Minnesota Vikings place-kicker Donald Igwebuike pleaded innocent yesterday in Tampa, Fla., to charges that he helped finance an attempt to smuggle $1 million worth of heroin from Nigeria. The football player did not speak during a brief arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Thomas Wilson.
Igwebuike, 31, was indicted on Nov. 9, two weeks after ABC News reported that prosecutors in Tampa had "irrefutable" evidence linking him to an attempt to smuggle heroin into the United States from Nigeria.
U.S. Attorney Robert W. Genzman has declined to discuss specifics of the case, but the place-kicker was charged with smuggling conspiracy, conspiracy to possess with intent to distribute and importation of heroin. One of the other men charged in the case, Ibezim Ofedu, pleaded innocent on Tuesday, and is expected to be the government's key witness against Igwebuike.
* RAIDERS: Reserve fullback Napoleon McCallum, the former Naval Academy All-American, broke a bone in his right hand during the Los Angeles Raiders' 13-10 victory at Miami Monday night, but shouldn't miss any playing time. Earlier this season, McCallum broke a bone in his left hand and had to wear a cast for four weeks.
* 49ERS: Free safety Ronnie Lott said San Francisco has offered him a three-year contract extension that would pay him more than his current $800,000 annual salary.
"I think it's something I should accept," said Lott, a 10-year veteran who is in the final year of a multiyear contract.
Lott, 31, said the new contract is not guaranteed.
"At my age?" Lott said. "I wish."
Although no figures were disclosed, Lott's raise probably makes him the NFL's highest-paid defensive back. Previously, Minnesota Vikings strong safety Joey Browner topped the list at $850,000.
* VIKINGS: Rich Gannon threw two touchdown passes to help beat the Seattle Seahawks last Sunday, but coach Jerry Burns said Wade Wilson should get his job back if he demonstrates that he is fully recovered from an injury to his right (passing) thumb.
"Right now, Gannon's going to start against the Bears," Burns said. "[But] If Wade shows us something out there in practice, his throwing is sharp and everything . . . he was our guy and, I think in fairness, if a guy gets hurt, he should have his position returned."
* SEAHAWKS: Backup safety Vann McElroy suffered a hairline fracture of his right wrist in Sunday's 24-21 loss to Minnesota but he won't miss any games. Coach Chuck Knox said McElroy will be able to play next Sunday at San Diego with a splint on the wrist.
* EAGLES: Coach Buddy Ryan said he would start Anthony Toney at running back in Sunday's game against the New York Giants. Toney, who has been replaced as a starter by Heath Sherman for the past two games, will be asked to perform one major task: protect quarterback Randall Cunningham from Lawrence Taylor, the Giants linebacker.
"This week, we've got to get Toney back in there," Ryan said. "He's the guy that can block Taylor.