Irvin fulfills biggest wish of sick man

Betsy Crayon chokes up when she describes the look on her son's face when Michael Irvin walked into his bedroom. “This is so wonderful,” she said of the retired Dallas Cowboys wide receiver's visit to DeRidder Thursday to see Kevin Crayon, who is terminally ill with cancer.

When told of Kevin's condition earlier in the week, Irvin rearranged a scheduled trip to New York to surprise the 27-year-old who has been given the prognosis of six months to live.

Kevin told the future Pro Football Hall of Famer that he was “awesome” when Irvin sat by his bedside, bearing gifts of a Cowboys' hat and No. 88 jersey which he signed.

Vilma talks about trade rumors on NFLN

Eisen: “Obviously you have heard about the trade rumors, I am sure. With you being on the trading block with the Jets, it was just sort of a paragraph thrown into a story in a Washington newspaper, that the Redskins might want to get you. Is there any truth to this?”

Vilma: “Rich I have no idea. I know that it got blown way out of proportion. The day it came out there were we had 20 phone calls. People were asking me, ‘You can’t go, you cant leave you can’t go to Washington.’ I didn’t know what was going on so finally someone forwarded me the paragraph saying that. I spoke to (Clinton) Portis a little bit and they got London Fletcher anyways so that became null and void.”

3-4 isn't under Vilma's Skin

Jets linebacker Jonathan Vilma was besieged with phone calls recently when a blurb in a Washington, D.C. newspaper, perhaps fueled by rampant Internet rumors, suggested he could be traded to the Redskins. It became such a hot topic that Vilma discussed it with Redskins RB Clinton Portis, a former college teammate.

The only reason Vilma's name has surfaced in trade rumors is because of his struggles last season in Eric Mangini's 3-4 defense. But yesterday, in an interview with the NFL Network, Vilma seemed happy and optimistic that he'll be more productive in 2007.

"For me, it really doesn't matter which system I'm in as long as I'm put in a position to be successful," he said in his first interview of the offseason. "The last half of the season I started playing a lot better than the first half. I attributed that to getting used to the system, getting used to the 3-4."

Cora a core figure

FORT MYERS, Fla. - Much has been made of the offseason acquisitions of big-money free agents J.D. Drew, Daisuke Matsuzaka and Julio Lugo by the Boston Red Sox.

When you commit to spending a combined $209.1 million on three players, it’s easy to see why.

Still, lost in the Sox spending spree was a quiet little signing on Nov. 22 that could prove just as important to Boston’s pennant hopes in a much less obvious way.

Remember Alex Cora? You know, the guy who was going to be either the starting shortstop or second baseman before Lugo signed his $36 million deal and rookie prospect Dustin Pedroia was told second base was his job to lose.

Michaels relaxed, hopeful, rewarded

WINTER HAVEN, FLA. - What do you make of this? Jason Michaels' role has been reduced to playing left field against left-handed pitchers, yet the Indians rewarded him with a two-year contract?

Is this a great country or what?

``I guess I'm their kind of player, not just on the field but in the clubhouse,'' Michaels said. ``It really instills confidence in you. It's awesome. After five one-year contracts -- which is kind of nerve-racking -- I'm excited.''

Michaels also is excited about the season. Hey, why not? The Tribe has not lost a game, but Michaels, 30, has been around long enough to know the difference between reality and wishful thinking.

Denny Fortney Update

The Winnipeg Blue Bombers (CFL) re-signed defensive tackle Denny Fortney.


Schauf: A rebirth for McGahee in Baltimore?

