Sports Outside the Beltway

European Tour to include FedEx Cup-style format in ’09

Who says Europe doesn’t copy America’s bad ideas?

DUBAI, United Arab Emirates — Taking a page from the PGA Tour’s new FedEx Cup format, the European Tour will produce a similarly styled points system, entitled “Race to Dubai” beginning in 2009.

The new schedule will culminate with the season-ending Dubai World Championship, featuring a $10 million purse — the richest in the history of professional golf.

“The Race to Dubai will bring a new dimension to the European Tour, creating great drama and theatre throughout the year as all the best players in the world are given the opportunity to compete in the world’s richest tournament — the Dubai World Championship,” said George O’Grady, chief executive of the European Tour. “With the combined prize funds of the Dubai World Championship and the Race to Dubai we have the prospect of a player standing over a putt for $3,666,660.”

The Dubai World Championship will include the top 60 players in the Race to Dubai — formerly the European Tour Order of Merit — comprising all events on The European Tour International Schedule. The No. 1 player will receive $2 million, the runner-up $1.5 million, and the third-place player $1 million, with prizes down to the 15th player, who will earn $250,000.

The inaugural event will take place Nov. 19-22, 2009, on either the Fire or Earth course at Jumeirah Golf Estates in Dubai.

If European players actively take part in it, The Race to Dubai could cause excitement. Fan interest on the PGA Tour is centered around the majors and Tiger Woods. From what I know about the European Tour fans, support is broader. I still think the Fedex gimmick will be history in ten years or less. The Road to Dubai could have a brighter future.


Tony La Russa pleads guilty to DUI charge

The suspense is over.

St. Louis Cardinals manager Tony La Russa pleaded guilty Wednesday to a DUI charge stemming from an incident during spring training in Jupiter.

Under terms of the plea agreement filed at the Palm Beach County Courthouse, La Russa was sentenced to one year of probation that could be reduced to six months if terms are met. His license was suspended for six months, he must complete DUI school and perform 50 hours of community service, although he has the option of buying out 25 hours at $10 per hour.

La Russa, 63, also must pay $500 toward the cost of prosecuting the case.

La Russa was discovered by Jupiter police at 12:26 a.m. on March 22, slumped over in the driver seat after sitting through two cycles of green lights in a Ford Expedition. His breath samples showed a blood-alcohol level of .093. Florida’s legal limit is .08.

Now that La Russa’s legal problems are behind him, anyone want to start making predictions as to how long he has left as Cardinal manager? The Cardinals made John Mozeliak GM, after his serving an interim stint first. I’m guessing La Russa is done in St. Louis no later than the end of 2009, unless the Cardinals make it back to the World Series in the next two years.


No more PODS Championship after 2008?

The Tampa area PGA Tour stop could be in jeopardy beyond 2008. From ESPN-

Less than a year after signing on as title sponsor of the PGA Tour event near Tampa, PODS Inc., is considering asking out of its deal, putting the future of the tournament in question beyond 2008.

PODS officials asked the PGA Tour for an extension until the end of December on its decision to renew sponsorship of the PODS Championship beyond 2008 — although PODS franchisees were originally told that the deal would not be extended beyond the March 6-9 event at the Innisbrook Golf Resort in Palm Harbor, Fla.

Complicating the situation is the fact that the Clearwater, Fla.-based company is in the process of being sold, according to a PODS franchisee who did not wish to be identified.

Mark Calcavecchia won the 2007 event, which from 2003-2006 was called the Chrysler Championship and played in the fall.

The portable storage unit company signed a six-year agreement in January to sponsor the PODS Championship through 2012. But the company had an option to withdraw after two years.


The tournament was one of the big winners when the PGA Tour announced its new FedEx Cup schedule, which began this year. When the Players Championship moved to May, it created an opening on the Florida Swing; the PODS event moved from its former fall date.

But the tournament has had sponsorship issues. Started in 2000 as an opposite event to the World Golf Championships, the tournament first had Buick as a title sponsor before that car company gave way to Chrysler. After four years, Chrysler bowed out, leaving the tournament scrambling until securing PODS just weeks before the 2007 tournament.


PODS is contracted to sponsor the 2008 tournament, which will go on as scheduled.

