NOTEBOOK Super Bowl XXXIX
Culpepper scrambles: Daunte Culpepper showed off his scrambling ability Wednesday -- in a crowded convention center ballroom. The Vikings quarterback presented a paralyzed high school football player two diamond necklaces worth about $75,000 during an NFL awards ceremony, but then awkwardly asked for them back after it was finished. The apparent gift prompted a mother to cry, a father to think about buying a safe to store it and Culpepper to find a way out of the mess. "I'll get him something else," Culpepper said sheepishly. The confusion began at the FedEx ground and air player of the year honors, where finalists Culpepper, Peyton Manning, Shaun Alexander and Curtis Martin were on stage for the announcement. When the master of ceremonies opened the floor for questions, Jerry Townsend spoke up from his wheelchair in the front row. "Hey Daunte, can I get some of that ice?" he said in a low voice, referring to the two sparkling necklaces hanging around Culpepper's neck. Culpepper jumped up, pulled them off and brought them over to Townsend, a senior defensive back at Jacksonville Episcopal High School who was paralyzed from the neck down while making a tackle in October. After Culpepper put the necklaces around Townsend's neck, his mother started to cry.
Bettis honored: Pittsburgh Steelers running back Jerome Bettis was honored Wednesday for the NFL's play of the year, sponsored by Levitra. Bettis' 10-yard halfback pass to Jerame Tuman, which helped the Steelers beat the New York Jets in Week 14, beat Donovan McNabb's 14-second scramble that was capped with a 60-yard completion to Freddie Mitchell. The results were based on Internet voting. Bettis also said he has not decided about retirement, saying he wanted to take some time away from football before making up his mind.
Catches for charity: The construction company that employs Eagles reserve tight end Jeff Thomason is pledging $50,000 to charity for every catch he makes in Sunday's game. Toll Brothers, Inc., of Horsham, Pa., is the major sponsor of a charity event that will benefit the American Cancer Society this year. Company chairman Robert I. Toll said the event raised $450,000 last year.