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Ex-'Nole grateful to resume career

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer
© St. Petersburg Times
published May 12, 2002

Former Florida State receiver/returner Tamarick Vanover is getting a second chance in San Diego.

Vanover, whose promising career was interrupted by his arrest and four-month incarceration for involvement in a drug and stolen car operation two years ago, pronounced himself a new man after signing with the Chargers.

"When I first got (to the NFL with the Chiefs), it was all about going out to the parties and seeing how many cars you can buy and different stuff," he said. "But being out of the league for two years, I learned to love the little things in life. I don't have to have the best things in the world.

"I feel like the Man upstairs brought me down from where I was because I wasn't giving Him that much of my time. He wanted to humble me and bring me back to the church. And He did. I was down on my knees constantly praying."

The question is, can Vanover become the same dangerous return man?

His last season, he averaged 20.1 yards on kick returns and 12.3 yards on punt returns, third-best in the league.

Say this for Vanover, he seems eager to try.

"I'm so hungry for this chance that if they told me to go down and bite through that goal post, I would," he said.

GIVING THE OLD GUYS A BREAK: Don't be surprised if teams sign more veterans. That's because the league now allows teams to sign veterans for the $750,000 minimum but have only $450,000 count against the salary cap.

The Saints, for instance, recently signed 12-year linebacker Bryan Cox and 13-year kicker John Carney for the $750,000 minimum.

It's a win-win situation for teams and players.

"The veterans get their money, and the team benefits from a lower cap and by having a more experienced player," recently fired Saints general manager Randy Mueller said.

HOW MUCH WOULD YOU PAY?: Word is, free-agent running backs Dorsey Levens (Packers) and Ricky Watters (Seahawks) remain on the market because no team has met their asking price.

While Watters is nearing the end of his career and Levens is coming off a shoulder injury, both supposedly are demanding to be paid as a starter.

DID YOU KNOW?: Titans coach Jeff Fisher recently ran a marathon. He finished in 4 hours, 9 minutes and 13 seconds, not bad considering it was Fisher's first.

"Everything I do professionally is team-oriented," he said. "And I just wanted to take some time and try to do something personally."

GETTING THE OLD TERRELL BACK: Mind you, things could change any minute, but at the moment, Broncos running back Terrell Davis is healthy. Honest.

He participated in the team's recent minicamp, enjoying a rare offseason not marked by rehab. He has had knee problems the past three seasons, forcing him to miss 32 of the past 49 games.

"I feel different. I feel normal again," he said. "I'm not thinking about the pain or the pinching or anything like that.

"I'm able to go out there and just focus on football."

SPEAKING OF GETTING BACK: Former Pro Bowl tight end Shannon Sharpe was a welcomed sight at the Broncos' first minicamp.

"I've said it from Day 1. You lose a lot when a guy like Shannon is not here," Davis said.

"It's not only what he can do on the field. He was basically our personality. When we lost him, we lost a lot. You can't replace him, and I'm happy to see him back."

STILL THINKING ABOUT KOREY: It has been almost a year since Vikings offensive lineman Korey Stringer died during training camp, but Vikings coach Mike Tice, who coached the offensive line last season, still is taking it hard.

"I don't think we can ever be the same. I don't think anyone can go through that and not be changed," he said.

"I did a lot of crying. I still do. I don't think I'll ever go through a day where I don't think about it. "

-- Information from other news organizations was used in this report.

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