Sponsors of pro golf tournaments come and go. In the seventies celebrity sponsors/associations were common. Today only this tournament still has a celebrity connected to it. Note that Bob Hope has been dead since 2003, but comedian George Lopez is sort of a unofficial host today.

More troubling than PODS possible cancellation, is the fact the tournament seems to have trouble keeping or getting a corporate sponsor. That makes me think this tournament, which I sometimes call the KJ Choi Championship for the Korean golfer has two wins there and a T-6 since 2002, will have an abbreviated history.

If the Tampa Bay area tour stop becomes defunct, what tournament would replace it on the tour schedule. Two long-time PGA Tour stops, The Texas Open(I believe is the 2nd or 3rd oldest non-major on tour) and the Walt Disney World event(which has been played since the early 70′s), were relegated to the Fall tour after the creation of the Fedex Cup. It would only seem fair these tournaments would get a shot at returning to the regular season..


NFL Power Rankings – Week 13

ESPN has released their Power Rankings for Week 13 of the 2007 NFL season and, despite the AFC hype, two NFC teams are in the top three. The voting was done by ESPN writers John Clayton, Len Pasquarelli, Matt Mosley, Jeffri Chadiha and Mike Sando; Scouts Inc. Insiders Jeremy Green and Keith Kidd; and NFL senior editor Mike McAllister.

