Jay Fiedler has never met Dan Marino and may not get the chance.
Fiedler, a backup quarterback throughout his five-year NFL career, signed a three-year, $3.8-million contract Thursday to compete with Damon Huard for the Dolphins' starting job. The deal virtually ensures that Marino has played his last game for Miami.
Fiedler, 28, said he's undaunted by the challenge of succeeding Marino, the most prolific passer in NFL history.
"He's obviously a Hall of Fame quarterback, one of the best ever to play the game," Fiedler said. "No one could step into the humongous shoes he has created here. But that's something I'm prepared for."
Marino, 38, voided the final two years of his contract last week, which made him a free agent after 17 seasons in Miami. He's preparing for his annual celebrity golf tournament this weekend and said Thursday he has no timetable for deciding whether he wants to play in 2000.
"Nothing has really changed about what I'm doing," he said. "I'm just taking it easy right now and spending time with the family and playing golf."
Marino might be forced into retirement unless he lands an offer from another team. He declined to say whether he considers the door still open with the Dolphins.
Asked if he's insulted by the way the team has treated him, Marino said: "I've been a Dolphin for 17 years, and I'll be a Dolphin for the rest of my life. That will never change."
Also Thursday, the Dolphins signed Rams center Ryan Tucker, a restricted free agent, to an offer sheet for a three-year contract. Tucker, 24, was a fourth-round draft pick of the Rams in 1997. Fullback Kantroy Barber was waived after failing a physical.
BROWNS: Snubbed by James Stewart and still looking for a feature running back, the Browns were trying to finalize a contract with Baltimore free-agent and former Buc Errict Rhett.
CHARGERS: Roman Fortin, the San Diego center who started all 32 games the past two seasons, agreed to a two-year contract. 49ERS: San Francisco re-signed defensive linemen Junior Bryant, a rising star and a versatile player capable of playing either end or tackle.
PACKERS: Dozens of fans, some dressed in green and gold jackets and other team garb, testified during the first public hearing on a bill before the Wisconsin Legislature regarding the $295-million renovation of Lambeau Field. The Packers have proposed increasing the county sales tax to help pay for the renovation.
PANTHERS: Defensive end Chuck Smith agreed to a four-year, $21.75-million deal. The contract was mailed to Smith Thursday afternoon and he's expected to sign it today or Monday.
REDSKINS: Three-time Pro Bowl safety Mark Carrier signed a five-year, $15.9-million contract with the Redskins. The signing came one day after Carrier's enthusiastic visit to Redskin Park. Carrier received a $3-million signing bonus. More transactions, 13C.
Lewis: "I am innocent'
OWINGS MILLS, Md. _ It took Ray Lewis only 1 minute, 40 seconds to tell the world he's innocent.
Speaking softly to a roomful of reporters, the Baltimore Ravens star linebacker made his first statement since being charged with the stabbing deaths of two men outside an Atlanta nightclub after the Super Bowl.
"You've heard many times before from my attorneys and from a lot of other people, but now you get to hear it from me: I am innocent," Lewis said. "I'm looking forward to the day all the facts come out, everything is out front and my name is cleared."
Lewis also had a message for those who were close to Richard Lollar, 24, and Jacinth Baker, 21 _ the two men killed in the Jan. 31 stabbings.
"I am sorry about the tragedy that occurred in Atlanta. I mean, my sympathy goes out to the families, the friends of both of the men that died. I know their hearts are broken," he said.
As he spoke, Lewis was surrounded by team management, including owner Art Modell and coach Brian Billick.
Lewis thanked God, his family, teammates and fans _ "everybody who was there with me. I feel so sorry for them because it has been very hard for them."
Under a gag order, Lewis couldn't say much more. And right after he said it, he left the Ravens complex, got into a car and went home for the first time since he headed for Atlanta in a rented limousine to watch the Super Bowl. Lewis was released from an Atlanta jail Tuesday on $1-million bail.
DALLAS _ A gray fedora rested on the altar. An open Bible sat inches away. A portrait of a serious-looking Tom Landry stared at pews filled with Pro Football Hall of Famers and Super Bowl champions.
Those simple images of class, faith and success reflected the words spoken during a memorial service in honor of the former Dallas Cowboys coach.
"Tom Landry was everything the world believed him to be," said his son, Tom Landry Jr. "He was a man of virtue, of high moral character, a man whose talents and hard work propelled him to the top of his profession. Tom Landry never strayed from his ideals. He remains a consistent, shining example to all of us."
Landry's 29 years with the Cowboys were only a backdrop for many of the stories told during an hourlong church service for relatives and friends. The focus instead was his faith and staunch principles.
"He was our rock, our hope, our inspiration. He was our coach," former quarterback Roger Staubach said. "Probably there were some players that didn't love him, but they all respected him. He was committed to us, and you don't find that type of commitment in life very often."