NFL 2008 RSS
JOHN HARBAUGH, the third head coach in franchise history, ushers in a new era in Baltimore in
Harbaugh has brought on board CAM CAMERON as offensive coordinator and longtime Ravens assistant
REX RYAN returns as defensive coordinator and assistant head coach. "There are three qualities we wanted
from each coach we hired," says Harbaugh. "First, good people with great character; second, outstanding
teachers; and third, football expertise. I believe we got all three qualities with each coach."
In an effort to further regionalize its fan base, Buffalo recently established an eight-game series
in Toronto at the Rogers Centre.
From 2008-2012, the Bills will play an annual regular-season game and a total
of three preseason games in Toronto. "We are very pleased to be the first franchise in NFL history to split
our schedule between our domestic home city (Buffalo) and our neighboring international city (Toronto),"
said Bills President RALPH WILSON. "The population growth in Toronto and passion the Canadian fans have
shown for the Bills have made this possible."
The Bengals signed defensive end ANTWAN ODOM from Tennessee to
help bolster their pass rush and run defense in new defensive coordinator MIKE ZIMMERís schemes.
Finishing last season with a 10-6 record and falling short of a playoff appearance, the Browns have
been movers and shakers this offseason.
Their first order of business was re-signing head coach ROMEO CRENNEL,
who is now under contract through 2011.
On the player front, Cleveland acquired two-time Pro Bowl defensive
tackle SHAUN ROGERS from the Detroit Lions and DT COREY WILLIAMS from Green Bay, both via trade. Cleveland also
added free agent wide receiver DONTEí STALLWORTH and re-signed Pro Bowl quarterback DEREK ANDERSON through 2010.
Colts President BILL POLIAN, who was recently signed to a contract extension through 2011, approached the
í08 free agency period with a keen eye on re-signing the teamís core players.
Indianapolis re-signed All-Star tight end DALLAS CLARK, who had career-highs in receptions, yards and
touchdowns in 2007; Associated Press NFL Defensive Player of the Year BOB SANDERS and offensive guard RYAN
"Thatís a pretty good free-agency crop by any measure," says Polian
In his first season as the Jaguarsí starting quarterback, DAVID GARRARD led the club to its first playoff
win since 1999 and is now focused on improving his season franchise record 102.2 passer rating.
Garrardís new targets in the passing attack include wide receivers JERRY PORTER from Oakland and TROY
WILLIAMSON from Minnesota.
"We feel like weíve adequately addressed that position from a standpoint of adding one proven guy (Porter)
and adding one guy thatís got a lot of promise and potential (Williamson)," says Jaguars head coach JACK DEL RIO.
"Everything weíre doing is geared toward putting a better product on the field next year and contending for a
Executive Vice President of Football Operations BILL PARCELLS, general manager JEFF IRELAND and head coach
TONY SPARANO will spearhead a new regime in Miami in 2008.
Sparano, who becomes the Dolphinsí eighth head coach in history, spent the past five years with the Dallas
Cowboys and is intrigued by his new opportunity.
"Iím a history guy, and to be a part of this organization with the great history that the Miami Dolphins
have and the great tradition is something that really excites me," says Sparano
The offseason is in full swing and defensive end JASON TAYLOR is showing off his skills -- but on a different
stage. Earlier this month, Taylor began competing on ABC-TVís "Dancing with the Stars." He has been a big
hit. "For whatever reason, I decided to give it a shot," says Taylor. "I figured Iíd put myself out there
a little bit and stretch the limits and challenge myself to do something I wouldnít ordinarily do."
NEW YORK JETS
The Jets have taken an aggressive approach to free agency this offseason. The club acquired veteran
guards ALAN FANECA and DAMIEN WOODY for an offensive line that already boasts tackle DíBRICKASHAW FERGUSON
and center NICK MANGOLD.
Along with the offensive line additions, All-Star fullback TONY RICHARDSON was added to the mix.
The Jets also inked defensive end-linebacker CALVIN PACE, who recorded a career-high 6.5 sacks last season
with Arizona and defensive tackle KRIS JENKINS (Carolina).
"The Jets are doing whatever it takes for them to win, and I am glad to be a part of that," says the
eight-year veteran Jenkins.
Safety GIBRIL WILSON, who is a free agent signee from the Super Bowl-champion New York Giants, and All-Star
cornerback DE ANGELO HALL, who was acquired via trade from the Falcons, are two strong offseason DB acquisitions
for the Raiders. Hall will join cornerback NNAMDI ASOMUGHA for a 1-2 cornerback punch
Free-agent acquisition JAVON WALKER will serve as a big target at wide receiver while aiding in the
development of second-year quarterback JA MARCUS RUSSELL.