2007 Power Rankings: Week 13
1 (1) Patriots 11-0-0 Twenty different Patriots players have scored TDs this season. That equals or is more than the touchdown totals for 11 other teams this season. We know you never get tired of those kinds of comparisons, right?
2 (2) Cowboys 10-1-0 Home-field advantage in the NFC likely is at stake Thursday, and the last thing the Cowboys want to do is play the NFC title game at Lambeau in January. But Wade Phillips has won a playoff game at Green Bay — as Atlanta’s D-coordinator in 2002.
3 (3) Packers 10-1-0 Brett Favre has played five or more regular-season games against 18 different NFL teams — and his .286 winning percentage (2-5 record) vs. Dallas is his lowest. Add his 0-3 playoff record and Favre is batting .200 against the Cowboys.
4 (4) Colts 9-2-0 The Colts, according to the Indy Star, have led or shared the lead in the AFC South for 90 of the 97 weeks since the division was formed in 2002. Beating the Jags on Sunday would likely add the rest of 2007 to that total.
5 (5) Jaguars 8-3-0 The Jags are rolling into Sunday’s division showdown against Indy with a ton of confidence. "The guys are hungry," QB David Garrard told the Times-Union. "I’m sure everybody can feel this season is different."
6 (7) Steelers 8-3-0 Shame on the Steelers organization for allowing their MNF game to be played on such poor field conditions. It wasn’t fair to the players, or the fans who invested time and money to watch the game. Either get it right or start using the artificial stuff.
7 (8) Browns 7-4-0 The Browns are plus-2 in the giveaway/takeaway category. That may not mean much to you, but the Browns have finished on the plus side of turnover differential just once since 1993.
8 (9) Seahawks 7-4-0 In three previous meetings against the Eagles, QB Matt Hasselbeck has been sacked 11 times (including a career-high seven back in 2001) and has a 58.8 passer rating, his lowest against any NFC team. So what’s the over/under for sacks this Sunday?
9 (10) Buccaneers 7-4-0 You’ve heard of QB controversies, but with the backups? Jon Gruden isn’t revealing his hand on who will start against the Saints if No. 1 guy Jeff Garcia can’t play due to a back injury. The fans of Bruce Gradkowski and Luke McCown eagerly await.
10 (13) Chargers 6-5-0 Of the eight division leaders, none has a worse road record this season than the Chargers’ 1-4 mark. With their next two games at KC and Tennessee, LT knows what must be done: "We’re going to have to find a way to win on the road."
11 (6) Giants 7-4-0 Go ahead, blame Eli (and he deserves it). But don’t forget to blame the rest of the Giants for a wretched performance against the Vikings. After all, the defense allowed Minny QB Tarvaris Jackson to post a 139.2 passer rating.
12 (11) Titans 6-5-0 On five drives against the Bengals, the Titans entered the red zone. Three times they had goal-to-go situations. And yet they couldn’t find the end zone. It’ll be one of their many regrets if they don’t make the playoffs.
13 (20) Saints 5-6-0 The Saints have underachieved, but at least they have a meaningful December, starting with a key home game against NFC South leader Tampa Bay. "It doesn’t get any better than it’s about to get," QB Drew Brees told the Times-Picayune.
14 (12) Lions 6-5-0 Reports have surfaced that owner William Clay Ford Sr. wants the coaching staff to increase the workload of rookie WR Calvin Johnson. On the flip side, head coach Rod Marinelli is demanding that Ford build a better-looking SUV.
15 (15) Eagles 5-6-0 The question in Philly: Would Donovan McNabb had played better than A.J. Feeley did in nearly beating the Patriots? When healthy, McNabb’s still the main guy, but Andy Reid is adamant that nothing less than a fully healed McNabb will play.
16 (22) Bears 5-6-0 So is running back Cedric Benson’s season-ending ankle injury a plus or minus for the rest of the season? Benson’s an underachiever, but it’s not like Adrian Peterson (Bears’ version) has run like Adrian Peterson (Vikes’ version) this season.
17 (14) Broncos 5-6-0 Until Sunday, the Broncos’ special-teams play — after a dismal start — had recently been among the league’s best. Perhaps that improvement resulted in overconfidence. Ultimately, it just led to a harsh lesson: Don’t kick to Devin Hester.
18 (23) Vikings 5-6-0 Earlier this month, the Vikings were blanked by Green Bay, 34-0, and dropped to 3-6. Hard to imagine now that they’re in the playoff race. A win on Sunday vs. Detroit (Adrian Peterson may be back) puts them in good shape.
19 (16) Cardinals 5-6-0 Kurt Warner triggered the Greatest Show on Turf, yet he never threw for as many yards with those Rams offenses as he did Sunday against the 49ers. But his career-high 484 yards was overshadowed in the shocking way the Cards lost.
20 (18) Redskins 5-6-0 FedEx Field will be an emotional place the next two games, as the Redskins and their fans deal with the tragic loss of Sean Taylor. Joe Gibbs will need to draw on all of his coaching experience to get his team prepared for the rest of this season.
21 (17) Texans 5-6-0 No team has committed more turnovers; in fact, opponents have converted Houston’s 29 turnovers into 108 points. "There are a lot of things we can do to win, but turning the ball over ain’t one of them," OT Ephraim Salaam told the Chronicle.
22 (19) Bills 5-6-0 The Bills’ offense is not one for steady drives, as just four TD drives this season have been 10 plays or longer. J.P. Losman just doesn’t seem like a good fit, which explains why the Bills are going back to Trent Edwards this week.
23 (26) Bengals 4-7-0 Admit it — you’ve missed Ocho Cinco’s TD celebrations. Chad Johnson’s TV cameraman act opens up a whole new genre. Next time, let’s see him take a sideline reporter’s microphone and interview himself about his TD. Watch out, Rachel Nichols!
24 (21) Chiefs 4-7-0 It has been 30 years since the Chiefs lost six home games in a single season at Arrowhead Stadium, but with a 2-4 home record, it could happen this year if they can’t beat the Chargers and Titans in December.
25 (24) Ravens 4-7-0 The five-game losing streak is the longest in franchise history, and it figures to reach seven with games against the Patriots and Colts the next two weeks. Right now, not even the Dec. 16 game at Miami seems like a sure win.
26 (25) Panthers 4-7-0 Panthers fans, frustrated by their team’s inability to win at home, are starting to stay away from Bank of America Stadium. That’s not good for the job security of coach John Fox and GM Marty Hurney, who are both on the hot seat.
27 (30) Raiders 3-8-0 After beating the Chiefs in the season finale of 1999, the Raiders went 33-15 the next three years, culminating in a Super Bowl appearance. Will Sunday’s win at KC have the same impact? "Maybe this is our roll," DT Warren Sapp told the Tribune.
28 (31) 49ers 3-8-0 Let’s see … Ted Tollner arrives to assist with the offense. The 49ers then produce a season-high 374 yards in beating the Cards. Does A+B=C? Seems that way, but maybe not. "Ted was very uninvolved in the play-calling," QB Trent Dilfer said.
29 (28) Rams 2-9-0 Gus Frerotte’s fumbled snap was a heartbreaker, but the Rams should never have let it come to that in losing to Seattle. The offense went into a shell after taking a 19-7 lead, failing to produce points on their final nine possessions.
30 (27) Falcons 3-8-0 TE Alge Crumpler tells the J-C that "it just puzzles me that we can’t score points." But is it really puzzling that Atlanta’s averaging four points less than last season? Mike Vick’s absence accounts for at least that much, if not more.
31 (29) Jets 2-9-0 If the Jets can’t beat the winless Dolphins this week, this season will likely end up as the team’s worst since the Rich Kotite days. And QB Kellen Clemens isn’t making much of a statement in his audition as the starter.
32 (32) Dolphins 0-11-0 Hypothetical question: Could the Dolphins beat the Saskatchewan Roughriders, who won the Grey Cup on Sunday? It’d be tough, especially using those funky CFL rules. Of course, that wouldn’t faze Ricky Williams (2006 Argonauts).

