Heroes Can Return

I was four years old and my puppy had been left outside to spend a night alone. I found him in the doghouse, shallow breath frosting his iced fur -- barely alive. I cried as we took him to the vet, his lifeless body lay cradled in my arms and I kept whispering for him to hang in there. The battle had just begun.

Heroes Can Return

Rams Nation's Kent Giard

Over the next few weeks, that young puppy fought for his life. Every ounce of strength that he had, every fiber of his will, was garnered to recovery. You could see him physically struggle to recover, his body taught with the effort.

It is a memory that I will never forget.

And he got better. By the fourth day he had enough strength to walk to the cage door when I came for my daily visit. On the eighth day he would lick my fingers as I scratched his stomach. Hope returned and I knew he was going to make it.

Then pneumonia set back in, and by the tenth day Rhett Butler had passed. In the end his will was no match for fate.

Today, the Denver Broncos announced that Terrell Davis could be back in a Denver Broncos uniform in 2003. The deal could be finalized as soon as Thursday and would guarantee him a roster spot -- at least until June.

Davis was great. Ranking up there with O.J. Simpson, Eric Dickerson, and Barry Sanders as the only players to rush for 2,000, he accomplished this feat in 1998 (when he gained 2,008 yards). Even more startling than that, he has only played 17 games since.

Heroes can return, but it takes a lot of determination. In the end, however, it is fate that decides.

Good luck, Terrell.

Trimming Fat

San Francisco, in order to fit under the salary cap, released tackle Dana Stubblefield and guard Dave Fiore on Wednesday. The 49ers were $6 million over the cap this season, but have now managed to put themselves several million below the cap. General Manager Terry Donahue has been reported saying the he doesn't expect the 49ers to be big players in the free agent market.

Stubblefield started 15 games last season, making 43 tackles and three sacks.

"At times, Dana played very well," general manager Terry Donahue said. "At other times, he struggled, particularly toward the end of the season when his weight got a little higher on him. He was a leader in the locker room, though. He was a great acquisition for us."

Fiore started for the 49ers until he missed the majority of games last season due to torn ligaments in his right knee. He was to make $2.5 million next season, including a roster bonus due on Friday.

Donahue didn't rule out the return of Stubblefield or Fiore at a reduced rate.

The phone call

Kordell Stewart received a phone call on Tuesday and was informed that the Steelers will be releasing him. Dan Rooney, the president of the Steelers made the call.

"It was a great conversation," Stewart said Wednesday, hours after he had been officially let out of a contract that had one year remaining on it. "All I could do was say thank you and I appreciate everything he has done for me. He has been a great guy to me. Mr. Rooney is one of the classiest people I have ever met. Just to have those years with him was sincerely overwhelming."

"Kordell had a very heartfelt discussion with Dan Rooney," said Stewart's agent, Leigh Steinberg. "That's always been a particularly close relationship over the years. Kordell will be sad to leave."

NFL Florida?

Depending on what happens in Iraq in the next month, NFL Europe could become NFL Florida. With the season scheduled to open overseas April 5th and 6th, the NFL is looking closely at international affairs and will determine whether to hold the season in Florida.

"Their first consideration is the safety and welfare of everyone involved," and NFL source said. "My opinion is that if this isn't resolved - and by that I mean that if Iraq isn't disarmed or nothing has been done with Saddam Hussein - they don't play in Europe."

"There's just too much of a risk," he said.

Emmit will learn his fate

Thursday, the Dallas Cowboys are expected to make an announcement about the status of Emmit Smith, the NFL's all-time leading rusher and former Super Bowl MVP. Sources anticipate that Smith will be released.

Bill Parcells has been decidedly closed mouth about the fate of Smith, which lead some to speculate that the aging running back may not figure in the new coach's plans.

Smith failed to gain 1,000 yards rushing last year for only the second time in his career.

Washington releases Davis

In a move to help the Redskins get under the salary cap, Stephen Davis was released Wednesday.

Davis, who turns 29 on Feb. 28, leaves as the Redskins' No. 3 all-time rusher with 5,790 yards, just 85 yards behind second-place Larry Brown. He is the only player in franchise history to run for 1,000 yards in three consecutive seasons.

The Redskins either had to cut Davis or renegotiate his contract.

Griese given permission to seek trade

Following a sporadic season, quarterback Brian Griese has been given permission to seek out potential trade options.

In a move made official via a letter to Griese's agent and through official NFL notification, Head Coach Mike Shanahan announced that Griese has permission to begin exploring trade talks with other teams.

"It's been very tough," Griese said on Dec. 25. "With all the effort and the energy, (if) you put your mind and your body and your soul into something and it doesn't turn out the way you want it, it's very frustrating. For me it's been no different. I have to find some way to find some strength inside of me to continue on, and that's what I'll do."

Griese started 13 games last season, missing weeks 12 and 13 with a knee injury. He was benched Week 17 after an abysmal showing against the Oakland Raiders - posting a passer rating of 14.7 in just over a quarter and a half of duty.

Closer to Home

Bly's return not certain
With Dre Bly asking for a $6 million dollar/year contract, and the Rams countering with only half as much, speculation is that Bly's chances of returning to St. Louis is around 50%.

"I don't know if it's going to get done or not," said the agent, Brantley Evans of Columbia, S.C. "The Rams have a lot to do. They've got a lot of money tied up in Isaac Bruce, Kurt Warner and Marshall Faulk. There's the franchise money ($5.73 million) with Orlando Pace. Torry Holt's contract is up in another year. So I don't know if economically it's going to get done."

Free Agency works in Bly's favor as well. Widely considered the best cornerback available, the temptation to leave may be too great.

"Dre is in a leverage position," Evans said. "And these kind of opportunities don't come around very often."

Warner to get bonus
The St. Louis Rams reportedly will pay quarterback Kurt Warner a $6 million roster bonus by Friday's deadline, the teams president of football operations said Tuesday.

"Kurt's getting the full $6 million," Jay Zygmunt told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch.

The Rams are hoping to convert some of the $5.3 million base salary into signing bonus to create cap space, and Warner's agent, Mark Bartelstein, said "we've told them we're always willing to help with that.

Notable Quotes

"There are so many guys in the league who are somewhat satisfied or happy with being the backup, but they're one play away from it all being on them. When the season started, they thought they were going to collect this check and watch it with me from the sideline. But it changes, and that is why you have to have ... backups who see themselves as a starter. They [have to] feel like they're being wronged because they're not starting because they're better than that. That's the attitude you like to have with your backups." -- Head coach Mike Martz

"Coach likes to run and gun. If he can put four receivers out there, he is going to do it. He has to have four dependable receivers, and if I continue to play well at practice then I think he will do it more. Whatever it takes to win, that's what he is going to do." -- Wide receiver Troy Edwards, talking about Martz

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