunnel, shake the tunnel, jumping around. I’m seeing Dan Morgan as a freshman and all these young guys and they’ve got their shirts folded up and it’s just the energy and when the smoke starts and you run through the smoke and there’s a point you can’t see and when you finally can see, there’s the band and 60,000 people screaming. There’s nothing like it man, nothing like it. I just went from feeling like I was a good player to a great player when I came out of that smoke. And the Orange Bowl in itself is history. I was sad they tore it down but I understand the politics and the economics of the game so I think Landshark is great but it’s nothing like coming out of that smoke. It’s unbelievable.

pC: Have you been to a game at Landshark?
MR: Yeah

pC: What do you think?
MR: I like it. Like I said, you gotta sell tickets. You gotta sell tickets.

pC: And that’s another thing you’ve got the fans in Miami that are fair-weather! When you’re not winning they’re not going!
MR: Yup and I went through that. I went through both. I went through when we didn’t have a lot of fans. I went through the point where I used to go to the clubs and say “I play for UM” and they’d say ‘the line is over there.’ And then when we were winning they’d say ‘Oh Mike come in!’ and I didn’t even say anything. So we went through all that. We saw the total transition even like the girls on campus. When we were losing I would say I played for the team and they would say ‘so what, my dad owns or works on Wall Street.’ But, once we started winning the tides kind of changed. Winning helps everything. When a team is winning it helps the whole economy. Look at the Heat when they won the championship, the economy changed. If the Dolphins would have gone to the Super Bowl you know how much money would have come into this city?!

pC: Did you watch “The U” Documentary and what did you think?
MR: I thought it was really great man. I thought it was really good, but in the end it kind of left me hanging because I expected it to be a little more and to go more into the best UM team of all time! The team people were saying could play against the Bengals and stuff like that, the undefeated Canes. That’s got to be part two man!

pC: They apparently do want to do a Part II.
MR: Really? They’re telling the story half way man because the UM that they told, most people don’t know that UM but the UM that we presented, most people know about that and they’ve got to show that side of it. But, I will say this, a lot of my friends that hate UM, they called me and said look I’ve got more respect for you all now.

pC: Really?
MR: Yeah, a lot of people respect UM more because they saw what we went through. They thought we were always just cocky and arrogant but we had earned that stuff. Russell Maryland and Melvin Bratton and them boys they set the foundation for us. It thought it was great.

pC: Word Associations, give me the first thing that pops in your head when you read the following:
Randy Shannon: I knew that was the first one! Determined.
Larry Coker: Coker? Ah, he’s aight, motivation.
The Orange Bowl: Legendary
Sebastian the Ibis: Comedy [Laughter]
Butch Davis: Discipline
Coral Gables: Beautiful
Fiesta Bowl: History, history.
Ohio State: Hate is a strong word, but Hate. Hate. [Laughter]

pC: Favorite NFL team?
MR: Dolphins

pC: When you played professionally would you still follow the Dolphins
MR: Actually I would and we [49ers] played against the Dolphins but I was hurt so I actually never played against the Dolphins. But yeah, I always watched to see what was going on and I couldn’t wait to play them but it never came around and even when I was a free agent when I left the Redskins, I tried to come on with Cameron and thank God I didn’t because that would have been a terrible mistake, but he didn’t want me man. I live right here and I couldn’t even get a work out. He didn’t even give me a workout. I was kind of bitter because I’m a home town guy, a great story, I live around the corner and I’m a Dolphin fan and you won’t even give me a work out? It just really behooved me.

pC: Favorite NBA Team?
MR: Heat.

pC: Favorite Baseball team?
MR: Marlins. [Laughter]

pC: You’re a hometown guy! [Laughter]

pC: Favorite food?
MR: Lobster.

pC: At Red Lobster?
MR: Hell yea! [Laughter]

pC: What band or group would I most commonly find on your IPod other than Sade?
MR: Gucci Man [Laughter]

pC: Movie you can watch over and over?
MR: Rudy.

pC: TV show you got to DVR you can’t miss?
MR: Shit. NFL Network. I’m recording it right now! [Laughter]

pC: What do you do in your spare time?
MR: I go fishing, yeah I fish and read, ride bike. All that stuff.

pC: You have a family right?
MR: Yeah, my son’s 8, my daughter’s 3.

pC: Two website you got to check daily?
MR: and

pC: You work with young kids right now, what advice would you give him growing up and wanting to go to the NFL?
MR: Listen and work hard. That’s two of the best pieces of advice I can give a kid because by listening you learn a lot talk is cheap. If you could learn to pay attention to what people are telling you, especially when it’s good, it’s a great weapon. And hard work, I’m not saying that it will get you everywhere but if you work hard enough and you’re smart about things, they say preparation with opportunity equals luck. So if you’re prepared and you work hard and the opportunity comes around, you create your own luck. So I would just tell kids to listen and outwork people no matter what it is. Be persistent with it. I’m learning that now. See football and life are congruent, they run hand in hand and I try to get the kids to understand that in life sometimes you don’t get that second chance like you do in football and do the play over but it’s so, so similar. With my kids, they’re learning accountability at a young age, they’re learning discipline at a young age, they’re learning how to be on time at a young age, they’re understanding teamwork. If it’s just them they may not want to do it, but if they see 15 other kids that they admire and are their peers doing it the right way, they’re going to really push to do it the right way also. So, I think football prepares you for the game of life. Even for business, if I attack my business how I did football, I should be a billionaire by now! [Laughter] But I can honestly say I haven’t. With my business I probably gave 70% but with everything, you got to give 110% that’s why I can’t sit here and pout and moan about my business because I knew I wasn’t putting all my effort into it. And that’s the same thing with football and the same thing with life. Why complain if you know you’re not really giving the effort. So that’s how I look at it.

We at would like to thank Mike Rumph for being so gracious with his time to do this very insightful interview for our new feature "Tracking proCanes." Click here to check out our past interviews with Leon Searcy, Steve Walsh, Frank Costa, John Routh, Chad Wilson and more!

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Martz: Bears to be 'judicious' using Hester

Mike Martz has been making the rounds in the media this week after officially starting as the Chicago Bears offensive coordinator on Monday. In a Q&A with the team's Web site,, Martz talks about the balance of using Devin Hester on offense and special teams.

Q: What role do you envision Devin Hester filling on offense?
Martz: I think he’s still the best special teams return guy in the league, period. We have to be careful about how much we ask him to do on offense. That’s really a reason the Bears have won some games is because of Devin and what he does in the return game. So we’ll be very judicious in what we ask him to do offensively. But he’ll be very involved and we’ll ask him to do some really dynamic things where we can get him isolated in [favorable] personnel match-ups.

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Greg Olsen looks like odd fit for Martz's system

Mike Martz likes his wide receivers to catch and his tight ends to block.

"All tight ends, their first responsibility, they have to put their hand down on the line of scrimmage and be a successful blocker, and then they move to receiving," Martz said Tuesday.  "To just skip by that and say, 'OK, he's a terrific receiver,' well, then you may as well just put another wide receiver in there."

That could lead to a problem for Greg Olsen.  Brad Biggs of the Chicago Tribune relays the opinion of multiple scouts that Olsen struggled to block when asked last year.

Expect Olsen's numbers to sink under Martz.  The third-year player had an up-and-down season in 2009, but finished with 612 yards and eight scores.

Vernon Davis went from 31 catches to 78 after Martz left San Francisco, but at least Davis was highly useful under Martz because he's a fierce blocker.  Olsen has work to do just to stay on the field.

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Turning point near for Wilfork

In most contract negotiations, there are key checkpoints that shape the course of future talks. The Patriots and Vince Wilfork will officially reach one Thursday when the two-week window in which NFL teams can assign the franchise tag to players begins.

Wilfork, who went on the offensive a few weeks ago, said it would be a slap in the face to be tagged as it would limit his ability to fully experience the open free-agent market. Still, barring a contract extension before Feb. 25, he surely realizes that it will be coming.

As harsh as it may seem to someone who seemingly did everything asked of him and has played out his entire six-year contract, the business-minded Patriots aren't about to let their best defensive lineman get away.

The only way the situation can be fairly analyzed is to know the parameters that each side is taking, and that's the big unanswered question. Public perception seems to be that the Patriots are holding a hard line and aren't even negotiating, but it's hard to believe that is the case.
The key, of course, is in the details of any offers.

That's where this picture gets a bit cloudy, because the Patriots aren't going the Atlanta Thrashers route and publicly talking about a contract proposal to a player, a la Ilya Kovalchuk. The next time they did that would be the first, although if they feel they have a fair offer that is being rejected, it might be something they would consider to appease part of their fan base that seems to be growing frustrated with losing top players and not seeing the same level of talent replace them.

Say, for example, the Patriots were offering Wilfork a long-term deal at $8 million to $9 million per season and it was being turned down. Wouldn't that place a different context on the way the situation was viewed?

With Thursday's checkpoint set to arrive, here is a quick recap on the key points of the Wilfork contract situation:

Six-year deal doesn't sit well. As a rookie in 2004, Wilfork signed a six-year contract with the Patriots. The NFL later made six-year contracts illegal and that seems to be at the root of Wilfork's displeasure, contributing to his insistence for a long-term deal as if he were on the open market. "We never asked for a six-year deal from the get-go," Wilfork said on sports radio WEEI in the days leading up to this year's Pro Bowl. "I didn't like the six-year deal but I did honor it. ... We tried for a five-year deal and we didn't get [it]."

Talks have been ongoing since 2009. With the pace of negotiations not to his liking, Wilfork skipped the team's voluntary minicamp last spring to show his displeasure. Yet when it came time for the Patriots' mandatory minicamp and training camp, Wilfork showed up and explained it wasn't in his DNA to hold out. That was the opposite approach of Richard Seymour, Deion Branch and Asante Samuel, all of whom either received a long-term deal or earned some type of concession from the team (e.g. no franchise tag). That might also be contributing to Wilfork's current stance -- he did the right thing by showing up and yet it was players who didn't who received what they wanted, not him.

Uncertain labor forecast a factor. Owner Robert Kraft said during the season that the Patriots wanted to be flexible in a situation where they didn't know what the rules would be, and that might have contributed to the inability to strike a big-money extension with Wilfork. Now those rules are becoming clearer. NFL commissioner Roger Goodell recently said a 2010 season without a salary cap is a "virtual certainty" as owners and the players' association are far apart in negotiations on a new collective bargaining agreement. In theory, that should help accelerate talks with Wilfork and that's why it wouldn't be out of the question that momentum can build toward a deal.

Patriots draft Ron Brace in second round. With Wilfork entering the last year of his contract in 2009, the Patriots drafted his potential replacement by tabbing Ron Brace of Boston College in the second round (40th overall). Brace played only about 50 snaps all season and there remains a question if he will develop into a full-time player. Brace's slow start has seemingly strengthened Wilfork's leverage.
Franchise tag details. The franchise tag is the average of the top five salaries at the position on a one-year deal. For Wilfork in 2010, it would be $7 million. While it's a nice one-year payout, it doesn't provide the long-term security that players often covet, and shifts the risk to the player's side to make it through another season healthy.

Wilfork draws decisive battle lines. In the days leading up to the Pro Bowl, Wilfork capitalized on his league-wide platform by letting it be known it would be a dream come true to play for a Florida-based team. While he said his first priority was to return to the Patriots, he made it clear that he was no longer adopting a "Mr. Nice Guy" approach with them. "I'm not sitting by the phone waiting for them to call," Wilfork said on sports radio WEEI. "...I want a long-term deal or I want to be free. Point blank."