It’s hard to argue much with these rankings, even if they’re a bit too closely related to teams’ overall records. Presumably, some teams that had hot starts but have since faded (Giants, Steelers) and teams that have started poorly but have gotten better of late (Rams) should have rankings weighted to reflect the recent performance. There might also be a strength of schedule component, as some teams play in much more competitive divisions.


Those 0-11 Miami Dolphins

The latest adventure in Miami Dolphins football.

PITTSBURGH – Not even an act of God, Joey Porter’s spirited homecoming and Ricky Williams’ long-awaited return to the NFL could alter the Dolphins’ path to infamy.

All the 25-minute lightning delay at the start of Monday night’s game did was delay the inevitable — a 3-0 loss to the Steelers on a mud-slick Heinz Field that resembled the chewed-up soccer pitch of Wembley Stadium, the site of last month’s Giants-Dolphins eyesore in London.

The final score even resembled the defensive-minded soccer matches that often cause Americans’ eyes to glaze over, and has the same effect on Dolphins fans this season.

Steelers kicker Jeff Reed atoned for a 44-yard missed field goal when he ended a short drive with the winning 24-yarder with 17 seconds left, marking the sixth game this season that the Dolphins have lost by three points.

I wonder how many non-Steeeler or non-Dolphin fans made it through the entirety of last night’s game. It was a sloppy affair, but what do you expect after a rainstorm?

Heinz Field was in horrible condition last night. The result of the rains and several recent HS football and Pitt Panther games. One punt last night dug into the turf like an undetonated bomb.

Oh anyone else see the punt where the ball on the ground, planted itself like an undetonated missile?

The Dolphin season seems to find new lows every week. For the second week in a row, the team’s offense hasn’t scored a point. I’m optimistic about John Beck’s chances of being a quality NFL quarterback. His stats last night, 14 for 23, 132 yards and no INTs were good in the conditions Beck had to deal with. Beck’s stats could have been better too, for Miami receivers dropped at least two of Beck’s throws.

Miami’s defense, with the exception of the final Steeler drive, did a good job also. Pittsburgh had great field position for most of the night and couldn’t find the end zone. On the other hand, the Dolphin D again couldn’t stop a team late in the game.

Bad news- Another loss. Two more banged up running backs, Ricky Williams and Jesse Chatman(the later looked awful. 11 rushes for 17 yards. Jesse looking like he played hurt last night) and the continued failure of the defense when the team needs to make a stand. The running back injuries will certainly make it tougher for Beck to prove himself in the NFL.

Next week Miami plays the 2-9 New York Jets. If Miami doesn’t win that game, I fear they won’t win a game in 2007.(I’d say the chances are 50-50 or more after a loss to the Jets for a winless Dolphin season) Will Coach Cam Cameron survive such a disaster? Should he be kept on if Miami goes 0-16? I’m undecided. The causes of the Miami’s decline are not just the result of Cameron’s sometimes poor decision making. However Cam and GM Randy Mueller, are the only ones left for this debacle. Fairly or unfairly, they may pay the price for not just their bad decisions but other’s also.


