NFL Draft News

Well, as expected there is no news about a University of Miami player being selected but one draft move does determine the future of one NFL U player: Edgerrin James. The Arizona Cardinals drafted Ohio State running-back Chris Wells with the 31st pick in the 1st round. Look for the Cardinals to not take a very long time to grant Edge’s wish and release him.

Edgerrin is in Miami today at the Miami Heat game. He has had a whirlwind of week with the loss of his longtime girlfriend and mother of four of his children.He was also inducted into the UM Sports HAll of Fame on Thursday. Best of luck to Edge and hopefully he will be out of Arizona soon.

NFL Draft just not the same without The U

HOLLYWOOD Notice the dateline. It says Hollywood. Not Miami Beach, or wherever super-agent Drew Rosenhaus would host the draft party for a University of Miami NFL hopeful.

No, Hollywood is my residence, the UM media headquarters for the NFL Draft. Times have changed for UM football as well as for those who cover the team. Time was, this day was intense as covering the Rose Bowl or National Signing Day. I spoke today with Omar Kelly and Andrea Adelson, the two previous UM beat writers for the Sun Sentinel.

They covered the team during the glory years. The Draft was a time when they spent weeks planning coverage, deciding which players to follow. Adelson hung at Dan Morgan's house during the 2001 Draft. She also covered it in 2002 where five `Canes were taken in the first round, calling the experience "nuts."

"In 2002, I was in the office basically from the start of the draft, which was noon back then, to 10 or 11 at night," Adelson said. "...But it was a lot of sitting around, then scrambling to make calls and get guys on the phone before they took flights out to their new teams."

The only call I made today involving athletics was to my 6-year-old nephew, so he could tell me more about his T-ball debut. He went 2-for-3, and expressed his disappointment of the game not being televised.

Omar (I won't refer to him as Kelly because he's reached one-word status with most of you) said his days were spent at some draft party while also hustling on the phone to catch up with the draft picks. The day was almost the equivalent of covering a Rose Bowl or National Signing Day in terms of workload. Now, it's become more like a day off. 

Today came and went without a single UM player selected, ending the school's NFL-record streak of 14 years with a first-round draft pick. My day consisted of losing two basketball games at L.A. Fitness, running a few errands, making some turkey Sloppy Joe's and watching a few episodes of Beverly Hills 90210 (Brandon Walsh cheated on his exam).

Hardly the expected draft-day experience for someone who covers a team many used to call an NFL football factory. 

"It's real disappointing to see what's happened to the program, and not all of the blame belongs on the players" Omar said. "It's not always their fault they didn't develop."

Covering Miami the last two years has been like having a conversation with your grandfather. You know,the ones that begin, "Back when I was your age ..." Miami used to be Quarterback U. Used to be Running Back U. Used to NFL U.

Now, it's more like Remember When U.

The positive is the blocks are in place for the start of a new streak. Players such as Sean Spence, LaRon Byrd and Marcus Forston are already way ahead of the game. In time, the `Canes should be making their way back toward the top of college football and  wearing their fancy suits and baseball caps once again for Draft Day on ESPN.


Nice Cornering

New cornerbacks Phillip Buchanon and Anthony Henry had a nice practice Sunday. Each intercepted one pass, and the unit generally played well over three days.

"This was a good start," Schwartz said. "I think they took a big step today. ... I sort of like what I've seen so far."

Asked if he would like to add a corner through the draft, Schwartz had an interesting answer.

"You always look," he said, "but if we had to play a game today, I think I'd be confident with the guys that are on the roster right now."


Braun homers, reaches four times

Ryan Braun went 2-for-3 with a two-run homer and two RBI against the Phillies on Thursday.
Braun's homer accounted for both Milwaukee runs that came before Cole Hamels left. He ended up going 8-for-10 with three homers and four walks in the series against the Phillies. He's now batting .327/.448/.600 for the season.


Colts restructure Wayne's contract to save money

INDIANAPOLIS—Pro Bowl receiver Reggie Wayne has agreed to a restructured contract, which will give the Colts more room under this year's salary cap.

Wayne's agent, Joby Branion, confirmed the deal was completed but did not provide details about how much Indianapolis would save.

Players frequently restructure contracts by accepting bonuses after agreeing to lower their annual salaries. The bonuses are then prorated over the remaining length of the deal, in Wayne's case three years, to lower the team's salary cap number in the first year.

Wayne has been the Colts' primary receiver the past two seasons and is expected to play a more prominent role this year after Marvin Harrison, the franchise's career receiving leader, was released in February.

In 2007, Wayne had a career-high 104 receptions for a league-leading 1,510 yards and 10 touchdowns. Last season, Wayne caught 84 passes for 1,145 yards with six TDs.

He ranks third all-time on the Colts' career list for receptions (576), yards receiving (8,129) and touchdown receptions (53), trailing only Harrison and Hall of Famer Raymond Berry in each category. Only Harrison has more 100-yard games in franchise history than Wayne's 26, and Wayne has played in the last three Pro Bowls.


Edgerrin James embraces UM Sports Hall of Fame honor

A day after his longtime girlfriend's funeral, one of the University of Miami's greatest football players attended his induction into the UM Sports Hall of Fame, choosing not to elaborate on the sadness but instead to embrace the goodness.

Edgerrin James, now an Arizona Cardinals running back who has a UM football meeting room named in his honor for his $250,000 donation, received a standing ovation Thursday as one of seven athletes in the Hall's newest class.

''This is big because the University of Miami means a lot to me and always has,'' said James, 30, who lost the mother of his four children -- Andia Denise Wilson -- to leukemia last week. ``To be a part of something like this, it's one of my biggest accomplishments ever. This is something I'll look back on and always cherish.

``When you think of the players who have come through this school and have great NFL careers, to be a Hall of Famer at this school, that's probably one of the toughest tickets going.''

The other members of the 2009 class were equally ecstatic, though former UM basketball star Tim James couldn't make it to Jungle Island because he's training for the Army in Austin. Also, 2009 Hall of Fame newcomer Aubrey Huff of the Baltimore Orioles was previously inducted before the UM season opener in February and didn't attend Thursday. Organizers showed a video of Huff thanking UM for the honor.

The 2009 inductees:
• Warren Bogle, a pitcher and power hitter who lettered in 1966 and 1967. He struck out 242 batters in 191 innings for an average of 11.4 strikeouts per nine innings -- still a UM record.

• Davian Clarke, a two-time NCAA national champion and six-time All-American 400-meter runner at UM from 1995 to 1998. He is still the only UM male to win an NCAA individual title.

• Huff, who led the baseball team in 1998 with 21 home runs and a school-record 95 RBI. His .400 career batting average is second all-time at UM.

• Edgerrin James, the only Hurricane to post consecutive 1,000-plus-yards rushing seasons. He ranks second in school history with 2,960 yards in three seasons. His 35 touchdown total is tied with Stephen McGuire for the UM record. He is tied for the record of 14 100-plus-yard rushing games. His biggest UM thrill: 299 yards in the Canes' 49-42 upset victory over No. 2 UCLA to end the 1998 regular season.