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Tracking proCanes - Mike Rumph - Part I is continuing our “Tracking proCanes” feature with former University of Miami, San Francisco 49er, Washington Redskin and St. Louis Ram defensive back Mike Rumph. Rumph attended Atlantic Community High School in Delray Beach, Florida. He was among the SuperPrep National Top 50 players and was a SuperPrep All-American. Rumph was a productive player during his career at the University of Miami which culminated with a National Championship in his senior year. Rumph compiled 117 tackles (117 solo), 2 forced fumbles and 6 interceptions (returning one for a touchdown) during his time at Miami. He was a second team Big East selection his sophomore and senior years and a first team selection his junior year. Rumph was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the 1st round of the 2002 NFL Draft, with the 27th overall selection. He was originally a cornerback, but the 49ers switched him to safety. He missed large parts of the 2004 and 2005 seasons due to injuries. On August 14, 2006, Rumph was traded to the Redskins for wide receiver Taylor Jacobs. On December 27, 2006 the Redskins waived him. Rumph was signed to the St. Louis Rams on March 20, 2007, but was released on August 3, 2007. He retired in July 2008.

Part I: Rumph talks about what he is up to since he retied from the NFL, his mentoring of current Hurricane DeMarcus Van Dyke, How he got recruited to play at Miami, and what his playing days at Miami were like.

proCanes: So I guess let’s first let fan know what you’ve been up to since you retired from the NFL.
Mike Rumph: I’ve been teaching football in kids’ camps and I was also running a private store but I just closed it.

When I first got out of the NFL one of the toughest things was the fear of what I was going to do next and I always wanted to do what I love, I always had dogs, I always loved dogs so I got a puppy store for my wife and I. I always loved training I was always amazed at how the body works and how everything moves on the body, the movement of the body, I was always amazed at that as a kid. I think that’s why I enjoy training kids so much because I understand being that I’ve been to the NFL and college, I understand my body more. It’s just so important to keep its shape for longevity. One thing people know about me is they know if I know it, you know it. I’m going to teach you what I know and just being around me I think the kids have an edge because they get to learn from my mistakes. Most people say they learn from their mistakes but the smart ones learn from other people’s mistakes. That’s what I try to do with the kids here. I Play Fast, that’s my company where I train my kids. I have my Mike Rumph camp that I do once or twice a year and my Le Chic puppies was my store for almost two years that I recently closed. We haven’t decided on relocating anything yet, I’m just going keep on with trying to do commentating and getting into coaching and continuing with my training.

pC: Would you like to get into official coaching maybe be graduate assistant at a college or do you like teaching younger kids better?
MR: I would love to work with college kids and be a college coach. I know it’s time consuming but anything is time consuming if you really want to do it. At night when I go to sleep I think about football, I’m thinking about plays, I’m thinking about defenses, I’m always watching the NFL on TV any kind of football I watch it. I think I’m a really good coach because I am able to explain and help kids relate to what I’m talking about so, I could be a great coach. In a perfect world I would be a high school head coach, but I would love to coach at a college level, or even the NFL.

pC: Right now what are the ages you coach?
MR: I coach ages eight up until pretty much college right now. Eight to like DeMarcus’ [Van Dyke] age who is 20. That’s kind of the age group that I’ve worked with.

pC: So I guess talk a little bit about how you came to start coaching DeMarcus?
MR: Because he wore the #8 I always watched him and because I wore #8 when he saw me, we always had some sort of conversation. I think when he came down in the spring I got a chance to talk to him a little bit and when they came to my Mike Rump camp in 2009 in Boyton Beach they had a bunch of the University of Miami players come out and my community opened their hands and the players really came and opened their hands and did a good thing for my community and I never forgot that and I told DeMarcus “if you want to work, you can always come to me to get some work done, I’m always up for that.” So, I think he kept that in mind and we stayed in touch talking and the part that impressed me the most about him was the day after the game in Orlando against Wisconsin he called me up and said as soon as he got back he wanted to work. That to me says a lot about his character. He’s not willing to take a break, he’s ready to get out there and get better so with that said I knew I could do something with him.

pC: What do you see in DeMarcus? Strengths? Weaknesses?
MR: I see a lot of me in him. He has to get that confidence and that comes with games DeMarcus hasn’t played as much as [Sam] Shields and the other corner Brandon [Harris] did. So I think he needs more reps and that will come now that he’s a senior. Those guys, Sheilds he’s a senior, and Brandon is an outstanding young player but I think that once DeMarcus gets some more reps he can turn out to be a really a top player in the ACC. What I see in him, he’s just like me. He’s a lanky guy, he can be physical, he’s a really fast and quick guy for his size. I see a great tackler. That’s a forgotten skill, the tackling, and he’s got really good ball skills. He can catch the ball really well. On the negative side, I think he just has to be confident when he gets out there and I think that comes with more reps like just playing the ball and running with the receiver. He has to get confident enough to turn around and find the ball. He could have had a couple more interceptions if he would have just done that alone, so he just has to get the confidence in himself and once you get that you might not be the best athlete but once you’re confident you understand what’s going on and it makes the game slow down a lot for you.

pC: At what age did you start playing? Were you always on defense?
MR: I started playing football at 8 years old and I was on offense. I played tightend and then I stopped football for a little while and I played baseball, basketball and I did a little track and I didn’t come back [to football] till I was 14. I kind of feel like sometimes that’s good for a young guy because playing every single year takes a toll on your body if you’re playing from eight until your 29 years old your body is going to be tired of football and I know guys who have actually done that, but I took a break so I played from 14 to 28. When I was 14 I was a real physical player. I would run it a lot and I was really competitive. I hated to lose. Where I’m from, if you don’t play football you’re nobody. So it was just something to do and what helped me excel at football was being a good listener and being a really hard worker. I had guys that wanted the skip practice and guys that didn’t want to go to school but I was the one that said look I’m going to go to school I’m not going to miss class and to this day I have guys come to me and say I should have gone to practice or I shouldn’t have skipped school so it made me feel good that I was able to make those decisions at a young age. The best thing I did I was able to surround myself with good people. I lost a lot of friends at a young age because I couldn’t’ walk the same path they walked at a young age so it helped me steer clear of it because I was always with somebody who could study, I was always with somebody who loved to practice, I was always with somebody who liked going to the movies on the weekends versus hanging out in the streets. So it helped me walk the clear path and I set goal at a young age also. I think those things helped me get through.

Another thing is I knew my counselor while I was in school. A lot of kids don’t know who their guidance counselor is so they don’t know where they need to get to and what goals they need to set to get there . If you notice I made DeMarcus write down his goals. That’s what he gave me in the paper. The first thing he gave me is his goals and that’s so important because you know the mind can be tricky. If you tell your mind you want to do something and everyday you see what you want to do, most likely that’s going to happen. So that’s why I had him set goals and I was setting goals while I was in high school because I knew where I wanted to get to and it paid off for me. Me getting into the NFL was easy, it wasn’t that hard. And I could tell kids all the time it’s not really that hard. You know, I was blessed and I’m a phenomenal athlete that’s from my dad and from my mom. I’ve got a strong heart that can’t be coached but I think that it wasn’t a hard route I just had to really stay my course and I was blessed to go to UM, [University of Miami] that God gave me the decision to go to the University of Miami when they just came off of probation so when I got there I aligned myself with some of the best athletes in the world and look at us now.

pC: So in high school were you defensive back and you were recruited as a DB?
MR: Yeah when I was in high school I played safety up until my junior year. My senior year I played safety and receiver and I was recruited as the best safety in Florida when I came out in 1998 and the second best free safety in the country next to Chris Holden. The day that I got to UM they were like let’s try you as a corner, and I was like okay and I stuck to corner ever since. I was always a safety man and I moved to corner and they liked it because I was big and I could move pretty quick so I stuck with it and I always liked corner personally because it was a challenge. Safety is where my heart was set and I knew I could be a great safety and even in the NFL they never let me reap my potential as a safety, but as a corner it was a great challenge for me and I feel I was on my way to becoming a great corner too.

pC: Who was the coach that recruited you from UM?
MR: Butch Davis.

pC: So it wasn’t the position coach back then, Pagano?
MR: Yeah Pagano, that’s good! You’ve got your history down! Chuck’s another guy man. I’ve just been surrounded with such good coaches. He used to bring us to his house. He used to live down here and he would bring us to his house and cook us BBQs just stuff for us to be together. Just the DB’s and that stuff you don’t get anymore man. That’s so important and people miss out on that because I think having that group camaraderie is so important. You’re always going to have one or two weirdos, but if you are always around each other hanging out, you know, I KNOW YOU, we know each other. If they don’t hang out, if guys just meet on the practice field, this guy might have a serious problem and we don’t know about it but if we’re hanging out, I know that he can’t have two drinks because he gets so lit up because we know each other. I think that’s what made it so good that we hung out together.

pC: What other schools were offering you scholarships?
MR: A lot of them! FSU and Ohio State were coming at me till the end but I had Michigan. Michigan wanted me as a receiver and corner. Louisville also, most of the east coast schools. The Florida Gators. They came in the beginning and kind of toned it down in the end.

pC: Who did it come down to in the end?
MR: In my head it was always Miami, but I wanted to go to my visits and I went up to visit Ohio State and they got this rumor that I was going to Ohio State. People were like ‘hey Mike heard you going to Ohio.’ At that point, I said no more visits. That’s it. It cut me short, but I wanted to be loyal to UM and I didn’t want that rumor to start getting out so I only visited Ohio State, which was a great visit. I told John Cooper that its too cold man, that’s too cold, I couldn’t do it.

pC: Who was your favorite team growing up?
MR: I’m a Palm Beach guy, but I was with the Dolphins.

pC: Favorite Player?
MR: Ronnie Lott when I was younger. When I got older, Deion [Sanders]. Yeah, I always liked Deion.

pC: Were you a Hurricane fan growing up?
MR: I was a Hurricane fan. When I was young I kind of liked Florida State but as I got older once the 90’s hit and I saw UM and it was something about how they came in the field. UM had swagger in the 90’s and it was just amazing to see an athletic guy with such confidence in himself just flying around the ball. You know the offense was wide open, deep balls and the defense was real tough and intimidating. They looked good in their uniforms and that captivated me because I looked at myself as a really tough player and that would be it. Tony Gaiter, he was a receiver for UM, and his cousin was my best friend so I met Tony a lot and I went to my first UM game because of him so my first few games I went to because of him and I was just mesmerized because that’s where I wanted to go.

pC: You came at a tough time to “The U” because it was right after probation and we weren’t very good in ’97.
MR: 1998 was my first year. 1997 was the last year we were on probation and we got all our scholarships back. That documentary “The U,’ that ended right where we started at that’s exactly where I started where that show ended. That’s’ when we said we had all our coaches back and we had 22 recruits that year.

pC: Was it tough coming knowing that things were down for a few years. Were people asking you ‘why are you going to Miami?’
MR: It was like that but I looked at it as an opportunity because to me they didn’t have a lot of safeties. Honestly Ed Reed when I first saw him in practice, I thought I’m taking his position, but by his sophomore year I don’t know if he made a deal with God or what and I’m not saying he was terrible, he was always good and he was always a ball hawk and knows the game real well and very good ball skills. He became that great player right after that Penn State game because Coach Schiano got on him hard after that. After that he just turned it on and I just came in because I thought that it was a great opportunity for me to play and get a degree. My plan when I came to UM was: I just want to get a degree and play special teams and that’s what my goals were. My first year, my first game I get in with East Carolina and I cause a fumble and after that, my freshman year, I played a lot. We only had four freshmen playing; the kicker, myself, Chris Campbell, and I think Sheven Marshall. So, everyone was sitting at home on the weekends when we was going on trips so I was like really, I set my goals lower than I should have and I was really shocked because I didn’t think I was going to play THAT much and I ended up playing a good amount of games. The only game I didn’t play my freshmen year was Syracuse when we lost 66 – 13. The worst loss I ever had in my life. I didn’t play special teams I didn’t play defense, thank god.

pC: What would you say is the toughest part about playing at UM?
MR: It’s hard man. I mean it was tough all around. I think the toughest part was probably the discipline, disciplining yourself, when you get to college. You don’t have mom and dad telling you what to do and you’ve got to get up on your own and you’ve got six o’clock runs and there come times in practice and you’re really sore and you don’t know how you’re going to make it through the next practice. I think it’s just overall the self discipline and to be able to say, I didn’t do this well in practice today so let me stay 30 more minutes to go over this again. I think that kind of stuff, that type of discipline, is what was tough to have at a young age. You just feel like at 18 years old that what the coach was asking you to do was good enough and that was it, but I was smart enough to know that was not enough I had to do more than that to be better than these guys. So the discipline to push yourself more than everybody else was that was what was hardest.

pC: You had an interesting career because you came when we were down and left when we were at the top. What would you say was your favorite memory? Was it reaching that pinnacle or was it the road to it because you were one of the guys that helped bring the program back, let’s face it.
MR: Definitely the road back, the road to the Championship was the best. Because you have to understand that you’ve got to get 105 guys on one goal and that’s to win. That’s so hard when you got so many guys coming from all over the country. We had guys from Canada on our team!

