February 9, 2007 -- This week, NYP TV Sports' Andrew Marchand spoke with ESPN NFL analyst Michael Irvin. The 40-year-old Irvin last week was elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Q: What was your reaction when you heard the news?

A: I was totally elated. I was overjoyed. I had gone through two years of getting to that point and then not making it. And I was expecting the best, but getting absolutely the worst.

Q: Let's fast-forward 12 months from now. Who is the Super Bowl champion and who is it they beat?

A: I think once you get to this point and you feel confident and comfortable with who you are, it makes it easier to repeat when you know you are this good. I'm thinking maybe Indianapolis repeating. This time they will be playing, and probably even beating, the Dallas Cowboys.

Miami's future Pro Bowlers, Part III: Vernon Carey

Vernon Carey is possibly the most underappreciated and unheralded player on the entire Miami Dolphins roster. The behemoth right tackle has started 30 of the team's last 32 contests, quietly becoming the line's most consistent performer. But somehow, fans and media seem to either overlook him or flat-out disregard him when talking about Miami's prospects for the future.

And there are several fairly legitimate reasons for that lack of respect.

For starters, the 6-foot-5, 335-pounder was widely considered a major underachiever while playing for the University of Miami. When the Miami native first arrived at the school, he was expected to be a mirror image of Outland Trophy winner Bryant McKinney. Yet that level of production never materialized. Many pundits believed that it was a lack of heart, not a talent issue, that was to blame.

Michael Irvin's Top 5 Games Video Highlights

Check out Highlights and commentary on the top 5 games of Michael Irvin's career. Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here!

NFL U Super Bowl Highlights

Check out the Super Bowl Video Highlights featuring Devin Hester and Reggie Wayne! Also check out Greg Olsen's Skills Challenge Video Highlights. Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here!

Browns Sign Buck Ortega

The team announced the signing of TE Buck Ortega. Ortega is a TE from Miami whose on-and-off-the-roster machinations have been followed breathlessly here on the OBR.



February 6, 2007 -- Mike Piazza will have to learn how to change some diapers. Three days ago, he and his wife, Alicia, had a daughter, Nicoletta Veronica. It's the couple's first baby and makes Piazza a first-time dad.

"Mike has wanted kids for a long time and finally found the right woman to do that with," Piazza's agent, Dan Lozano, said yesterday. "And this is definitely a point in his life where he couldn't be in a better place."

Nicoletta weighed in at five pounds, eight ounces and was 19 inches long. Lozano said Piazza called him approximately an hour after the baby was born Saturday morning in New York. According to Lozano, "you could tell he was ecstatic."

Piazza, the 38-year-old former Mets superstar and future Hall of Famer, is headed to A's camp for his first tour with the team. He spent last year with the Padres, hitting .283 with 22 homers and 68 RBIs.


Dear Edgerrin James...Don't Let the Colts' Win Get You Down

Dear Edgerrin James,

How are you holding up?  Sunday couldn’t have been much fun for you.  And my guess is you’re about to have a pretty rough week. 
After all, everyone you come into contact with is wondering how you feel about your former team, the Indianapolis Colts, winning the Super Bowl.  Most people probably won’t ask.  They won’t even want to bring it up.  They’ll steer clear of the subject entirely.  But some will inquire.  And when they do, I’m sure you’ll say all the right things.   You’ll tell them how happy you are for your former teammates.  How you were cheering for them all along. 

Hite's focus clear after charges dropped

MIAMI Robert Hite said he is moving forward. The former University of Miami standout just wants to make it clear he is doing so without any baggage.

While much was made about the Heat rookie guard being charged with driving under the influence before the Jan. 21 home game against Dallas, including a special report on a South Florida television station, less heralded was last week's dropping of the charges by Miami-Dade prosecutors.

"It's a matter of me getting the story out there and making sure people realize it wasn't what it was and clear that," Hite said Monday by phone, four days after he was cut by the Heat to clear a roster space for the return of guard Eddie Jones. "Right now, I've just got to focus on getting back to basketball and staying in shape."

Redskins' Taylor added to Pro Bowl roster

ASHBURN, Va. -- Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor was added to the NFC's Pro Bowl roster Monday after Brian Dawkins of the Philadelphia Eagles withdrew because of personal reasons.

Taylor, who will be making his first Pro Bowl appearance, was a first alternate when Pro Bowl rosters were announced in December. He had an erratic season--making only one interception for a defense that ranked 31st in the league--but he led the Redskins with 129 tackles and showed ability to intimidate wide receivers with jarring hits.

