Update: Irvin Parts Ways with ESPN

Two weeks after his election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, Michael Irvin is out of work. Irvin and ESPN have officially parted ways, ESPN spokesman Bill Hoffheimer said Saturday.

"Michael will not be with us this fall," Hoffheimer said.

Hoffheimer stressed that Irvin had not violated any contractual morals clause. Irvin has been a regular on ESPN's two primary NFL studio shows, Sunday NFL Countdown and Monday Night NFL Countdown.

"This was a decision that came from our annual review," Hoffheimer said.

Irvin was not immediately available for comment.


Burrell Unfazed By Off-Season Criticism

Pat Burrell wasn't insulated from the criticism that he faced during the off-season. No, actually he heard it all and admits to being disappointed, but vows that it won't tarnish his season.

First, there was Dallas Green suggesting that Pat Burrell was ruining his career by having too many women hanging on his arm. Lately, it's been Mike Schmidt talking about how often Burrell strikes out. Add to that all of the trade rumors and the fact that the Phillies openly courted Alfonso Soriano this off-season and things weren't very positive for Burrell.

"It's disappointing to hear things like that," Burrell told reporters in Clearwater on Thursday. He stressed though that he didn't believe his lifestyle played any role in his supposed down numbers in 2007. Numbers which Burrell says nobody would be looking at had he not been benched as often as he was. "If I had those 100 at bats," said Burrell, "we wouldn't even be talking."

Walter Payton's son receives award

Jarrett Payton is used to fans of his father telling him so many reasons why his late father, Walter Payton, was great.

What surprised him Thursday, Jarrett Payton said, was getting a bit choked up when he saw video footage of himself at 12-years-old, helping induct his father, a Chicago Bears great, into the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Jarrett accepted the PricewaterhouseCoopers Doak Walker Legends Award on Thursday in honor of his father.

Jarrett Payton isn't through with his own football days. Payton said he's finalizing details to play with the Montreal Alouettes of the Canadian Football
League. The Tennessee Titans released him after the final preseason game in 2006.

Payton played collegiately at Miami and was an undrafted free agent with the Titans in 2005.


Myths about Burrell exposed

Pat Burrell is not the devil.

Strikeouts are not evil.

The concept of lineup protection is a myth.

There. Whew. That feels better . . .

Burrell spoke to the media Wednesday, for the first time since the 2006 season ended, after he reported to spring training early and settled in as the Phillies' fifth hitter. Burrell did not have a good year last season, as you may have heard if you listened to . . . well, everybody.

Burrell has been listening, by the way. Speaking to reporters in Florida Wednesday, Burrell acknowledged the public perception of him is that he's "the worst guy in the league."

Hester a star? All righty then

Devin Hester has strolled 108 yards. Now he has walked the red carpet. The Bears kick returner was a guest of actor Jim Carrey at the world premiere of the thriller "The Number 23" at the historic Orpheum Theatre in downtown Los Angeles on Tuesday night. "It made me feel like a celebrity," Hester, who was joined by teammate Chris Harris, told chicagobears.com. "It's something you usually just see on television." Hester had heard that Carrey admired him but didn't know for sure until speaking to the actor at the movie premiere Tuesday night. "They told me he was a big fan, but I didn't know [for certain] until I actually got a chance to meet him in person. He was going crazy," Hester said. "He was talking about how he had told the press before the Super Bowl that No. 23 Devin Hester was going to do something special in the Super Bowl."


James Jones Starts for first time in 46 Games

The Suns will started James Jones -- or "Jhoops," his latest nickname -- last night at Seattle instead of Marcus Banks, who started Sunday's loss against Chicago. Jones' first start of the season was in the spot of Boris Diaw, who was not ready to play because of lower back spasms. Jones started 24 games in his first season with the Suns last year.

There are probably two reasons for the switch:
1) Seattle is a bigger team. If Banks was to start again at off-guard, Raja Bell would be at small forward trying to cover 6-foot-10 Rashard Lewis.

2) This won't be said but there has not been any fruits to come of Marcus Banks' playing time. Even when he appears to be doing better (20 points against Atlanta or seven assists against Chicago), his time is killing Phoenix. He has the worst plus-minus on the team, according to nba.com Lenovo stats. Phoenix was minus-44 with Banks on the floor for 54 minutes in the past two games.

Jones scored 8 points and had 3 rebounds in his first start of the season.


NFL U Pro Bowl Highlights up!

Check out the Pro Bowl Video Highlights featuring Devin Hester, Reggie Wayne, Sean Taylor, Andre Johnson and more! Also check out Greg Olsen's Skills Challenge Video Highlights. Click at the top on NFL U Video Highlights or click here!

Time for Phillies' Pat Burrell to answer his critics

CLEARWATER, Fla. - Had it with the cold and snow? Take heart. It's not perfect here, either.

"Bundle up," the television weatherman said. "It'll be dipping into the 40s overnight."

That, uh, foreboding forecast didn't stop another group of Phillies from checking into Camp Clearwater on Tuesday.

Even Pat Burrell strolled through the clubhouse on his way to separate afternoon meetings with general manager Pat Gillick and manager Charlie Manuel.

Punxsutawney Pat has kept a low profile this winter. He declined to speak with reporters on Tuesday but promised to come out of hibernation and share a few of his thoughts with the public on Wednesday.

Willis McGahee Update

CBS analyst Steve Tasker told PFW that the Bills still believe in RB Willis McGahee but that his limitations keep him from being considered an elite back. "I think there are some things Willis doesn't do as well as other top backs. He's a power runner. He runs downhill and he doesn't hop, jump and skip, but that also means he doesn't hop, jump and skip in pass routes, and they have to tailor pass routes for him. So that's a limitation, although he catches the ball well and runs well after catching it. But he's more of a screen-pass guy and a swing-type guy. He's not going to split out, catch it in the slot and make a guy miss."


