NFL has been generous in relief efforts, but it can do even more

Pro Football

September 04, 2005|By KEN MURRAY

ACROSS THE country last week, NFL players felt New Orleans' pain and responded with heartfelt acts of compassion.

Quarterbacks Brett Favre of the Green Bay Packers and Steve McNair of the Tennessee Titans, two Mississippi natives, teamed up to send goods to victims of Hurricane Katrina in their home state.

Wide receiver Joe Horn of the New Orleans Saints said he planned to visit relocated victims in Houston and offer whatever assistance he can - financial or otherwise.

Running back Warrick Dunn of the Atlanta Falcons went one step further and challenged every player in the league to donate $5,000 to the relief cause. A native of Baton Rouge, La., Dunn said the Falcons would contribute at least $260,000.

The NFL said it would donate $1 million to help the victims. Several teams also have begun raising money.

Here's another idea. With the future of the Saints' franchise in jeopardy, why doesn't the league help the healing process by promising to keep New Orleans in the Super Bowl rotation whether or not the team remains there? Super Bowls are huge financial draws for member cities and no doubt would be a welcome boost to the city's economy in years to come.

Better yet, the NFL could build the new stadium the city needs. And if the Saints are forced to leave New Orleans, as seems inevitable, the city would be in position to get an expansion team or a relocation team. (The NFL never has a shortage of teams looking for a better deal.)

The perfect host, New Orleans has staged nine previous Super Bowls and is scheduled for a 10th in 2010. If the city is able to rebuild, the NFL should reward its loyalty in a meaningful way.

The Big Hurt

The devastation of Katrina drew these responses:

Pittsburgh Steelers cornerback Ike Taylor, who believes he still has a house on the West Bank in New Orleans:

"Every year, they kept saying a big hurricane is going to hit, ever since I was born. This time, it hit. The city is done; it's going to take awhile to recover. I can't even watch TV."

St. Louis Rams running back Marshall Faulk, from New Orleans:

"People are going into survivor mode. They're calling it looting; I'm saying it's survival. What's a store with food in it if you don't have food? What's a store with fresh water if you don't have water? I mean, what are you supposed to do?"

Saints wide receiver Donte' Stallworth:

"We're not the victims. All the victims are back home in New Orleans."

Cutting edge

When Cincinnati cut veteran receiver Peter Warrick last week, Bengals quarterback Jon Kitna phoned his former coach in Seattle, Mike Holmgren, to put in a good word for Warrick. The Seahawks got the message and signed Warrick to a one-year contract.

When Denver cut rookie running back Maurice Clarett, Broncos backs Mike Anderson and Ron Dayne both declined to comment. Anderson and Dayne had tried to reach out to Clarett during his brief tenure with the team with little success.

In the end, it wasn't just a nagging groin injury that undermined Clarett, a third-round draft choice. It was also his inability to communicate with members of the team.

Broncos coach Mike Shanahan ignored warning signs about Clarett's questionable work ethic and wound up wasting a first-day draft pick.

"Any time you use a third-round draft choice and they don't make your team, obviously, it's not good," Shanahan said. "But we've made mistakes before, and we'll make mistakes in the future."

History revisited

As coach of the St. Louis Rams, Dick Vermeil lost starting quarterback Trent Green to a knee injury in 1999, the year Kurt Warner came out of the shadows to win a Super Bowl.

A week before the 2005 regular season, Green's health is in question again and this time Vermeil may not have any Kurt Warners on his Kansas City Chiefs' bench.

Green tore an artery in the area behind his left knee in last weekend's preseason game against Seattle. The team initially announced that he had a circulation problem that caused numbness in his leg. But doctors had to insert a stent in Green's leg last week, and he is on blood thinners. Still, he insists he will play in the Chiefs' opener.

Behind Green are Todd Collins (fractured left hand), Damon Huard (concussion) and recently signed Jonathan Quinn.

Scattershooting

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