• Tim James, a Miami Northwestern High graduate who became the second Hurricane to have his number -- 40 -- retired, joining Rick Barry's No. 24. A 6-7 forward, he is the only player to record more than 1,500 points, 800 rebounds and 200 blocked shots in his career.

• Cathy Morse, a golfer who lettered from 1975 to 1977. Her stroke average of 76.36 was the second-lowest in UM history. In June 1977, Morse won the AIAW national championship.

• Mike Sullivan, a guard/tackle who lettered from 1987 through 1990. Sullivan started every game for four years, setting the school record for consecutive starts at 48. Miami went 44-4 during that span and won two national titles.

Also honored was UM freshman cornerback Brandon Harris, who earned the Walter Kichefski Endowed Football Scholarship for ''his respect of fellow man, loyalty, dedication, sacrifice, motivation and inspiration,'' according to presenter Don Mariutto Jr. Harris, represented by his father, Tim Harris Sr., couldn't attend because he was at the Penn Relays.


Cardinals counting on young DEs Calais Campbell, Kenny Iwebema

Close observers of the Cardinals wholeheartedly agree that one of the biggest keys to remaining the NFC West kingpin in 2009 will be more substantial contributions from two second-year players in particular — DEs Calais Campbell (a second-round pick in ’08) and Kenny Iwebema (fourth round). We hear the Cardinals feel pretty confident that the combination of Campbell and Iwebema will effectively compensate for the loss of Antonio Smith as the starter and primary backup at left end, respectively. “They really like Campbell’s size (6-7, 282),” a team insider told PFW. “He’s bigger than Antonio, and when he gets his arms up, it could cause real problems. He’s very bright, and he’s very diligent, unlike (2007 second-rounder) Alan Branch, whose work ethic hasn’t been great. And when the team goes to a 4-3, Campbell can move inside. They like Iwebema a lot, too. He’s a lot stronger than he looks, and he also works real hard.”


Skins Talking Extension with McIntosh

Apparently, that $5.96 million in cap space is burning a hole in the Redskins’ loin cloths.  (That’s an image we could live without.)

The ‘Skins are talking to linebacker Rocky McIntosh about a new deal. 

According to agent Drew Rosenhaus, who recently was hired to represent McIntosh, a meeting occurred Thursday morning at Redskins Park regarding a possible contract extension.

McIntosh is entering the final year of his four-year rookie deal.  He’s due to earn a base salary of $535,000 in 2009.  The second-round pick from the 2006 draft appeared in 16 games last season, starting 15 of them.


Pat Burrell says Tampa Bay Rays 'making it tough on ourselves'

SEATTLE — After the punchless Rays dropped their fourth straight series and lost for the seventh time in nine games, manager Joe Maddon continued to insist it's just a matter of time until they break out

But DH Pat Burrell, a newcomer to the squad, suggested it might take something else.

"We're making it tough on ourselves," he said. "Maybe one of these games we'll turn it around and get on a roll, but we have to fight a little bit to get there."

Maddon said he has been pleased with the work ethic and the effort, and he maintains the lack of offense —their second shutout in 12 games and the ninth time in 16 they've scored three or less — is only short term, though without any specifics on why.

"We're just not there yet," he said. "We're just not there. I think we're healthy. The guys are together. We believe.

"It's just going to have to morph into that winning streak, and it's going to. We're just apparently not ready yet. The guys are doing everything possible. The work's been great. It's just a matter of time."


Ray Lewis on Sports Science

Just in case you ever decided it would be a good idea to piss off Ray Lewis and he knows your home address, I thought you should see how easily Lewis can bust through a door the way he busts through skinny wide receivers. Seriously, the man does some nasty things to the door in this video. This clip is from the television show Sports Science.

Edge mourns kids' 'loving mom'

Edquisha James, the 11-year-old daughter of NFL player Edgerrin James and Andia Wilson-James, sat on a beach and, smiling at the camera, said goodbye to her mother.

During a video tribute shown at their mother's funeral Wednesday afternoon that moved many of the about 1,000 in attendance to tears, Eyahna, 7, Edgerrin II, 4, and Euro, 2, the couple's youngest three children, also appeared, saying and waving goodbye.

"Mommy, you will not be forgotten," Edquisha said.

One of children had drawn "I Love You Mom" in the sand.

The two-hour funeral service took place at First Baptist Church off Orange Blossom Road in north Naples. Christian songs of praise were played, including "Praise Is What I Do," sung by family friend Rhoderica Washington.

The subdued but joyful gathering included numerous current and former teammates of James, 30, from the 1996 Immokalee High School graduate's time with the Arizona Cardinals, the Indianapolis Colts and the University of Miami Hurricanes.

Reggie Wayne, Santana Moss, Bubba Franks, Clinton Portis, Andre Johnson, Anquan Boldin and Nate Webster were among the players in attendance, along with James' agent, Drew Rosenhaus.

Wilson-James, 30, died last Tuesday after a year-long battle with acute myeloid leukemia. Her doctors and friends spoke of Wilson-James' courage, tenacity, strength and faith throughout her ordeal.

They also talked about how James, behind the scenes of his prominent NFL career - he's the 11th all-time leading rusher in the league with 12,121 yards - took weekly cross-country trips from Arizona throughout last season to care for Wilson-James and their children.

"He put together an entire support team," said Pamela James, Edgerrin's aunt, who spoke at the funeral and urged the audience to applaud that team.

"It's not the years in the life, but the life in the years," Pamela James said during the service. "She loved her family and she loved her friends. And she had a lot of friends.

"Even though she had faith, she did not give up. She said, 'I want them (her children) to know that I did everything I could do.' "

Edgerrin James and Wilson-James met at Immokalee High in the mid-1990s, when they were students there.

Wilson-James attended Super Bowl XLIII on Feb. 1 in Tampa, in which the Cardinals lost 27-23 to the Pittsburgh Steelers, despite her weakened condition because of constant chemotherapy treatments that began about a year ago.

Walter James, Edgerrin's uncle, praised his nephew for keeping the family focused during Wilson's grueling treatment, which Dr. Jeffrey Lancet of Tampa described during the service as being extremely difficult.

"He is humbled, and he is human," Walter James said of Edgerrin, who had numerous talks with his children about their mother's final destination of heaven.

"He explained everything to them in great detail," Walter James said. "He took the fear out of it for them."

Edgerrin James, who has one season remaining on his contract with the Cardinals, declined to comment at this time but thanked The News-Press for attending. He will continue to lean on his large family that has mutually supported one another long before James gained fame as an elite running back.

"That's not going to take the place of mom," Walter James said of family and friends. "But we're going to be there to help fill those gaps."


