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Volume 6, Issue 79 (Wednesday, July 6th)

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Hi Folks,

Hope your week is rolling well. Thanks to our Will Grant for rounding up these stories tonight. You have GOT to check out the final story - it's a classic and probably fits a few of you fanatics reading this. Have a great Thursday.



A. How Joe Became a Winner - And YOU Can Too!

Ever wonder how our Black Eyed Joe guy got the black eye? Here you go. In case you hadn't seen it yet, our friend John "Bang" Tayman put together a 6 minute cartoon detailing the trials and tribulations of our hero and how he finally became a Fantasy Football Champion.


1. BUF - No Fire Sale Price for RB Henry
2. TEN - Titans to Wait and See on Henry's Availability
3. DAL - TE Witten The 'Go To Guy'
4. BAL - Q & A With Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson
5. GB - IDP NT Grady Jackson Hires Drew Rosenhaus. Grady, Walker and Franks To Hold Out
6. NFL - Supplemental Draft on July 14
7. PIT - A Steelers Fan To The End

1. BUF - No Fire Sale Price for RB Henry

Clipped from: article 7/4/05

Tom Donahoe recently told a newspaper that the Bills already lowered their price for Travis Henry and will not lower them anymore. He had wanted a 2nd round pick and is now asking for a third rounder and will stand firm. He is very perplexed that he can't get a third rounder for the pro bowl back who rushed for over 1,300 yards two years in a row.

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Donahoe may be forgetting Henry's propensity to put the ball on the carpet. Henry fumbled the ball 23 times during his first three seasons (43 games) but did not fumble once in 104 touches over ten games last season. A third round pick doesn't seem like much to ask, but when the market is cold, and every team seems to have their backfield in place, Henry would just be insurance as this point. The Bills are smart to hold onto him for now. As the pre-season heats up, and injuries start to happen, teams will be more interested in Henry. For now, he will have to wait with the rest of us.

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2. TEN - Titans to Wait and See on Henry's Availability

Clipped from: AP article 7/6/05

At least for the time being, the Buffalo Bills have a little more bargaining power in trade talks regarding running back Travis Henry. They can thank another running back - Jacksonville's Fred Taylor - for that.

Taylor raised more questions about his availability for this season when he admitted his left knee injury from last season was worse than initially thought. In the coming weeks, the Jaguars will know a lot more about Taylor's immediate future.

The Tennessee Titans, meanwhile, probably have no choice but to sit back and wait. They remain interested in trading for Henry, but the Bills now know there's another team that might need the former University of Tennessee star more - and might be willing to give up the third-round pick they want.

"In a month it certainly could impact things," Titans General Manager Floyd Reese told The Tennessean. "It sounds like (Taylor) just started (testing his knee) and they are going to wait and see where he ends up.

"I think in Buffalo's situation, they can certainly wait and see what happens there, too. They have a fall back, which would be us, and now it is a matter of getting something else."

The Titans and Bills have been involved in trade talks since the draft. So far, Reese hasn't been willing to part with a third-rounder for Henry, though the teams have discussed a scenario where the Titans would give up a fourth-rounder that would turn into a third if Henry reached certain numbers in his contract. But the Bills want a straight third.

"Time is on their side and there is no pressure on them, unless the coach just decides he wants him out of there," Reese said. "They can just sit and wait and I don't know how long they are going to be willing to wait."

Another player being shopped in the trade market is Seattle running back Shaun Alexander, but he's looking for a contract that would probably include a signing bonus in the $15-$18 million range.

For the Titans to land Henry, they'd need to work out a long-term contract as part of the trade. Henry currently has just one year remaining on his deal with the Bills.

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Tennessee makes a lot of sense for Henry. As a former Vol, he has plenty of fans there. And Chris Brown is far from a sure thing. The asking price surely seems reasonable given what Henry brings to the table. But as Reese says, we'll have to wait and see as nobody seems to be in a hurry here.

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3. DAL - TE Witten The 'Go To Guy'

Clipped from: article by Len Pasquarelli 7/6/05

Fiercely prideful yet anything but prejudiced, Jason Witten of the Dallas Cowboys recognizes the quantum leap he made in 2004, Still, he's reluctant to acknowledge the new status to which the brilliant campaign catapulted him among NFL tight ends.

But think about this: It required two record-breaking performances last season, with Tony Gonzales of Kansas City posting a new standard for most receptions by a tight end (102) and San Diego's Antonio Gates establishing the mark for touchdown receptions at the position (13), to somewhat overshadow Witten's breakout year.

Even if his performance was eclipsed by his fellow Pro Bowl performers, though, Witten certainly shined in '04.

