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Imprisoned ex-Panther shuns media

With the Panthers in the Super Bowl, several news organizations have tried to interview former Carolina receiver Rae Carruth, who is imprisoned for the death of his girlfriend.

"Rae's answer has been the same for all of them _ no," said Keith Acree, spokesman for North Carolina's prison system.

Acree said interest in Carruth never totally waned after he was sentenced in 2001 to at least 18 years for conspiring to kill 24-year-old Cherica Adams. She was eight months pregnant with his baby when she was shot in November 1999.

Doctors saved the baby, but Adams lapsed into a coma and died in December.

The receiver, who is appealing his conviction, is incarcerated at the Nash Correctional Institution near Rocky Mount.

Saundra Adams, Cherica's mother, said she's not surprised there's interest in Carruth.

"This should bring more realization to him about how he messed up," she said. "He could be at the Super Bowl."

SUPPLEMENT POLICY: Union executive director Gene Upshaw announced an initiative by the union and the league in conjunction with NSF, a company that handles the certification of public health and safety programs, to pretest, monitor and certify companies whose supplements have become common in locker rooms.

"We're not encouraging supplements. We're not saying that they work," Upshaw said. "What we are saying is that there are companies out there that are willing to agree to policies that the NFL and the NFLPA have set up as far as certification of the product so that whatever they say is in the bottle is in the bottle."

HALL OF FAME LOCKS: While the announcement won't be made until today, most believe former Detroit running back Barry Sanders and former Denver quarterback John Elway are locks for the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Panthers coach John Fox, who has likened the explosive skills of Falcons quarterback Michael Vick to those of Sanders, resoundingly endorsed Sanders as one of the game's greatest players.

"There was no other player on the field like him, and he could go the distance at any time," Fox said. "He just had so many dominant performances and so much of it on his own. I just think there are not too many special players like that that come around. He's as exceptional as I've seen in the NFL."

Patriots coach Bill Belichick, who had his share of headaches coaching against Elway, echoed similar sentiments about the two-time Super Bowl champion.

"Every time the ball was in his hands, he could take broken plays and turn them into big plays," Belichick said. "He was an intelligent, smart quarterback, saw things, saw then quickly, was decisive, was a real competitor and a guy who had tremendous feel for the game."

NOT GOING THERE: Known for his ability to make game-time adjustments, Belichick has a long list of quarterbacks he has dismantled in big games. He did it two weeks ago against Peyton Manning. He did it two years ago against Kurt Warner.

Pressed Friday if he had a chance to look at how he defended the Rams offense in the Super Bowl, Belichick said, "I can't hardly remember what happened two weeks ago, let alone two years ago. I really haven't given that game too much thought in a long time. I'm better off taking a pass on that one."

INJURY REPORT: The final injury report listed three Patriots as probable while the Panthers reported no injuries. Patriots linebacker Tedy Bruschi, tight end Christian Fauria and running back Patrick Pass have a 75 percent chance of playing.

Bruschi hurt his right leg near the end of the AFC championship. Fauria has a leg injury and Pass an ankle injury.

_ ROGER MILLS, RICK STROUD, TIMES WIRES

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