Ever since the first round of the 2003 NFL Draft, I've been telling every Bills fan who would listen that his team made a horrible choice selecting Willis McGahee with the 23rd pick. One general manager and two coaches later, the franchise finally conceded that I was right by dealing its leading rusher to the Ravens. Back then, the Bills had just finished making big improvements in their second year under head coach Gregg Williams, going from 3-13 to 8-8 in 2002. They had enjoyed huge seasons from Drew Bledsoe, Eric Moulds and Peerless Price, as well as 1,400 yards from second-year back Travis Henry. Buffalo seemed to be a player or two from making the playoffs and, at the very least, set at running back for a little while. Yet, there the team went on draft day, taking the injured stud from Miami who would be sitting out at least a year (and if the Bills really wanted a back, Penn State's Larry Johnson was healthy, fresh off a 2,000-yard season and still sitting on the board).
Long story short, McGahee sat out while rehabbing his injury, Henry got understandably fed up with the franchise and left, and the Bills have sputtered their way to a seven-year playoff drought. Now the newest regime, after having its own trouble with McGahee, decided it would rather send him away than keep working on a contract extension. To top it all off, the team got just two third-round picks (one this year, one next) and a seventh-rounder. Some (e.g. Peter King) might say that's too much, but it leaves the Bills with just third- and seventh-round players to try to help the team this year. Even Wes Welker brought the Dolphins a second-round pick. Bills mistakes aside, though, McGahee has been the most significant player fantasywise to change teams this off-season, and the move could help his production.

Mcgahee: More Versatility For Ravens' Offense?

For years, Ravens running backs have taken handoffs and disappeared into piles of humanity. Sometimes they came out, sometimes they didn't. The point is, you knew where they were going and it was up to the defense to stop it.

The Ravens feel that predictable scenario is going to change with the acquisition of former Buffalo Bills tailback Willis McGahee, who was introduced late last week at the team's Owings Mills practice facility.

"I'm happy to be here," the soft-spoken, 6-foot, 228-pound five-year veteran said. "I can run, block, either one, whatever they want me to do."

Pats Workout Players From The U

In preparation for the NFL Draft (April 28-29), the Patriots coaching staff, including head coach Bill Belichick, worked out three players from the University of Miami today. The evaluation took place in southern Florida, as Belichick & Co. were in town as part of a yearly visit to spring training. The private workout included linebacker Jon Beason, defensive lineman Kareem Brown and safety Brandon Meriweather. Beason and Meriweather could each be first-round picks, while Brown should be selected sometime during the first day. It's unclear how serious the Pats would be about selecting Beason because Miami runs a base 4-3 defense and the coaching staff likes their players to be a bit more versatile. However, you can't blame them for doing their homework.


Todd Sievers Update

he Dallas Desperados released rookie kicker Dustin Bell. In his spot, the Desperados signed two-year AFL veteran Todd Sievers. Sievers spent the previous two AFL seasons with the Austin Wranglers. In two seasons with Austin, Sievers connected on 141-of-162 (87.0) PATs and 22-of-42 (52.4) of his field goal attempts. Before landing in Austin, Sievers had two preseason stints with the Houston Texans (2003-04) and spent the spring of 2004 with the Amsterdam Admirals of NFL Europe.

Sievers left the University of Miami second on the school's career scoring list (310 points). He was a two-time, First-Team All Big East selection (2001 and 2002) and was the finalist for the 2002 Mosi Tatupu Award, honoring the top special teams player in college football.

Sievers tallied 160 points through his prep career at Ankey, Iowa, High School.


Beason gets look

The Patriots are scheduled to put University of Miami linebacker Jon Beason through a private workout today in South Florida.

Beason, a projected first-round pick, is considered one of the most athletic linebackers in the NFL Draft.

At 6-feet, 236 pounds, he is not as big as Mississippi's Patrick Willis and Michigan's David Harris, who are considered traditional "mike" linebackers for a 3-4 defense. A team captain at Miami, Beason spoke last month at the NFL Combine about the possibility of playing in a 3-4.

“I think it would be a challenge, because at UM we run a 4-3. I talked to some scouts and coaches and they see me as a 'mike', an inside backer in a 3-4," he said. "I don’t think it would be that different. It’s still a two-gap responsibility, so it’s a lot like what I do at 'will'.”

Beason is represented by Marty Magid of MRM Sports & Entertainment, LLC, which is based in Conshohocken, Pa.


O's Huff happy to be back in AL East

FORT LAUDERDALE, Fla. — Last year, the Baltimore Orioles were lacking in power. They hope that Aubrey Huff can provide some for them.

They signed the 30-year-old Huff as a free agent over the winter. Huff spent nearly nine seasons with Tampa Bay and split last year between the Devil Rays and Houston. He batted .283 with 8 home runs and 28 RBIs with Tampa Bay and .256 with 13 homers and 38 RBIs with Houston.

