NFL News of August 31, 2004

Knowing that professional coaches are now bearing the brunt of blame when teams underachieve, WagerOnSports.com today announced odds on which current NFL head coach will be the first to be fired or resign from his position.

The premium sports betting destination online, WagerOnSports.com has calculated the odds on all 32 NFL head coaches becoming the first coaching casualty this season. Marty Schottenheimer, head coach of the San Diego Chargers, is currently the favorite to be the first coach to get a pink slip at 3/1 odds. In what could be a closely contested race to see who can keep their job longer, WagerOnSports.com has listed Miami’s Dave Wannstedt at 7/2 odds following a disastrous pre-season for the Dolphins. Other head coaches that could be looking for work next season include: Jim Haslett (4/1), Dennis Erickson (4/1), Butch Davis (5/1) and Mike Martz (8/1).

—PR Newswire “Odds are Several NFL Coaches are on the ‘Hot Seat'; WagerOnSports.com Announces Odds on First NFL Coach to be Fired.”

Wannstedt resigned 9 games into the 2004 season after the Dolphins started 1-8.  Davis was fired 11 games into the 2004 season with the Browns at 3-8. Erickson was fired at the conclusion of the 2004 season. Martz was fired after the 2005 season, missing the second half of the season due to a heart infection. Haslett was fired by the Saints after the 2005 season. Schottenheimer defied the odds—he wasn’t fired by the Chargers until after the 2006 season.

NFL News of August 30, 2004 – Giants to start Warner over Manning

The final destination was expected, although the journey was a little more circuitous than anticipated. Kurt Warner will begin the season as the Giants’ starting quarterback, with Eli Manning as his backup.

“Kurt will start, I’m giving Kurt the ball and saying ‘Kurt, let’s go win,’ ” coach Tom Coughlin said Sunday in announcing his long-awaited decision on which quarterback will start the Sept. 12 opener in Philadelphia.

If a clairvoyant had made the pronouncement a month ago, the response would have been, “Yeah, so?” Warner is the veteran, a two-time NFL MVP and Super Bowl participant. Manning is a wet-behind-the-ears rookie, albeit with a rare pedigree, but nevertheless inexperienced at this level.

—Vinny Ditrani, The Record “Giants hand the ball to Warner; Manning’s last game made decision easy”

Kurt Warner led the Giants to a 5-2 start, but was replaced by Eli Manning after two consecutive losses. Eli started the final 7 games of the season, amassing a record of 1-6. He threw 6 TDs and 9 interceptions. After the season, Warner signed with the Cardinals. He lead the team to the Super Bowl in the 2008 season and retired after the 2009 season. The Manning-led Giants won the Super Bowl in the 2007 & 2011 seasons.

NFL News of August 29, 2004

For the second straight week, Matt Schaub passed for three touchdowns, leading the Atlanta Falcons past the visiting Cincinnati Bengals and their young quarterback, Carson Palmer, 37-10, in a preseason game last night.

Michael Vick, expected to play the first half, was held out after aggravating a hamstring injury during pregame warm-ups.

Guiding the Falcons to a 27-7 halftime lead, Schaub completed 14 of 20 passes for 214 yards and 3 touchdowns.

—The New York Times “Schaub Has A Big Game As Vick Sits”

Schaub appeared in 6 games for the 2004 Falcons. He was traded to the Houston Texans before the 2007 season for two second round picks. He was traded to the Oakland Raiders after the 2013 season.

Vick played with the Falcons through 2006, the Eagles from the 2009 – 2013 season, and signed with the New York Jets for the 2014 season.

Palmer played with the Bengals though the 2010 season. He was traded to the Raiders during the 2011 season. He was traded to the Cardinals before the 2013 season.

NFL News of August 28, 2004 – Gerard Warren looks to rebound

Cleveland defensive tackle Gerard Warren has turned back the clock in hopes of bettering what has been a disappointing three-year NFL career.

Warren lost 27 pounds during the offseason and is now wearing the same jersey number (61) that he wore at Union County High in Raiford, Fla.