Taylor, the No. 5 pick from Miami in the 2004 draft, joints left tackle Chris Samuels as the Redskins' representatives to the Pro Bowl, which will be played Saturday in Honolulu.


Former Canes shine despite rain

The last place you would expect to see a University of Miami football player this season was in a championship game. But Devin Hester and Reggie Wayne -- still Hurricanes at heart -- brought back the luster to Coral Gables on football's biggest stage Sunday.

Hester and Wayne, no strangers to a Miami end zone, scored the first and second touchdowns, respectively, of Super Bowl XLI.

Wayne's Colts defeated Hester's Bears 29-17 at Dolphin Stadium.

Wayne gives N.O. reason to cheer

MIAMI GARDENS, FLA. -- The most important play in Super Bowl XLI on Sunday night, the biggest moment of Reggie Wayne's life, was almost too easy to believe.

With the Indianapolis Colts trailing 7-0 and facing a third-and-10 from their 47-yard line against the Chicago Bears, Wayne broke into the clear deep downfield with no defenders in sight, and quarterback Peyton Manning connected for a 53-yard touchdown.

The Bears' coverage broke down -- cornerback Charles Tillman allowed Wayne to run past him, and no safeties came over to pick him up. The play swung the early momentum away from Chicago, and the Colts eventually won 29-17.

Edge parties, watches friends play

HOLLYWOOD, Fla. -- It's 5 a.m. a day before Super Bowl XLI and Edgerrin James is as fresh and enthusiastic as if he was about to play with his old teammates.

The former Indianapolis Colts running back is chillin' after three hours of clubbing at Spirits, a popular dancing nightspot at the Seminole Hard Rock Hotel & Casino. Time for breakfast, but he blows it off to talk about his team's chances Sunday against the Chicago Bears at Dolphin Stadium.

"The Colts are still my team," said James, who ran for a franchise record 9,226 yards in a horseshoe helmet through 2005 before signing with Arizona last offseason. "I've been telling everybody that since midseason, it's the Colts' year."

Hester ends slump quickly

Devin Hester proved that his playoff slump as a return man was temporary.

Hester, a rookie for the Bears, had six returns for touchdowns in the regular season but was held in check by Seattle and New Orleans in the first two rounds of the NFC playoffs.

The slump ended on the opening kickoff of Super Bowl XLI. Hester returned the opening kickoff 92 yards for a touchdown and a 7-0 lead for the Bears.

Colts avoid Hester after 92-yard TD

MIAMI -- Devin Hester did his part Sunday. His 92-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff not only put the Bears ahead, but it also gave them great field position for much of the game because the Indianapolis Colts tried kicking away from him.

The former Miami star looked right at home, using an incredible juke to start the return before turning on his speed to race to the end zone.

''We knew we were capable of returning one,'' Hester said. ''It was a right return, and it was set up the way [special-teams] coach Dave Toub planned it.

Hester's fast start wasted - Former 'Cane takes opening kickoff for TD

MIAMI GARDENS Chicago's Devin Hester did what he had done several times this season. His 92-yard kickoff return to open the game gave the Bears a 7-0 lead and momentum, but they couldn't maintain it.

"We wanted to set an example of special teams from the start," said Hester, a former Hurricane. "I wasn't surprised that they kicked to me the first time. I also wasn't surprised that they didn't kick to me again."

Hester's touchdown was his seventh kick return for a touchdown this season, an NFL record. He returned three punts, two kickoffs and a missed field goal in the regular season.

Irvin so happy he could bust

MIAMI BEACH -- Michael Irvin and his wife, Sandy, were watching the Hall of Fame announcements on television, and the suspense was building.

"I was taking deep breaths and praying. I thought that I was going to have a heart attack," Sandy Irvin said.

After the list went from 17 to 10 to six, Gene Hickerson, an offensive guard with the Cleveland Browns (1958-73), had his name read.

"I know the alphabet," Irvin said. "When I heard `H,' I was like, `OK, I is next.' Whew! I was so afraid they were going to skip over the I's."

SKOLNICK: Irvin receives his place in Canton, showing voters didn't drop the ba

HOLLYWOOD -- The news spread to Diplomat Landing, where Dallas Cowboys luminaries Troy Aikman and Jerry Jones had been scheduled to appear at Leigh Steinberg's Saturday party if something historic hadn't come up.