Pro Football Hall of Famer and former Raiders wide receiver (1987-88) JAMES LOFTON will oversee Walker and the
entire receiving corps after joining the staff as WRs coach. Lofton previously coached wide receivers with the
Chargers from 2002-07.
Coming off his first Pro Bowl season and a career-high 32 touchdown passes, the Steelers have rewarded
quarterback BEN ROETHLISBERGER with a new contract. "I am really happy to know that I will be wearing a
Steelers uniform for the foreseeable future because my intention all along was to stay in Pittsburgh,"
says the 26-year-old signal-caller.
"We have the greatest organization and fan support in the NFL and Iím looking forward to winning more
Super Bowl titles that we can celebrate together."
SAN DIEGO CHARGERS
The Chargers will play the Saints in the second NFL regular-season game played outside of North America in
Londonís Wembley Stadium on Sunday, October 26. "This is another step in the effort to globalize our great
sport," says Chargers President DEAN SPANOS. "Itís an opportunity for the NFL to show off two of its marquee
teams and some of its best players."
"Reunited" has been the theme for the Titans this offseason. After spending the past four seasons with
the Eagles, defensive end JEVON KEARSE returns to Tennessee where he was a fixture and earned NFL Defensive
Rookie of the Year honors in 1999. "I know the system, I know the city," says Kearse. "The city has welcomed
me back and itís good to be back."
Offensive coordinator MIKE HEIMERDINGER is a familiar face as well as he reunites with head coach
JEFF FISHER. Heimerdinger spent five seasons with the Titans and in 2003 orchestrated an offense that
scored the second-highest point total in franchise history (435).
Joining Heimerdinger on the
welcome-back-to-Tennessee tour is wide receiver JUSTIN MC CAREINS (New York Jets). In three seasons with the
Titans (2001-03), McCareins totaled 69 catches for 1,202 yards and nine touchdowns.
The Cardinals and the NFL helped give a local high school a super upgrade this spring. Through the team, the
league donated the sod installed at University of Phoenix Stadium for Super Bowl XLII this February to Moon
Valley High School in North Phoenix. "It is a plus-plus for the kids, itís a plus-plus for the school and
everybody who takes part in athletics at the school" said Cardinals owner BILL BIDWILL, who was on hand for
the event at Rocket Stadium. "Athletics is part of the educational process, and weíre just happy the sod
is here." DR. MICHAEL FOWLER, the schoolís principal, was grateful to receive the Tifway 419 hybrid Bermuda
grass, which was grown in Alabama and transported in climate-controlled trucks to the Super Bowl site in
Glendale, Arizona. "We are honored," said Fowler. "It is an excellent commentary on the Cardinals and
the NFL that they are giving back to the community. This will be a huge benefit for us and one we will
feel for a long time."
Rookie head coach MIKE SMITH takes over the Falcons after spending the past five seasons as the defensive
coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars. "Iím thrilled and excited to be the new head coach of the Falcons,"
says Smith. "My goal is to build a well-disciplined, hard-nosed team that will be able to run the football on
offense and stop the run on defense. Iíve always believed thatís what makes championship teams."
The club then went out and signed free agent running back MICHAEL TURNER, who spent the past four seasons
in San Diego. "Besides being a quality football player, Michael Turner is a quality person," says Smith. "He
is the type of player we are hoping will help build our football team. Iím excited he is joining us."
Panthers defensive end MIKE RUCKER was one of three NFL players to visit U.S. troops at military bases in
Kyrgyzstan and Afghanistan as part of a week-long USO tour this March. Rucker joined San Diego Chargers
defensive end LUIS CASTILLO and Chicago Bears defensive tackle TOMMIE HARRIS to continue an NFL-USO
tradition initiated more than 40 years ago. "These men and women are away from home and theyíre defending
our country so we can be safe at home," says Rucker. "The least I could do was to go over there and meet
them and say Ďthank you.í They are the true heroes, because they put everything on the line. We entertain
in our job, but they risk their lives in theirs. We are so thankful for what theyíre doing. I think about
them all the time. This was a life-changing experience."
This offseason, Bears defensive end ADEWALE OGUNLEYE and defensive tackle ISRAEL IDONIJE traveled to Nigeria
on a "homeland" trip along with AMOBI OKOYE and AHMAN GREEN of the Houston Texans and OSI UMENYIORA of the
New York Giants. The players, all with Nigerian roots, pooled their money to give scholarships to 20 students
at Nigeriaís major universities in connection with the Changing Africans Through Education foundation.