Measured by any yardstick, and viewed through virtually any prism, Witten enjoyed one of the greatest, if least heralded, seasons ever for a tight end, with 87 catches for 980 yards and six touchdowns in only his second NFL year. Even for Witten, it has taken the quiet of the offseason to quantify how good those numbers were when stacked against the single-season bests of some of the premier tight ends in league history.

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While Witten isn't exactly a sleeper pick anymore, it's clear that he's going to be a big part of the Cowboy Offense. With many 'good but not great' WRs on the team, Witten could easily return to the 87 catch, 6 TD range that he has last season. A healthy Julius Jones should eat up more of the Cowboy Offense this season, but Witten should still post top five fantasy TE numbers in 2005.

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4. BAL - Q & A With Ravens Insider Aaron Wilson

Clipped from: article dated 7/5/05 (Originally from

Question I would very much like an injury update on all of the players.

Aaron Wilson: It's likely that running back Jamal Lewis (ankle), tight end Todd Heap (ankle, shoulder), running back Musa Smith (leg) and nickel back Deion Sanders (toe) will begin training camp on the physically unable to perform list. That doesn't mean they would be unavailable for later work in the preseason/regular-season opener. Cornerbacks Dale Carter (leg) and Samari Rolle (hamstring) weren't seriously hurt at the final minicamp and should be fully recovered by the time players report July 31 at McDaniel College in Westminster. Tight end Trent Smith (leg) is coming along well after missing the last two seasons, but the coaching staff wants to see how he holds up in full-contact drills.

Question Thanks for your time Aaron. What is the latest on Todd Heap's ankle and shoulder injury? When is Heap expected to be back at 100%? Will we see him running deep routes over defensive backs in training camp, or will he be limited in what he does? Will he start opening day? I sure hope he is at 100% before training camp finishes. Thank you Aaron again for your time, I really appreciate it.

Aaron Wilson: Todd Heap is likely to be 100 percent recovered from off-season surgeries and completely healthy toward the end of training camp. The Ravens break camp on Aug. 19, so he would likely be back by the final preseason contest. Heap will be limited during training camp as far as contact work because of the surgical procedures. Keep in mind neither surgery was deemed serious and Heap said his rehab process is progressing well. I would expect, yes, that he would start Sept. 11 against the Indianapolis Colts, but keep in mind there could be some rust.

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A great Q & A for anyone interested in info on the Ravens. Good stuff on both sides of the ball. Other players mentioned in the article include: Ray Lewis, Derrick Mason, Mark Clayton, Dale Carter, Daniel Wilcox, Will Demps, Clarence Moore, Randy Hymes and many, many more.

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5. GB - IDP NT Grady Jackson Hires Drew Rosenhaus. Grady, Walker and Franks To Hold Out

Clipped from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article by Tom Silverstein 7/5/05

Green Bay nose tackle Grady Jackson has become the latest member of the Packers to join the roster of agent Drew Rosenhaus, and his first order of business Tuesday was to have Rosenhaus call the team seeking a new contract.

According to Rosenhaus, Jackson is "very dissatisfied" with his current deal and probably won't report to training camp if the Packers don't rework it. Jackson, 32, has one year left on a two-year, $2.31 million extension he signed at the end of the 2003 season.

The deal was restructured before the end of last season so Jackson could more easily earn money tied to a weight clause, and he was advanced $65,000 of his $665,000 base salary on May 2. If Jackson earns a good portion of the $250,000 in performance incentives he has, he will make around $1 million this season.

On Tuesday, Jackson joined wide receiver Javon Walker and running back Najeh Davenport as the most recent Packers to join forces with Rosenhaus, who is well known in these parts for directing Walker to skip all off-season activities. Rosenhaus gave no indication that Walker would be present when veterans report for training camp if his contract isn't reworked and Jackson might very well stay away, too.

"That's a consideration, definitely," Rosenhaus said of a Jackson holdout. "Obviously, he wouldn't have changed agents if things had been going well. It seems he hasn't made the progress he wants to and that's why he hired me. He reached out to me."

It's unlikely the Packers will change their opinion about extending Jackson's deal since they have refused for months to do it with his previous agent. Jackson has had arthroscopic knee surgery each of the past two off-seasons and the combination of his age and injury history won't put them in a giving mood.

Their biggest concern, should he hold out, would be the inability to monitor his conditioning and weight. The plan was to limit his practice time during camp and the regular season to help keep his legs fresh, but he would be supervised daily by the team's weight and conditioning staff if in attendance.

Rosenhaus spoke with Packers vice president of finance Andrew Brandt on Tuesday to gauge the team's interest in extending Jackson's deal, but was met with resistance and came away with no indication the issue would be addressed before training camp starts for veterans July 29.