We’ve got five Canadians on our team and then we’ve got five guys from Liberty City where they getting along in order to win the game. That’s tough and I credit those coaches man because Butch Davis did a great job of changing it around. He’s a great recruiter he’s a great guy if you give him some talent, he’s a great disciplinarian. Butch Davis is that guy where uh, oh, here comes Davis, you know? Coach Coker was a great coach, great offensive coordinator, a great motivator, but he was like me and you were the same so it’d be like “hey Coach!” You’d get coach Coker like this (Rumph giving the motion of a nooggie). You could noogie coach Coker but coach Davis, you don’t even want to look him in the eye. You’d be like yes sir, no sir, but that was the difference we needed. Randy Shannon I think is really good. He is the same as Davis. He’s really good with the guys. You’ve got a bunch of knuckleheads, you need someone that’s a real disciplinarian and Coach Shannon, he’s that guy and he understands what a lot of guys feel and what they’re going through, so in that aspect he can relate.

I came when Davis was kind of shaky man but I can honestly say I saw it all come together. It started with recruiting. It started with the off season when we would play all together and how we pulled each other through and we’d fight amongst ourselves. If a guy is jumping off sides a lot, literally a guy would come over and whip his butt in practice, they’d get on him they’d [Nate] Webster him, and they’d choke him and they might hit him in the stomach and say you need to get that shit right. What are you going to do after that? Me as a freshman, I was like I’m never going to mess up because I don’t want that. [Laughter] That’s what we had and is what I think this younger team is going to have next year. You’ve got to have that senior leadership to show how things should be done. That goes from how to practice, how to prepare for the game, how to conduct yourself in Coconut Grove. All that has to be taught, but you’ve got a bunch of freshman that don’t understand that it’s going to be tough to win games. I think once you get that senior leadership that’s when we start losing less games, going to more bowls and hopefully win a championship again.

pC: You hear a lot that you need that camaraderie to win. I mean the 2000 team should have been playing for the National Championship and the 2001 team did, I mean how close were those teams? Was the ‘01 team one big happy family.
MR: The ‘02 team should have one too. We were’ one big happy family, but we had that knuckle head in the family. We had that one black sheep in the family, we had momma, we had daddy we had all that and when there was a problem we addressed it with each other and with the coaches and we handled it amongst ourselves I just cant explain it. I mean even when we hung out and we went out together and if something happened to one of us we always got involved and always stood up for our guys. Like I said, that hanging out together stuff makes you a lot better on the field because you know what you’re dealing with, you know the psychology of your buddy.

pC: What games from your UM days stand out?
MR: Every game against West Virginia stood out for me because I had my best games against Mark Bulger and I played against him when I was with the 49ers and I played with him when I was with the Rams. But, he threw me up all my interceptions and they [West Virginia] always had a lot of talent because they recruit down here a lot and that was some of my best games. Penn State because it was my sophomore year and it was a hard loss to swallow for me because I got beat for the winning touchdown and we could have beat one of the best teams in the country but I grew a lot that night because I had to really understand that it happens to the best of us. I got to talk to a guy that works with Deion a lot and said ‘Deion even gets beat’ and that really touched me. I was like you know he’s right he does get beat. Everybody gets beat sometimes but I grew strides that night because I remember that next day I came back with a vengeance because I didn’t want that to happen again. And that’s when I became the player that I am today, after that game I mean that game changed me.

pC: What would you say was the toughest place to play because the people that I’ve always talked to have said West Virginia.
MR: Definitely. It’s just real hostile. It’s in the middle of nowhere. It reminds you of Deliverance. When you pull up on a that little hill you could hear that banjo playing in the background [Laughter] and with the old story that Coach Shannon had a little incident with that trash can. We had to keep our helmet on that whole game and it was just idiotic stuff. The old ladies are shooting middle fingers. It’s just a whole other atmosphere, but they really support their program up there and they always have some tremendous athletes and that’s what makes West Virginia a tough team and they take special teams as serious as we did back then. I say that because UM, that’s another thing we were so serious about, special teams. When I played that’s how we won a lot. We were going to have a blocked kick we were going to have a kick return we were going to have something, but Butch Davis really believed in special teams and to this day that’s how I am too and Joe Gibbs is like that also. West Virginia, they brought their special teams to play. We knew it was a big game. It was always a big rivalry but we knew it was tough to play those guys because of all those things.

pC: So Florida State wasn’t as bad or even Syracuse because it was loud?
MR: Syracuse is the loudest because of the dome. My freshman year they put microphones in the crowd to really amplify that noise when we lost 66-13, it was the loudest I’ve heard. Virginia Tech got loud my senior year when they blocked that punt the game before the rose bowl. They blocked that punt that last game of the season, my ears about to burst when they blocked that punt so it got really loud and it could be hostile too. Even Boston College, they have the stands right over you and they got the guys standing right on top of us. I got some funny stories out from Boston but the most hostile West Virginia, the loudest Syracuse. I mean Florida State is Florida State you just got to get used to all that chop music. The week before we played them they’re playing it on the loudspeaker all week until you just hate it you and about to go crazy.

pC: You went up everyday in practice against all-pro NFL receiver like Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss. Who was the toughest receiver you had to go up against in practice?
MR: Reggie Wayne and Santana Moss were really tough receivers to guard in practice. But they both had their negatives and positives. Andre Johnson goes under that category too. Andre was just a younger guy but Andre, his size alone was really tough to deal with because he was just as fast as Reggie and Santana but bigger than them. But Reggie Wayne was always a great route runner has great hands and he’s a really good blocker and people don’t understand how important that is. Santana was outrageously quick, outrageously fast, good hands, he had to learn to run his routes right. Santana was so fast that they told him to slow down to run his routes. They told him you’re too fast, it’s not going to work when you’re going that fast so he had to learn to run the routes a little slower and that’s when he became a good receiver. But Andre overall, blocking, being a big body to get around to get to the ball. It was a little tougher so I had to really change up my play with him but it was really good because you get Santana real quick and then you get the big guy. Practice was really competitive and really what made us good. Games were easy. When we went against Washington, when we went against Reggie Williams that was a cake-walk, this guy was not better than Reggie Wayne so we held him to no catches.

pC: So you would say Andre Johnson was the toughest?
MR: Yeah. And I thank those guys till this day because they made me the player that I am . When those scouts came to watch those guys that’s how I got noticed because I was doing a good job of guarding them.

pC: Who would you way was the best player on the team?
MR: I would go with Ed Reed because between him and Dorsey I would say they’re two of the smartest players I’ve ever played with. He just knows the game and sometimes he’s in the place where you don’t know what he’s doing in that place but he’s there and he makes the play. That’s the kind of thing that made me say he’s the best player and he did that on a consistent basis. It wasn’t just like once in a blue moon, he was consistently making plays and that’s what made him so good. Overall on the team there were a lot of guys just as good as Ed but if I had to pick one I would pick him.

pC: How was he personally?
MR: When we was younger he liked to go out and like to hang out and we just did some silly shit and we hung together a lot and did a lot of crazy stuff, but he kind of changed his life and slowed it down. I think him being under the Ray Lewis’ mentor and going to Baltimore, which was such a veteran team that honed him to even a better player. It wasn’t just a team about partying and acting crazy, it was about winning and he was like that too and I think that made him even more like that. He slowed down a lot man, he’s a man of God and he doesn’t hang out as much and you don’t see him in the news and I think that says a lot about him.

pC: Who would you say was your best friend?
MR: Howard Clark, linebacker from New Jersey, my roommate. Brent Scott he was a walk on. Phillip Buchanan, me and him were roommates for every home and away game. James Lewis. Marquis Fitzgerald. Everyone who was in the secondary.

pC: Do you keep in contact with guys?
I bump into Marquis sometimes. Phillip Buchanon on Facebook. James Lewis, I haven’t talked to him in years. Howard I talk to him like every 8 months or so. I talked to Willie Joseph today. He lives by me.

pC: How about Mo Sikes?
MR: Yeah he’s a police officer. His daughter goes to school with my son. I see him everyday. Delvin Brown. You know he’s a police on South Beach.

Click here to read Part II of our exclusive interview with Mike Rumph and read what he has to say about Coach Davis and Coke, the NFL, Terrell Owens and much more!

Click here to order Mike Rumph’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Martz says Hester could be 'stupid good' in slot

Mike Martz envisions Devin Hester as a dominant slot receiver, a shift that could mean he will be coming out of the Bears' starting lineup.

The Bears' new offensive coordinator, who started on the job Monday at Halas Hall, could utilize a three-receiver set, which would mean ample opportunities for Hester to start. But Martz compared him favorably to Az-Zahir Hakim while visiting on "The Mully & Hanley Show" on WSCR-AM 670.

Hakim was a role player for the St. Louis Rams in the heyday of the "Greatest Show on Turf," making 10 starts over four seasons. But he was a dangerous weapon and caught eight touchdown passes one season as Martz schemed to take advantage of him in mismatches, much the same way he spoke of Hester.

"Devin Hester in that role could just be stupid good, if that makes sense to you," Martz said. "What we can do with him inside, the matchups we can get with him on third corners, safeties and linebackers would be absolutely remarkable."

Martz is cognizant of Hester's role on special teams and the value that he brings to the team as a returner and sees a way for him to excel in all areas.

"I think it would be very difficult for him to take every snap as a wide receiver and play at a high level on special teams, so we have to look at that," Martz said. "I think the role I have in mind for him would allow him to do both and do it at a high level."

This goes against what Lovie Smith has said for a few years, that Hester could be a No. 1 wide receiver. Part of the disappointment some have expressed over his performance on offense has been the result of the unrealistic expectations placed on him. Furthermore, critics claim he hasn't been in a position to maximize his talent. Leave him in the slot and his speed, quickness and open-field ability could come to the forefront.

Here's a look at Hakim's statistics with the Rams and what Hester has done with the Bears:

Az-Zahir Hakim

1998: 9 games 4 starts 20 catches 247 yards 12.4 avg 1 TD
1999: 13-0 36 677 18.8 8
2000: 16-4 53 734 13.8 4
2001: 16-2 39 374 9.6 3

Devin Hester

2007: 16-0 20 299 15.0 2
2008: 15-8 51 665 13.0 3
2009: 13-12 57 757 13.3 3

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Olsen struggled as a blocker in 2010

Greg Olsen didn't handle his blocking duties well in 2009, according to "multiple scouts who watched the Bears regularly."