Even without Aikman and Jones around, you could find someone to tell you a Michael Irvin story, since few played football in South Florida at any level without experiencing a Playmaker moment.

"We were playing Florida State my sophomore year, and we were on the last drive, and we were going down to hit [Jeremy] Shockey, and I had an incompletion to Reggie Wayne in the corner of the end zone," former University of Miami quarterback Ken Dorsey said. "And I look over to the sideline to get the next play, and Michael Irvin is there, just yelling, `Just give him a chance! Just give him a chance!'"

Third time's the charm for Michael Irvin

MIAMI - A few years ago, Michael Irvin returned to the tiny, three-bedroom house he shared with his parents and 16 brothers and sisters on Northwest 28th Avenue in Fort Lauderdale, Fla.

His sons, Michael and Elijah, did not believe their father grew up there. Outside on the street, Irvin could still see the green lines he painted for a makeshift football field.

From that scratchy pavement to Texas Stadium, Irvin built himself into a Hall of Famer.

On Saturday, less than an hour from where he grew up and minutes from where he starred at the University of Miami, Irvin was selected for enshrinement into the Pro Football Hall of Fame, becoming the 10th member of the Cowboys organization to receive the honor.

Irvin finally receives coveted Hall pass

MIAMI - Nobody does joy better than Mike Irvin. Nor does anybody do charisma better. He was a special football player as a big-game, big-time receiver, and also always a guy blessed with a unique personality while being cursed by well-chronicled off-the-field demons.

Here Saturday afternoon, the joy and the charisma over flowed.

After two years of knocking on the door of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, only to be rejected, this time Irvin gained entrance.
Michael's reaction was gracious, articulate and thankful. He did himself proud with his humble "thank yous" Saturday.

For Irvin, Hall election is `worth the wait'

MIAMI - It was a humbled Michael Irvin who saw his journey to football immortality come full circle on Saturday.

What began just up the road in Fort Lauderdale, where his brothers marked off yard markers in the street with chalk, ended at the Miami Beach Convention Center.

Irvin, the Cowboys' all-time leading receiver and the heart and soul of three Super Bowl title teams, was voted in as one of six members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2007.

He acknowledged with regret the role his past problems played in the process.

Hester has fan in Colts WR Wayne

MIAMI – For the time being anyway, Colts wide receiver Reggie Wayne is a big fan of Bears rookie return specialist Devin Hester. Hester set an NFL record this season with six returns (three punts, one missed field goal and two kickoffs) going for touchdowns.

Wayne and Hester played football at the University of Miami, which plays a large part in his level of admiration.

“He’s from the ‘U,’ so I don’t expect anything else. He was doing that in college. All you have to do is give a guy confidence to return one in the NFL and once you do it one time, you’re always going to do it,” the Colts receiver said. “Whenever you come from the University of Miami, I don’t expect you to do anything but make plays.”

Hester primed to explode

MIAMI -- Indianapolis Colts coverage teams may need either Jack Bauer or a fallout shelter on Sunday.

"Devin Hester is a weapon. He is a nuclear weapon," Colts coach Tony Dungy said. "So you are never quite comfortable when your enemy has a nuclear weapon."

Hester's return abilities rate the biggest advantage the Bears possess heading into today's Super Bowl. To keep the league's second-leading punt returner (12.8 yards per return) and fifth-leading kick returner (26.4 ypr) from exploding, the Colts will need to cover like they haven't done all year.

A Look Back at Last Week's Top proCanes Stories

- It's just 'plane' luck: Bears' McClover is Super
- Winslow's knee surgery deemed a success
- Bears' Hester Emerges From the Tall Grass
- Robert Hite Waived by Heat
- Birthday Bash for Marcus Maxey
- Gore's message to Turner: Stay with 49ers
- Reggie Wayne Update
- John Salmons Update
- McClover's heart stays with prep coach - Bears linebacker invites Bell and wife to game.
- Ray Lewis pulls out of Pro Bowl with injury
- Winslow undergoes knee surgery
- Hester's nurturing roots paid off with winning returns
- Ethenic Sands Update
- Magic Benton Update
- 60 seconds with Oakland Raiders defensive tackle Warren Sapp
- James happy to see Colts in Miami, forecasts Bears loss
- Bears have arrived, so has former 'Cane
- More suggestions for Burrell - His problems might be in his sight and not his swing
- Alfredo Roberts Hired as Browns TE Coach
- Colts' Wayne his brother's keeper