Huff is rivaling Kevin Millar for being the life of the clubhouse asking everyone for help with word puzzles and mocking bystanders’ attire.

“I haven’t had this much fun playing baseball in probably five years,” he said. “I wake up and I’m excited to get here and take the field. We mesh well together. It’s a good time.”

Ravens Trot Out Their New Runner

Willis McGahee made his first public appearance as a Baltimore Raven yesterday, smiling from his new $40.1 million contract and the possibility of playing for a playoff team for the first time.

Dressed in a green button-down shirt and jeans, the Ravens' new starting running back addressed a variety of topics at his introductory news conference in Owings Mills, Md., including his four-year tenure with the Buffalo Bills, reuniting with former University of Miami teammate Ed Reed and his future with Baltimore.

"My situation wasn't that great in Buffalo," said McGahee, who was flanked by General Manager Ozzie Newsome and Coach Brian Billick. "I thank God for getting the 990 [rushing yards last season] to tell you the truth. If you look at it, I missed two games and was facing nine guys in the box a lot. If you get to a better team with receivers, a quarterback, a line helping out, it's going to be hard to stop everybody."

Brett Romberg Update

Brett Romberg finally gets to play center, his natural position, this season, ready to pinch opponents in the ass. Romberg is still a legend at Miami, and looked good finally getting his chance to play last season. Of all the O-linemen, Romberg might have the biggest question mark above his head. A bit on the small side at 293 lbs, the Rams coaches want competition for him this summer, reportedly looking into free agent Al Johnson earlier this month, before he signed with Arizona. Good depth at the center position wouldn't be a bad thing; although, I think Romberg should work out well there based on his college performance and a preview last season.


Inside Dish: McGahee strengthens Ravens

The acquisition of Bills RB Willis McGahee immediately elevates the Ravens' offense and makes Baltimore an even stronger Super Bowl contender. But it's a move the Ravens never would have made if the less talented Jamal Lewis had agreed to their one-year, $2 million contract offer at the start of the free-agent period. McGahee gives the Ravens explosiveness--something Lewis couldn't produce last season, particularly against the Colts in the playoffs. Now it's up to coach Brian Billick to lean on McGahee and reduce QB Steve McNair's workload. . . .


Eric Winston Update

Eric Winston, who impressed the coaches over the second half of his rookie season, is the starter on the right side.


Hurricane Willis touches down in Baltimore

The Buffalo Bills traded disgruntled running back Willis McGahee to the Baltimore Ravens on Thursday morning for a third and seventh-round pick in the 2007 draft and a third-round pick in 2008, a deal which should benefit both teams.

The Buffalo Bills are more than a few players away from contending after losing their two best defensive players to free agency in Nate Clements and London Fletcher. Their offensive line was one of the worst in the league last season, allowing 47 sacks while paving the way for the 27th best ground game in the league, and the free agent signings of two inconsistent linemen (Derrick Dockery and Langston Walker) is not the long term answer. This move allows them to address some of those needs through the draft while getting rid of a locker room headache that bogged down the team over the past two seasons.

McGahee confident he'll pay dividends

Coming off his worst season, new Ravens running back Willis McGahee is ready to show why the team traded three draft picks for him.

"You always have something to prove when you go to a new team just to show your organization that you belong here," said McGahee, who was flanked by coach Brian Billick and general manager Ozzie Newsome at his introductory news conference today.

McGahee, 25, ran for 3,365 yards in three seasons with the Buffalo Bills. But he failed to crack 1,000 yards for the first time last season, when he managed 990 yards rushing.

McGahee said the dip in production has nothing to do with his reconstructed knee. In the 2003 Fiesta Bowl, he suffered a gruesome knee injury, tearing three ligaments.

Welcome, Willis

The Ravens answered any questions about their open running back spot Thursday, acquiring Willis McGahee via trade with the Buffalo Bills. Baltimore sent three draft picks - two this year and one in 2008 - to the Bills for the highly-regarded fifth-year running back.

