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Volume 6, Issue 26 (Saturday, May 14th)

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Hi Folks,

Hope you're having a great weekend. Peter Warrick says don't forget about him, the Titans are looking at Travis Henry, plus we've got an interesting look at jersey numbers and why Clinton Portis might have to pay up. Thanks to our Aaron Rudnicki for rounding these up tonight. Let's get to it.

J

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INSIDE THIS ISSUE

1. GB - WR Walker Not Making Progress With Contract Demands 2. CIN - WR Warrick Says "Don't Count Me Out" 3. CIN - C Braham Agrees To 2-year Deal 4. CAR - P Sauerbrun Asks For More Money, Stalls Trade 5. TEN - Titans Keeping An Eye On RB Travis Henry 6. MIA - Q&A With Head Coach Nick Saban 7. IDP - CB Ty Law Not Expecting A Pay Cut 8. IDP: PIT - CB McFadden Impressive During Minicamp 9. IDP: PHI - Draft Pick Spotlight: S Sean Considine 10. IDP: SF - DE/OLB Andre Carter Hopes This Is His Year 11. IDP: JAX - Jaguars Agree To Terms With LB Nate Wayne 12. IDP: OAK - Raiders Sign LB Jay Foreman 13. What Is A Number Worth? Some Athletes Pay The Price (Commentary)

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1. GB - WR Walker Not Making Progress With Contract Demands

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel article by Tom Silverstein, 5/14/05

According to Javon Walker, the Green Bay Packers have not budged on their refusal to renegotiate his contract, but that has not altered the Pro Bowl receiver's resolve to be one of the highest-paid players at his position.

It has been almost three months since Rosenhaus informed the Packers that Walker wanted a new deal, but almost no progress has been made. Asked if he thought the Packers were holding firm against upgrading his contract because two years are left on it, Walker said, "Yes, I'm guessing so."

Walker's response to the team's refusal to address his contract has been to boycott off-season workouts, including a mandatory three-day minicamp last month. The Packers have no idea whether Walker will return without a new contract and Walker was evasive when asked several times about whether he would attend a voluntary minicamp next month or report for training camp in July.

At the heart of Walker's demand for a new deal is his contention that he has established himself as an elite receiver. Walker had a breakout season last year with 89 catches for 1,382 yards and 12 touchdowns, good enough to earn him his first Pro Bowl selection.

Walker has a base salary of $515,000 with no other compensation due him this season as part of the six-year, $7.485 million contract he signed three years ago (the final year will be voided). In 2006, he's scheduled to receive a $650,000 base salary plus up to $1 million more in compensation from an escalator clause depending on his cumulative statistics over the first four years of the deal.

In his mind, his Pro Bowl season and near-league-leading statistics earned him elite status among NFL receivers and the right to demand a commensurate salary. He said teams had the right to cut players without pay if their performance slips and he thinks players have the right to ask for more when they have outperformed their contracts.

Walker faces an uphill battle because he has two years left on his contract. There isn't much precedence for wide receivers having their contracts torn up before their rookie contract is complete.

Minnesota didn't hand Randy Moss an eight-year, $75 million contract until three of the four seasons on his rookie contract had expired, and he was the offensive rookie of the year his first season and made the Pro Bowl his next two. By the time he received the new contract, he had scored 43 touchdowns and was considered the pre-eminent receiver in the NFL.

Most recently, St. Louis' Torry Holt, Cincinnati's Chad Johnson and Miami's Chris Chambers had to wait until they had a year left on their rookie deals to renegotiate and others such as Carolina's Steve Smith, the New York Jets' Laveranues Coles and Atlanta's Peerless Price all had to hit the free agent market before striking it big. Pittsburgh's Hines Ward, a Pro Bowl selection each of the past four seasons, has played for a modest $2.37 million average and still hasn't received a new deal despite being in the final year of his contract.

Walker dismissed the notion that he needs to accomplish more before being worthy of the big deals the others received, a contention quarterback Brett Favre made in recent comments regarding Walker's holdout. He said his performance the last two seasons set the bar and going into this season without better financial security could turn out disastrous.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

It certainly doesn't seem like Green Bay is going to relent to Walker's contract demands. The article brings up a good point about how no other WR has received a big raise with two years remaining on their contract. With all the other problems Green Bay has to worry about, including their defense and the loss of both starting guards, rewarding Walker for his big season is probably not a very big priority. As good as he was last year, it is a bit premature to rate Walker as an elite WR when you consider that Favre has made stars out of players like Robert Brooks, Antonio Freeman, and Donald Driver as well. Walker doesn't have much leverage here, but it might not be a bad idea to knock him down a notch or two until he softens his stance.

