1. Archive

Despite dad, Sanders' agent says no talks set

If Barry Sanders is entertaining any thoughts of a comeback with the Lions _ or any other team _ he's keeping them to himself.

Agent David Ware has talked to Sanders every day since Sanders announced his retirement 10 days ago, and they have not talked football even once, Ware said Friday.

"He could call up tomorrow and say, "I've changed my mind,' " Ware said. "But I take him at his word that he's retired. Nothing has changed since he left, but obviously he can always change his mind.

"But he hasn't given me any indication he has, and I haven't asked him. It isn't fair to ask him every day, "Hey, have you changed your mind?' It gets to be a little insulting."

Although Sanders has given no indication he would reconsider his July 28 retirement announcement, speculation of a comeback has been fueled by reports that his father, William, will try to arrange a meeting with Lions vice chairman Bill Ford Jr. to discuss a possible return to the team.

Ware said he is not involved in the talks with Ford and has no reason to think such a meeting might change Sanders' mind.

MARTIN PRACTICES: Tony Martin had somebody say something nice about him for a change.

The Miami Dolphins receiver, who spent much of the week listening to the prosecution's case in his federal drug trial, was excused from court and caught a long touchdown pass in a workout against the Buccaneers.

The Dolphins don't know if or when their new receiver will even be able to play. Martin's trial on charges of laundering drug money resumes Monday, and his conviction likely would mean a prison sentence of at least three years.

"I'm at peace," he said. "When I'm here, I feel real good about myself. Coming on the field is definitely my escape."

In other Dolphins news, the team signed LB Jimmy Clements and released DT Cedric White. Clements, 25, played for the Frankfurt Galaxy of the NFL Europe League in the spring. The 6-foot-2, 234-pound Clements had 19 tackles and one sack for the Galaxy this past season. . . . Former defensive lineman Doug Betters was among 14 people cited for misdemeanor drug offenses during the Willie Nelson concert at the Big Mountain in Whitefish, Mont., authorities said. He has pleaded innocent.

CHIEFS, SAINTS BRAWL: Tempers flared so often and so violently during workouts between the Saints and the Chiefs that coaches called off today's planned scrimmage in River Falls, Wis.

Intermittent fights broke out among players during a morning practice, and an afternoon slugfest got so bad that coaches from both teams had to take the field to pull players apart.

Saints WR Keith Poole was cut near one eye on the final play of practice in what New Orleans coach Mike Ditka called a cheap shot. When practice ended, Poole charged Chiefs players. Coaches and other players had to separate fighters again.

COWBOYS: WR James McKnight, acquired from Seattle six weeks ago to be a deep threat, is lost for the season after tearing a ligament in his left knee. McKnight was injured in an intersquad scrimmage Thursday night. An MRI exam revealed a torn anterior cruciate ligament. The Cowboys said no decision has been made on surgery.

FALCONS: WR Chris Calloway will be sidelined for two to four weeks with a sprained left ankle. "It may be only two to three weeks," Calloway said. "I definitely hope it's before the opener."

GIANTS: RB Gary Brown had a minor surgical procedure to drain blood from a hematoma on his buttocks. It is not known when Brown will be able to play. Brown, the Giants' leading rusher last year, developed the hematoma after a motorcycle accident last month.

JETS: CB Otis Smith will be out for six weeks after breaking his collarbone in practice. Smith, 33, fell awkwardly after jumping to break up a pass intended for wide receiver Keyshawn Johnson.

STEELERS: RB Jon Witman, who replaced Tim Lester as the Steelers' top blocking back, has had chronic back problems in recent years and woke up with back spasms. He watched morning practice from the sideline and didn't show up for the afternoon session.

EXPANSION: Ruled out by the league as a potential stadium site in April, the Los Angeles suburb of Carson is suddenly back in the picture after negotiations focusing on a remodeled Los Angeles Coliseum and surrounding area as home for an expansion team broke down. With $180-million, Carson seems to have the money the league wants to strike a deal.

"Hopefully, that will satisfy the NFL," Carson councilman Daryl Sweeney said Friday _ a day after NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue said stadium sites other than the Coliseum will be considered.

CHIEFS, SAINTS BRAWL: What was supposed to be much-needed work between the Saints and Chiefs turned into a fight-filled battle.

During two practice sessions, 15 fights broke out before the coaches ended an afternoon practice 30 minutes early and called off today's scrimmage.

"When you're working and you have this happen, it's ridiculous," Saints coach Mike Ditka said.

After seven fights during the morning practice left no one injured, things got worse during the afternoon workout with eight fights, including three on the final four plays the team's ran. Saints WR Keith Poole was cut above and below his left eye, which was bruised and nearly swollen shut after Chiefs S Carlton Gray punched him.

EXPANSION: Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, City Council member Mark Ridley-Thomas and representatives of the competing ownership groups appealed to the NFL to reconsider its decision to consider area sites other than the Coliseum for the city's expansion team. The NFL has given the city until Sept. 15 to come up with a plan on where the team would play. Otherwise, Los Angeles' chances of winning the franchise would be in serious doubt and Houston would be the favorite to get the league's 32nd team.