Archive for the ‘Player News’ Category


Thursday, February 23rd, 2006

Everyone knows how much it meant for Jerome Bettis to win the Super Bowl in Detroit, where the future Hall of Fame running back was born and raised. But he’s not the only member of the champion Pittsburgh Steelers to be revered in his home town.

Findlay, Ohio, is a small city of about 39,000 people in the sparsely populated northwest corner of the Buckeye State. In other words, a quiet kind of place. One likely to immortalize one of its own on signs, plaques and such if he ever achieved fame. Or at least a giant billboard. Ben Roethlisberger, a Findlay native and high school football star, became more than just the youngest quarterback to ever win a Super Bowl earlier this month. He became a poster child.

This is Ben Roethlisberger

This picture comes to us courtesy of a FFFF (Fantasy Football Files Fan) who happens to attend the University of Findlay. One might even call this person a UFFFFF, if one harbored an unhealthy obsession with acronyms. But no matter. As you can see, some people have much bigger fan bases than we do. And for good reason.

Hideous high school uniform and all, Big Ben now towers over Main Street in Findlay. It’s quite glorious. This is Findlay, people. You have to love the collective pride a local hero will inspire — especially in a region that must be inhabited with die-hard fans of Pittsburgh’s AFC Central rivals, Cleveland and Cincinnati. Things like this really make you appreciate sports and small towns alike.

Roethlisberger, who turns 24 next week, starred at Miami University (Ohio) before being selected by the Steelers with the 11th pick in the first round of the 2004 NFL Draft. He has lost only four of the 32 NFL games he has started, including playoffs, and will be a key factor as Pittsburgh gears up for its title defense — and a shot at a record sixth Super Bowl title — next fall.

As a fantasy option, Roethlisberger is solid. He will probably not put up huge numbers, but you can count on efficiency. His numbers after two seasons in the NFL: 34 TDs, 20 INTs, a completion percentage of 64.7, a rating of 98.3, and a 5-1 playoff record. Certainly enough to warrant mid-round fantasy consideration in your league, as well as small-town pride in northwest Ohio.


Wednesday, February 22nd, 2006

Citizens of Detroit: we hope you enjoyed hosting the Super Bowl. Make sure you appreciate the success of native Jerome Bettis. Find something to keep you occupied on Sundays in the fall.

Now that Mike Martz is your offensive coordinator and Joey Harrington is apparently STILL your starting quarterback, you should already be looking ahead to the 2007 NFL Draft.

Stoked that fans were chanting his name last season - and unaware that they preceded it with the command “fire!” - Detroit President Matt Millen has decided to stick with Harrington, the complete bust of a former third overall pick. He told the Detroit Free Press this week:

“I think we have our starter, wouldn’t you say?” asked Millen, turning to new coach, Rod Marinelli.

Joey Harrington Think It'll be OkayDuring the offseason, Millen added, the Lions will seek the best backup quarterback they can get by trade, free agency or the draft. The backup would compete with Harrington, but the job is Harrington’s to lose. Somehow, a lifetime QB rating of 68.1 and 62 interceptions against only 60 touchdowns has not been enough to guarantee this loss already.

“We’re going to approach it that Harrington’s our starter,” Millen said. “We move forward on that, and we coach the heck out of him, and we get him into the system, and we start the process.”

Harrington is 18-37 as a starter. While Martz may have won a Super Bowl with the Rams in 1999, turning Kurt Warner into an MVP in the process, he’s still an arrogant jerk. And wasn’t Steve Mariucci brought in to rescue Harrington already? That sure went well.


Tuesday, February 21st, 2006

Jerome Bettis Will Join NBC as a Studio AnalystThe Bus stopped in Detroit with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ win in Super Bowl XL. But it’s refueling and getting ready for another trip… albeit one without the physical punishment.

The broadcast booth.

Just a few weeks into retirement, Jerome Bettis has joined NBC as a studio analyst for Sunday night football games, according to the Associated Press. The future Hall of Fame running back went out on top as his Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks, 21-10, for the league title in his hometown of Detroit. With NBC taking over Sunday night games next year, Bettis seized an opportunity to stay in football and begin a new career.

His first game as a member of the media will, fittingly, be in Pittsburgh on Thursday, September 7. The Steelers will receive their Super Bowl rings and open their title defense with #36 cheering them on… impartially, of course.

“I am looking forward to this new opportunity and to still be involved in the game I love,” Bettis said. “That night will be the proudest of my life. I will finally get my ring and I will start my new career in television in front of all the Steelers fans.”

The Bus made it to fifth all-time on the NFL’s career rushing list after 13 great seasons. In recent seasons, he was relegated somewhat, to short-yardage or goal-line situations. You can bet that Bettis will be a proud and happy man when next season opens in the Steel City. You can also bet that Willie Parker, who became the Steelers’ feature running back this year, will skyrocket in fantasy value without the Bus bogarting half his TDs.


Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

He might be the biggest question mark in the 2006 fantasy draft. He’s definitely the most spoiled, arrogant jerk in it. And now Terrell Owens will be one of the most televised athletes in the country. We can barely contain our enthusiasm.

Banyan Productions - the geniuses behind shows such as Trading Places - has struck a deal with the self-centered, immature receiver to star in his own reality television show. It will be based around the perfectly logical theme of celebrity fitness.

Terrell Owens, Weight Lifter, Prima Donna Terrell Owens is one of the most talked about and dominating athletes in all of sports. He’s also honest, articulate and one of the most physically fit competitors in the country. We’re looking forward to tapping into all of those qualities to create an original and groundbreaking series,�? said Banyan President Ray Murray.

There will be guests on the program, but don’t expect an appearance by Donovan McNabb. Ryan Leaf, however? That’s a different story. It would also be the greatest sign of the apocalypse since Paris Hilton was born.

How will this nonsense affect T.O.’s draft status? Well, he’ll be in good shape - but that’s nothing new. Will he actually stick around for an entire season or shoot his team in the cleats once more? Stay tuned.


Wednesday, February 15th, 2006

The Jets are in salary cap hell right now, needing to slash upwards of $25 million from their payroll. As a result, they are attempting to renegotiate the contract of quarterback Chad Pennington, whose injured throwing shoulder has kept him out much of the past two seasons.Pennington on the Way Out the Door?

On Sunday, New York asked Pennington to take a pay cut to a base salary of $1 million, with incentives to potentially compensate for the remaining $8 million he is owed. This is a clear sign that the Jets are deeply worried about Pennington’s right shoulder injury and wondering if he will ever be back to full strength.

Pennington signed a seven-year, $64 million deal two years ago, and his salary cap number is expected to be upwards of $12 million this season, including the $3 million roster bonus he is due in March. Thanks to the league’s prorated salary cap, Gang Green would absorb an eight-figure hit even if Pennington is released.

The sixth-year pro hurt his shoulder during the 2004 season and missed three games, but the playoffs. After offseason rotator cuff surgery, he was injured in the third game of the 2005 season and had another operation, missing the rest of the year.

From a fantasy perspective, consider the Jets offensive kryptonite at this point. Pennington could become a salary cap casualty, and it’s hard to see New York spending the cash to replace the former Marshall star with someone like Drew Brees, who is likely to command a decent contract. It’s not shaping up for the J-E-T-S at this point. A look at the current Jets roster indicates that the following folks could compete to replace Chad as the starter…

    1. Jay Fielder
    2. Brooks Bollinger
    3. Kliff Kingsbury
    4. Vinny Testaverde

    Yikes. Talk about being stuck between three rocks and an old place. The Files strongly advocates avoiding this bunch at all costs until you hear differently.


Monday, February 13th, 2006

New Chiefs coach Herman Edwards believes there is a good chance both Priest Holmes and Will Shields will be back in Kansas City next season.

It would be a big boost for the team’s offense if Shields, a standout guard, returned next year. The same can be said of star running back Holmes, though his role alongside upstart Larry Johnson would be subject to debate. Shields is an 11-time Pro Bowl guard who has considered retiring due to nagging injuries in the past. Holmes, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who also contemplated calling it quits before the 2005 season, underwent surgery for head and neck trauma midway through the year.

In breaking Holmes’ franchise rushing record and making the Pro Bowl, Johnson emerged as one of the NFL’s brightest young stars last year. He says he has been promised the starting job by Edwards no matter what Holmes decides, which provides clarity for those of us in the fantasy world. As for Holmes, who will undergo further tests later this month, Edwards said he has not talked about his role in 2006.

“He wants to play. He just wants to make sure he’s okay, and I can understand that. That’s something you don’t deal with lightly. I anticipate he’ll be back. I’d say it’s 50-50,” Edwards said.

The coach is more optimistic about the prospect of Shields returning for at least one more year. Edwards also believes that another 11-time Pro Bowl lineman, left tackle Willie Roaf, will return to the Chiefs. But he won’t make any promises he can’t keep.

“It’s easy for a guy to want to come back now. The hard part is when all of a sudden you’re packing the truck up and you’re getting ready to go to (training camp). We’ll see,” Edwards said.

As for soon-to-be free agent wide receiver Terrell Owens, who is rumored to be in discussions with both the Chiefs and Denver Broncos, Edwards is far less certain. He and team president Carl Peterson indicated they would be interested in signing Owens, who would give Kansas City a Pro Bowl-caliber wideout to compliment its star running back, tight end, quarterback, and linemen. But talks do not appear to be serious.