Colorado State lets go Coach Sonny Lubick

The University wants him to stay as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador. From AP-

FORT COLLINS, Colo. – Sonny Lubick is out as Colorado State coach and hasn’t decided whether to accept the school’s offer to stay on as a fundraiser and goodwill ambassador. “I have no plans right now. It’s too early to speculate,” Lubick said Tuesday at a news conference.

Athletic director Paul Kowalczyk said Lubick has a job as associate athletic director available to him “if and when he wants it.”

“I want Sonny to be associated with the program,” Kowalczyk said. “I’m going to do whatever I can to keep him in the fold. I want him to be associated with this program that he’s put on the map.”

Lubick’s coaching staff was also let go with the exception of Tom Ehlers, the director of football operations, who will be kept on to oversee the transition period.

Kowalczyk has no timetable for hiring a new coach. He’s already received calls about the vacancy, but wouldn’t reveal any names. Kowalczyk said he would consult with Lubick before hiring a new coach.

“I’d be foolish not to,” he said.

Kowalczyk asked Lubick to step down a few days before the Rams’ season-ending win over Wyoming last Friday.


Speculation has been swirling around Lubick’s future for days after the Rams finished the season. They haven’t had a winning record since 2003, although Lubick is 108-74 in 15 seasons at Colorado State and is credited with turning an underachieving program into a consistent winner for most of his tenure.

Lubick was defensive coordinator at University of Miami before taking the head coaching job at CSU. I knew a couple of Lubick’s assistants when he first went to Fort Collins.

Being far removed from Colorado, I am not familiar with what’s going on in Ft. Collins. Considering Lubick’s success at the school, his dismissal is astonishing. CSU was a perrenial graveyard for coaches and Lubick made the school competitive first in the WAC and then the Mountain West.(They had been to one bowl game ever) I wouldn’t be surprised if the Rams are back to being a doormat in a few years.


Easy come Easy go- Ricky Williams out for the season

Another chapter in the sad saga of the hapless 2007 Miami Dolphins. From AP-

MIAMI – Ricky Williams’ latest comeback lasted one game. The Miami Dolphins running back will miss the rest of the season with a torn chest muscle, according to his agent, Leigh Steinberg.

Williams was hurt Monday at Pittsburgh, when he played in his first game in nearly two years. He returned following a 1 1/2-year suspension for his latest violation of the NFL drug policy.

Steinberg said the arm will be in a sling from four to six weeks and the rehab will take five months.

But Steinberg said Williams expects to be ready for next season.


Williams was injured in the second quarter Monday on a play when he fumbled. After being tackled, he was accidentally stepped on while chest-down on the ground.

Williams left the game, returned briefly and departed for good after one more carry. He finished with 15 yards in six carries, and the Dolphins lost 3-0 on a last-minute field goal.

Miami running back Jesse Chatman sat out the second half with a neck injury, and his availability for the Jets game is in doubt. The Dolphins’ other running backs are Patrick Cobbs and rookie Lorenzo Booker.

The Dolphins lost starter Ronnie Brown for the season to a knee injury last month.

The injury last night was a total fluke, and in no way Williams fault. With Williams and Brown gone, plus Chatman hurt(Jesse looked like as if he was hurting during play last night. 11 rushes for 15 yards seems to confirm it.), the Dolphin offense is in disarray. The team is 0-11 and it looks doubtful they can beat the Jets this weekend. If Miami doesn’t, they look better than even money to go 0-16 this year.


Houston Nutt Hired at Ole Miss

Houston Nutt has been hired by the University of Mississippi, literally hours after quitting at Arkansas.

Houston Nutt wasn’t out of a job for long: He was hired as Southeastern Conference rival Mississippi’s football coach just hours after resigning at Arkansas.

Nutt agreed to a contract late Monday night, and replaces Ed Orgeron, who was fired Saturday after the Rebels lost to rival Mississippi State to finish 3-9 and winless in the SEC.

The school announced the hiring through a three-paragraph e-mail Tuesday sent out by Athletic Director Pete Boone. The school said a news conference will be held at 1 p.m. ET on campus Wednesday in Oxford. No contract details were made available.

Ole Miss was searching for a proven winner after years of mediocrity. Nutt neatly fits the description.