UM needs more than a coach to restore glory

Mike Mayock is connected in NFL Draft circles, so when he talks about the topic it's not the uninformed ramblings of some guy who threw up a Web site and called himself an expert.

Mayock covered college football for years as a TV reporter and analyst and now is a draft guru for His opinions are based on studying game film, observing pro days, taking in All-Star games, breaking down the Combine and constantly talking to NFL scouts.

So with the Miami Hurricanes' celebrated record streak of 14 straight seasons with at least one player selected in the draft's first round set to end Saturday, Mayock is qualified to relate what NFL personnel types are saying about UM's program now that it's not spitting out pro prospects.

"I think what they say is that things are cyclical," he said. "USC is the place now that Miami used to be as far as star power on pro day."

That won't satisfy many Hurricanes supporters, a group never known for patience. They want simple, clear-cut reasons for the program's decline because simple, clear-cut reasons can be dealt with more easily.

They tend to think UM's problems are all about coaching and recruiting. Because then restoring UM's glory would be as straightforward as finding a new coach.

They don't want to accept that it's just UM's turn in the valley after so long at the peak and that it will take time to get back. They may not even care to listen to Butch Davis, the coach for UM's last resurgence, when he says he had no instant solution but benefited from a long process.

"Miami in its heyday, that was the byproduct of 18 years of a program building and growing and adding players to the program every single year," Davis said.

UM did it so well that NFL scouts flocked to Coral Gables annually to salivate over the latest batch of stars. Other programs copied the formula, though, and Mayock thinks that's part of UM's dilemma.

"In the last 10 years it's amazing how many colleges are recruiting in the state of Florida," Mayock said.

Whatever Randy Shannon's faults, he's still protecting UM's turf. Shannon's Miami-Dade-dominated 2008 class is the future and perhaps more stars come from that group.

But right now cornerback Bruce Johnson is the only Hurricane projected to be drafted at all this weekend, and that's a maybe.

"He's going to go late if he goes at all," Mayock said.

How did the 'Canes go from first-rounders every year to one marginal NFL prospect this year?

On the surface, at least, the perception that Larry Coker and Shannon botched it has some basis. From '02 until the '05 class that produced '08 first-round pick Kenny Phillips, there were eight UM prep prospects that rated as "can't miss" five-star players.

Five ended up as disappointments if not busts for UM: Ryan Moore, Willie Williams, Kyle Wright, Lance Leggett and Reggie Youngblood.

Did Coker and Shannon, like every other coach, misjudge their talent? Did suspect recruiting analysts overrate those kids or did they just not get the right college coaching?

Again, there's no simple explanation, though Davis had one interesting angle on UM's coaching. He said his NFL background and that of Howard Schnellenberger and Jimmy Johnson before him nurtured a pro-style philosophy of "position-specific" projections for prospects.

Coker and Shannon don't have NFL coaching backgrounds. Of course, maybe they just didn't sign enough players with the self-motivated makeup of UM's past stars.

"God blessed [those players] with athletic ability but they also had a tremendous amount of competitiveness and work ethic to push themselves to become great players," Davis said. "There was more to [evaluating] than just getting 40-yard dash [times] on guys."

And there's more to the end of UM's NFL Draft streak than poor recruiting and coaching, no matter how much frustrated 'Canes fans want to believe otherwise.


University of Miami to induct top athletes into Hall of Fame

When former Hurricanes tackle Mike Sullivan got the phone call from a woman who told him he would be inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame, he didn't believe her.

So Sullivan did what any skeptic with jokester UM buddies would do. He googled Jodi Appelbaum-Steinbauer -- the Hall president and woman who identified herself as the caller.

''I had just spoken to some UM guys I hadn't heard from in a while,'' said Sullivan, the San Diego Chargers offensive line coach. ``Then I got the call from Jodi. I thought it was a locker-room-type prank because it was just too much of a coincidence. I was happy to find that Jodi is well-represented on the Internet as being legitimate.''

UM's other newest Hall of Famers to be inducted Thursday night at Jungle Island:
• NFL star Edgerrin James.
• Sunrise Piper High graduate and Olympic runner Davian Clarke.
• Miami Northwestern grad and former Miami Heat player Tim James.
• Retired LPGA Tour member Cathy Morse.
• South Miami Middle School teacher and former major-leaguer Warren Bogle.

Baltimore Orioles slugger Aubrey Huff, already inducted into this class before a UM baseball game, will not attend. Tim James is in Texas training for the Army and will be represented by former UM football player Duane Starks.

Arizona Cardinals running back Edgerrin James, second in UM history with 2,960 yards in three seasons, will be at the ceremony with a heavy heart. Longtime girlfriend Andia Denise Wilson, the mother of his four children, died April 14 of leukemia. James declined to speak before Thursday's event.

Among those in attendance: former UM pitcher and power hitter Bogle, who lettered at UM in 1966 and '67. He left the Hurricanes with a .329 batting average and .523 slugging percentage.

The first Hurricane to make it to the majors, Bogle was drafted in the fourth round of the '67 Major League Baseball secondary draft by the then-Kansas City Athletics, now the Oakland Athletics. A relief pitcher for one summer, Bogle made his first and only major-league start at Yankee Stadium on July 31, 1968.

''When Jodi Steinbauer came into school at the end of the day with her daughter and told me about making it to the UM Hall of Fame, I got pretty choked up,'' said Bogle, 62, about to retire from teaching at South Miami after 36 years. ``It's a great honor to be recognized by any institution, but especially the University of Miami.

``I don't mind showing emotion. It proves to people that you're human.''

At times during his UM career, Clarke, now 33, seemed super human. The two-time NCAA national champion 400-meter runner became the first -- and still only -- UM male track and field athlete to win an NCAA individual title. He did it outdoors as a sophomore in 45.29 seconds. That summer, he went on to win a bronze medal for the Jamaican 1,600-meter relay team at the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

''After 400 meters,'' Clarke told The Miami Herald after winning the NCAA title, ``your body is in agony. Your legs are like lead weights that refuse to walk. Your head starts pounding. And the dizziness makes you stumble like a drunk looking for a place to vomit.''

Today, Clarke lives in Austin, where he is training to become a University of Texas police officer.

''I wouldn't trade my UM experience for anything,'' said Clarke, a three-time Olympian and gold medalist in the 1,600-meter relay at the 2004 indoor world championships. He has been married 10 years to Jamaican Olympic hurdler Lacena Golding-Clarke.

Sullivan, the offensive lineman, is a Chicago native whose greatest personal moment at UM -- despite winning national titles in 1987 and '89 -- was defeating Notre Dame 24-0 in the Orange Bowl as a redshirt freshman. Sullivan's parents were from Ireland, and his extended family idolized the Fighting Irish.

''The championships were great, he said, but beating Notre Dame was amazing,'' he said.