The news isn't surprising since Olsen has always been lauded much more for his receiving ability. It's a significant concern for 2010, though, since Mike Martz won't be using nearly as many two-tight end sets as Ron Turner did. It's yet another reason to dock Olsen's fantasy outlook under Martz.

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

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Vince Wilfork fantasy could end as soon as Thursday

The Dolphins need a long-term answer at nose tackle.

Patriots’ two-time Pro Bowler Vince Wilfork could provide one. But first, he’ll have to hit the open market - and that’s going to be a longshot.

Wilfork and the Dolphins will find out during the next few weeks if he somehow makes it there because beginning Thursday, teams have until Feb. 25 to designate franchise or transition players.

Wilfork, 28 and a six-year veteran, wants a long-term deal. But he’s worried the Patriots will slap the franchise tag on him, locking him into a one-year deal for $7 million in 2010.

A transition tag would cost the Patriots $6.35 million, but would allow other teams to make an offer and force New England to match it - or lose Wilfork for nothing.
Teams still can make an offer on a player with the franchise tag, but would have to give up two first-round draft picks to sign him.

“I want a long-term deal,” Wilfork said during Pro Bowl week in South Florida. “I’ve played my six years, and whatever happens is going to happen. But I’ll be very disappointed, because I’ve worked hard, I’ve given everything I can give.

“I expect the same. I’m not asking for everything; I’m not even asking for them to give me everything they have.”

The Patriots reportedly haven’t even reached out to Wilfork’s agent, Kennard McGuire, to discuss a contract, indicating there’s a pretty good chance Wilfork could become available if he makes it through the next 16 days without being tagged.

Wilfork, a native of Boynton Beach and product of both Santaluces High School and the University of Miami, has made it clear he’d like to return to Florida.

But if Wilfork makes it to free agency and the Dolphins come calling, he’d better get in shape. During Pro Bowl week, Wilfork, listed a 6-foot-2, 325 pounds, seemed to be carrying more than a few extra pounds.

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

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Graham's presence missed on University of Miami's front line

On more than one occasion this season, University of Miami basketball coach Frank Haith has mused that teams can't just replace a player the caliber of Jack McClinton, a two-time first-team All-Atlantic Coast Conference guard who now is playing professionally in Turkey.

But as the 2009-10 season has transpired, Haith has learned that his underclassmen-laden outfit could just as much use the services of a student who roamed UM's campus as recently as December.

Jimmy Graham, who was a do-it-all forward for the Canes (16-7, 2-7) before playing tight end for the football team last fall, gave Haith's bunch a hard-nosed, defensive presence in the post and hustle intangibles that this season's big men has yet to match.

``We've definitely missed a guy like Jimmy Graham,'' Haith said Tuesday. ``The energy he gave us; the rest of the team just fed off it. Taking a charge, knocking a pass away; those are winning plays. Those are plays that you miss.''

With No. 20 Georgia Tech (17-6, 5-4) and its tall, athletic front line heading to town Wednesday, Haith could use one of his forwards to do a passable Graham imitation.

With the Hurricanes needing a spark and senior Cyrus McGowan dealing with an injury, Haith started sophomore Julian Gamble at forward and freshman Garrius Adams at guard against Florida State on Saturday in Tallahassee. Although the Hurricanes lost 71-65, they were competitive throughout, and Adams and Gamble are listed by the team as projected starters for Wednesday's game.

Gamble's task will be to help slow the Yellow Jackets' front line of Derrick Favors and Gani Lawal, who are averaging a combined 25.5 points a game.

The Canes, who have dropped five of their past six games, are playing at home for just the third time in their past nine games. Five of their final seven regular-season games are in Coral Gables.

``We have the opportunity to play a great opponent . . . and a win would do wonders for us,'' Haith said. ``We can get back in this thing.''

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Clinton Portis, this is your life

Redskins running back Clinton Portis has been known to play the "taken-out-of-context" card on a fairly regular basis, which is always interesting because writers are often working off radio and TV transcripts. In fact, Dan Steinberg of the Washington Post has put together a Portis greatest hits quote sheet.

In a recent appearance on the NFL Network, Portis veered off the road when asked to describe what has changed in his career since he was traded from the Broncos to the Redskins:

"The Clinton Portis in Denver was young and fun, not a care in the world, 20, 21 years old, I was having fun," Portis responded. "I had Shannon Sharpe, I had Rod Smith, I had Ed McCaffrey, I had Al Wilson, John [Mobley], I had all these guys who showed me the ropes and brought me along and carried me and helped me out.

"And coming to D.C., it was like all of the sudden in D.C., some of the players feel like it was a money situation, who getting the money is a captain," he continued. "LaVar Arrington was the man in D.C. when I arrived, and all of the sudden LaVar felt like it was competition, and he left D.C. He didn't want to be in D.C. any more. He gave back $15, 20 million to leave D.C., because he felt like he wasn't the main money guy, because everybody was getting [paid]. Laveranues [Coles], myself, Deion [Sanders] was still getting paid, so he even had input. So I think it was just the wrong attitude, and I think for some of the beliefs that was funneled through, it was like whoever gets the money was the captain."

So that's what has changed from Portis' Broncos days? It just seems like an odd response. Surely Redskins fans don't sit around today wondering why Arrington left the team. And I think Coles has been with like 11 teams since those days. Those players shouldn't have any bearing on whether Portis is still a viable starter in the league.

Portis made some horrible miscalculations over the past seven months. Trying to take a shot at quarterback Jason Campbell's credibility as a team captain was childish and disloyal. It wasn't enough for the injured Portis to simply keep his mouth shut and wait for Jim Zorn's firing. He had to take some shots at one of the most respected players on the team. And you guess it. He quickly called Campbell and explained that what he said was taken out of context.

Shanahan and Portis have reportedly had a conversation about the player's future, but we do not know if they came to any conclusion. General manager Bruce Allen said Portis will "help" the Skins this season, but that does not sound like a ringing endorsement.

I think the Redskins would be better off moving on and cutting their losses with Portis. If you disagree with me, there's a chance I was taken out of context.

Click here to order Clinton Portis' proCane Rookie Card.

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Sapp is getting and heeding good legal advice

We've been checking from time to time over the past few days the Twitter page of Warren Sapp for any type of public statement regarding his weekend arrest for misdemeanor battery.

But Sapp, who has posted a total of 85,040 tweets, has yet to add anything since 6:11 a.m. ET on February 6.

It means that Sapp is getting good advice from his lawyer, and that he's heeding it. 

Say nothing.

Anything that Sapp places on Twitter or elsewhere could be used against him in court.  And if he says anything at all, he'll be inundated with requests from his 329,000-plus followers to address the allegations.  (There's also a chance that he already is getting flooded with all sorts of Twitter messages, both supportive and critical.)

Sapp could, in theory, post a general, "I'll keep tweeting but I'm not talking about the pending legal case"-style message, and then continue to tweet about other things.  But the safest and most prudent course of action for Sapp is to keep away from Twitter until this matter is resolved.

Of course, some would say that, in general, the safest and most prudent course of action for anyone is to keep away from Twitter, permanently.

Click here to order Warren Sapp’s proCane Rookie Card.

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ESPN fires Michael Irvin, but not over rape allegations

Michael Irvin, in South Florida for Sunday's Super Bowl, was fired by ESPN-FM (103.3) on Friday morning, three days ahead of schedule.

Pete Dits, the station's general manager, said he planned to deliver the word in person when Irvin returned to the station on Monday, but news that Irvin was being sued for an alleged rape sped up the process.

"He would not have been able to do his show today anyway," Dits said. "It would have been a media circus."

Irvin's final show, as it has all week, was to have originated from the Super Bowl media center's crowded "radio row."

A South Florida woman sued Irvin on Thursday for allegedly raping her in July 2007 in a local hotel room. No criminal charges have been filed.

Dits said disappointing ratings coupled with Irvin's relatively high salary were the reasons for dropping Irvin's 2-year-old show. The rape allegation had nothing to with it, he said.

Still, Irvin filed a $100 million lawsuit in Dallas County court later Friday against his accuser, citing his firing and accusing her of "attempting to destroy the hard-earned reputation and career of a highly acclaimed sports broadcaster."

Irvin did not return calls to The Dallas Morning News or respond to text messages. Larry Friedman, his Dallas-based attorney, has maintained that Irvin is innocent of all charges. Friedman was not immediately available for comment.

Irvin, a Hall of Fame former Cowboys receiver, is from Fort Lauderdale and attended the University of Miami. He is also a television analyst for NFL Network and has been working and making appearances around his hometown for the last two weeks.

A spokesman for NFL Network said Irvin was not scheduled to work Friday but will be on the network as planned Saturday and Sunday.
Asked about Irvin at a morning news conference, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell said the league-owned NFL Network would investigate the allegations.

"We'll obviously take it seriously, make sure we understand the facts and then take the appropriate steps," Goodell said.

The decision to drop Irvin was made earlier this week, Dits said. He said there had been discussions about finding a new role for Irvin at the station if ESPN 103.3 decided to end his weekday 11 a.m.-to-2 p.m. show. There will be no new role.

Dits confirmed that Irvin and the station signed a new contract in December but said the station held the option of canceling it after the Super Bowl.

Dits said he tried to call Irvin early Friday morning before his show was scheduled to begin. Irvin didn't answer his phone and his voice mail was full. Instead, Dits called Irvin's agent to deliver the news. Dits did reach Irvin's co-host Kevin Kiley to tell him he was fired.

Ben Rogers and Jeff Wade, who have been working evenings at the station, replaced Irvin on Friday, and their Ben and Skin Show will be his permanent replacement,

Click here to order Michael Irvin’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Salmons scores 21 points off bench

John Salmons had another fine game off Chicago's bench on Tuesday, scoring 21 points on 7-of-10 FGs and 7-of-10 FTs in the Bulls' 109-101 victory over the Pacers.

Salmons only added two rebounds and two assists in 32 minutes however, and he's been struggling to put together consecutive games with double-digit points. His owners should probably hope that he's moved to another team before the Feb. 18 deadline rolls around.

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Ryan Braun will highlight University of Miami baseball events

Former University of Miami slugger Ryan Braun, a Milwaukee Brewers All-Star who hit .320 and led the National League last season with 203 hits, will return to Coral Gables this weekend to highlight UM baseball-related festivities.

The weekend events signal the coming season, which begins at 7 p.m. on Feb. 19 with the first of a three-game home series against Rutgers. Miami, 38-22 in 2009, did not advance out of its NCAA regional but is ranked No. 13 in the USA Today/ESPN Coaches' Poll and No. 16 by Baseball America.

Braun also will headline the Hurricanes' Baseball FanFest on Saturday at Alex Rodriguez Park at Mark Light Field. FanFest is free to the public and will include a home run derby featuring Braun and fellow former Cane Yonder Alonso challenging current players Yasmani Grandal and Ryan Perry.

An autograph session with the 2010 Canes will kick off FanFest at 3:45 p.m., with a season-ticket holder batting practice session at 4 p.m. The home run derby will begin at about 5:35 p.m.

Saturday's FanFest will culminate at 6:20 p.m. with an alumni game between former and current UM players. Braun and Alonso are expected to be joined by former Canes such as Cesar Carrillo (Padres), Alex Cora (Mets), Chris Perez (Indians), Jon Jay (Cardinals organization) and Kyle Bellamy (White Sox organization).

During FanFest, fans can purchase season tickets and partake in numerous activities and games.