Reed levels criticism toward Ravens during Pro Bowl

BALTIMORE - Ed Reed typically makes noise with his play on the football field. This time, the former NFL defensive player of the year’s mouth might have gotten him in trouble.

The Baltimore Ravens’ safety created a stir with his comments after last weekend’s NFL Pro Bowl when asked about the potential departure of teammate Adalius Thomas, a linebacker, to free agency.

“You hate to see the Ravens even put him in this kind of predicament,” Reed, who had two interceptions in the Pro Bowl, told Yahoo.com. “That goes to show you how shady and how bad the business is and how bad certain organizations are. I really think he should have been signed a long time ago. It should have never gotten to this point. He has been nothing but loyal to them. Not only the city, but the organization. If he gets away, it’s a terrible decision on their part. It was a terrible decision to even let it get this far.”

Rob Hite update

The Sioux Falls Skyforce of the NBA Development League has acquired guard Robert Hite and center Nigel Dixon. To make roster room, Sioux Falls waived guard DeSean Hadley and center Chad Bell.

An undrafted rookie from the University of Miami, Hite (6-2, 187) played 12 games with the Miami HEAT this season before being waived on Feb. 1. He averaged 4.3 points and 1.2 rebounds in 11.3 minutes. In 121 games at the University of Miami he averaged 14.2 points, 4.6 rebounds, 1.5 steals, 1.5 assists and 29.5 minutes. Hite finished his collegiate career fifth on Miami's all-time scoring list with 1,717 points.


Martin Bibla Update

Philadelphia Soul position breakdown: offensive line

Offensive guard Martin Bibla (6'3", 310, Miami) spent five years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos and Atlanta Falcons. He played 32 games with the Atlanta Falcons where he was part of a frontline that saw running back Warrick Dunn rush for more than 1,000 yards and Michael Vick scamper for the second highest total yards by a quarterback in a season (902). Bibla entered the NFL after attending Miami where he started 40 of 46 games and never allowed a quarterback sack. He helped lead an offense that ranked eighth in the nation with an average of 454.8 yards a game and 43.2 points per game.


Sean Taylor update

But there was no confusion about the best play: Sean Taylor, the maverick Washington Redskins safety, broke the unwritten rule about hard hits in an exhibition when he viciously leveled Buffalo Bills punter Brian Moorman on an attempted fake in the third quarter.


Ed Reed Update

Ravens safety Ed Reed tied the Pro Bowl record for interceptions by picking off two terrible throws, and Ravens teammate Adalius Thomas returned Marc Bulger's fumble 70 yards for a confusing score.


Harris, Gore take different roads to Pro Bowl

Larry Allen, the NFL knows all about. But Frank Gore and Walt Harris? One was a second-year running back coming off multiple shoulder surgeries, and the other was an 11th-year veteran who entered the 2006 season closer to journeyman status than star status. But now here they are, on stage with Allen in Hawaii as the first position players to represent the 49ers in the Pro Bowl since 2003.

The youngster and the wily veteran both took divergent paths to get there.

Gore did it by flashing into the NFL consciousness and durably blasting through NFL defenses for a franchise-record 1,695 rushing yards in 2006, a figure that led the NFC and has him pegged as the conference's starting running back in today's game at Aloha Stadium.

Harris did it by turning back the clock and answering the naysayers who said he was finished as a productive NFL player. Harris wasn't just productive in his debut season with the 49ers, he was a difference-maker who had his best season while leading the NFC with eight interceptions.

Wayne helps AFC gain win - Colts WR totals 6 catches, including 72-yard TD

A handful of Indianapolis Colts completed an NFL double Saturday at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu.

Six days after leading the Colts to a victory over the Chicago Bears in Super Bowl XLI, quarterback Peyton Manning, wide receiver Reggie Wayne and three of their teammates were part of the AFC's 31-28 triumph over the NFC in the 37th Pro Bowl. The AFC won for the fifth time in seven years and took a 19-18 lead in the series when San Diego place-kicker Nate Kaeding drilled a 21-yard field goal as time expired.

Manning, the Most Valuable Player in the Super Bowl and appearing in his seventh Pro Bowl, completed 5-of-12 passes for 67 yards while directing the first two series. Wayne, in his first Pro Bowl, led the AFC with six receptions and 137 yards, including a 72-yard touchdown from Cincinnati quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer was named the game's Most Outstanding Player after completing 8-of-17 passes for 190 yards and touchdowns to Wayne and Bengals teammate Chad Johnson (42 yards).

Texans' Johnson gears up for Pro Bowl

Even in the comfortable surroundings of Hawaii, Andre Johnson is careful not to become complacent.

Trips to the Pro Bowl in two of the last three years aren't enough for the 25-year-old wide receiver. Starting for the first time alongside fellow AFC stars Peyton Manning, Chad Johnson and LaDainian Tomlinson isn't enough for him.

Andre Johnson wants to become a fixture at a game that recognizes the NFL's best athletes.

"This is a place I want to be every year," Johnson said via phone from Hawaii. "I'm just going to do all I can to make the Pro Bowl every season."

Last Week's proCanes.com Top Stories

- Miami's future Pro Bowlers, Part III: Vernon Carey
- Michael Irvin's Top 5 Games Video Highlights
- Browns Sign Buck Ortega
- Hite's focus clear after charges dropped
- Redskins' Taylor added to Pro Bowl roster
- Former Canes shine despite rain
- Edge parties, watches friends play
- Hester's fast start wasted - Former 'Cane takes opening kickoff for TD
- Third time's the charm for Michael Irvin
- Hester has fan in Colts WR Wayne