Ogunleye, who is a provincial Nigerian prince, delivered HIV test kits to university medical programs and
dug fresh-water wells in his parentsí hometown of Emure. "I feel that it is my obligation to give back
and continue the example my parents started for me," he said. Idonije, who was born in Nigeria before his
family moved to Canada, was excited to return to his homeland. "The main thing is being able to make an
impact with the children," he says. "Itís important to share with your community and your culture."
Pro Bowl tight end JASON WITTEN was recognized in February as one of four finalists for the Walter Payton
NFL Man of the Year Award, which recognizes a playerís community service contributions as well as his on-field
performance. The nomination still thrills Witten. "It was a real, true honor to be a finalist for the award
because of what Walter Payton stood for," he says. "If the NFL could paint a picture of the perfect a guy to
come into the league, that would be Walter Payton." Along with his participation in the Cowboysí annual
charitable work, Witten and his wife MICHELLE recently launched the Jason Witten S.C.O.R.E. Foundation,
established in part to provide support and assistance for families and individuals affected by domestic
violence. "I had a lot of influences," says Witten, "and my grandfather was really a mentor to me. He was a
father figure and showed me the way to be a man and to be an influence as we started our foundation."
The teamís philanthropic foundation, Detroit Lions Charities, recently announced that it had awarded 102
grants totaling $508,884 to non-profit agencies in 2007-08 -- bringing the programís total donations in its
18-year history to more than $4.8 million. Detroit Lions Charities was established in 1990 to assist all
age groups in a diverse range of needs and programs in Michigan. Particular emphasis is placed on efforts
that benefit the children and youth of Detroit. "Detroit Lions Charities is pleased to award grants to these
many worthwhile charitable organizations," said Lions vice chairman WILLIAM CLAY FORD, JR. "Our desire is
that, with the help of these funds, these organizations can make an even greater impact in our community."
GREEN BAY PACKERS
A new era in Green Bay is underway as quarterback AARON RODGERS takes over for BRETT FAVRE, who has
retired. "Iím in a good situation," says Rodgers. "Iíve got a great team around me. A lot of people
are focusing on what Iím going to do. Itís what the team is going to do, really. Iím an important part
of that, I know my role, and I need to play well."
The Packersí first-round selection in 2005 knows that expectations will be high as he takes over for
Favre and inherits a team that advanced to the NFC Championship Game last year. "Iím stepping into a team
thatís established already," says Rodgers.
"Iím going to be expected to play well, I expect to play well,
but Iíve got a great supporting cast around me. Iím not Brett Favre, and Iím not going to be him.
Iím Aaron Rodgers. Iím going to be the best quarterback I can be."
The Vikings added an offensive weapon to join Pro Bowl running back ADRIAN PETERSON by signing wide
receiver BERNARD BERRIAN, who set career-highs with 71 catches and 951 yards last year for the Chicago
Bears. "I think that he can stretch the field and people have to honor his ability to get up the field,"
says Vikings head coach BRAD CHILDRESS about Berrian. "He also has the ability to work all of those short
and intermediate zones as well."
The five-year veteran is excited about joining the team and has high hopes for 2008. "I saw the upside
that is here," says Berrian. "Theyíve got a great defense and both lines Ė on offense and defense Ė are
great. They have a great running back in Adrian Peterson, as we all know. The key part that was missing
was a receiver who could go out there to take some pressure off that running game." With the acquisition,
the Vikings believe they have addressed that need.
NEW ORLEANS SAINTS
The Saints were chosen by the NFL to face the San Diego Chargers in the second regular-season game ever
played outside North America when the two teams meet at Wembley Stadium in London, England on October 26.
"This is a unique and exciting opportunity for our team and we are very proud to represent our region and
our great fans when we travel to the United Kingdom in October," says Saints owner TOM BENSON.
"The national and international exposure that our team, our city and our state will receive will be
New Orleans quarterback DREW BREES is also looking forward to the game. "This is an amazing opportunity,"
says Brees. "And I believe I speak for all my teammates when I say we are excited. London is a great city
and they showed last year how much passion they have for our game."
NEW YORK GIANTS
After leading his team to victory in Super Bowl XLII, head coach TOM COUGHLIN was rewarded with a new
contract. "Tom has done a great job for us and we think this contract recognizes his outstanding achievements
here," says Giants President and Chief Executive Officer JOHN MARA.