The First National Bank of South Miami UM Baseball Golf Tournament begins at noon Monday at Deering Bay Yacht & Country Club in Miami. Former and present UM players will compete with fans.

Proceeds go to the UM baseball program. There are eight spots left.

For FanFest information, call 1-800-GO-CANES, or visit banquet and golf information, call 305-284-4171.

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Hester has super homecoming week

Devin Hester experienced the joy of Super Bowl Week without having to actually play in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami.

"Being back home has been really cool," Hester said. "I got to visit my old high school, childhood home and … to party with my boys."

Hester also visited his old barbershop, where some of his buddies gave him a hard time. The Bears wide receiver/kick returner hosted a party at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino. Invited guests included Gabrielle Union, Tony Gonzalez, Alyssa Milano, Jennifer Love Hewitt and Lil Jon.

But it wasn't all partying for Hester. He reminisced about his school days when he talked to students at Suncoast Community High School.

"I lived about 5 miles from here and I used to try and get out of class early so I could head home and get my go-kart and come back and ride it around the parking lot," he told about 50 students. "People would chase after me but they would never catch me."

Click here to order Devin Hester’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Shockey's maturity pays off for Saints

MIAMI — Jeremy Shockey's own team wouldn't claim him the last time he took the Super Bowl stage. Now, everybody wants a piece of No. 88.

He was an outcast, now he's a hero.

The oft-maligned New Orleans tight end hauled in a 2-yard game-winning touchdown with 5:42 remaining as his Saints defeated the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 in Super Bowl XLIV.

The victory erased memories from two years ago, when he was shunned by the New York Giants. While the Giants stunned the previously undefeated New England Patriots in Super Bowl XLII, Shockey was confined to a suite.

Shockey wasn't allowed to dress out that day, but did receive a championship ring.

This ring, like all the others he's won at various levels of the game — will go to his mother.

"She's the holder of the rings,' he said.

This one won't be tainted.

"It's a great feeling right now," Shockey said. "I don't care about the catch, I just care about the team. Ever since you start playing football, you're dreaming about playing in this game. I dreamed and prayed all day and night about being in this situation."

The moment was even sweeter because the University of Miami product calls this city his "adopted home."

The 29-year-old frequents South Beach and lives the lifestyle of many single, wealthy athletes. He likes to have a good time. He even admits he'd stay in college if NCAA rules would allow.

The party-boy image is enhanced, or perhaps darkened, by his gaudy tattoos and a tough-as-nails attitude.

Deep down, however, Shockey says most people have it all wrong.

"I work hard on my career and my profession as you guys do. I take a lot of pride in it. I don't do this for the money" he said. "I have metal in my leg and broken bones and I've got ligaments that are torn — I have a love of the game. The passion is still there."

Shockey became emotional at times during his postgame news conference and wanted to clear up some misconceptions regarding his not-so-friendly parting with the Giants.

"A lot of people made it out to be me being jealous of New York winning without me," Shockey said. "It was the complete opposite. It wasn't about that. I just talked to (former Giants defensive coordinator) Steve Spagnuolo this week. "He gave me good words of advice."

In a way, Shockey doesn't want to grow up; well who can blame him. He leads a good life. However, his time with the Saints has done that for him.

He had just three catches for 13 yards Sunday. But it's not about the numbers.

"He's brought an attitude we needed," running back Reggie Bush said. "We've been called a finesse offense for a while. He's been nothing but special since Day 1.

"I told him before the Super Bowl: 'God had a bigger plan for you (than what happened in New York). You don't even know what you're a part of right now.' It's special. He has to appreciate it."

Shockey says he's probably run the route that led to Sunday's game-winner 1,000 times in his career and only scored a couple of times.
Football can be humbling. It can also be rewarding.

"I have great memories from high school, junior high, college and my time with the Giants," he said. "This feeling is as special as it gets."
His message wasn't complete. The man with a bevy of rings is already looking for another; one that goes on his left hand.

"I'm single," he said, showing off a bare ring finger on his left hand, "Wink, wink."

Shockey talking about marriage? Of course, the New Orleans Saints did win the Super Bowl. Anything is possible.

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Randal "Thrill Hill" part of ICE team rooting out counterfeit goods at Super Bowl

MIAMI (AP) — Randal Hill spent seven years in the NFL catching passes and scoring touchdowns. Now he and other federal agents are working to prevent criminals from ripping off fans and the league at the Super Bowl.

Hill is part of the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement team that is scouring South Florida for counterfeit merchandise and arresting the people who peddle it.

"We're hitting every store that we possibly can. We will continue and we won't stop," said Hill, a speedy wide receiver on the University of Miami's 1989 national championship team. His NFL career included stops with the Saints, Dolphins and Cardinals.

"It would be sad to see a young kid who's really into the game, who's really into professional sports, wearing something that is not authentic and thinking he has the real thing."

Sales of knockoff NFL hats, T-shirts and jerseys are a big illegal business all year long. But as fans converge each year on the Super Bowl, the counterfeiters follow with millions of dollars worth of fake stuff, said John Morton, assistant Homeland Security secretary for ICE.

So far, ICE agents working "Operation Faux Bowl" in South Florida have seized more than 1,600 counterfeit items worth about $155,000, Morton said Thursday. By the time the week is over, he expects the totals to be similar to 2009, when the game was in Tampa. Then, agents confiscated 15,653 items worth over $1.8 million.

Counterfeiters charged with a federal crime can face up to five years in prison and fines.

"It's clearly an organized crime problem. This is not a mom-and-pop kind of crime," Morton said. "There are a number of major sporting events that you know well in advance are going to draw an organized crime element. We put on a sustained surge effort to combat the trouble we know is going to show up."

The 40-year-old Hill is part of that surge. As a player, Hill said he didn't think too much about the ramifications of counterfeit merchandise — how it feeds criminal enterprises, rips off fans, players and the league itself, and removes money from the U.S. economy. Often the fake stuff comes from China or India.

Hill recently spoke with friends Chad Ochocinco, Joey Porter and Ray Lewis about how current NFL players could bring greater public attention to the problem.

"I think it's important to get the word out. It's all about the fans," Hill said. "If the fans want to be buying good merchandise, we don't want to see them out there with counterfeit goods on their backs."

At ICE's office in Miami, agents displayed stacks of counterfeit apparel already seized: Saints quarterback Drew Brees' No. 9 jersey, caps bearing the Super Bowl logo and the Saints and Colts emblems, even throwback jerseys of older stars such as Dan Marino and Terry Bradshaw.

NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said fans should be careful throughout the year to check the quality of the goods they're buying. The NFL uses special holograms and other difficult-to-copy techniques on its officially licensed merchandise and doesn't sell items with mistakes, such as a green Colts shirt recently being peddled in Miami or a jersey with the player's name misspelled.

"These people aren't graphic artists, they're con artists," McCarthy said. "First and foremost, it's buyer beware. Be sensible."

So far, Morton said ICE agents haven't seen a major problem with phony Super Bowl tickets. Anastasia Danias, the NFL's vice president for legal affairs, said the league uses a series of security devices on the tickets, such as two-way holograms and a special ink that rubs off and then almost magically reappears.

"And that's only what we can tell you about," Danias said.

Hill, who first began planning for a federal law enforcement career in the mid-1990s, has also been involved in financial and national security investigations at Immigration and Customs Enforcement. He was part of a task force that rounded up South Florida members of the violent MS-13 gang and compares the sometimes long hours and stress of his job to his NFL days.

"The fans see a lot of the glitz and glamour, but people don't understand there's a lot of stress with being a professional football player," he said, mentioning as examples the agony of a dropped pass at a key moment or the long hours watching film. "In law enforcement, you have to protect your friends and your colleagues as well."

Another parallel occurred to him: "I try to be high speed, low drag. I've got to be bulletproof and invisible."

Click here to order Randall "Thrill" Hill’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Wayne says knee didn't bother him

Reggie Wayne said his right knee "wasn't bothering me at all" during the Super Bowl loss to the Saints.

Wayne was a complete non-factor and even appeared to alligator arm a pass in the end zone on the Colts' final offensive play. But he says the knee wasn't an issue and we believe him. He remarkably hasn't missed a regular season game since 2001 (his rookie year) and we don't see any signs of decline heading into 2010.

Click here to order Reggie Wayne’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Shockey and Vilma Double Their Bling

The Miami Hurricanes are good at a lot of things: celebrations, smoke, amateur rap careers.

They're also good at winning on two levels, and got even better last night. With a Saints victory in the Super Bowl, former 'Canes Jeremy Shockey and Jonathan Vilma joined 10 other U alum with rings from both a national championship and a Super Bowl. The list includes Bernie Kosar, Michael Irvin, Kevin Fagan, Coleman Bell, Jeff Feagles, Vince Wilfork, Daniel Stubbs, Alfredo Roberts, Russell Maryland, Darrin Smith, and Jimmie Jones.

Shockey, the brashest and trashiest and blondest of tight ends, wasn't targeted a lot but produced when it mattered with a two-yard winning touchdown catch.

Vilma, undersized but savvy at middle linebacker, faced off against a quarterback famous for his crafty goal-line checks and audibles -- and won. New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said the Coral Gables High grad audibled the Saints into "at least 20 calls of the right defense,'' including a crucial fourth quarter play in which he checked out of a blitz to deflect a Peyton Manning pass intended for Austin Collie, forcing the Colts to attempt a field goal up by one. They missed.

Where have we seen this sort of thing from these two before? Oh, right: 2001.

"The feeling is almost the same,'' Vilma said in comparing the Hurricanes' defeat of Nebraska and the Saints' win over Indianapolis. "I think we were so talented [in 2001], it was a blowout game. We knew we were going to win the game by the start of the third quarter. This game was completely different. I think the effort it took, the concentration it took makes it that more satisfying."

In true Miami tradition, there was also a bit of redemption for both after going underestimated and unwanted. Vilma was sent to rot in New Orleans by the Jets after an injury in 2007; the Giants were so through with Shockey he had to pay his own way to watch them win a Super Bowl from a luxury box in 2008.

If New York knew its orange and green history, they might have known the two would play better when counted out. 

"It's a great feeling right now," Shockey said. "I don't care about the catch, I just care about the team... I dreamed and prayed all day and night about being in the situation I'm in right now."

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s or Jon Vilma's proCane Rookie Card.

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Kenny Phillips ahead of schedule in rehab from knee surgery, looking to be 'let loose' next season

MIAMI — The blinds on the windows of the Denny’s on University Avenue in Carol City blocked all of the sunlight but only half of Sun Life Stadium.

Kenny Phillips looked in that direction and shook his head.

“We had a shot,” the Giants safety and former Miami Hurricane said the other day, as the home of the Dolphins was preparing to host the NFL’s biggest game. “With the Super Bowl being in Miami, that was going to be big. The Pro Bowl in Miami, I was looking forward to that also.

“I thought it was going to be a great year for me and the team. But stuff happens.”

For two weeks, it had been a great season for Phillips. For two weeks, he was a dominant presence at the back of the Giants’ secondary that the team had finally decided to unleash.

But for those two weeks, a hole in the cartilage in Phillips’ left knee that had formed sometime in the spring or summer continued to grow. He wasn’t in pain, but his knee would swell. He’d try to “break down” to stop his momentum and change direction but would keep moving forward. He wanted to keep playing but knew with every millimeter of expansion, the hole would be more difficult to repair.

So after two weeks, his season was over. So was the Giants’ given the play they got out of his replacements, C.C. Brown and, later, Aaron Rouse.

“I kind of knew I wasn’t going to finish the year,” Phillips said. “I figured we’d ride until the wheels fell off. I didn’t think they were going to fall off in Week 2.”