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2. CIN - WR Warrick Says "Don't Count Me Out"

Clipped from: Bengals.com article by Geoff Hobson, 5/11/05

Some signs of the old Peter Warrick re-surfaced Wednesday. As he shows steady improvement from his injury-plagued 2004 season in offseason workouts, Warrick also flashed his signature confidence.

Asked if he had a message for fans who have blanketed Bengaldom with infinite questions about his status since the end of the year, Warrick said, "Don't count me out. Can't ever count me out," and pointed to his experience in the face of the Bengals draft.

"Is he running routes like he will later in the year? Not right now, but we'll progress to that," said Bengals strength coach Chip Morton. "But he looks good. He's improving every day in hard workouts. He's with the rest of the group. I'm encouraged."

It appears that Warrick won't run against the defense when voluntary workouts begin Tuesday at Paul Brown Stadium. But he gave every indication he'll be ready for training camp.

But clearly he doesn't want to try and do it all now like he did when he played nine days after surgery to repair torn knee cartilage at the end of the 2003 season. And when he could appear only off and on in last year's May and June workouts and in training camp before breaking his fibula in the first two weeks of the season.

"I'm not rushing anything. Be slow and be smart about the situation," Warrick said. "That's my motto. It is what it is."

If "it" is the Warrick that came up in 2003 with a career year of 79 catches, 819 yards, and seven touchdowns, he's here. If "it" is still some physical question left over from last season in which he missed 12 games, then the Bengals have to wonder about that $2.2 million salary in the last year of his deal.

But at the moment, his legs are looking like 2003. Morton admitted being concerned earlier about Warrick's rehab from the broken leg and sore knee, yet things have looked good lately. Particularly this week, when Warrick's straight-ahead running looked strong.

The last time the Bengals drafted a wide receiver each on the first day and second day, Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh made the team in 2001. That duo figure to lead this year's roster battle, and third-rounder Chris Henry and sixth-rounder Tab Perry certainly looked like solid candidates at the rookie camp. A healthy Warrick figures to make the team because he can do things none of the above can do.

"I looked at it like this when they drafted two receivers," Warrick said. "They haven't made any plays yet. They don't know what to expect. They need to be worried, not me; I don't worry about it. It's all about what I do when I'm in there."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Bengals have one of the deepest WR groups in the league and Warrick has become a forgotten man to many. Chad Johnson draws a lot of attention from defenses, and TJ Houshmandzadeh took full advantage of it last year. Warrick would make an ideal slot WR, but he may have to compete for playing time with Kelley Washington and the two talented rookie WRs they brought in. Regardless of how this all shakes out, things are looking very promising for Carson Palmer as he'll have a lot of weapons at his disposal. That's the big takeaway from this story.

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3. CIN - C Braham Agrees To 2-year Deal

Clipped from: AP article posted at SI.com, 5/13/05

The Cincinnati Bengals agreed to a two-year contract Friday with center Rich Braham, an unrestricted free agent whom the team wanted to keep while it develops younger linemen.

Braham, 34, has played in 129 games for the Bengals, trailing tackle Willie Anderson's 136 games for most on the roster. Braham had told the team he wanted to return.

Braham had arthroscopic knee surgery on Aug. 31 that kept him out of the lineup. He started 10 games last season.

The Bengals are trying to develop his successor. They drafted center Eric Ghiaciuc from Central Michigan in the fourth round last month, and signed Louisiana State center Ben Wilkerson as an undrafted free agent.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

More good news for Carson Palmer. In addition to having one of the best WR groups in the league, Palmer should benefit from playing behind one of the league's better offensive lines. Braham is a solid veteran who brings stability to the line, and re-signing him will give the two rookies additional time to develop as his potential replacement.

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4. CAR - P Sauerbrun Asks For More Money, Stalls Trade

Clipped from: Charlotte Observer, 5/13/05

Charlotte, NC -- The proposed trade of Carolina Panthers punter Todd Sauerbrun to the Denver Broncos for a seventh-round draft choice appears to be at a dead end, multiple league sources said.

