NFL News of July 23, 2004

Danny Wuerffel completed 184 passes in his NFL career. The man who works next door to him stole 200 cars.

Wuerffel used to work in stadiums with plush green fields. Now he works in a housing project with crumbling walls and barred windows. And it’s the happiest he’s ever been.

A former Heisman Trophy winner who led Florida to a national title in 1996, Wuerffel retired from the NFL on Feb. 18 and took a job with Desire Street Ministries in New Orleans.

The organization is attempting to rehabilitate one of the most dangerous neighborhoods in the United States. Wuerffel, who spoke at the annual Feather Sound Community Church sports banquet Thursday night, is the group’s director of development and associate athletic director of Desire Street Academy, a private school.

—Chris Carlson, The Tampa Tribune “Wuerffel Finds His True Heart’s Desire”

NFL News of July 22, 2004

The Tennessee Titans have reached a contract agreement with tailback Antowain Smith as a replacement for the departed Eddie George, it was reported Thursday.

The Tennessean and ESPN said Smith, a free agent, would get $660,000, the NFL minimum for a seven-year veteran, and a $25,000 signing bonus.

Smith had visited with the Titans Tuesday, the day before George was released.

The 32-year-old Smith had been released by the New England Patriots.

He rushed rushed for 642 yards in 13 games last season and has 5,713 rushing yards in his NFL career with the Buffalo Bills and Patriots.

The Titans released George after he turned down a contract proposal and asked to be traded.

—The UPI News “Reports say Antowain Smith joining Titans”

Smith had 509 yards and 4 touchdowns on 137 carries for the Titans in 2004, his only season with the team. Eddie George was signed by the Dallas Cowboys. He had 432 yards and 4 touchdowns on 132 carries in his only season with the team.

NFL News of July 19, 2004

The NFL champion New England Patriots Monday signed defensive tackle Vince Wilfork, their first-round choice in the player draft in June.

The 6-2, 325-pounder was the 21st overall pick.

The Metro West Daily News reported Wilfork got a six-year deal in the $18 million range and likely will compete with veteran Keith Traylor for the starting nose tackle position.

Wilfork had 48 tackles, 14 sacks, three fumble recoveries and five forced fumbles during his collegiate career at Miami.

—The UPI News “Patriots sign top draft pick”

NFL News of July 18, 2004

The Green Bay Packers won five NFL championships in a span of seven years in the 1960s. Ten starters from that first championship team in 1961 were still starting when the Packers won that fifth title in 1967.

…Continuity has historically been a key ingredient in a championship team. But not any more. The salary cap has changed all that. You can no longer keep what you build.

… [the Carolina] Panthers enjoyed the greatest season in franchise history in 2003, winning their first NFC championship and pushing the Patriots to the final seconds of the Super Bowl in a quest for an NFL title.

Five months later, eight starters are gone from that Carolina team. Guard Kevin Donnalley retired, offensive tackle Todd Steussie and cornerback Terry Cousin became salary-cap casualties, and guard Jeno James, tight end Jermaine Wiggins, linebacker Greg Favors, cornerback Reggie Howard and safety Deon Grant left in free agency.

But the Panthers didn’t take the hardest hits in the NFL this off-season. Pity the San Francisco 49ers.

They fielded a Top 10 offense in 2003 but lost their starting quarterback (Jeff Garcia), halfback (Garrison Hearst), both wide receivers (Terrell Owens and Tai Streets) and tight end (Jed Weaver) this off-season.

—Rick Gosselin, The Dallas Morning News “For team builders, salary cap is continuing challenge”

NFL News of July 16, 2004

The NFL champion New England Patriots Friday signed journeyman quarterback Jim Miller, who did not play in 2003.

Miller, 33, has played for five teams in his 10-year career. He underwent shoulder surgery in February and will not be available until September at the earliest.

ESPN reported that Miller got a one-year contract for a base salary of $660,000.

Miller completed 57.3 percent of his passes with 13 touchdowns and nine interceptions in 2002 for Chicago. In 2001, his best year, he led the Bears to the NFC Central Division title with a 13-3 mark.

—United Press “New England signs Jim Miller”

Miller did not appear in any games for the Patriots, but earned a Super Bowl ring after the 2004 season. He signed with the Giants before the 2005 season but was retired during the offseason.


NFL News of July 15, 2004

Oakland Raiders linemen Chris Cooper and Barret Robbins and former teammate Dana Stubblefield were fined three game checks and face “reasonable-cause” drug testing for the rest of their careers in a settlement arising from the players’ positive tests for a designer steroid.

The settlement, announced Wednesday, was reached before a disciplinary hearing scheduled this week and after months of discussions between the league and theNFL Players Association. The three players also would be subject to an eight-game suspension for any future violation of the NFL’s substance abuse policy, the league said in a prepared statement.

—Dennis Georgatos, The Mercury News “Two Raiders, former teammate punished in drug case”

Cooper played for five teams between 2001 – 2010, beginning and ending his career with the Raiders.

Robbins was a Pro Bowl center in 2002, but then disappeared the day before the Super Bowl and was left off the roster for the game. Following the incident, he was diagnosed with bipolar disorder. He rejoined the team for the 2003 season, but was released in the summer 2004 following this failed drug test.

Barret was arrested December 24, 2004, for punching a security guard. On January 15, 2005, he was shot three times during an altercation with police. He was found with crack-cocaine in 2010 and sentenced to five years in jail for this offense in 2011.

NFL News of July 11, 2004

Terrell Davis is going to the Hall of Fame to see John Elway get inducted.

No running back in NFL history was on a faster track to Canton than Davis was after the 1998 season. A league MVP award, a Super Bowl MVP award, 6,000-plus rushing yards he was there. And then, in an instant, he wasn’t.

In April 2003, after five months of torturous workouts, Davis officially gave up his quest to come back from the knee problems that ruined his career. Did I say ruined? Nah, this is T.D. we’re talking about. His left knee is killing him to this day, but he’s a happy man, Hall of Fame or no Hall of Fame.

Does he ever think about one day joining Elway in Canton?

“If they’re gracious enough to induct me, I’d appreciate it,” Davis said. “If they don’t, it wouldn’t change anything about my career. People who know me know there aren’t a lot of things that move me. The Hall of Fame? If I don’t get one vote, it wouldn’t make any difference to me.”

—Jim Armstrong, The Denver Post “One sure way for T.D. to get to Hall”

Davis has made it to the round of 25 semi-finalists each year since his first year of eligibility in 2007, but has yet to advance to the final group of 15.