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Volume 6, Issue 78 (Tuesday, July 5th)

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Tonight's update brought to you by:
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Hi Folks,

It's a light news day as we're in that lull before camps open. We'll be flying here soon. But thanks to our Mark Wimer for rounding what stories are out there today - Let's get at it.



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1. SEA: RB Alexander - Signing Franchise Tender "Out of the Question"
2. TB: WR Shepherd - Sidelined by Foot Injury During 04; Back in Mix This Season
3. IDP/DT WAS: Secondary in Shambles Now
4. KC - Hall of Fame Coach Stram Passes Away
5. NO - State Makes Saints' Payment

1. SEA: RB Alexander - Signing Franchise Tender "Out of the Question"

Clipped from: Seattle Times article by José Miguel Romero, 7/4/05

Always one to speak his mind, Shaun Alexander's message came through loud and clear. He won't play unless he gets a long-term contract, but he remains confident that will happen.

Otherwise, Alexander is prepared to sit and wait, even into the regular season.

Alexander said signing the team's $6.32 million franchise tender is "out of the question." When asked if it will come down to not playing without a long-term deal, he replied, "Pretty much, yeah.

"I'm pretty strong about my principles," the Seahawks Pro Bowl running back said yesterday at the Adonai Hood Classic basketball tournament at Seattle's Garfield High School. "We're all under the same understanding. It's not like a bitter thing. I've told them that I love playing for Seattle. To me, it's not about money, it's just about a principle."

Alexander refuted any notion he and coach Mike Holmgren have a strained relationship, in part because Alexander fell 2 yards short of the NFL rushing title last season. Still he seems intent on standing fast, despite the fact he wants to be in Seattle and the team has expressed a desire to keep him. The Seahawks gave Alexander the franchise tag this offseason to keep him from becoming a free agent.

Alexander wanted to have his contract extended earlier in his career, he said.

"I told them three years ago that I love playing here and let's do something now. Let's meet," Alexander said. "It was just me and Mike [Holmgren]. There were no agents involved. I said, 'You know what? My wife's here. My family's here. I want to be here until I retire. It's really funny because back then I would have worked for peanuts.

"Two Pro Bowls and 3,000 yards and 36 touchdowns later, now it's time to talk? And I'm like, 'Why would you do this?' So now it's just one of those things where I say, 'Let's do what's right.' I'm not trying to be evil or greedy or anything, let's just do what's right."

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Bonus points to Alexander for working in the "it's not about money, it's just about a principle" line. That's always a classic. Alexander was a big part of what the Seahawks have accomplished in the past few seasons, but he has also been a very squeaky wheel. His tantrum over not getting the NFL rushing title last year reportedly left a bad taste in coach Holmgren's mouth - this contract negotiation could be a very drawn-out affair. Stay tuned...

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2. TB: WR Shepherd - Sidelined by Foot Injury During 04; Back in Mix This Season

Clipped from: St. Petersburg Times article by Frank Pastor, 7/5/05

The 6-foot-1, 175-pound Shepherd shook off concerns about his size to become one of the most prolific receivers in San Jose State history, setting a school record with 18 career touchdowns. He entered the NFL as an undrafted free agent in 2002 and spent most of the season on the Bears practice squad.

He played with the Scottish Claymores in NFL Europe the next spring and was signed to Tampa Bay's practice squad after the Bears waived him in August 2003.

Activated for three games of the 2003 season, Shepherd caught four passes for 38 yards.

He had a strong camp last year, drawing praise for his route running, speed and hands, and took advantage of injuries to Joe Jurevicius and Charles Lee to move to No.4 on the depth chart.

But Shepherd's progress stopped when he broke his right foot in three places in the preseason opener against Cincinnati. He landed awkwardly after battling a defensive back for a pass in the end zone and spent the season on injured reserve.

Distraught, Shepherd called his grandmother (Genevieve Shepherd), who reasoned the injury might give him time to grow as a player and learn new techniques.

"It's amazing how he has matured in a year's time, because he did not just go and put his head in a paper bag," Genevieve said. "He went out to the practice field, he watched the games diligently on television, but he continued to grow. ... He was able to look at where he was and what he was doing and move on to a higher level of thinking."

Shepherd, 25, re-signed with the Bucs in May. Fully rehabilitated for offseason workouts, he appears to be back in the running for a roster spot behind projected starters Michael Clayton and Joey Galloway.