The Broncos were willing to take on Sauerbrun's contract, which runs through 2007 and includes base salaries of $1.2 million this season, $1.295 million near season and $1.4 million in 2007. But Sauerbrun asked the Broncos for a renegotiated deal that includes bonus money, and the team wasn't willing to budge.

Sauerbrun's inability to work out a deal with the Broncos almost certainly means he will be released by Carolina after June 1. He would become a free agent and could sign with any team. Other teams, including Tampa Bay and Minnesota, have expressed interest in Sauerbrun.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Sauerbrun doesn't lack confidence and likes to think of himself as one of the best punters of all time. He says legendary Oakland punter Ray Guy is overrated and that Sauerbrun will be the first punter in the Hall of Fame. He's also the guy if you'll remember who the Panthers asked to handle the place kicking duties when John Kasay was injured. Sauerbrun said he would only do it if the team returned some of the money Sauerbrun had to pay in fines for being overweight. The team did not budge. He's had a rough offseason with allegations of steroid use coming out, and now could become a June 1st cap casualty. He does have one of the strongest legs in the league, however, and should provide an upgrade for whatever team he winds up with.

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5. TEN - Titans Keeping An Eye On RB Travis Henry

Clipped from: Tennesseean.com article by Jim Wyatt, 5/14/05

The Bills continue to hold on to disgruntled running back Travis Henry, and the Titans are among the teams who would trade for him if the deal is right.

The Titans and Bills discussed a trade for Henry during the NFL Draft, and General Manager Floyd Reese and Bills GM Tom Donahoe have had some dialogue since. ''My gut is I think if they can't get what they were looking for during the draft, then I am almost thinking they are going to keep him,'' Reese said. ''But I don't know that.''

Reese said the Bills initially wanted a second- or third- round pick. Reese said the Titans offered the Bills a fifth-round pick and the Bills balked.

Would the Titans still take in Henry, a former University of Tennessee star? ''If I can get him at a decent price, yeah,'' Reese said.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

There have been quite a few teams who showed an interest in Henry this offseason, but few appear willing to meet the Bills' asking price. Tennessee would appear to be a great fit given that he played his college ball there, and starter Chris Brown hasn't proven to be very durable so far in his career. It is unlikely the Bills would move him for the 5th round pick that the Titans offered earlier, and the Titans have some major cap issues to worry about as well. Nevertheless, there is still some hope left for Henry owners that he could be moved, with Tennessee, Philadelphia looking like the most likely destinations unless Arizona gets back into the mix.

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6. MIA - Q&A With Head Coach Nick Saban

Clipped from: MiamiDolphins.com, 5/13/05

Q: People assume that because you're coaching background has been on the defensive side of the ball that you're conservative by nature. What is your coaching philosophy?

A: It's kind of interesting that people make such generalizations about what you are based on your background. I don't really think that I have been conservative in anything that I have done as a coach, whether it is how we play defense, how we play offense or how even we play on special teams. I think the most important thing is to take the team that you have and try to get that team to play to the best of its ability. Every team has different strengths and weaknesses.

To look at the teams at LSU, we won the Sugar Bowl in 2001 with one of the worst defenses in the SEC, but one of the two best offenses in terms of our ability to throw the ball. Rohan Davey was the leading passer in the league. When we won the national championship, we actually won with balance. We were pretty good on offense, we were pretty good on defense. I think that's probably how you would see most teams that get to the Super Bowl. They are not deficient in any area and are productive in both. Last year our LSU team probably won a little more with defense. We had an inexperienced quarterback. We weren't able to do some of the things offensively we would have liked to, to feature some of the players that we had. We probably were a little more conservative and won with defense.

Q: Can you talk about what Hudson Houck brings to your coaching staff?

A: I think one of the major things you would like to establish is to have a great coaching staff all the way around. Obviously on every staff you have some really strong, experienced guys that are going to contribute heavily to the development of players at critical positions. Hudson Houck has certainly done that in our offensive line. I think that is a developmental position for players. It is critical at every position, but especially at offensive line. There is so much technique involved, so much working together. Hudson's experience certainly lends a lot of positives to our offensive system and schemes. He certainly categorizes and organizes our offensive system for our players so they have the ability to effectively go out and execute it. I think that is also important because confused players don't play very well. I am really pleased with the progress that we've made at that position. I am pleased with the improvement of the players that we had on our team as well as some of the newer guys and how they are fitting in.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Dolphins experienced their first losing season since 1988 last year, and it will probably take them some time to get back to where they were. The presence of Saban should definitely give Dolphins fans a reason to be optimistic. While he comes from a defensive background, he also had some very productive offenses at LSU. Perhaps the most significant signing the Dolphins made this year is their new offensive line coach Hudson Houck. His work with the Chargers offensive line last year helped turn Drew Brees into a star, and he might be able to do something similar in Miami with AJ Feeley and Ronnie Brown.