“We were approached by his agent at the Senior Bowl,” said Edwards, who will replace the retiring Dick Vermeil, and who has a history of successfully managing high-maintenance players. “We visited — a very short visit. We haven’t heard from his agent at this point in time. I haven’t heard from Terrell.”

Edwards declined to speculate on how well he might work with Owens, but he indicated that he would have no tolerance for the receiver’s past conduct.

“I’m not going to bring anyone in here who’s going to distract the football team and not give us a chance to win the championship,” he said. “If I do have a conversation with Terrell Owens, everyone will know about it. If it would come to fruition that he was here, then you would get to talk to him, too. But at this point he’s not here… So for me to start speculating on what can be done, I can’t.”

You would have to question the Chiefs’ sanity in acquiring Owens, when the team’s problem is not the lack of an elite receiver. Clearly there is work to be done on the defensive side of the football, where Kansas City coughed up a couple of winnable games last season en route to a 10-6 record that many considered disappointing. Stay away from Owens when it comes to drafting your fantasy squad, too.

As far as Holmes is concerned, he’s coming off two awful injuries and won’t supplant Johnson even if he returns to full strength. L.J. is a consensus top-five pick next season, joining Shaun Alexander, Edgerrin James, LaDainian Tomlinson and perhaps Tiki Barber as the game’s elite rushers. Priest’s value is limited as a result, but if you can snag him as a late-round backup, you could do a lot worse. Especially if Roaf and Shields return to anchor a line. Kansas City led the league in yards from scrimmage last year. Enough said.


Saturday, February 11th, 2006

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger started growing a “good-luck” beard after a loss to Cincinnati dropped his Steelers to 7-5 in December. Eight consecutive wins and a Super Bowl title later, it looks like the beard did the trick. But all good things must come to an end.

David Letterman did the honors during Big Ben’s Late Show appearance this week, finally removing the unkempt light brown facial hair that the signal-caller had been growing since the last time his team lost.

“I was so mad that we lost the game,” Roethlisberger said of the loss to the Bengals. “I kind of went into a depression and didn’t shave and we ended up winning the next game. And I am kind of superstitious — just a little bit to people who know me — but we won that game and I said I am just going to keep it going until we lose and we kept it going. I don’t really like the beard you know. But we were winning so I had to keep it going.”

Letterman replied in his typical deadpan style, saying that the scraggly Roethlisberger “looks like a million bucks.”

The 23-year old led Pittsburgh to four straight wins to close out the regular season and clinch the final berth in the AFC playoffs. He engineered road wins over Cincinnati, Indianapolis and Denver, then became the youngest quarterback to win a Super Bowl when the Steelers defeated the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 last Sunday night.

Ben won’t put up gaudy numbers in Pittsburgh, so you don’t want to waste a second-round pick on him, likable and effective as he may be. You could do worse as a later-round pick in your draft, however. In his first two seasons, he has thrown for just over 5,000 yards, with 34 TDs and 20 INTs. Roethlisberger is also efficient, compiling a career 98.3 passer rating.

Clean shaven or not, keep him on your radar screen for 2006.


Friday, February 10th, 2006

It’s Hawaii. The season is over. Most NFL players chosen for the Pro Bowl are sleeping in, lounging by the pool, spending time with friends and family.

Not Tiki Barber. As reported by, the New York Giants running back was relaxing by the pool when Captain Rob Wolfe approached him and chatted about football, the military and life in general. Captain Wolfe is in charge of the 2nd Battalion, 35th Infantry based in Hawaii.

During the conversation, Captain Wolfe invited Barber on a morning run with his battalion. Instead of laughing off the concept of waking before the sun, Barber felt strongly about supporting the military.

Tiki and the troopsAt 5:45 a.m. on February 7, Tiki was in the hotel lobby when Captain Wolfe pulled up. This stalwart player proceded to lead one-hundred fifteen men through the early morning darkness. We always knew he was a great runner, but apparently Barber also knows how to throw a few lead blocks.

“These young guys and families make great sacrifices everyday,” Captain Wolfe said. “To have someone like Tiki Barber come here see them is huge. I can talk and lead and try to motivate them until I’m blue in the face. But to have a professional football player come here to tell them [he] believes in what they are doing gives them a sense of purpose that I can’t provide.”

When the run was over, Barber was the one left impressed.

“Athletes and entertainers get a lot accolades in our society. But the fact is that our country is what it is because of the freedom we have. The men and women of the military keep that peace and provide the freedom we enjoy on a daily basis,” he said.

After years of being overlooked, Tiki stands to become a top fantasy draft pick next season. Through words and actions such as the ones described here, he’d be a selection of which any player would be proud.

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