July 2006 - Football Wiretap
Saban Turns Down Dinner With President Bush
When the White House called with an invitation to dine with President Bush, Dan Marino took it. But the coach of his former team said no. Miami Dolphins coach Nick Saban said Monday that his obligations at training camp took priority over a chance to meet the president. "It was really a tough decision," Saban said. "I feel like my first responsibility is our team. That in no way disrespects the importance of the opportunity I would have loved to have had to spend dinner with the President."
LenDale White Back In Game Shape
Titans third round draft pick LenDale White of USC made a nice initial splash Sunday, showing some burst on handoffs. White said he's lost about 16 pounds since leaving Nashville after the June minicamps and now weighs about 227. In the Rose Bowl he weighed 252 pounds. White was often criticized about his weight and physical conditioning leading up to the NFL draft. "My immediate goal is to stay healthy, to compete and go for a starting job," the running back said Sunday after his first training camp practice. "That's the goal, and hopefully the long-term goal is to be in the game and help my team win games." White rushed for 3,159 yards and 52 touchdowns in three seasons at USC. Because of questions about his attitude, however, he fell to the second round in the draft, when the Titans took him with the 45th overall pick. White agreed to terms on Thursday, but some unfinished business with his contract kept him out of camp until Sunday. "I definitely think he can be an asset to our team if he gets in here and learns the offense, learns what it takes to be a professional and works hard every day," veteran linebacker David Thornton said. "If he does that, the sky's the limit for this kid. He's obviously a wonderful player."
Cowher Meets With Holmes
Steelers coach Bill Cowher had his long-awaited conversation Saturday night with rookie receiver Santonio Holmes. "We had a good talk," Cowher said yesterday. "He's got a lot of work to do but he's committed to getting caught up to where he will feel comfortable." Holmes has to make up ground off and on the field because of two arrests in May and June, and after he missed most of the Steelers' spring drills because his Ohio State classes were still in session. Hines Ward predicted Holmes will do so off the field as well. The Super Bowl MVP spent the week leading to training camp with Holmes. They worked out together at the Steelers' UPMC complex and ate dinner together. "I hung out with him," Ward said. "He's a good kid. The misconception of what's going on off the field, that's not really relevant to us. We understand the situation, we really know kind of what's going on with everything."
Cardinals, Leinart Still Have No Deal After Three Days Of Talks
First-round draft choice Matt Leinart was scheduled to be throwing to Arizona Cardinals receivers today, the initial day of training camp practice, the agent for the former Southern California quarterback instead threw in the towel on contract negotiations. "We've been [in the Phoenix area] since Friday and couldn't get it done," agent Tom Condon said Sunday night, after three days of face-to-face negotiations failed to produce an agreement for the 2004 Heisman Trophy winner. "We're hung up on a lot of issues. It's time to go home." The 10th overall choice in the draft was a steal after he posted a brilliant 37-2 record as the Trojans' starter for three seasons. Leinart missed the team's Sunday evening deadline for reporting to training camp at Flagstaff, Ariz.
Bengals Sign Rucker
The Bengals have signed third-round pick Frostee Rucker to a four-year contract Sunday. Rucker is one of four Bengals arrested in the last two months. Financial terms of the deal weren't disclosed. The 6-foot-3, 263-pound Rucker was charged last month with two counts of spousal battery and vandalism in Los Angeles. Prosecutors said Rucker's girlfriend suffered minor injuries at a party he hosted last year. Convictions on the misdemeanor charges could carry a sentence of up to three years in jail. Rucker has denied the allegations.
Fans Cheer For Big Ben
They screamed in delight, yelled out his name, asked him to slow down so they could snap more pictures. Ben Roethlisberger heard the ruckus, realized he was the cause of it, and could only smile at the attention. And all he was doing midway through the Steelers' first training camp practice Sunday was changing his jersey. "They were loud, and they were cheering for any little thing that happened," coach Bill Cowher said of the 10,000-plus fans watching a practice that couldn't have been more routine, with a few passing and blocking drills and not much else.
Leinart A No-Show At Cardinals' Camp
Matt Leinart did not report to training camp Sunday as contract negotiations cooled between the Cardinals and their first-round draft pick. Even as he vowed to stay out of the negotiations, coach Dennis Green blamed Leinart's camp for the failure to reach agreement. "We have an excellent deal on the table," said Green, who did not provide details.
NFL Announces "Final Five" For Commissioner
This time it looks like the NFL commissioner will be all business. The five finalists to succeed Paul Tagliabue were announced Sunday with, no surprise, early favorite Roger Goodell still on the list. Unlike last time, when the late Jim Finks, then the Saints' general manager, was deadlocked with Tagliabue for three months, none of them has a background that includes playing or coaching in the NFL or running a team.
Falcons' Finneran Suffers "Serious" Knee Injury
Falcons WR Brian Finneran suffered what team officials characterized as a "serious" injury to his right knee during a training camp practice Sunday night. Working in a drill against Jimmy Williams, Finneran injured himself while planting to cut inside. He went to the ground in pain, clutching his knee. "Once we look at the film, we'll probably see it was more of a non-contact injury than anything," coach Jim Mora said. "Sometimes you plant and your knee gives. It looks like it's serious, but we're going to wait until we get the MRI to confirm it."
Patriots, Bears, 49ers And Eagles Interested In Lelie
The Broncos are desperate to unload disgruntled receiver Ashley Lelie, but there are no takers. Among the teams the Broncos have contacted: New England, Chicago, San Francisco and Philadelphia.
Colts, Addai Agree To Five-Year Deal On Saturday
The five-year contract includes $4.7 million in guarantees and a maximum value of $11.165 million.
Report: Reggie Bush Agrees To Six-Year Deal With Saints
The Associated Press has learned that Reggie Bush has agreed to a six-year deal with the Saints.
Colts' Top Pick Addai Close To Making Deal
Joseph Addai might already be taking a page from Edgerrin James' playbook, even if he'd rather not emulate James' prolonged rookie holdout.
Giants' Tiki Barber Thinking About Life After Football
Tiki Barber said after his first practice at camp on Friday that he would consider retiring after this season if the right oppportunity came along.
Niners Make First-Rounder Highest Paid TE In The NFL
The San Francisco 49ers have made tight end Vernon Davis a very rich man, paying the rookie the highest TE salary in the league.
Branch Will Show If Patriots Promise To Not Franchise Him In '07
Deion Branch is entering the final year of his five-year rookie contract and is unhappy with New England's reluctance to give him a new contract.