Super Bowl XLIV is over, with Saints defensive back Tracy Porter making the kind of play Phillips imagined making. The eyes of the league can now shift toward next season.

For Phillips, next season began in September, when he underwent microfracture surgery in the hope of relieving a condition known as patellofemoral arthritis — an erosion of the cartilage between the kneecap and the femur. It’s a seemingly degenerative condition that immediately sparked concerns it would be “career-threatening.”

But Phillips, who hadn’t discussed his rehab in depth until this past weekend, said those characterizations are off-base.

“It’s fixable, very fixable. A lot of guys have had it,” Phillips said, though he was told it’s rare for a younger player to suffer from it. “It should be a full recovery.”

A Giants spokesman said Phillips “is doing well. The knee is not swelling and progress has been very good.” Team physician Russ Warren and specialist James Andrews, who performed the surgery, “both feel good about where he is right now,” the spokesman said.

Phillips agrees and said he’s ahead of schedule in his rehab. He knew he wouldn’t be able to run for about five months after the surgery and was recently given the green light to start jogging in the pool. But with training camp five months away, doctors have told him not to rush. He won’t run until March 29, exactly six months after the operation.

In the meantime, Phillips rides a stationary bike, does leg presses and walks forward and backward on the treadmill.

“It’s basically a waiting process,” Phillips said. “There’s not much I can do.”

But he wants to let the Giants know he’s doing something, so Phillips has been splitting his time between Miami and New Jersey.

“They trust me to be down here rehabbing on my own, so I just go up there and let them get updates so they don’t think I’m down here fooling around or anything,” he said. “Whenever I want to come home, they let me.”

Phillips also wants to maintain his freedom on the field.

In his rookie season, he didn’t get it. If the coaches wanted him to cover the left half of the field, he had to stay in the left half of the field. If they wanted him 2 yards outside the numbers, he had to be 6 feet, zero inches outside the numbers. If they wanted him 13 yards off the ball at the snap, he had better not have entertained thoughts of playing 7 yards deeper, where he often likes to line up.

All the while, Phillips would smile while he told safeties coach David Merritt, “Just let me loose.”

This past season, Merritt did.

“He came in a meeting one day and was like, ‘Go ahead, the shackles are off. Just play,’ ” Phillips recalled. “The plays I knew I could have made (in 2008), I was making.”

Two came against the Cowboys — his only interceptions of the season. On the first one, which came after the ball bounced off Jason Witten’s foot on a short crossing route, Phillips said he delayed in coming down from his safety position because he knew he could get to Witten. On his second interception — a deep ball overthrown by Tony Romo — Phillips was sitting back comfortably because he had lined up 20 yards off the ball, not 13.

“The more they see I can do that, the more we can start twisting the defense, the more we can call man coverages,” Phillips said, “because we have someone that can cover ground.”

And that’s a key reason for Phillips’ frustration with his injury. Not only did it cost him time on the field, it might have also negated all the goodwill he built up with the coaches. Plus, he’ll have to start from scratch with new defensive coordinator Perry Fewell.

“Coming back from my injury, I’m going to have to prove it all over again, that I can cover enough ground for them to take the shackles off,” Phillips said. “I have to show them I’m still all that. I’m willing to do it, though.”

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Players sing & testify in Miami

MIAMI (BP)--Newly elected NFL Players Association executive director DeMaurice Smith spent most of the week of Super Bowl XLIV making the rounds with the players and the media, talking about his new league-wide responsibilities and the possibilities for labor unrest.

But when it came time for Friday night's 11th Annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration, he was among the thousands who crowded into the downtown James L. Knight Center for an evening of inspiration as well as proclamation of their faith in Jesus Christ.

"This agrees with my spirit," Smith said. "We're not talking about work or problems or anything tonight, we're talking about faith. Being the executive director of the NFLPA is what I do, it's not who I am."

Among the players who gave their testimonies were Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb, New York Jets wide receiver/returner Brad Smith and recently retired New England Patriots defensive lineman Don Davis, with 2006 Super Bowl MVP Hines Ward announcing some of the singing groups.

"With all the glitz and the glamour of South Beach this week, people think they give up their fun when they have faith," Davis said. "But we know Jesus wants you to have fun, but do it the right way."

The resounding three-hour concert featured the 40-member NFL Players Choir with some of football's best players singing their praises to God. "I just want to give praise to God and stay in my lane," said choir member Michael Gaines, a Cleveland Browns tight end.

New York Giants defensive end Jerome McDougle, in his seventh year of attending the gospel celebration, said he is always amazed by the number of Christians who want to voice their love for the Lord. "We are singing with some of the best in the business, and we have some of the best in our business here," McDougle said. "It's awesome to sing and worship together."

Smith, a Washington, D.C., lawyer, who assumed the helm of the players association last year, said the gathering of players along with gospel recording artists BeBe and CeCe Winans, Donnie McClurkin and others underscores the value of players being responsible men on and off the field, especially in the light of two players' recent deaths.

"In the last year, we've seen the tragic deaths of Steve McNair and Chris Henry, which shows the stark reality of life outside the field," Smith said.

Smith, who was vocal and passionate in a Thursday press conference about the need for a new NFL players' labor agreement, said some of his speaking skill comes from his long family tradition.

"I come from three generations of Baptist preachers and sometimes it comes out when I speak," he said. "My grandfather was the pastor of Hope Chapel Baptist Church in Virginia, my father and my two uncles pastored Baptist churches in Danville, Va. I was the only one that left the fold."

Reshard Langford, a first-year free safety with the Kansas City Chiefs, said he first heard about the concert from his agent, then found out by talking to other players that this was the faith-filled hot spot for the Friday preceding the Super Bowl.

"I know how I got here and I know who to praise, that's why I want to be here," Langford said.

He said he was especially excited about singing in his first players' choir, having attended singing practices on Thursday and Friday. "I know I'm not one of the best singers," he admitted, "so they keep me in the back."

Pro Bowl fullback Leonard Weaver of the Philadelphia Eagles called Friday night's gospel gathering "a blast and a blessing" and said it hopefully shows to the outside world that Christians have the most to celebrate.

"We understand sacrifice and giving up things of the world. Everything we do is to praise God and this is one of them," Weaver said.
Former Dallas Cowboys and Denver Bronco defensive end Ebenezer Ekuban added, "There is nothing wrong with having a good time as long as we always spread His Word."

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Darius Rice Scores 23 In Win

After a tied first half the guests played on an other speed in the second half and won by 13 points. American forward, Darius Rice scored 23 points - 1/2 2pt's, 6/7 3pt's, 3/4 FT's - and grabbed 8 rebounds. Point guard, Thomas Kelley had almost a double-double with 22 points and 9 assists. Rashaan Ames had 16 points in the defeat.

PVSK-PANNONPOWER - Szolnoki Olaj KK 75-88
(20-25, 22-17, 21-25, 12-21)
Pecs, Att.: 1200, Referees: Palla Z., Torok R., Farkas G. (Major)
PVSK: Rashaan Ames (184-G-78, college: Shaw) 16/12, Lakatos 6, Zeljko Bojovic (200-F-81) 13/6, Eilingsfeld -, Helbich 12, Canak 10, Czigler 15, Hosszu 3/3, Rujak -, Coach: Ivica Mavrenski

Szolnok: Thomas Kelley (188-G-77, agency: Avi Zilberman, college: Michigan St.) 22/15, Marton Fodor (191-G-81, agency: Laszlo Vinko Services) 13/6, Vesztergom 7/3, Darius Rice (208-F-82, college: Miami, FL) 23/18, Barro 12, Varadi 3/3, Grebenar -, Aleksic 6/6, Harazin 2, Coach: Por Peter


3 proCanes Get Their Super Bowl Rings

The Saints' 31-17 victory over the Colts in Super Bowl XLIV in Miami added three more Super Bowl Rings to the proCanes' trophy cabinet. Jonathan Vilma, Jeremy Shockey and Glenn Sharpe became the 45th, 46th and 47th Super Bowl Ring proCane winners. To see the full history click here.

Additionally, Jeremy Shockey became the 9th proCane to score a TD in the Super Bowl extending the lead over Notre Dame 9-6. The nine proCanes are: Bill Miller, Oakland (scored 2) Pete Banaszak, Oakland Ottis Anderson, New York Giants (2) Michael Irvin, Dallas (2) Jimmie Jones, Dallas Duane Starks, Baltimore Ravens Devin Hester, Chicago Reggie Wayne, Indianapolis. Jeremy Shockey, Saints.

Congrats to all three Super Bowl winning and proCanes along with Reggie Wayne who had a great season and game.

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proCane Super Bowl Stats

Jeremy Shockey: 3 catches, 13 yards, 1 TD

Jonathan Vilma: 7 solo tackles, 2 Tackles For Loss, 1 Pass Deflection

Reggie Wayne: 5 catches, 46 yards

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Shockey relishes Super Bowl moment

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla. — The rest of his teammates had deserted the interview room long before when New Orleans Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey, freshly showered and clad in a pink tie and a cream-colored suit, arrived more than an hour after Super Bowl XLIV.

If he had been savoring the moment, it would have been hard to blame him.

Though this was technically the second time he'd been a part of a team that won a Super Bowl, Sunday's 31-17 victory against the Indianapolis Colts was meaningful in many ways for Shockey, who caught the 2-yard touchdown that put the Saints ahead to stay. "This is my home," said Shockey, who had starred at nearby University of Miami. "It's my adopted home. Being a part of this here is very special, as special as it gets."

He caught three passes for 13 yards, but his scoring reception was a key moment in the Saints' comeback victory. The hookup with quarterback Drew Brees came with New Orleans trailing Indianapolis 17-16 with less than six minutes remaining.

It was the 32nd and final completion of the game for Brees, who tied a single-game record for completions in a Super Bowl (Tom Brady also achieved the mark on Feb. 1, 2004).

"I've probably run that route a 1,000 times in my career but caught a couple touchdowns off it — and now only one in the Super Bowl," said Shockey, 29. "It was a great throw by Drew and a great call by Sean (Payton).

"It's very special. It's meant a lot for the city of New Orleans; it's had a lot of tough times. This team has put a lot of hard work into this."
A lot of work went into the performance for Shockey, too. He missed the New York Giants' Super Bowl victory two years ago after breaking a leg during the regular season.

"I've got metal in my leg, I've got ligaments that are torn, I've got broken bones," he said. "I don't do this for the money. I do this for the love of the game. The passion is still there.

"A lot was made of me being jealous of New York winning without me. It was the complete opposite. I was very satisfied and happy for those teammates that worked hard."

Just as he was Sunday night.

"It's a great feeling to be part of this," Shockey said.

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Vilma Leave His Mark

The Saints linebacking corps made its presence felt where it was most needed, on pass defense. Jonathan Vilma made one of the biggest defensive plays of the evening, but one that will be largely overlooked, early in the fourth quarter. With the Colts leading 17-16 and driving for more points at the New Orleans 33, Vilma went stride for stride down the field with Austin Collie, breaking up a pass for the receiver in the end zone. The Colts had to settle for a 51-yard field goal attempt, which Matt Stover missed. Vilma also ended the day with a team-high seven tackles for a linebacking unit largely responsible for holding the explosive Colts to 17 points. Grade: B+

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Back in Miami, Jeremy Shockey leaves Super Bowl mark for champion Saints

MIAMI (AP) — Jeremy Shockey wasn't sitting in a suite for this Super Bowl. Instead, he was a big part of the New Orleans Saints' sweetest victory.

Shockey hauled in a touchdown catch for the go-ahead score Sunday night, helping the Saints beat the Indianapolis Colts 31-17 for their first NFL championship.