Pending a physical early Friday morning, McGahee's hard-nosed, physical style could be a perfect fit in the Ravens' offense, which thrives on grinding the ball on the ground and utilizing receivers out of the backfield.

"This is a runner who can make people miss and has the explosion and speed to take it the distance," said general manager and executive vice president Ozzie Newsome. "He also has the power and size to run inside. He's a viable receiver out of the backfield and is a good pass blocker, not something every back can do.

Frank Gore Might Be Looking For a New Deal

It was only a matter of time, I guess. San Francisco running back Frank Gore is coming off a monster season, and now he's looking to get paid. Next year will be his third in the league, and the former third-round pick is still on his rookie contract (it's a five-year deal). But after rushing for 1,695 yards in 2006 (5.4 ypc), including eight TDs, his agent thinks it's time to renegotiate. So, who is Gore's agent (like you have to ask)?

Drew Rosenhaus said he expects talks with the San Francisco 49ers over a new contract for running back Frank Gore to "heat up" in the next few days. Those sentiments came shortly after Rosenhaus negotiated a six-year deal worth in excess of $32 million for running back Willis McGahee.

According to's Jason Cole, McGahee was Rosenhaus' third running back client to get a hefty raise in the past week: Fred Taylor (Jags) and Thomas Jones (Jets) also made out okay for themselves recently.

It sounds like Rosenhaus is looking for at least $20 million guaranteed, based on the McGahee, Taylor and Jones deals. No mention on how the 49ers feel about this, but the club still has some salary-cap room despite breaking the bank on Nate Clements last week. If there was ever a good time to give somebody $20 million, it's probably this off-season.


McGahee traded, gets new deal

Running back Willis McGahee has a new team and a new contract.

McGahee, who was acquired Thursday by the Baltimore Ravens in a trade with the Buffalo Bills for three draft picks, signed a new six-year contract extension worth more than $32 million.

Agent Drew Rosenhaus confirmed the deal, which included $15 million in guarantees. That guarantee comes in the form of a $7.5 million signing bonus McGahee will be paid now and guaranteed option bonuses of $6 million in 2008 and $1.5 million in 2009. Beyond that, McGahee receives base salaries of $595,000 in 2007 (final year of original deal), $605,000 in 2008, $620,000 in 2009, $3.6 million in 2010, $6 million in 2011, $6.5 million in 2012 and $7.2 million in 2013.

The deal follows Buffalo's decision to trade the disgruntled McGahee to the Ravens for a third- and seventh-round pick in this year's NFL draft and a third-rounder in 2008. McGahee had one year remaining on his contract with the Ravens, but had expressed unhappiness with playing in Buffalo.

Cora asks some time for Boston

08-03 | 15:19 hs. - According to the Puerto Rican, Boston will have to deal with many changes in the staff, where it stands out Joel Piñeiro's inexperience in the bullpen, and Daisuke Matsuzaka's, who will make his debut as pitcher in the Major Leagues.

In spite of this, Cora knows about the commitment of his franchise and he sees a stronger and more solid Boston in comparison to last year, for which he is willing to rule the Eastern Division of the American League and then the World Series.

During the winter recess, the Red Sox spent 160 million dollars in reinforcements and Alex Cora believes that it is the player's turn to fulfill the expectations.


Bills trade Willis McGahee to Ravens

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. — Willis McGahee likes to refer to himself as the NFL's best running back. Let's see how he does replacing Jamal Lewis in Baltimore.

The Ravens acquired McGahee in a trade with the Buffalo Bills on Thursday, a day after Lewis signed with Cleveland. In exchange, the Bills received third- and seventh-round picks this year and a third-rounder next year.

"This is a runner who can make people miss and has the explosion and speed to take it the distance," Ravens general manager Ozzie Newsome said. "He also has the power and size to run inside. He's a viable receiver out of the backfield and is a good pass blocker, not something every back can do."

DJ Williams Update

Another change for the linebackers could come in the amount of snaps strongside linebacker D.J. Williams gets next season. The previous defensive coaching staff took him off the field in nickel situations, meaning Williams played less than 70 percent of the team's total defensive snaps. But Baker promised he'll get a fair shot to displace Al Wilson in the nickel role in offseason camps.