NFL ROUNDUP News and notes
Falcons: For the third time in nine months, Atlanta quarterback Michael Vick is making headlines for all the wrong reasons. Vick reluctantly surrendered a water bottle to security at Miami International Airport that smelled like marijuana and contained a substance in a hidden compartment. He was not arrested and was allowed to board an AirTran flight that landed in Atlanta before noon Wednesday. Miami police said Thursday it could be weeks before a decision is made on whether to file charges against the three-time Pro Bowler, who this season became the first quarterback in NFL history to rush for 1,000 yards. Under Florida law, possession of less than 20 grams of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to a year in prison and a 1,000 fine. First offenders rarely do any jail time. "We'll do an analysis and see what it is. There's no sense of urgency to it," Detective Alvaro Zabaleta said Thursday. The NFL's substance abuse policy states any team can decide that a player's "behavior, including but not limited to an arrest," can warrant a physical exam from its appointed medical director. NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said no decision had been made in Vick's case.
Dolphins: Miami hopes to complete their two-week search for a coach by Saturday, and the front-runner appears to be San Diego Chargers offensive coordinator Cam Cameron. The former Indiana coach kept his hotel room near the Dolphins' complex Thursday night after a second day of interviewing with team officials. A Dolphins spokesman said management was still weighing the candidates. "I can tell you with 100 percent certainty that no decision will be made today," Dolphins senior vice president Harvey Greene said Thursday evening. "We hope to finish the process by tomorrow or Saturday at the latest." Other candidates still in the mix to replace Saban include Georgia Tech coach Chan Gailey, Dolphins defensive coordinator Dom Capers, former Atlanta Falcons coach Jim Mora and former Alabama coach Mike Shula, the son of ex-Dolphins coach Don Shula.
Patriots: Safety Rodney Harrison participated in the opening of practice Thursday after missing the start Wednesday with an injured right knee. He still was listed as doubtful for the AFC championship game Sunday. New England made no changes from Wednesday's injury report, which included three players as questionable with the flu -- wide receiver Troy Brown, offensive tackle Ryan O'Callaghan and defensive lineman Mike Wright. All four missed part of Thursday's practice for the game against the Colts in Indianapolis.
Cowboys: Nearly two weeks after the Cowboys' season ended, Bill Parcells still hasn't decided whether he wants to keep coaching. Jerry Jones has told Parcells to take all the time he wants. At least, until the Feb. 1 deadline that's in his contract. One wrinkle could be money. Parcells is due about 5.5 million in 2007, which is a lot more than Social Security would pay the 65-year-old coach. Television doesn't pay nearly that well, either. Last year, Parcells took only five days and came back with the extension through 2007. This year's wait proves that Jones is in no hurry to get rid of Parcells, an idea that gained traction when the Cowboys lost four of their last five games, culminating with a playoff loss at Seattle. It left Dallas 34-32 in four years under Parcells, including 0-2 in the playoffs. The Cowboys haven't won a playoff game since 1996, the longest drought in club history.
Giants: The New York Giants made Kevin Gilbride their offensive coordinator on Thursday, an expected move after he replaced John Hufnagel in the week leading up to the team's final regular-season game. Gilbride, a former offensive coordinator with the Houston Oilers, Jacksonville, Pittsburgh and Buffalo and a head coach with San Diego, had been the Giants' quarterbacks coach since 2004. Coach Tom Coughlin replaced Hufnagel with Gilbride four days before the team's Dec. 30 game at Washington, which New York won 34-28 to sneak into the playoffs with an 8-8 record. Before that, the Giants had lost six of seven games and scored more than 20 points just twice in that span. Gilbride called the offensive plays again in the first round of the playoffs the following week when New York lost 23-20 to Philadelphia on a last-second field goal. Gilbride and Coughlin's relationship extends back more than 10 years to when Gilbride was Coughlin's offensive coordinator with Jacksonville in 1995.
Suicide: Brain damage caused on the football field ultimately led to the suicide of former NFL defensive back Andre Waters, according to a forensic pathologist who studied Waters' brain tissue. Bennet Omalu of the University of Pittsburgh told The New York Times that Waters' brain tissue resembled that of an 85-year-old man and that there were characteristics of early stage Alzheimer's. Omalu told the newspaper he believed the damage was related to multiple concussions Waters sustained during his 12-year NFL career with the Philadelphia Eagles and Arizona Cardinals. Waters was 44 when he committed suicide last November. Omalu said trauma was a significant factor in Waters' brain damage, "no matter how you look at it, distort it, bend it." The pathologist also told the newspaper the signs of depression that family members described Waters as exhibiting in his final years likely was caused by the brain trauma. Had he lived, Omalu said, the former player would have been fully incapacitated within 10 years.
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