And for Shockey, that 2-yard score had to feel like redemption.

"A great feeling," he said. "I work hard in my career, in my profession. ... I don't just do this for the money or anything. I've got metal in my leg. I've got broken bones. I've got ligaments that are torn and I do this for the love of the game. The passion I have for it, it's still there."

Only two short years ago, that passion was in question.

Shockey was with the New York Giants — in name only — when they upset New England in the 2008 Super Bowl. He watched that title game from a suite above the field and felt like an outcast after breaking his left leg and missing their scintillating playoff run.

That essentially set up his trade to New Orleans. This ring, he can say he earned.

"I know there's a lot of people out there that think, I don't know, negative thoughts about me," Shockey said.

But does he feel redeemed as a player now?

"Yes," he said.

The stat sheet will say he had only three catches for 13 yards in the title game. The Saints will quickly say that Shockey did so much more than that on the way to this championship.

The Saints were thought of by some as a finesse team until Shockey came along, with his rough-and-tumble ways and a personality seeming more suited for professional wrestling than professional football.

Just what New Orleans needed, Reggie Bush said.

"I told him, 'God had a different plan for you,'" said Bush, the Saints' flashy running back and returner. "He's got to appreciate it. I know he does. Shockey's brought so much to this team, an attitude that we definitely needed. ... We needed a guy like Shockey to bring that aggressiveness to our offense, and he's been nothing but special from Day 1."

Blond, bold and brash, Shockey came to the NFL from the Miami Hurricanes, where he blossomed into a star.

He caught 74 passes for 894 yards as a rookie with the Giants in 2002. Both of those numbers still represent career highs.

On Sunday, he got the best moment of his career.

"This game is very humbling," Shockey said. "Any chance you get to make a play, a lot of hard work has gone into that. I've probably run that route 1,000 times in my career, probably only caught a couple touchdowns off of it, but only one in the Super Bowl."

It came with 5:42 left in the game, when he caught a pass from Drew Brees and barreled backward into the end zone, putting the Saints ahead for good. Shockey tossed the ball to the sideline, wanting it as a keepsake.

A ballboy picked it up instead.

No matter. Shockey will have plenty of other ways to remember this one.

"To be part of something that's been building, an organization that's never had any success in the postseason and being a part of that is very special. Obviously, always winning is very special," Shockey said. "I have great memories of winning in high school, junior high, college, the Giants and now with the Saints. It's about as special as it gets."

Click here to order Jeremy Shockey’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Cool Vilma helps Saints realize dream

MIAMI — Those hands. Those calm hands.

The rest of Sun Life Stadium erupted. Every football fan in the world inched closer to his TV, ready to watch the final stirring minutes of Super Bowl XLIV. Meanwhile, with 5:42 remaining in the biggest game he ever played in, Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma stood on the sideline, his hands resting peacefully on his hips.

Just moments before the Saints clinched their 31-17 victory over the Indianapolis Colts, he was calm.

For goodness sake, what was he thinking?

From the front row to the upper deck, amid all the frenzy, Saints fans — grown men and women, mind you — sobbed openly, hugging each other and holding hands. Overcome with emotion, they simply couldn’t comprehend that their lovable losers were minutes away from a world title.

What was Vilma thinking? Didn’t he understand this moment? Didn’t he understand the magnitude?

He sure did.

While officials awarded a catch to wideout Lance Moore on a two-point conversion, one that gave the Saints a seven-point lead in the fourth quarter, Vilma conferred quietly with the Saints coaching staff. Then he shook hands with a few defensive teammates.

As the captain of a defense that lived on the edge all season, Vilma understood his role in the moment: If the Saints were to finish their rally and win the biggest game in franchise history, their defense had to stop Peyton Manning and the Colts one more time.

On Indianapolis’ previous possession, Vilma made one of the Super Bowl’s most important plays.

The Saints trailed 17-16 as Manning led the Colts to a third-and-11 at New Orleans’ 33-yard line. New Orleans had to have a stop. Vilma made it.

In pass coverage against wideout Austin Collie, more than 30 yards downfield, Vilma turned his head and broke up Manning’s pass near the goal line.

Defensive coordinator Gregg Williams said Vilma was supposed to blitz on the play — but he recognized Manning’s call and checked out of the blitz, one of dozens of pre-snap adjustments Vilma made Sunday night. On the next play, Colts place-kicker Matt Stover — a replacement for the injured Adam Vinatieri, who won three previous Super Bowls with his right leg — missed a 51-yard field goal wide left.

The Saints responded with a touchdown pass from MVP Drew Brees to tight end Jeremy Shockey, followed by Moore’s fingernail-thin two-point conversion.

Seven plays later, Tracy Porter made his clinching interception return for a touchdown. As it turned out, for the Saints, Super Bowl XLIV was the stage for one final dramatic comeback in a season that saw so many.

It was a fitting rally for a franchise that stumbled through blowout losses, bad luck and bad personnel moves for the better part of 43 years.
Finally, at 9:22 p.m. CST, Jonathan Vilma vanished into a tunnel, his hands high above his head, nodding to thousands of Saints fans who realized their dream as Vilma realized his.

He seemed calm, but happy. At long last, he and the Saints were world champions, and their fans were full of joy.

They were whole.

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Quadtrine Hill & James Bryant To Fight Tuesday Feb 16.

proCanes and Pro Boxer Quatrine Hill along with a former Miami Hurricane James Bryant will make their professional debuts on February 16 at the HArd Rock Live Arena which is being presented by a new promotional company The Heavyweight Factory.

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Willis McGahee, Baltimore Ravens RB, Talks Gaming, Madden

Despite playing full-time in the NFL, Willis McGahee is an avid gamer and he spoke to The Escapist about playing when he was a kid, who is the best digital football player, and how he won the Madden Bowl in 2008.

Willis McGahee rose to fame while playing at the University of Miami, where he was a member of the championship team of 2001 and played in the National Championship game in 2002. After suffering a terrible injury in the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, he eventually entered the NFL with the Buffalo Bills in 2004, rushing for 1,128 yards and 13 touchdowns his rookie season. He was traded to the Baltimore Ravens in 2007, and during this year's playoffs, McGahee led the team in its defeat of the New England Patriots in the Wild Card round before eventually falling to Indianapolis.

But through it all, Willis McGahee is a gamer. "Since I was a kid, I can remember playing Nintendo," he told me.

McGahee is just as skilled with the controller as he is on the field, winning the Madden Bowl in 2008. The Madden Bowl is a tournament of NFL players playing the latest Madden game held on Super Bowl weekend for the last 16 years. Despite not competing this year, McGahee is keeping quiet on his tactics. "I can't give away my secrets!" he said.

McGahee is in the rare position where he can play as himself in Madden. How does the digital version of himself match up? "There is nothing that is the same as the real deal, but I have to say sometimes my rep in Madden is better, but then sometimes the real life version is better! Just depends on what happens that day."

I showed McGahee the video in which Denver Broncos wide receiver Brandon Stokely appeared to use a strategy straight out of playing Madden. Here's what McGahee had to say about Stokely running along the goal line to eat up time:

Brandon Stokley is a great NFL player; he gives his team his all. To be able to do what he did on Madden takes half the skill though. What really counts is how many times a player can do that on the field.

I'm not surprised [that Stokely did it]. I take my real life tactics into the gaming, but once in a while the opposite happens and then it's interesting to see the virtual world coincide with the real world.

After pressing him on the subject, it's clear that the NFL player makes a distinction between what he does on the screen and what he can do on the field. "In real football you're using your whole body, but in video games, you're just using your thumbs," McGahee said. "Obviously, that really changes the dynamic, but it is a great way to practice some strategies in a virtual way."

The love that McGahee has for games goes beyond just football. Among the games he enjoys playing are D.C. vs. Marvel, Uncharted, Halo, Ghostbusters, Wolverine, Red Dead Revolver, Mafia, Max Payne and even Mirror's Edge. Modern Warfare 2 was his favorite game of 2009 because, "the graphics and effects are so realistic, and the game is such a challenge even for an experienced gamer like me."

He also doesn't understand the the flak that videogames get from critics for containing violence and corrupting our youth. "I believe that everything in life is good in moderation," he said. "Parents should censor what they want their children to be exposed to, but I also feel most children can separate fact from fiction."

Finally, I asked Willis McGahee who the best player was in all of the football games he has ever played, to the point where you'd always want to play his team because the digital player was so overpowering. Many people think that the crown would go to Bo Jackson in Super Tecmo Bowl for his ability to zip by defenders with unrealistic ease. But McGahee disagrees.

"Of course I have to vote for myself as the best digital athlete!"

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

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Ed Reed says nothing has been decided

The pinched nerve in Ed Reed's neck has gotten worse, the Pro Bowl safety told the NFL Network at Super Bowl festivities in Miami on Friday. He reiterated that he remains undecided on whether he will return to the Ravens or retire.

"I still have to see doctors," Reed said. "I still need to talk with Ozzie [Newsome] and the Ravens."

Reed acknowledged that he has been contemplating retirement the past two years. The pinched nerve in his neck has affected his hip injury, according to Reed.

He first mentioned retirement - saying he was "50-50" - when a reporter asked him about his future after the AFC divisional playoff loss to the Colts at Indianapolis on Jan. 16.

On Friday, Reed said the retirement talk had nothing to do with the emotions of the loss.

"I knew going into that game that was going to be tough playing against those guys. It always is," Reed said. "Scoring three points and not being effective, it was bad. But it happens and you move on."

Since the end of the season, Ravens coach John Harbaugh has said twice that he believes Reed will return to the team.

When former teammate and friend Deion Sanders asked Reed on Friday what he would move into if he retired, Reed said, "a tee time."

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Portis admits he asked for Sellers to be benched

One of the nearly forgotten fun-time happy-face episodes of the past Redskins season involved the locker-room infighting between Clinton Portis and Mike Sellers. This was many months before Portis and Jason Campbell exchanged barbs in the press. And this episode emerged mostly under the cover of anonymous sources, who told the press that the two men had a conflict after Portis asked coaches to bench Sellers during a game.

Even when Sellers later defended his play, he did so without mentioning Portis. And Jim Zorn explained that the two guys loved each other, and that any conflict did not result from issues with Sellers's blocking.

But Portis--love him or hate him--never turns that honest button off, and so when the guys on the NFL Network asked him point blank about his relationship with Sellers, the story finally came out, attached to his name, without the use of sources. And--somewhat amazingly--Portis admitted that yes, indeed, he went to coaches during a game and asked for Sellers to be benched.

"The Mike Sellers incident was blown out as well," Portis began. "Mike Sellers came to me and said, 'Get on guys.' You know, that was his message to me. He came to me, he said 'Man, you need to be more of a vocal leader. Get on guys, tell guys to get it together.'

"I said, Mike, no, that's not me. For three weeks in a row, I said Mike, that's not me, I don't want to get into any confrontation with anybody. He said, 'From me to anybody else, if you feel like somebody's lacking, let them know.'

"We got into the game, I felt like Mike was lacking," Portis continued, as the other set members tittered in disbelief. "I let Mike know that he was lacking. Listen, that's what he asked me to do, so I just asked him, I told him, I said Mike, c'mon baby, I need you. We went out, it happened again. Therefore I came to the sideline and I told them, I was like I just didn't want a fullback in front of me, put me in one-back.

"And then they was like, 'Well, we want to run our game plan for two backs.' I said put Todd Yoder in front of me and run downhill. All of the sudden, Mike take that and 'Whoooo, you trying to get me benched and you throwing me under the bus.' You just asked me to come tell you if I had a problem. I told you in the game. It's not like I didn't tell Mike. I told him during the game, 'C'mon Mike, I need you.' And then I get to the sideline and it's like blown out. I guess a coach or somebody went back and told him, 'Oh, Clinton wanted you out of the game,' and then Mike addressed the situation."