He is 111-70 in 15 years as a head coach at Arkansas, Boise State and Murray State. And he’s been a winner in the SEC. The Little Rock, Ark., native rebuilt the Arkansas program, going 75-48 since his hiring in 1997 to replace Danny Ford. He was 42-38 in conference with one of his biggest wins coming last week when the Razorbacks beat then-No. 1 LSU 50-48 triple-overtime win.

While Arkansas is likely headed to the Cotton Bowl, Nutt will be going to the homes of recruits attempting to hold together the promising class Orgeron was assembling.

Nutt, 50, said Monday he left Arkansas to help mend a split among fans after off-the-field problems were compounded by a difficult season. The Razorbacks started the year ranked and were expected to contend for the SEC West title against the Tigers.

A source told’s Ivan Maisel that Nutt turned down a two-year extension from Arkansas worth $2.4 million annually after the Razorbacks upset No. 1 ranked LSU last week.

Arkansas lost its first three SEC games and dropped out of the poll in September, fueling fan discontent over last year’s transfer of quarterback Mitch Mustain and the loss of offensive coordinator Gus Malzahn, who left for Tulsa.

A call to Nutt’s agent, Jimmy Sexton, was not immediately returned.

Nutt takes over a program that has foundered since a 10-win season in 2003 under David Cutcliffe. The Rebels won a share of the SEC West that season with Eli Manning at quarterback.

Since then Ole Miss has had four or fewer wins in four seasons. Boone fired Cutcliffe in 2004 for a lack of effort in recruiting. He had hoped Orgeron, who helped build two national title teams at USC as Pete Carroll’s recruiting coordinator, would bring the kind of energy needed to compete in the nation’s best football conference.

Orgeron finished 10-25 and was routinely the target of fan discontent.

Boone and Chancellor Robert Khayat endorsed Orgeron midway through the season, but decided to go in a new direction after the Rebels lost five of six to end the year.

The Rebels have been looking for a coach who can produce championships since Johnny Vaught retired in 1970. Vaught won three national titles and six SEC championships between 1947-63.

Nutt’s a solid coach and proven recruiter. The SEC is a mighty tough conference to run through, though, for an aspiring champion.


Washington Redskins’ Safety Sean Taylor dead at 24

He died from wounds suffered early Monday morning. No doubt, Taylor was a talented football player who had off the field problems. Lets try to remember him for the former rather than the later. RIP Sean. I hope police catch your killer.

MIAMI – Washington Redskins safety Sean Taylor died early Tuesday, a day after the Pro Bowl player was shot at home by what police say was an intruder. He was 24.

Family friend Richard Sharpstein said Taylor’s father told him the news around 5:30 a.m.

“His father called and said he was with Christ and he cried and thanked me,” said Sharpstein, Taylor’s former lawyer. “It’s a tremendously sad and unnecessary event. He was a wonderful, humble, talented young man, and had a huge life in front of him. Obviously God had other plans.”

Taylor died at Jackson Memorial Hospital, where he had been airlifted after the shooting early Monday, Sharpstein said.

Two carloads of mourners, including Taylor’s father, arrived at the house Tuesday morning. They remained inside and did not speak to reporters. A single bouquet of flowers was left by a palm tree just outside a front gate. Beside the mailbox, an untouched newspaper lay with news of Taylor’s shooting.

Doctors had been encouraged late Monday when Taylor squeezed a nurse’s hand, according to Vinny Cerrato, the Redskins’ vice president of football operations. But Sharpstein said he was told Taylor never regained consciousness after being transported to the hospital and that he wasn’t sure how he had squeezed the nurse’s hand.

“Maybe he was trying to say goodbye or something,” Sharpstein said.

Taylor, the fifth overall pick in the 2004 NFL draft following an All-American season at the University of Miami, was shot early Monday in the upper leg, damaging an artery and causing significant blood loss.

“According to a preliminary investigation, it appears that the victim was shot inside the home by an intruder,” Miami-Dade County police said in a statement.

But police were still investigating the attack, which came just eight days after an intruder was reported at Taylor’s home. Officers were sent to the home about 1:45 a.m. Monday after Taylor’s girlfriend called 911.