"For Tom Coughlin, 'coach' is not just
a title, itís a responsibility," adds STEVE TISCH, the teamís chairman and executive vice president.
"He took a group of football players and molded them into the best team in the world. We are honored
he will lead the New York Giants for many more years."
Coughlin, who became coach of the team in 2004, is excited about the future. "The opportunity to be the
head coach here was the fulfillment of a dream of a lifetime," he says. "And now to be able to continue in
that capacity Ė with this organization, with this leadership, with this football team and with my coaching
staff in place Ė is something my family and I are extremely excited about."
The Eagles made a splash in free agency by signing Pro Bowl cornerback ASANTE SAMUEL to help strengthen
"Obviously, the cornerback position is very important," says Philadelphia head coach
ANDY REID. "When you have the opportunity to get the best one in the business, then you need to look
at that. I welcome him aboard and I know that (defensive coordinator) JIM JOHNSON has great plans for Asante."
Samuel, who recorded 22 interceptions in his five seasons with New England, is looking forward to playing in
Philadelphia. "Itís a great situation," he says. "When I visited, everybody treated me like I belong here.
I think I fit right in."
SAINT LOUIS RAMS
The Rams have welcomed a familiar face back home by signing quarterback TRENT GREEN. Green, who has been
selected to two Pro Bowls (2004, 2006), played for the Rams in 1999-2000.
"We have now solidified our quarterback position," says St. Louis head coach SCOTT LINEHAN. "You will be
hard-pressed to find the quality we have at that position. Trent not only brings experience, but adds
leadership to our team." Green, who spent last year with the Miami Dolphins, grew up in suburban Oakville,
Missouri and played high school football at St. John Vianney in Kirkwood.
SAN FRANCISCO 49ers
The San Francisco 49ers Foundation and Hedge Funds Care recently partnered for the seventh annual
West Coast Open Your Heart to the Children Benefit to raise nearly $1 million for the prevention and
treatment of child abuse. Team owners JOHN and JED YORK, head coach MIKE NOLAN, center ERIC HEITMANN,
linebacker MANNY LAWSON, guard DAVID BAAS and 49ers executives all attended the event. "Any time the
San Francisco 49ers get involved in events with our coaches and players, itís another way in which the
community can touch the team," said John York. "Thatís what access to the 49ers means and thatís why
we are able to raise money in this community." Lawson, a first-round draft pick in 2006, understands
the importance of helping abused children. "This is about the kids," he said. "The kids are the next
generation and we have to do right by them right now."
Seahawks linebacker LOFA TATUPU has been named to the Pro Bowl in each of his first three years in the NFL
and Seattle rewarded him this offseason with a contract extension through 2015. "Itís great news for our
team, great news for our community and great news for the city of Seattle," says Seahawks president
TIM RUSKELL. "It essentially makes him a Seahawk for life."
Tatupu is looking forward to finishing his career in Seattle and knows what the ultimate goal is.
"Iím happy here and I want to spend the rest of my career here," he says. "Theyíre committed to me
and Iím committed to them. I just want to win some more games and win some championships.
Iím going to end my career here. In this day and age, thatís rare for someone to start and finish
with one team. I love my team and I couldnít ask for a better group of teammates, coaching staff and
TAMPA BAY BUCANEERS
Buccaneers linebacker DERRICK BROOKS was recently honored with the Outstanding Citizen Award by the
Sports Club of Tampa Bay for his community contributions on and off the field. The award is "given to
the citizen who has most contributed to the growth and development of the communityís sports environment."
Through his foundation, Derrick Brooks Charities, Brooks is active in many programs aiding youth across the
Tampa area. "I am truly honored to receive this award," he said. "I thank the committee for recognizing
Derrick Brooks Charities for the work we do to affect the lives of people in the Tampa area. It is always
nice to be honored for community service."
After a playoff appearance last season, the Redskins will turn to rookie head coach JIM ZORN to get them
back this season. Zorn, who spent the past seven seasons as the quarterbacks coach of the Seattle Seahawks,
takes over for Pro Football Hall of Famer JOE GIBBS. "Iíve always dreamed of being a head coach with a
franchise rich in tradition like the Redskins," says Zorn. "As a player who had to fight Redskins teams
at RFK Stadium as well as at our home field, I know about the history of this franchise as well as the
passion of its fans. I wonít let them down."
Washington owner DAN SNYDER hopes that Zorn can bring the success he had in Seattle to D.C. "Jimís track
record and reputation as a player, great teacher and as a coach makes us confident that they will translate
to success for the Redskins," says Snyder.