General manager Ted Thompson did not return a phone message.

Though Davenport doesn't appear to be a holdout candidate, Rosenhaus said both Walker and Jackson weren't likely to report without new deals. They probably will be joined by tight end Bubba Franks, who has yet to sign the automatic one-year, $2.095 million offer he received as a result of being named a transition player.

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The Human Work Stoppage strikes GB again. It's hard to understand how Jackson can be demanding a new contract given that he missed five games last season, and posted just 23 total tackles and one sack. In his eight years as a pro, Jackson has only played two full seasons, and he has never been a top shelf talent.

Holdouts by Walker and Franks are a bit more troubling. Green Bay has already proven that they won't be held hostage when they let CB Mike McKenzie holdout when they desperately needed help in their defensive secondary. If Walker or Franks think that they are going to get a different result, this will not end well. Approach with caution, and stay tuned for more details.

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6. NFL - Supplemental Draft on July 14

Clipped from: article dated 7/4/05

The 2006 NFL Draft is about to begin, and that probably comes as a shock, seeing as there have been very few Mel Kiper sightings in recent weeks.

But it's true. Sort of.

On July 14, the NFL will hold the 2005 Supplemental Draft, which trails the normal NFL Draft in allure and notoriety by about the same margin that William Hung trails Britney Spears. It is practically invisible. It is not, however, insignificant.

Each summer, the NFL prepares for the possibility of a supplemental draft, which only occurs if players actually declare for it. And why would a player declare for this draft, instead of the big one in April? Usually, it's a matter of unforeseen circumstances that arise between mid-April and June.

The most common reason: Some sort of issue at the player's school, often academic, has made him ineligible for the upcoming college season. When that occurs, a college player who believes he has an NFL future will often decide to go straight to the professional ranks. The supplemental draft is there to save players such as these from waiting almost a whole year and missing an entire NFL season.

There will be a supplemental draft this year, and it will be conducted on July 14. Rather than a conference call format, the NFL will run it on-line, for the first time ever. That is, while it still will be safest for a team to call the league if they plan to select a player, they may also simply notify the league of their plans not to do so on-line. There is a complicated semi-lottery system used to determine the order of the draft, but it will resemble the one that was used for last April's draft.

Five players have declared for this year's supplemental draft, which is a relatively low number, though it includes one fairly well-known prospect in USC defensive end Manuel Wright. The other four are Clemson wide receiver Roscoe Crosby, UNLV defensive end Charles Ealy, Texas Tech running back Ivory McCann and Toledo defensive end Jerome Walker.

There is no guarantee that any of these five young men will be drafted. In most cases, every team passes in the first round. After that, if there is a prospect that one or more teams are interested in, it becomes a matter of guessing where the player is likely to go. That is, if Team A would like to draft one player John Smith, they want to do so with the lowest pick possible. So Team A may plan to pull the trigger in Round Three, believing Smith won't last through the rest of that round and into Round Four. However, Team B may trump them by choosing to use a second round pick on Smith.

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This article gives a nice overview of the supplemental draft, and the way it is conducted in the NFL. This season they're taking it online. If your draft has already taken place, or you are playing in a dynasty league, you might want to check your league by-laws to see how the supplemental draft is handled.

The guy drawing the most press coverage right now is Crosby. Leg cramps forced him to cut his Tuesday workout short, but as Len Pasquarelli points out, Crosby will probably get a shot somewhere. click here for more info

We'll keep you posted on where these guys land.

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7. PIT - A Steelers Fan To The End

Clipped from: AP article 7/6/05

James Henry Smith was a zealous Pittsburgh Steelers fan in life, and even death could not keep him from his favorite spot: in a recliner, in front of a TV showing his beloved team in action.

Smith, 55, of Pittsburgh, died of prostate cancer Thursday. Because his death wasn't unexpected, his family was able to plan for an unusual viewing Tuesday night.

The Samuel E. Coston Funeral Home erected a small stage in a viewing room, and arranged furniture on it much as it was in Smith's home on game day Sundays.

Smith's body was on the recliner, his feet crossed and a remote in his hand. He wore black and gold silk pajamas, slippers and a robe. A pack of cigarettes and a beer were at his side, while a high-definition TV played a continuous loop of Steelers highlights.

"I couldn't stop crying after looking at the Steeler blanket in his lap," said his sister, MaryAnn Nails, 58. "He loved football and nobody did [anything] until the game went off. It was just like he was at home."

Longtime friend Mary Jones called the viewing "a celebration."

"I saw it and I couldn't even cry," she said. "People will see him the way he was."

Smith's burial plans were more traditional - he'll be laid to rest in a casket.

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That's just too cool.

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


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