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Baltimore still losing its players

By DARRELL FRY, Times Staff Writer

© St. Petersburg Times, published June 30, 2002

What's the big deal about tackle Sammy Williams leaving the Ravens to sign with the Chargers last week?

What's the big deal about tackle Sammy Williams leaving the Ravens to sign with the Chargers last week?

Nothing really, except he's the 19th player to bolt from Baltimore during the offseason.

Just how decimated are the Ravens by their salary cap problems? The other day, the team's senior vice president, Ozzie Newsome, said second-year tight end Todd Heap is "the future of this team."

Folks, we're not making this up.

TOLD YOU SO: Give props to embattled running back Lawrence Phillipsfor making a big splash in his Canadian Football League debut last week, rushing for 104 yards and three touchdowns in a 27-20 Montreal victory over British Columbia.

Phillips' 6-yard touchdown run in the final quarter won the game.

Of course, to listen to Phillips tell it, you'd think he had just led his team to the Super Bowl. Suffice to say, he's a little bitter about critics who believed he was washed up after a string of legal problems and lackluster stints in the NFL.

"The people who have been doubting me, well, they saw it for themselves," he said after the game in which he was sometimes booed. "I put a lot of pressure on myself to do really well, to answer back at some of the (critics). And that's exactly what I did. It felt great."

Will somebody tell him it was just one game?

SAY YOUR GOODBYES NOW: Word is, veteran quarterback Randall Cunningham is hanging it up for good. Again.

The 39-year-old Cunningham, who you'll remember retired before the 1996 season only to return the next season, apparently has drawn little interest in the free-agent market after playing sparingly but effectively last season with Baltimore.

"I don't feel that God wants me on another team. If I played, it would have been in Baltimore," he said when asked about retiring.

"And unless something happens ... they are going with younger guys."

WILL THEY TAKE A PERSONAL CHECK?: Rumors are surfacing around Minnesota that the Vikings are for sale.

Owner Red McCombs has made it known he would like a new stadium to replace the Metrodome. Apparently, his patience is wearing thin and might be leading him toward unloading the franchise.

Vikings management isn't commenting.

MAYBE THEY SHOULD STAY IN OAKLAND: The Chargers are trying to put a stop to the huge influx of Raiders fans for the teams' game in San Diego, which some people say contributed to a Chargers fan getting stabbed by a Raiders fan after the game two seasons ago.

Last season, Raiders fans reportedly made up almost half of the crowd.

This season, the Chargers' ticket policy says anyone who buys single-game tickets to the Raiders game must purchase an equal number of tickets to another Chargers home game.

Considering the Chargers have lost 26 of 32 and have the league's second-longest playoff drought (six seasons), you'd think they would be happy anybody comes to their games.

STILL PAYING THE PRICE: Cardinals kicker Bill Gramatica, who is probably still trying to live down the torn ACL he sustained while celebrating a routine field goal in mid December, still is recovering and likely will be forced to take it easy during training camp, even though it's a month away.

Free agent Tim Duncan has been handling kicks while Gramatica heals. The Cardinals expect Gramatica to be healthy by preseason.

THANKS, BUT NO THANKS: Vikings' longtime team physician David Knowles said he wants almost no part of the team's training camp in the wake of Korey Stringer's death during last year's camp.

The team wants a doctor on the field at all times during camp.

But Knowles, who has been with the club for almost 30 years, said he's not the man for the job partly because he's a defendant in the $100-million wrongful death suit filed by Stringer's widow, Kelci.

"I just don't know how much I want to be involved anymore," he said.

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

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