Sullivan started every game for four years, the first UM player to do so. Known as one of the smartest Canes, he was drafted in the sixth round in 1991 by Dallas Cowboys coach Jimmy Johnson, his first UM coach, and played another five seasons for Tampa Bay. Today, he coaches with San Diego assistant head coach Rob Chudzinski, a former UM player, offensive coordinator and roommate of ''Sully's'' for three years.

''As I look back on my career, my life's path,'' Sullivan, 41, said, ``it has been the people from the University of Miami football program who have steered every single avenue I've taken. . . . I was telling my wife that they made an emphasis on having a short acceptance speech. I have a slight reputation, if someone gives me a microphone, to talk a bit. They underlined in bold face three to four minutes. I can triple that.''

Chudzinski can't make the ceremony because of this weekend's NFL Draft. But he said his heart will be with the UM ``brotherhood.''

''I miss those times,'' Chudzinski said. ''Mike was a great, incredibly tough player,'' adding that Sullivan also was ``a neat freak. If anyone left crumbs or an unwashed plate around, you'd end up finding them on your bed.''
Said fellow UM Hall of Famer Randal Hill: ``Mike is very animated, very intelligent and very deserving.''


Salmons wary of Boston Celtics' Paul Pierce's 'slump'

Paul Pierce is averaging 20.5 points per game, but he's the Celtics' third-leading scorer behind Rajon Rondo and Glen Davis and is shooting just 40 percent.

Even Celtics coach Doc Rivers has talked about Pierce's tentativeness, which is even more surprising given he's matching up against a John Salmons who is nursing a strained left groin.

"My mentality is always that this is an All-Star player, a Finals MVP player, who is one of those guys who can go off for 40 at any time," Salmons said. "We have to continue to keep a hand in his face, try to make him take as many contested shots as possible. For the most part, we've been doing that."


3 Up in Baseball

OF Ryan Braun, Brewers. Worried about Braun's early-season struggles? Don't be. The Brewers slugger went 5-for-5 with two homers and four RBIs in a loss to the Phillies last night. He's now hitting .300-3-9 and has 10 hits, including all of his homers, in the last six games. If you don't own Braun, the time to buy low has officially passed.

1B/3B Aubrey Huff, Orioles. Huff also launched a pair of homers, both two-run shots, as the Orioles clobbered the White Sox 10-3. Huff is trying to prove that he can turn in back-to-back solid seasons and is doing a good job so far (.283-3-15).


Vince Wilfork believes he’ll be in Foxboro forever

Vince Wilfork sounds like a happy man. So what’s making the big guy smile?

For starters, Wilfork’s sixth annual draft day fundraiser party, which raises money for diabetes research in memory of his late father David, is five days away. He and his wife Bianca always have a good time meeting Patriots [team stats] fans.

And what else has Wilfork giddy?

The Pats nose tackle is convinced he will be staying in Foxboro, even though he is due to become a free agent when his contract expires after the season. Wilfork is pleased by recent communications, and even if it goes down to the wire, he believes he’ll be playing for the only team he wants to be with.

“I believe it’ll work out. I’m just going to let it run its course and play out,” Wilfork said yesterday from his Florida home. “I know they have the draft coming up. They have stuff to take care of. As long as we’re on the same page, I don’t care that we can’t do anything right now. I understand that. We’ve been in contact the last month or two. I’m very happy with where we’re at. They’re happy with where we’re at. Hopefully we’ll get something done, whenever that may be. I’m in no rush. I’m going to give them time to handle whatever they need to handle. When the time is right, that’s when it’s going to happen.

“I’m just looking forward to another great season. They know how I feel about it. They know I want to be a Patriot. I want to start my career as a Patriot, and finish as one. I’ve said it from Day One. I meant that sincerely. So I think it’ll work out. I think everything will work for the best.”

As far as what the deal might entail, Wilfork dispelled the notion he would seek a deal on par with the seven-year, $100 million free agent contract Albert Haynesworth signed with Washington.

“Albert is Albert. We are two different people. That’s how I stand on that situation,” Wilfork said. “I’m very happy with where I’m at. It’s one thing to get that type of money and play for a new organization you don’t know anything about, as opposed to playing for an organization you know everything about, where the fans love you, the organization loves you, and your teammates love you, and you’ve made friends where you’re at.”

“Albert Haynesworth has nothing to do with my contract whatsoever. Whatever I like is what I’m going to get, if it’s Albert Haynesworth or not. We’re two totally different people. The last thing I want to do is leave where I’m at, so I’m going to do everything in my willpower to stay. . . . Whenever it happens, it’s going to happen. I think I’m going to be happy.”

Wilfork also wouldn’t mind if rumors about the Pats acquiring Julius Peppers and Jason Taylor become reality.

“I’ll take (Peppers) or Taylor. Those two guys are unbelievable,” Wilfork said. “I’m willing to play with any of those guys. Let’s do it.”

Wilfork’s draft party is being held at Pinz Entertainment in Milford (1-6 p.m.). There will be live and silent auctions. Tickets can be purchased online at

“Every year, it gets better and better. We raised over 100 grand last year,” Wilfork said. “My father was diabetic, and it’s one thing I do in his memory. This year, with the economy the way it is, you don’t know how it’s going to turn out, but being able to raise something helps.”


Jeremy Shockey fired agent Drew Rosenhaus

Saints tight end Jeremy Shockey recently fired agent Drew Rosenhaus, but Rosenhaus said in an email that "Jeremy has recently indicated to us that he will be rehiring us in the immediate future."

Not sure what the significance is here. Shockey declined to elaborate, calling it a private matter. Technically, he doesn't need an agent anytime soon, since he's under contract through 2011.

There have been some unconfirmed reports that Shockey has been angling for a new contract in New Orleans. But from what I've heard, that hasn't been a big issue this offseason. Shockey knows he didn't live up to expectations during an injury-plagued debut with the Saints in 2008, and he's motivated to improve on that showing this year.
Shockey was pushing for a new deal in New York before he was traded to the Saints last summer. But the Saints weren't planning to alter his contract when they sent second- and fifth-round picks to the Giants for him. His reasonable long-term deal was one of the things that made him so attractive.

Shockey is set to earn $3.525 million in salary and bonuses this year, $4.325 million next year and $5 million in 2011.

I do expect a big year from him this season, though, now that he'll have a fully-healthy offseason and a full year to get familiar with the Saints' offense. Last year wasn't a true indication of his potential, and he could really put up some monster numbers in this offense.

Sure, he may get dinged up again, but I don't expect something that will plague him all year like the hernia did in '08. ... And if he does have a monster year, then maybe we'll be hearing more about his contract next offseason.


Miami's 14-year first-round NFL draft streak about to end

CORAL GABLES — For the first time in 14 years, the University of Miami will not have anyone selected in the first round of this weekend's NFL Draft.

No Hurricane will go in the second or third round, either ... or, maybe, at all.

"I would say, yeah, Miami is off the map right now," said Mike Mayock, an NFL Network draft analyst.