I don't know, do NFL players regularly approach coaches during games and ask for players one year removed from the Pro Bowl to be benched? Maybe they do. But the other fellas on the NFL Network set seemed a bit taken aback.

"That might be a problem if I come to the set tomorrow and say I don't want to work with Warren Sapp, put Sapp on the bench and let me just sit right here with Marshall [Faulk]," Deion Sanders said. "That might be a problem."

"It gonna be a problem," Sapp agreed. "It gonna be a little bit. It gonna be a little bit."

Anyhow, at least the story is officially out. And give Portis credit; he said he doesn't speak anonymously to the press, and he said he'll tell you what's on his mind, and he seems to carry out that threat regularly.

Click here to order Clinton Portis' proCane Rookie Card.

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NFL Network yanks Warren Sapp off air amid domestic violence investigation

Former NFL star Warren Sapp, who now serves as an analyst for NFL Network and Showtime's Inside the NFL, has been pulled from NFLN's Super Bowl XLIV coverage as Miami police look into a domestic violence case, according to ESPN.

"He's being questioned in reference to a domestic battery," Sgt. Juan Sanchez, a spokesman for the Miami Beach Police Department, told the (South Florida) Sun-Sentinel. "No one has been arrested yet."

Sapp was recently named to the NFL's all-decade team as a defensive lineman, an honor he also received in the 1990s.

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Michael Irvin files $100M suit over rape allegations

NFL Hall of Famer Michael Irvin fired back Friday against rape accusations with a $100 million lawsuit against his accuser.

Calling her ``morally bankrupt,'' the lawsuit filed in Dallas court alleges the woman is trying to destroy Irvin's reputation as a highly acclaimed sports broadcaster.

It also said she picked this week -- when Irvin was scheduled to be an on-air personality during South Florida's Super Bowl festivities -- to capitalize on the attention.

``This is nothing more than a weak attempt to extort a celebrity with baseless salacious allegations,'' the lawsuit read. Her allegations will cause ``the destruction of an innocent man's hard earned career.''

Irvin's lawsuit was filed the same day he was let go from his radio show which aired on ESPN radio in Dallas.

``His contract was up and the show has not performed,'' ESPN spokesman Josh Krulewitz said in a statement. ``We had previously decided to cancel the show and determined this morning to make it effective today.''

But the NFL Network stood by Irvin, saying he would continue to work for them during the Super Bowl weekend.

A statement issued by the NFL said, ``We are aware that a civil lawsuit was filed. Our security department is looking into the allegations. According to Michael's lawyer, the accusations are `totally untrue.' He will be on-air this weekend.''

It was a whirlwind of developments for the Fort Lauderdale native.

On Thursday, a Broward County woman filed suit in Broward Circuit Court, accusing Irvin of raping her at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino over the July Fourth holiday 2007.

The woman, identified as Jane Doe in her lawsuit, claims Irvin tried to get her drunk, lured her to his hotel room and raped her. Another unidentified man also forced her to perform oral sex that night, she said.

She didn't report the alleged attack for two weeks. Seminole police investigated, but by that time there was no surveillance or forensic evidence. Broward prosecutors have reviewed the case and did their own investigation. A decision on whether to charge Irvin criminally is expected next week.

According to Irvin's lawsuit, the woman's lawyers pushed for five months for Irvin to pay up to $1 million.

In January, the lawsuit alleges, the woman's attorney's threatened to sue during the Super Bowl and destory Irvin's career.

``This is nothing more than a thinly veiled effort to carry out plaintiff's extortion plot, while capitalizing on the media circus that is Super Bowl weekend,'' Irvin's lawsuit said.

The woman's lawyer, David Lister of Weston, declined to comment on the Dallas lawsuit.

As a football player with the University of Miami and the Dallas Cowboys, Irvin was known for big plays and his big personality. Even after his retirement from pro football, Irvin stayed in the spotlight. He had the radio show in Dallas and did broadcasting for the NFL network.

He also had prior legal troubles, including pleading no contest to a cocaine charge in 1996.

Later in that same year, Irvin and a teammate were accused of sexually assaulting a woman. An investigation revealed the woman had made up the story and she soon recanted.

Click here to order Michael Irvin’s proCane Rookie Card.

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Saints' Curtis Johnson varies approach with players

MIAMI -- C.J. is vocal.

New Orleans Saints wide receivers coach Curtis Johnson is known for pushing his players relentlessly.

"He's a screamer, " New Orleans Saints receiver Robert Meachem said.

C.J. is a comic.

"We can mess up, run the wrong route in practice, and we'll tell him, 'We got it. We kind of messed up on this one, ' " Meachem said. "We get back in the film room, he already knows you messed up, but he'll get onto you again in front of everybody -- and make a joke out of it, have everybody laughing at you."

C.J. is among the nittiest of pickers to pick a nit.

"He's definitely on us all the time, " receiver Marques Colston said. "The thing with him is, he doesn't allow you to take anything off -- even the break periods. Everyone else is on a knee getting a drink, and we're over there catching footballs."

But Curtis Johnson -- a New Orleans-born, St. Charles High graduate who has been the wide receivers coach for the Saints since 2006 -- is a master at what he does, with his work highlighted along the way as the Saints prepare for the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV on Sunday in Miami.

The receivers he tutors are better after having worked with him. Each one he has come into contact with as a Saint, and the ones he tutored as receivers coach at the University of Miami, is better for having had the experience.

Colston, a seventh-round pick in 2006 who had as bad a rookie minicamp as could be imagined, has been a 1,000-yard receiver in three of his four seasons. Devery Henderson averaged 23.3, 20.5 and 24.8 yards per catch from 2006-08 before dipping to 15.8 yards per catch this season, but he caught a career-high 51 passes and became more of a complete threat.

And Meachem, a first-round pick and target of scorn that entered this season with 12 catches in his first two seasons, hauled in 45 passes for 722 yards and nine touchdowns during the regular season.

Sure, some of that's owed to maturity and improved work habits and self-evaluation -- and it's not like Saints receivers are void of talent.
The three mentioned all were draft picks (Henderson a second-rounder), and while New Orleans got lucky with Colston, there still had to be a reason for picking him.

And some is owed to the excellence of quarterback Drew Brees, who's on a run of efficiency that's unmatched in franchise history.
But some of their development can be attributed to Johnson's relentless pushing.

"He makes you 10 times better, " Meachem said. "Our receiver corps is like a family, and we don't want to let each other down. And with C.J., we really don't want to let him down."

Said Colston: "Even during break periods, we're doing something, still working. At first it irritates you at times, but you see the end result. He has made us so much better as players and as a group. The end result has made us that much better as players, and we appreciate it at the end of the day."

There's no better illustration of that than this: "He's taught me a lot, " Colts receiver Reggie Wayne said. "He's pretty much taught me everything I know, and I'll do my best to not let him down."

Johnson coached Wayne at Miami, where Wayne set a school record with 173 receptions.

These days, Wayne is a two-time All-Pro who is one of the most dangerous receivers in the league.

So it's no small thing when he, and receivers like Andre Johnson of the Houston Texans and Santana Moss of the Washington Redskins, give props to their mentor.

"That means a lot to me, " Johnson said. "Reggie was a young man I recruited. Very, very sharp guy and understands the game and understands his situation. I'm just very proud of him.

"All of those guys (from Miami), I'm proud of but especially him, doing what he's doing in the NFL. I never thought it would be that good for him, but he's worked his tail off. He's something special."

The same might be said of Johnson.

True, none of his Saints receivers have received a Pro Bowl invite while Brees finished second in the voting for MVP this season, had the second-highest single-season total for passing yards (5,069) last season and has led the NFL in passing yards since 2006.

But Colston has averaged 71 catches for 1,018 yards and eight touchdowns per season, Henderson and Meachem have become much more than decoys, and Lance Moore -- injured and in and out of the lineup for New Orleans this season -- caught 10 touchdowns last season.
Neither is the player he was before he met Johnson.

"I love my receiving corps, " Brees said. "As a group, they are the best in the league. When you talk about what each one of them brings to the field and to our offense, each one of them has some very unique strengths. They all work so well together.

"They understand that throughout the course of a game, 'Today might be my day. I might be able to catch 10 passes for 150 yards and two touchdowns. While other days I might only catch one pass, my role is still just as important because I'm creating opportunities for other guys. It might be another guy's big catch today.' "

They're ready because Johnson makes sure they're ready.

"I try not to let any stones go unturned, " Johnson said. "I just try to make sure, even the little things, I stay on it -- stay on them. I know I aggravate 'em a lot, and I know I'm on 'em a LOT.

"But the bottom line is if you're a professional, and you want to be professional. You want to put your product on the field every time. I just love seeing those guys perform, and I love seeing them play. But they do work hard, and they do respond. Sometimes, I'm a little bit unreasonable, but it's working out good for them."

Said Meachem: "C.J. knows we've got an opportunity to be great and be special. All he tries to do is get us to be special. As a receiver, you've got to have high standards for yourself. Your coach's goals can't be higher than yours.

"He asks you, 'What kind of player do you want to be when you leave this game?' If you say you want to be one of the best, then he's going to push you to be one of the best. A lot of times coaches see things in you that you really don't see in yourself at times, and he just pushes you to a level where you can only perform to be good."

He screams, he jokes, he picks the nits -- and the Saints are better for it.

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Comeback for Pat Burrell may be key to Rays' season

What single player is most key to the Rays' 2010 success?

There are lots of answers.

Assuming health, stars Carl Crawford, Evan Longoria and Carlos Peña are obviously all integral.

From there, you could make a case for RHP Rafael Soriano, the $7 million-a-year closer they unexpectedly brought in. For CF B.J. Upton, who has the potential to be a differencemaker. For RHP Jeff Niemann or LHP David Price or, actually, any of the starters in a young rotation that must perform.

What about Pat Burrell?

The biggest disappointment in a downer of a 2009 season, Burrell's return to form could have a huge impact.

This was the guy, after all, who averaged .262 with 31 homers and 99 RBIs over the previous four seasons in Philly. And as bad as he was last year (.221. 14, 64), it may be going a bit far to think he's just done at age 33.

Word is that Burrell has been working out extensively at the Athletes' Performance Institute in Arizona, specifically strengthening his back, and is in tremendous shape. That's one reason to think he could rebound.

Factor in an increased comfort level with the adjustments to the DH role and AL game. Add in — $9 million salary or not — his pride. And there's this: The previous two times he was at the end of a contract, he came up pretty big — .282 with 37 homers and 116 RBIs in 2002, .250 with 33 homers and 86 RBIs in 2008.

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Lauryn Williams Tabbed by Track and Field News

CORAL GABLES –  Former University of Miami great, Lauryn Williams has been named to Track and Field News’ All-Decade Top-Performers List. Williams was named the third-best 100m sprinter in the world and as the sixth-best American performer over the last 10 years.

Williams competed for the Hurricanes from 2002-04 and was a nine-time All-American, winning the NCAA Championship in the 100m dash in 2004.

Williams won a Silver Medal in the 2004 Olympics in Athens and backed that up with Gold  and Silver in the 2005 and 2007  World Championships, respectively. She has been a part of two Olympic teams, as she also competed in Beijing in 2008.

Williams still competes professionally and continues to train under current Miami Director of Track and Field/Cross Country Amy Deem.

The star is also the founder of the Lauryn Williams Mentoring Program – which teams with Fun4Kids to pair Hurricane student-athletes with local middle school in an effort to provide guidance and advice to youth in the community.

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