“Sixty-one was a consistent guy that chased the ball and never had people question his effort on the field,” said Warren, who was the third overall selection in the 2001 draft. “That’s the guy I’m bringing back this year.”

Warren also has reverted to the nickname of Penny he received at the University of Florida instead of the Big Money moniker he was given in high school.

…So far, Big Flop is a more appropriate way to summarize Warren’s time with the Browns, especially considering Cleveland selected him over LaDanian Tomlinson and Richard Seymour.

—Alex Marvez, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel “Penny wise: Warren OK with change”

Warren accumulated 12 tackles and 4 sacks in 13 games with the Browns during the 2004 season. After the season, he was traded to the Broncos for the a fourth round pick. He spent two seasons with Denver before being traded to the Oakland Raiders before the 2007 season. He was released before the 2010 season and signed with the Patriots. He played solidly for New England in two seasons with the team, his final seasons in the league.

NFL News of August 14, 2004

The greatest ballboy in Vikings history returns tonight, all grown up and ready to join the ranks of Randy Moss, Daunte Culpepper and other NFLplayers he used to serve on hot summer days as a young teenager in Mankato.

“To be honest, I just don’t want to embarrass myself,” said Larry Fitzgerald Jr., the former Holy Angels star, who will start at receiver for the Arizona Cardinals against the Vikings in a preseason opener at the Metrodome. “I just want to run the right routes and make the right reads. Would I like to score a touchdown? Yes, but I like to score touchdowns anywhere.”

—Mark Craig, The Star Tribune “High-flying return; As a youngster, Larry Fitzgerald Jr. was a ballboy for the Vikings. Tonight he’s back at the Metrodome as an NFL player”

NFL News of August 13, 2004

Sammy Morris knows all about sudden change. It has dogged him from early childhood as the son of a career Air Force staff sergeant through college and into his fifth NFL season.

So when Dolphins Pro Bowl running back Ricky Williams phoned in his retirement a week before training camp, Morris took it in stride, knowing that his anticipated role as backup fullback to Rob Konrad and special teams stalwart had suddenly changed.

As the Dolphins begin one of their most intriguing exhibition seasons against the Jacksonville Jaguars Saturday night at Pro Player Stadium, Morris will be handed the ball and a more prominent role at running back along with penciled-in starter Travis Minor.

“That’s the nature of the game,” said Morris, 27, who signed a two-year, incentive-laden $735,000 free-agent contract on March 12.

…Morris, a 6-foot, 225-pounder, wasn’t expected to start as an inexperienced fifth-round draft choice by the Bills in 2000, but he took advantage of Antowain Smith falling into the running back coach’s doghouse.

—Harvey Fialkov, The South Florida Sun-Sentinel “Dolphins’ running back receives prominent role”

Morris appeared in 13 games for the Dolphins, leading all running backs in starts (8), carries (132), yards (523) and TDs (6). In 2005, the Dolphins drafted Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams returned to the team, relegating Morris to a backup role. He spent 2007 – 2010 with the New England Patriots as part of a stable of running backs.

NFL News of August 12, 2004

Forty-one-year-old offensive tackle Ray Brown is back with Joe Gibbs and the Washington Redskins.

Brown, an 18-year NFL veteran, signed a contract Wednesday to return to the team. He played for the Redskins under Gibbs from 1989 to 1992.

The 6-5, 318-pounder also played for Detroit, San Francisco, the Phoenix Cardinals (renamed Arizona Cardinals in 1994) and St. Louis.

Brown signed to fill the roster spot of Jon Jansen, who was placed on injured reserve after suffering a torn Achilles tendon against Denver Monday.

Brown, a former Pro Bowler, started 16 games in each of the past six seasons and has appeared in 231 games, with 189 starts, in his career.

—UPI News “Redskins sign 41-year-old Ray Brown”

Brown returned to the Redskins for the 2005 season, his twentieth in the league. He turned 43 before the end of the season. He has been coaching in the NFL since 2008 and currently serves as the assistant offensive line coach for the Carolina Panthers.