That's a crash of Wall Street-sized proportions for UM, which has owned the NFL Draft this decade. Since 1999, the Hurricanes have produced 27 first-round selections, which is more No. 1s than most Division I-A schools have generated in their history.

In second place? Ohio State, with 17 first-rounders in the past 10 years.

Miami's NFL-record run of developing a first-round selection reached 14 years last April, when the New York Giants took Kenny Phillips with the final pick of the opening round.

The streak began in 1995 after Tampa Bay chose Warren Sapp with the 12th overall pick and was capped in 2004 when six Hurricanes - another NFL Draft record - were plucked in the first round.

But as Miami's football fortunes have sagged, so has its reputation with NFL talent scouts.

In 2006, nine UM players were drafted. That number fell to five in 2007 and three last April. The only Hurricane with a realistic chance of being drafted this weekend is cornerback Bruce Johnson, who could go anywhere from the fifth to seventh round.

But Johnson's stock has fallen since he ran a slow 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine in February, raising the specter that Miami might not have a player drafted for the first time since 1974.

UM's talent drain was apparent during the school's Pro Day on Feb. 27, when just 10 NFL teams and approximately 25 scouts showed up on campus to test the Hurricanes' draft-eligible players.

That was the same number of NFL clubs that were at FAU's Pro Day the following week, according to's Gil Brandt.

The highest-ranking official to attend UM's workout was Chris Mara, the Giants' vice president of player evaluation. Compare that to the dozens of head coaches, general managers and other NFL royalty that used to regularly show up.

"Up to around three years ago, Miami would get 105 to 115 people at Pro Day," said Brandt, the Dallas Cowboys' chief talent scout from 1960 to 1988. "Miami was the place to be."

Miami isn't the only football factory to see its production line of top NFL talent - and on-field success - wane recently.
Notre Dame, whose 61 first-round picks are second all-time to USC's 66, has produced just two No. 1s this decade. Nebraska, sixth all-time with 328 NFL draft choices, also has two first-rounders since 2000 and did not have a player taken until the fifth round (142nd overall) last year. Michigan, just ahead of Nebraska with 330 draftees, will likely have only one player picked this weekend.

All four schools have suffered from similar maladies that include coaching changes, poor recruiting and the increasing parity in college football.

Non-BCS schools like BYU (20), Utah (19), Fresno State (17) and Hawaii (17) have churned out more NFL picks since 2000 then many of its major conference counterparts.

In last year's draft, smaller fries like Troy, Delaware, Boise State and Tennessee State produced first-rounders while old-school powers including Georgia, Oklahoma, Texas and Penn State did not.

But most draft experts say the premier players are still playing for the premier programs, and the numbers prove their point. Since 2000, no school outside the six BCS conferences has developed more than two No. 1 picks.

"The elite programs are getting the top talent," ESPN's Mel Kiper said. "It is spread out to a certain extent, but (USC coach) Pete Carroll is still getting his first-round picks every year."

The real debate might be whether any school - big or small - will ever come close to matching Miami's run of a first rounder for 14 consecutive years.

It's not going to be easy. LSU's current string of five straight No. 1 picks is second to the Hurricanes. Florida (1983-91) is believed to have the second-longest all-time streak at nine years.

"I think that record is going to be safe for a while," Brandt said. "Look at teams like Texas, USC, Oklahoma - teams that recruit pretty good - and they haven't come close to that record."

Butch Davis, who recruited 22 first rounders during his six-year tenure as UM's coach, thinks Miami's mark is attainable, but wonders if any school can ever match the 19 No. 1 picks generated by the Hurricanes from 2001-04. That's more top selections than North Carolina, where Davis now coaches, has cultivated in its history.

"Can you get three or four guys in the first round?" Davis said. "That may be extraordinarily difficult. But to have one guy, it's conceivable that a school could get on a run with the right coaching staff and evaluations."

Draft experts say the most likely candidate to dethrone Miami is USC.

But that's going to take a while. The Trojans' "streak" is at one.


Braun homers twice in loss

Ryan Braun was 5-for-5 with two homers in a loss to the Phillies on Tuesday.

This is the night Braun owners have been waiting for. Both homers came off lefty Jamie Moyer. The first was an opposite field screamer, just barely making it over the fence in right, but there was no-doubt about the second one, a towering shot into the left-field bleachers. Braun had four RBI on the night and brings his average to an even .300.


Huff blasts pair of homers as O's top ChiSox

Aubrey Huff blasted a pair of two-run homers Tuesday to lift the Orioles over the White Sox 10-3.

Huff homered in the third to put the O's on top, then added a little insurance with a blast in the eighth. He's batting .283 this season with 15 RBI. Nick Markakis, Lou Montanez, Cesar Izturis and Luke Scott also drove in runs.


Braun casts star image

To borrow a phrase from an old Milwaukee Brewers marketing slogan, outfielder Ryan Braun is taking things national.

After earning rookie-of-the-year status in the 2007 season, Braun has quietly and successfully raised his national profile when it comes to landing endorsements.

According to his agent, Nez Balelo, Braun has signed deals with CytoSport, a supplement maker, Nike, Wilson, Mikita Sports for autographs and memorabilia, Sam Bat and AirTran Airways.

But Balelo emphasized that Braun's interest in branding and marketing was always secondary to his baseball job.
"He takes his job extremely, extremely seriously," Balelo said in a telephone interview. "These things he has, he understands they would not be here but for his success on the field. There is nothing that has a higher priority than his performance in the field. Everything is secondary. If we ever felt something will interfere or be a distraction to his performance, then we would not do that."

The CytoSport deal was a direct result of his rookie-of-the-year honor. Balelo said the company contacted him with the idea of signing athletes who were honored rookies in their sports and who were on their way up professionally.

"We talked for about three months and we were able to come to terms," he said. "It's been a great relationship and we're continuing to expand in other things with CytoSport."

Besides Braun, the supplement maker has deals with Adrian Peterson of the Minnesota Vikings, Shaquille O'Neal of the Phoenix Suns and Brandon Roy of the Portland Trail Blazers.

For AirTran, Braun will appear in advertisements and will make personal appearance in behalf of the airline. The airline already has naming rights to the right-field picnic area at Miller Park.

Braun also has his own line of clothing, called Remetee, which is distributed at stores across the country.

Balelo, who works with CAA Sports, said Braun had been successful in overcoming perceptions that Milwaukee was too small a market to allow athletes to make a dent nationally.

"Ryan Braun is a marketable individual whether he plays in Milwaukee or whether he plays in New York," Balelo said. "Everybody says it's not a big market, but I think we've overcome that and we've been successful, and we've ignored any company that has said, 'It's the Milwaukee market and we're not going to play in that arena.' "

Added Balelo, "Other people are starting to recognize that Ryan Braun is a marketable individual and he's becoming more and more a recognizable face in baseball."


Could trading Heap, McGahee help land Boldin?

Don't be surprised to hear that tight end Todd Heap and running back Willis McGahee as well as a draft pick are being offered to the Arizona Cardinals in exchange for wide receiver Anquan Boldin.