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7. IDP - CB Ty Law Not Expecting A Pay Cut

Clipped from: Miami Herald article by Armando Salguero, 5/14/05

Law, 31, visited the Dolphins on Wednesday but wants a contract that pays him in the ballpark of the NFL's better cornerbacks, and he is not thinking about signing a one-year deal.

''I don't think there's any question that Ty is still Ty Law,'' agent Carl Poston said during a radio interview Friday. ``He had the injury, but he's ahead of schedule.''

Law missed the last nine games of the 2004 regular season -- and all of the playoffs and Super Bowl -- because of a broken left foot. It is a serious injury for a cornerback because the position puts stress on the feet during backpedaling, acceleration and change of direction.

The Patriots released Law on Feb. 25 with a year left on his deal. It would have cost the Patriots $12.5 million on their salary cap to keep him.

Poston's stance is that none of that apparently matters in upcoming negotiations. ''He got the screws taken out about 10 or 12 days ago,'' Poston said. ``He's talked to some doctors with Miami and Kansas City and Detroit, and everybody's giving him the OK so he's in good shape.''

The Lions seem to have the most interest in Law, followed by the Jets and Dolphins. The Dolphins are looking for a cornerback to start opposite Sam Madison.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Law might be in for a rude awakening if he expects to be paid like an elite CB this year. Given his age and injury, teams will be very cautious with the type of money they can offer him, especially in terms of a signing bonus. The Jets still seem like the best fit for him given the retirement of Donnie Abraham, but he would also provide a huge upgrade to the Lions, who overspent on Fernando Bryant last year. Miami seems less likely given that they should be in a rebuilding mode, but if they could afford him he would certainly speed up that process.

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8. IDP: PIT - CB McFadden Impressive During Minicamp

Clipped from: TimesOnline.com article by Mike Bires, 5/14/05

Heath Miller may be the Steelers' No. 1 draft pick, but Bryant McFadden was the most impressive rookie at mini-camp.

A cornerback out of Florida State, McFadden was the Steelers' second-round draft pick last month. If five mini-camp practices this past weekend are any indication, McFadden will make an impact in the Steeler secondary.

"Bryant has been impressive," coach Bill Cowher said. "He's very bright and he's picked things up quickly. I like the demeanor he has exhibited on the field. The ability to take that to the next level in training camp and then to be able to translate it into the games is part of the process. But I like what I have seen so far."

When the Steelers report to training camp July 31, Deshea Townsend and Willie Williams will be the first-string cornerbacks. But Townsend, who turns 30 three days before the Sept. 11 season opener, is recovering from hernia surgery. And Williams, who became a starter at mid-season last year when Chad Scott injured his knee, is 34.

Waiting for their chance to start are Ike Taylor, a fourth-round pick in 2003, and Ricardo Colclough, a second-round pick last year.

And although he's only a rookie, McFadden will be a factor, too. He comes from a college program that regularly contends for national championships and routinely sends several of its stars to the NFL.

"I'm not saying I'm going to start, but I believe I can play (as a rookie)," said McFadden, who's fast, physical player who isn't afraid to hit. "It all depends on how fast I learn the system. We did play an NFL-style defensive scheme at Florida State."

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

The Steelers had a great draft and McFadden definitely seems like the type of player who could compete for a starting job right away. As the article mentions, current starter Willie Williams is 34 years old, and he may have a hard time holding off promising players like Colclough and McFadden. CBs in 3-4 defenses like the Steelers are often asked to help out in run support, and they put up solid tackle numbers as a result. McFadden is in a pretty good situation, and could be a nice sleeper pick for owners in IDP leagues with a starting CB requirement.

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9. IDP: PHI - Draft Pick Spotlight: S Sean Considine

Clipped from: PhiladelphiaEagles.com article by Bob Kent, 5/14/05

A walk-on at Iowa, Considine thrived in his role on special teams with five blocked kicks, four of which led to Iowa touchdowns. He blocked a pair of punts in leading Iowa over Iowa State in 2003.