Sharpstein said Taylor’s girlfriend told him the couple was awakened by loud noises, and Taylor grabbed a machete he keeps in the bedroom for protection. Someone then broke through the bedroom door and fired two shots, one missing and one hitting Taylor, Sharpstein said. Taylor’s 1-year-old daughter, Jackie, was also in the house, but neither she nor Taylor’s girlfriend were injured.

Police found signs of forced entry, but have not determined if they were caused Monday, or the previous burglary.

The shooting happened in the pale yellow house he bought two years ago. Eight days before the attack someone pried open a front window, rifled through drawers and left a kitchen knife on a bed at Taylor’s home, according to police.

“They’re really sifting through that incident and today’s incident,” Miami-Dade Detective Mario Rachid said, “to see if there’s any correlation.”

Born April 1, 1983, Taylor starred as a running back and defensive back at Gulliver Prep in Miami. His father, Pedro Taylor, is police chief of Florida City.

A private man with a small inner circle, Taylor rarely granted interviews. But, behind the scenes, Taylor was described as personable and smart — an emerging locker room leader.

“From the first day I met him, from then to now, it’s just like night and day,” Redskins receiver James Thrash said Monday. “He’s really got his head on his shoulders and has been doing really well as far as just being a man. It’s been awesome to see that growth.”

After Taylor was drafted, problems soon began. Taylor fired his agent, then skipped part of the NFL’s mandatory rookie symposium, drawing a $25,000 fine. Driving home late from a party during the season, he was pulled over and charged with drunken driving. The case was dismissed in court, but by then it had become a months-long distraction for the Redskins.

Taylor also was fined at least seven times for late hits, uniform violations and other infractions over his first three seasons, including a $17,000 penalty for spitting in the face of Tampa Bay running back Michael Pittman during a 2006 playoff game.

Meanwhile, Taylor endured a yearlong legal battle after he was accused in 2005 of brandishing a gun at a man during a fight over allegedly stolen all-terrain vehicles near Taylor’s home. He eventually pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors and was sentenced to 18 months’ probation.

Taylor said the end of the assault case was like “a gray cloud” being lifted. It was also around the time that his daughter was born, and teammates noticed a change.

“It’s hard to expect a man to grow up overnight,” said teammate and close friend Clinton Portis, who played with Taylor at Miami. “But ever since he had his child, it was like a new Sean, and everybody around here knew it. He was always smiling, always happy, always talking about his child.”

On the field, Taylor’s play was often erratic. Assistant coach Gregg Williams frequently called Taylor the best athlete he’d ever coached, but nearly every big play was mitigated by a blown assignment. Taylor led the NFL in missed tackles in 2006 yet made the Pro Bowl because of his reputation as one of the hardest hitters in the league.

This year, however, Taylor was allowed to play a true free safety position, using his speed and power to chase down passes and crush would-be receivers. His five interceptions tie for the league lead in the NFC, even though he missed the last two games because of a sprained knee.

“I just take this job very seriously,” Taylor said in a rare group interview during training camp. “It’s almost like, you play a kid’s game for a king’s ransom. And if you don’t take it serious enough, eventually one day you’re going to say, ‘Oh, I could have done this, I could have done that.’

“So I just say, ‘I’m healthy right now, I’m going into my fourth year, and why not do the best that I can?’ And that’s whatever it is, whether it’s eating right or training myself right, whether it’s studying harder, whatever I can do to better myself.”


Cleveland Indian pitcher Juan Lara seriously injured in auto accident

The twenty-six-year-old spent most of last season in the minor leagues. From AP-

NEW YORK (Reuters) – Cleveland Indians pitcher Juan Lara was seriously hurt in a car accident after a Winter League game this weekend in the Dominican Republic, a spokesman for the American League team told baseball Web site

Two people died in the accident Saturday night, and Lara was taken to a Dominican hospital for treatment, according to Indians spokesman Bart Swain.

The Cleveland Plain Dealer newspaper quoted an unnamed team spokesman as saying Lara suffered “life-threatening injuries.”

Left-handed reliever Lara was stopped in his car at an intersection in San Pedro de Macoris shortly after his Winter League game for Estrellas when a motorcycle slammed into the vehicle, Swain said.

The two people riding the motorcycle were killed.

Cardinal pitcher Josh Hancock was the last active MLB player to be killed in an auto accident. Lets pray Lara recovers from the crash.


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