It makes perfect sense. Heap and McGahee were in coach John Harbaugh's doghouse most of last season, and Harbaugh hasn't been enthused by either player's practice habits. If the Ravens could, they would fast forward the clock to get rid of McGahee after this season. The Cardinals have needs at both running back and tight end, and Heap knows the state of Arizona extremely well.

The Ravens would take a nearly $11 million salary cap hit to trade or release Willis McGahee.

McGahee has $11.5 million in bonuses that would accelerate to this year's cap if he's moved off the roster. He's only due $620k in salary. The Baltimore Sun must have forgotten to take this into account when speculating that McGahee could be traded. McGahee is probably not going anywhere.


Portis, Pat Sajak Pay Video Tribute to the Caps

This video of various celebrities urging fans to Rock the Red has been around for a little bit, starring many of your favorite Redskins. But the version with scene-stealer Clinton Portis is a pretty new one, and it's awesome as you expect. Of all the celebrities portrayed,h e's the only one who attempted to emulate Ovechkin's leap into the boards by slamming his body into those fancy personalized lockers for rich people that hide deep underneath the Verizon Center.

I expect all of you to do some version of that tonight in your living rooms.

Rocky McIntosh Giving Back

Washington Redskin’s linebacker Rocky McIntosh was in the spirit of giving recently. On Saturday, he participated in the 12th Annual Airbus Kaps for Kids Walk-a-Thon organized by the Ronald McDonald House Charities of Greater DC.

The two girls pictured in front, Elle Howdershell and Chloe Romero, have stayed in the Ronald McDonald House that provides care for children who are getting treatment for some serious diseases.

Now that’s fab!


Barton Traded to Atlanta

ST. LOUIS — The St. Louis Cardinals’ flurry of recent moves to augment an ailing bullpen led them to make a move from outside of the organization Monday. The Cardinals dealt outfielder Brian Barton, the Rule 5 pick who spent all of last season on the major-league roster, to Atlanta this afternoon for reliever Blaine Boyer.

Boyer, a 27-year-old righthander, was designated for assignment this past weekend to make room on the Braves’ roster for Jo-Jo Reyes. He appeared in a career-high 76 games for the Braves in 2008 while setting career highs for innings pitched with 72.0 and strikeouts (67). He had 14 holds, which are the middle reliever’s equivalent of a save.

Boyer pitched 1 1/3 innings with the Braves this season, losing his only decision, at Philadelphia.

In a release announcing the deal, the Cardinals said Boyer will join the team Tuesday in time for the series opener against the New York Mets. The Cardinals will have to make a corresponding roster move to fit Boyer into the bullpen. Earlier today, pitching coach Dave Duncan told the Post-Dispatch that they are “leaning toward” starting Mitchell Boggs on Saturday.

Barton hit .268 with two home runs and 13 RBIs during his rookie season in 2008. He started this season as a outfielder for the Cardinals’ Class AAA affiliate. He’s hit .107 with a .219 on-base percentage in 10 games with Memphis.


NEW Ed Reed Wallpaper

Check out our new NFL U Wallpaper featuring Ed Reed. Click here to download our Ed Reed Wallpaper and many other ones or click above on proCanes Wallpapers. Enjoy and stay tuned to more wallpapers in the near future.

Portis Trades Dance Moves With Special Olympians


Edgerrin James' girlfriend, mother of his 4 kids, dies of leukemia

The girlfriend of former Immokalee star football player Edgerrin James and mother of his four children died of leukemia on Tuesday.

Andia Denise Wilson, 30, of Naples died at the Moffitt Cancer Center in Tampa after battling acute myeloid leukemia. James, who plays for the NFL's Arizona Cardinals, is listed as Wilson's "loving spouse and significant other'' in an obituary notice. James and Wilson had four children: Edquisha, 11, Ehyanna, 7, Edgerrin Jr., 4, and Euro, 2. Wilson also is survived by her parents, Jodi Wilson and Larry Green, and grandmother, Viola Fuller.
James, 30, started for the Cardinals in Super Bowl XLIII, becoming the first Collier County high school product to participate in a Super Bowl. He rushed for 33 yards in the Cardinals' 27-23 loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers in Tampa on Feb. 1.

James was a Parade All-American in high school, and starred at the University of Miami before being drafted fourth overall by the Indianapolis Colts in 1999. He played seven seasons for the Colts, then signed with Arizona as a free agent in 2006. James is to be inducted into the University of Miami Sports Hall of Fame on Thursday. James, who has rushed for 12,121 yards in 10 seasons, asked the Cardinals to release him after the season, after he lost his starting job midseason.

Pierre Rutledge, head of the Edgerrin James Foundation, said the family would not be doing any interviews this week but would like to invite people to attend the funeral to honor Wilson's life. "It's tough on him,'' Rutledge said.
According to the American Cancer Society's Web site, acute myeloid leukemia (AML) is a cancer that starts in cells that would normally develop into different types of blood cells. Most cases of AML develop from cells that would turn into white blood cells (other than lymphocytes), but some cases of AML develop in other types of blood-forming cells. (Acute leukemia that develops in lymphocytes is called acute lymphocytic leukemia (ALL). For more information on this type of leukemia, see the American Cancer Society document, Leukemia--Acute Lymphocytic.)
AML starts in the bone marrow (the soft inner part of the bones, where new blood cells are made), but in most cases it quickly moves into the blood. It can sometimes spread to other parts of the body including the lymph nodes, liver, spleen, central nervous system (brain and spinal cord), and testes.

A funeral service and celebration of Wilson's life will be Wednesday at 1 p.m. at the First Baptist Church of Naples, 3000 Orange Blossom Drive in North Naples. Visitation will be at the church on Wednesday, prior to the service, from 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Interment will be private.
In lieu of flowers, expressions of sympathy may be made to Avow Hospice, 1095 Whippoorwill Lane, Naples, 34105.


Gooden expected to start

Tavares Gooden is expected to step into the starting linebacker position vacated by Bart Scott, reports Gooden missed most of last season with a hip injury.

Our View: Third year man Prescott Burgess will be backing up Gooden, so he better elevate his play if he wants to keep that starting job. Both players missed significant time last year due to injury.


Trade Rumor: Roscoe Parrish Could Be Heading to the Pittsburgh Steelers

After trading away left tackle Jason Peters just a few days ago, another current member of the Buffalo Bills could be suiting up in a different uniform for the start of next season.

Speedy wide receiver and return specialist Roscoe Parrish could be on the move to the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Matt Pawlikowski, of, reported today that according to an NFL source, the Bills have been in talks about dealing wide receiver Roscoe Parrish to the Steelers.  It is also being reported that the Bills are looking for a draft pick or multiple picks in return for the wide out.

Parrish has been one of the best punt returners in football during the past few years and has a career average of 14 yards per punt return to go along with three career return touchdowns.