Considine looks to be a perfect fit for John Harbaugh's special teams units, which have consistently ranked among the league's best over the last four seasons. The coaches will look to take advantage of his ability for blocking kicks and punts. Harbaugh's troops have notched six blocks over the last four seasons.

On defense, Considine finds himself learning from two of the best at his position, Pro Bowl starters Brian Dawkins and Michael Lewis. "As a rookie safety coming in, you couldn't be in a better situation than coming in and playing under those two guys," Considine said. "They both have great knowledge of the game, they're tops at their position in the NFL. For me, it's an opportunity to sit behind them and watch."

He has all the makings of a safety that will thrive in this defense: good instincts, intense, intelligent, a hard-hitter and he's a ball-hawk. However, barring any injuries to the starters, Considine may not see much action on defense immediately. His impact will come on special teams. He goes all out on special teams and that's all John Harbaugh asks of his players.

Teammates say Considine reminds them of Broncos' hard-hitting safety John Lynch. But Considine is not buying into that hype either.

As a safety in the NFL, Considine will have to prove he can cover tight ends and running backs. He'll also have to show that he has enough recovery ability to get back into coverage and help down the field. Size doesn't seem to be an issue, but Considine is still going to be tested as a hitter and as a fundamental tackler.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Considine looks like he could be the heir apparent for Brian Dawkins at free safety, who will turn 32 years old this year. At a minimum, Considine should provide solid depth in the secondary and could be a big contributor on special teams. The comparisons to John Lynch certainly won't hurt his value in fantasy leagues.

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10. IDP: SF - DE/OLB Andre Carter Hopes This Is His Year

Clipped from: InsideBayArea.com article by Monte Pool, 5/14/05

Carter says he is healthy for the first time since autumn 2003. The past 18 months have been such a mine field of pain, injuries, surgeries and rehabilitations that he at times wondered if he might have to retire. "It was very frustrating, and what made it so bad was I'd never dealt with anything like it," he says. "Physically and mentally, it gets to you. All I'd ever known was to be the best. I've never had setbacks. The worst injuries I'd had were sprained ankles and dislocated fingers."

Which don't begin to compare to a lower-back miseries caused by cysts, bulging discs and an impingement of the sciatic nerve. Carter now knows the meaning of "epidural." The last surgery took place a few days before Christmas. Carter, who went through limited workouts during the minicamp last weekend, believes his despondent days are over. "Between the trainers, team doctors, my doctors and my surgeon, we've done just about everything to, down to the simplest detail, build it back up," he says. "I feel like I'm about 90 percent."

New head coach Mike Nolan, formerly the defensive coordinator in Baltimore, is converting the defensive scheme from a 4-3 to a 3-4. Carter's primary responsibility is rushing the passer and creating havoc behind the line of scrimmage. Carter's mission is to be, as described by Nolan, this generation's Charles Haley. "I mentioned Andre Carter as a guy that, early on, everybody said, 'Boy, how is he going to fit?' Well, right now, if you're looking at just this short minicamp, he's going to fit extremely well," Nolan said. "And it's because the 3-4 is so versatile in the way you can use people."

There was skepticism from the beginning about how much impact Carter would have as a conventional defensive end. He's almost 6-foot-5 but plays at about 255 pounds. He was too light and admits there were times he got worn down from battling offensive linemen weighing 320 and up. His new role, allowing him the flexibility to move around the line, is more like it. It worked for Nolan with the Ravens, with Terrell Suggs most recently in the hybrid linebacker/DE role.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Andre Carter had such a promising start to his career, but was disappointing in 2003 and had his 2004 season ruined due to a variety of back problems. He could be a great fit as the rush linebacker in the team's new 3-4 defense, although he probably won't get enough tackle opportunities to be a consistent fantasy starter. When healthy, he has the talent to be one of the best pass rushers in the league.

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11. IDP: JAX - Jaguars Agree To Terms With LB Nate Wayne

Clipped from: AP story on SI.com, 5/13/05

The Jacksonville Jaguars have agreed to terms with veteran free agent linebacker Nate Wayne.

Wayne is expected to sign Monday and begin offseason conditioning after agreeing to the terms Thursday.