"We felt that he had a lot of promise, and we think that right now," wide receivers coach Richard Mann said. "We're at a point now where he's getting back into the groove, because he hasn't played in a year and a half. What we've got to do now is get him back into game shape, and he's doing that."

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Joey Galloway hasn't been the healthiest player over the past few years - he missed 6 games last season for the Buccaneers. Whoever ends up in the #3 position in Tampa will have a good shot at seeing significant playing time at some point this season. While the #3 Tampa receiver may not be a guy you'll want to draft except in very deep leagues, he'll be a player to keep an eye on as a waiver wire possibility during the season if either Galloway or Clayton gets bounced out of the starting lineup.

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3. IDP/DT WAS: Secondary in Shambles Now

Clipped from: article by Eric Edholm, 7/5/05

The Redskins are on the verge of capping one of the roughest offseasons in recent memory. Of course, in retrospect, most Redskins offseasons are bad; they just usually look good as they are happening. Maybe change is good, but in this case, most people agreed that the team suffered some key losses and was unable to get much immediate help. And trumping everything has been the Sean Taylor saga, which will continue to haunt the club through the season.

Now first-round pick CB Carlos Rogers was discovered to have a stress fracture in his right foot and a bone bruise in his right ankle - injuries that will force the Redskins' top pick to miss the start of camp. The injury likely will set him back from challenging for a starting spot, meaning Walt Harris and Artrell Hawkins are the team's Nos. 2 and 3 corners for now.

With Taylor's status up in the air and Rogers out of the picture for the start of camp, a secondary that was an underrated and vital piece of the team's defensive success last season will be knocked down a peg or two. And this is on a unit that also lost CB Fred Smoot and MLB Antonio Pierce and failed to acquire another defensive lineman. One Redskins defensive coach swears this offseason that Phillip Daniels is going to have a great year, but that's far from a certainty, seeing as how he missed 11 games last season and hasn't had more than 5˝ sacks in a season since 2001.

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The Redskins' defense has suffered a lot of blows to the secondary during the off-season - we'll see how the unit jells in training camp, but it looks like the DBs are going to be a problem for Washington this year.

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4. KC - Hall of Fame Coach Stram Passes Away

Clipped from: Kansas City Star article by Randy Covitz, 7/5/05

Hank Stram, known as one of the most imaginative coaches in pro football history and the dapper figure who paced the sidelines during the Chiefs' glory years, died Monday.

The Chiefs' all-time leader in victories died of complications from diabetes at St. Tammany Parish Hospital, near his home in Covington, La., across Lake Pontchartrain from New Orleans. He was 82.

Stram's 17-year Hall of Fame coaching career was highlighted by the Chiefs' two Super Bowl appearances - a 35-10 loss to Green Bay in Super Bowl I and a 23-7 victory over Minnesota in Super Bowl IV.

"Hank was the most important coach in the history of the American Football League," said Chiefs founder and owner Lamar Hunt, who hired Stram as the club's coach when it began play as the Dallas Texans of the AFL in 1960 before moving to Kansas City in 1963. "He was in so many ways the central focus of everything this franchise did in willing it to succeed."

He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in August 2003 and the Chiefs Hall of Fame in 1987.

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Coach Stram was one of the league's most innovative coaches - he helped make the modern NFL what it is today. We extend our sincere condolences to the Stram family.

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5. NO - State Makes Saints' Payment

Clipped from: AP article, 7/5/05

The state handed the New Orleans Saints a check for $12,415,267.53 Tuesday, its annual multimillion dollar payment to keep the team in Louisiana, according to Louisiana Superdome official Bill Curl.

Under a 10-year, $186 million agreement negotiated by former Gov. Mike Foster's administration in 2001, the state makes annual payments to the Saints.

Gov. Kathleen Blanco has been trying to renegotiate the agreement, but has agreed to make the payments.

The state has struggled to pay the Saints for the past few years and has yet to repay the cash it borrowed from an economic development fund last year to make its payment. This time, the state is borrowing $10.5 million through a financing mechanism it hasn't used for at least a decade.

State Bond Commission members have said there were few options available since the Legislature adjourned two weeks ago without approving a new tax source for the Saints payment or setting aside dollars in the state's budget to make the latest payment.

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Good news for Saints' fans - Louisiana's state government is living up to the existing agreement with the franchise.

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


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