He also hauled in 24 catches for 232 yards and one touchdown last season.

The move would be because of a numbers game within the Bills organization.  What is comes down to is that there are too many wide receivers on the roster, so someone has to go and Parrish would fetch the most in return (other than Lee Evans of course).

The Bills have their top two wide outs in Evans and new comer Terrell Owens.  Josh Reed is a zone busting machine, and will fill in the number three spot.

Steve Johnson, a 7th round selection in last year’s draft, has showed that he has the physique (6′-2″, 202 lbs) and most importantly the skills, that he belongs in the NFL.  Johnson got more playing time as the season went on, and towards the end of the season, was even starting a game or two while hauling in two touchdown receptions on the year.

In my eyes, Johnson has passed Parrish on the depth chart, and also makes a lot less.

Johnson makes $385,000, $470,000, and $550,000 in salary over the next three seasons.  Parrish on the other hand, is due to make much more over those same years due to roster bonuses and signing bonuses that came with his extension he signed back in 2007.  This year for example, Parrish has a $2.7 million cap hit against the salary cap.

Even with this possibility being the last season with a salary cap, $2.7 million is way too much to be paying a 5th string wide receiver.  I haven’t even mention last year’s second round pick, James Hardy, who the Bills are not just going to give up on.

It all makes sense for the Bills to trade Parrish now, and take what picks they can get.  It hasn’t been reported what rounds the Bills are exactly looking to get, however a late day 1 pick can’t be out of the question.

While Parrish brings a lot to the table in terms of his special teams ability, the Bills don’t really need him anymore.

They have players they can put back there to return, so there shouldn’t be too big of a drop-off in terms of return yardage on punts.

Bills corner back and first round selection, Leodis McKelvin, could pick up the punt return duties. He had seven touchdown returns on punts in college as he is starting to turn into the Bills special team ace.

Fred Jackson could also move back to catching punts, something he has done sparely during his time with the Bills. He did average 16.6 yards a return and had a long of 35 yards. He can certainly step in too.

While Parrish leaving would create some upset fans, it would be a step in the right direction for a team looking to become a contender in the next year or two.

That possible draft pick (or picks) in return for Parrish could help the Bills address more of their needs this off-season, and move them one step closer to becoming a winning team.

It would give them more possible pieces to add to the puzzle.


Cornerback Bruce Johnson is Miami Hurricanes' lone star

Don't expect Bruce Johnson to feel guilty because he won't perpetuate what has come to be known among NFL Draft junkies as ''the streak'' -- 14 consecutive years of at least one University of Miami football player selected in the first round.

That burden cannot rest on one player, Johnson explained, especially when that player is the only Hurricane likely to be drafted this weekend.

''I can't help that we don't have any first-rounders,'' said Johnson, 22, who is the same age as his jersey number. He protested softly, and earnestly. ``What do people want me to do? Not play football? I don't understand why everyone wants to talk about it.

``I know it's a streak people take pride in, but after a while, I get tired of hearing about it, to be honest. As much as you talk about it and cry and complain, it's not going to change. I'm doing my best. I know this program will come back.''

Johnson, a 5-9 ½, 178-pound cornerback projected to be drafted anywhere from the fourth to seventh rounds -- and in a scenario he doesn't even contemplate, perhaps not at all -- is Miami's only hope to preserve an astounding tradition of NFL-worthy talent.

The last time the Hurricanes did not have a player taken in the draft was 1974, and before that, 1960.

Last year, safety Kenny Phillips saved the first-round streak by being taken 31st overall by the New York Giants. In 2007, safety Brandon Meriweather, linebacker Jon Beason and tight end Greg Olsen kept it going.

In 2006, Kelly Jennings, another cornerback and Johnson's uncle (the two played together when Johnson was a freshman) maintained it as the No. 31 pick by Seattle.

''I do remember the calls I got about how I saved the streak,'' Jennings said. ``But to be drafted in any round is a huge honor. I think Bruce is a great talent. He might not have had the year he wanted, but any team that gets him will be fortunate. He has great passion and a positive attitude that set him apart.

'Some guys say, `Woe is me.' Bruce pushes through adversity and overcomes it.''

Johnson has had a career marked by highlight reels and forgettable moments. At times, he was brilliant. At times, he struggled.

Johnson started 11 of 13 games last season, eight his junior year and a handful his first two years combined. In 2008, as part of Miami's seventh-ranked pass defense (by far the best UM team statistic), Johnson was the second-leading tackler among defensive backs with 29. He got his second career interception against Florida State and recovered a fumble toward the end of regulation at Virginia, where Miami won in overtime.

As a junior, he had a team-leading six pass breakups.

He is small and known for his speed and catch-up acceleration, despite a slow time of 4.49 seconds at the combine in February in Indianapolis. He weighed 168 that day after a stomach ailment and said he couldn't keep anything down. He has since gained 11 pounds. Less than a week after Indianapolis, Johnson increased his speed to 4.40 at UM's pro timing day.

''He ran well, but not phenomenally,'' ESPN draft analyst Mel Kiper Jr. said. ``He had a decent career, not a great career. But when you look at this kid, he has some skills. He could be a nickel-, dime-type of back in the league. He could be a fourth- or fifth-round pick, sixth-round pick, that could make a team.

''But, unfortunately, the streak comes to an end,'' Kiper added. ``And it shouldn't be surprising, considering the way Miami has played. Usually, your talent reflects your won-loss record. Miami is a slip downward, and now they're trying to bring it back up with the young players that [coach] Randy [Shannon] is recruiting.''

NFL Network draft analyst Mike Mayock described the Hurricanes as being ``off the map right now. I fully expect them to come back and be a lot more productive. Things are cyclical. USC is the place now that Miami used to be as far as star power on Pro Day.''

Mayock projects Johnson to be drafted ``mid to late on the second day. He's not real big, obviously. I think bottom line is that he's going to go late, if he goes at all.''

The size factor, or more accurately, lack of size, is something Johnson has heard for years. Jennings played at 175 pounds this season for the Seahawks, and was smaller than Johnson as a Hurricane.

''I laugh about that because it's the same thing I heard about myself,'' Jennings said. ``We're all men in the NFL. Regardless of size, if you use what God has blessed you with, you overcome.''

Last week, former UM first-rounders Santana Moss and Willis McGahee worked out near Johnson in the UM weight room. Both scoffed at the streak mania, and insisted it's not where you are picked, it's how you produce.

''I don't think it's disappointing,'' said Moss, who was drafted 16th overall by the Jets in 2001 and now plays for the Redskins. ``Everything comes to an end sooner or later, but the one thing this school can hold on to is that everyone we put in the NFL will be at least worthy of, or even better, than the round in which they were drafted.''
As a UM senior, Moss' height and weight were almost identical to Johnson's.