Wayne spent the past two seasons with the Philadelphia Eagles before he was released in February. In nine games last season, he finished with 38 tackles, one sack and two forced fumbles. He also started one postseason game.

An eight-year NFL veteran, Wayne has 365 career tackles and 16 sacks in stints with Denver, Green Bay and Philadelphia.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Wayne was a productive fantasy LB from 2000-2003, but he lost his starting job to Mark Simoneau last year and isn't likely to be much more than a backup in Jacksonville. He isn't a great tackler, but has solid coverage skills and may be able to contribute in the nickel defense.

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12. IDP: OAK - Raiders Sign LB Jay Foreman

Clipped from: AP story on SFgate.com, 5/12/05

The Oakland Raiders signed former Houston Texans linebacker Jay Foreman to a free-agent contract Thursday.

Foreman had 79 tackles last season despite missing five games with a sprained left ankle.

The Raiders were looking to beef up their linebacking corps after trading Napoleon Harris to Minnesota in a deal for Randy Moss in March.

Foreman came to Houston in a trade with Buffalo in 2002 and started for three seasons. He made a career-high 141 tackles in 2002 and had 135 the next season.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

Foreman had a couple monster fantasy seasons playing alongside Jamie Sharper in the Texans 3-4 defense. He's a good run defender who could see time at ILB next to Danny Clark when Oakland uses a 3-4 front.

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13. What Is A Number Worth? Some Athletes Pay The Price (Commentary)

Clipped from: NY Times article by Lee Jenkins, 5/13/05

The fight for jersey No. 26 is going all the way to courtroom No. 161B.

Next month, the District Court of Maryland will try to answer the question being posed in locker rooms everywhere: how much for your number?

Washington Redskins running back Clinton Portis agreed to pay defensive back Ifeanyi Ohalete $40,000 for No. 26 last year, but after Ohalete was released by the team in August, he accused Portis of stopping payments and paying only half the sum.

Ohalete, now wearing No. 25 for the Arizona Cardinals, is claiming breach of contract and suing Portis in a trial scheduled to begin June 7 in Upper Marlboro, Md. "It's not exactly the kind of case you see every day," John Steren, Ohalete's lawyer, said.

But it is just the kind of conflict that plays out every season. When a prominent athlete joins a new team after contract talks, the negotiations in a high-stakes numbers game have often only just begun. Jeff Feagles, the punter for the Giants, wore No. 10 until he sold it to the rookie quarterback Eli Manning last spring for a one-week vacation in Florida. Then Feagles switched to No. 17, which he sold this off-season to receiver Plaxico Burress for a new outdoor kitchen at his home in Phoenix.

"The guys in the equipment room tell me I'm the luckiest person they've ever seen," said Feagles, who hashed out the kitchen deal with Burress' agent, Drew Rosenhaus. "Think about what I've profited in the past two years just from my jersey number. Now I have No. 18, and everyone is wondering if any of the rookies are going to want it."

Mets pitcher Tom Glavine never really even liked No. 47, but it was given to him by the Atlanta Braves at his first spring training and therefore symbolizes everything he overcame to stick in the major leagues. So when Glavine signed with the Mets two years ago and Joe McEwing handed over No. 47, Glavine and his wife financed a baby nursery in McEwing's home.

"If you play long enough," Glavine said, "that number becomes your identity."

For many professional athletes, a jersey number is a personal brand. It is worn on shoes and helmets, wristbands and turtlenecks. It inspires tattoos and is engraved on medallions the size of manhole covers.

Players who have been successful with certain digits are often too superstitious to change. They wonder if they can put up the same numbers while wearing a different number.

Lee Evans was a rookie for the Buffalo Bills last year when he paid $20,000 to his teammate Mark Campbell for No. 83. The Cleveland Browns rookie Kellen Winslow pried No. 80 from his teammate Aaron Shea for a package of suits, meals and a vacation totaling around $30,000. Last month, the veteran outfielder Brian Jordan trumped both of them when he bought a $40,000 motorcycle for Fredi Gonzalez, the Braves' third-base coach, to thank him for No. 33.

[[[[[[[[[[ OUR VIEW ]]]]]]]]]]

An interesting read about the significance of jersey numbers to professional athletes and the lengths they are willing to go in order to get a teammate to give one up.

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Ok Folks, that'll do it for today. Have a great Sunday and we'll see you tomorrow with the update.

J

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