''Doing well has nothing to do with size,'' Moss said. ``Speed is everything in this game. I'd hate to be on the end of the stick Bruce is on because they always try to find something to bring you down. I went through the same thing. All you can do is show them. It ain't about how big or small you are, it's about putting up numbers and performing.''
McGahee, a Baltimore Ravens running back drafted 23rd overall by Buffalo in 2003, said ''all that matters'' is that Johnson gets drafted. ''He'll be successful,'' said McGahee, who nonetheless made it a point to show Johnson the tattoo on his bulging biceps that reads ``BOSS.''

''Bruce is a little cocky,'' an approving McGahee said. ``Kelly was all quiet, no talk. Bruce goes out there and puts down swagger on the field. You have to have confidence to be successful.''

Johnson -- gregarious, enthusiastic and polite to a fault -- is as candid and likable a Hurricane as you will find. He treats others with respect and answers questions thoughtfully, usually with a big smile.

Early in his career, he was suspended for being late to study hall and a team meeting. He also was suspended for taking part in the brawl against Florida International in 2006. But he seems to have grown up dramatically the past couple years, and is on pace to graduate next month in sports administration.

''Yes, ma'am, I've matured,'' Johnson said. ``I started off with a little rocky start. Now I don't let little things escalate into big problems. I need that degree to fall back on, especially with the state the economy is in. I want to start what I finish, and I'll be very proud to get my degree.''

Johnson's mother, Cassandra Gerberich, is Jenning's older sister. Johnson moved in with his grandmother -- Jenning's mother, Ruby -- so he could attend Live Oak Suwannee High School. Suwannee is 23 miles from Johnson's hometown of Lake City, a place ''in the country,'' he said, ``with dirt roads, raccoons, possums, snakes and lots of open space.''

Johnson started playing flag football when he was 5, and he spent almost every night with a football tucked next to him while he slept.

''He would lie on his back and toss the football up in the air, even when he was watching television,'' said Gerberich, 43, a dental assistant. ``That was his baby.

'Kelly was the painfully quiet, humble one. Bruce was the free spirit, go-getter, showboater. They called him `the human highlight' in high school because he could make something out of nothing on kick returns. Kelly sits back and lets his work speak for itself. But they have the same heart, same motives and same morals. And they both have enough manners for 10 people.''

Johnson will spend draft weekend with a few close relatives at his uncle's home in Orlando, the place where Jennings heard his name called.

''The moment has come, and now it's time for him to step up and grab the dream,'' Johnson's mother said. ``His size doesn't matter. It's what he can do. Bruce is about to be somewhere a lot of guys would love to be.

``We'll say a prayer and have faith that God will put Bruce in the right place.''

Said Johnson, his eyes twinkling: ``Instead of talking about Deion [Sanders] all the time, maybe kids will talk about me one day.

``Shoot, I just want to be drafted and keep improving. Then, everything will work out for the best.''


Ravens' Ray Lewis on BET this Sunday

Baltimore Ravens defensive linebacker Ray Lewis will give his personal faith testimony this Sunday on BET's Lift Every Voice, which airs at 10 a.m.

Over the years, Lewis has talked about his life in football and his faith in Baltimore area churches. He has participated in the NFL Players All-Star Choir, which performs during the Super Bowl Gospel Celebration.

According to, the show will also include gospel artist Hezekiah Walker, who has experienced a major comeback with the single "Souled Out.''


Salmons playing through the pain

John Salmons deserves credit for staying on the court and missing just one game, despite a lingering groin strain. But it's beginning to look like he could use some time off.

Salmons hit 1 of 7 shots for 5 points against the Toronto Raptors, two days after hitting 3 of 11 attempts and scoring 7 points in Detroit.

He was quiet as he left the locker room Wednesday night, but he refused to use the injury as an excuse and vowed to keep playing through it.

"I really don't have no choice," Salmons said. "I've got to start making some shots."

With Luol Deng sidelined with a stress fracture in his right tibia, the Bulls don't have many options at small forward. Linton Johnson played just more than four minutes against the Raptors.

Usually, coach Vinny Del Negro turns to the three-guard offense with Kirk Hinrich at small forward.

"He's been playing injured, but he wanted to play," Del Negro said of Salmons. "His injury has not gotten worse. It's not going to get better until the end of the season.

"He's made some big shots for us in the past. Tonight he obviously didn't play very well; he's not feeling great. There are a lot of guys that are injured and playing though it, and he's one of them."

Since aggravating an old injury March 29 at Toronto, Salmons has averaged 13.0 points and shot 36.8 percent from the field. He was close to 50 percent from the time he joined the Bulls on Feb. 18 until that day.


Aubrey Huff helping turn around the Baltimore Orioles

The White Settlement Brewer ex spent the early part of his baseball career with the Tampa Bay Rays, watching as the organization put the pieces together that eventually led to last year’s run to the American League championship.

He thinks it’s happening again with his current team — the Baltimore Orioles.

"The situation is kind of like what I went through in Tampa where we were a losing organization for a while and we had some young guys coming up," the first baseman said. "We’re putting the right pieces together and getting the right mix of guys in here. That was real big for what we did in Tampa."

Huff, 32, is one of the right pieces for the Orioles.

In his second season with the Orioles in 2008, Huff hit 32 home runs and drove in a career-high 108 while hitting .304. He was named the team’s most valuable player, won a Silver Slugger Award and was named to the Sporting News American League All-Star team.

Now Huff is trying to help the Orioles get over the hump in a stacked AL East. Baltimore has to contend with powers Boston and New York along with the upstart Rays.

The early returns this season are good as the Orioles opened by winning each of their first three series, including taking two of three from the Rangers.

"This team isn’t far off," Huff said of an organization that hasn’t been to the postseason since 1997. "It’s a tough division. You’re constantly playing the Yankees, Red Sox and the Rays, and then Toronto has some good players. But at the same time, you’re going to have to go through them if you want to win, anyways."

Huff is already off to a solid start, collecting nine RBI in Baltimore’s first 10 games.

He’s also benefiting from not have to carry the offense. Texas manager Ron Washington, who may have the most feared lineup in baseball, said he was impressed by what Baltimore brings to the table.

The top of the lineup is stacked with Brian Roberts, Adam Jones, Nick Markakis and Huff.

But just like Texas, the Orioles could use some help with the pitching. Huff thinks it’s coming.

"We’ve got a lot of young pitching talent in the minor leagues as well," said Huff, who enjoys playing in Arlington even though he now lives in Tampa. "The core of the talent here now is offensive, I think. The guys we’re waiting on now in the minor leagues are the pitchers."

Huff just hopes he’s around this time to see a rebuilding team turn the corner. He’s in the last year of a three-year, $20-million deal.

"I know this is my ninth year in the big leagues," said Huff, who made his debut with Tampa Bay in 2000 and also spent half a season with the Astros. "I’m not a spring chicken, but I’m in the middle of my career. For me to be part of this, it didn’t work out for me in Tampa, but I’d hate to leave this place and [it] go to the World Series the next couple of years."