By JOANNE KORTH
Published October 8, 2006
A new view
Jets rookie running back Leon Washington grew up so close to Alltel Stadium in Jacksonville, he could see the big-screen replays from his street corner. Today, he will play in the stadium where he hawked soda as a kid.
Philly fans, not the most hospitable bunch under the best of circumstances, had a busy week collecting empty prescription bottles to hurl, along with a variety of insults and profanities, in the general direction of receiver Terrell Owens today when he returns to Lincoln Financial Field.
Owens, who dragged a proud Eagles franchise through the mud last season, is an easy target after a recent accidental overdose on pain medications in which he said he confused pills for a broken bone in his right hand with dietary supplements. When Owens, banished by the Eagles for the final nine games of 2005, signed with the Cowboys, everyone circled today's game on their calendars.
"They may have to beef up security," Owens said. "I am probably the most hated guy coming to Philly this weekend, so I expect the worse. They've got a little chant for me: 'O.D.! O.D.! O.D.!' I'm ready for it. We're not going there to taste the cheesesteaks. We're not going there to visit the crack in the Liberty Bell. We're going up there to try to win a ball game."
Indeed, there will be additional security at the Linc. That's always the case for games against NFC East opponents and 4:15 p.m. kickoffs, but Owens' return calls for even more because team president Joe Banner considers it the Eagles' responsibility to protect Owens once he arrives at the stadium. Extra security people will be stationed where the Cowboys bus parks, around their tunnel entrance to the field and behind their bench.
Donovan McNabb, the object of most of Owens' venomous statements a year ago, did his best to downplay the situation, joking as he entered his weekly news conference, "There will be no T.O. questions." He then answered 12 on the topic.
"I think guys understand we're not competing against one player," McNabb said. "One guys doesn't make a team. Break a team, maybe."
Revenge, part II
Week 5 in the NFC East is all about grudges. Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington, below, will face his former team for the first time when the Redskins visit New York. The former face of the franchise, Arrington fell out of favor with Washington defensive coaches Gregg Williams and Dale Lindsey not long after Joe Gibbs returned in 2004. Arrington signed with the Giants as a free agent. "LaVar will be out there trying to prove a point, saying, 'Y'all kind of threw me away and thought it was over for me, so I'm going to try to hurt everybody,' " Redskins cornerback Shawn Springs said. "I know what his attitude is like: 'I'm going to go out there, try to be a wild man and mess everybody up.' " Asked if Arrington could help the Giants prepare, Lindsey's response indicates the rift still exists: "He didn't know anything when he was here. What makes you think he'll know something up there?"
Stat of the week
The Bears have yielded one touchdown or none in eight straight home games.
"Four years ago, he was the best wide receiver in the NFL. Now you can't get a pack of gum for him."
- Panthers receiver Keyshawn Johnson on the Raiders' Randy Moss
Run, Ben, run
Hoping to help Ben Roethlisberger out of a two-game funk, Steelers coach Bill Cowher suggested the third-year quarterback return to his rookie roots and dash across the line of scrimmage now and then. Roethlisberger ran 56 times for 144 yards and one touchdown in 13 games as a rookie. He ran 31 times for 69 yards and three touchdowns in 2005 plus 19 for 37 yards and two touchdowns in the playoffs. In two games this season, Roethlisberger has two runs for minus-1. "It's kind of a fine line," Roethlisberger said. "It's not necessarily something you design, but it's not something you want to do too soon. We went back and looked at the film. There's probably a couple of plays where I got out of the pocket and maybe I tried to stay a passer too long rather than just take the yardage and get down. It's a fine line, but we'll find a way to just get back to playing my style of football."
The highest form of flattery
Bills general manager Marv Levy, a Chicago native, spent last season analyzing Bears games on radio and TV with former Bears Dan Jiggetts, Richard Dent, Steve McMichael and Keith Van Horne. Then he hired former Bears coach Dick Jauron, who in turn hired former Bears assistant Perry Fewell, who in turn installed the Tampa 2 defense in Buffalo. "We are playing pretty well, and a lot of it is some spillover from the Bears," Levy said. "Perry's style is similar to the swarming style of the Bears, and the players have bought into it."
"That's not an emotional decision. I had a lot of time to think about it while we were losing very badly."
- Cardinals coach Dennis Green, on deciding during last week's 32-10 loss to the Falcons to start rookie quarterback Matt Leinart today against the Chiefs.
Rams defensive end Leonard Little, above, doesn't normally celebrate sacks, but after he dropped the Lions' Jon Kitna last week, Little turned to the Lions bench and saluted. The gesture was for his little brother, Army sergeant Lamont Hughes, who is stationed in Iraq. Hughes, who has been in Iraq for 11 months, told Little the troops get to see some NFL games. Little received an e-mail from Hughes on Monday telling him the Rams' 41-34 victory was shown to his unit and when Little made the sack and saluted, the soldiers went wild. "I think about my brother all the time," Little said. "He's over there fighting for our country. And we're here living in the free world."
Mother and child reunion
Chiefs rookie defensive end Tamba Hali, left, who escaped civil-war torn Liberia as a child to join his father in the United States, hadn't seen his mother, Rachel Keita, since he was 10. Last week, they were reunited. She was at Arrowhead Stadium to see him play for the first time when the Chiefs faced the 49ers. She watched the opposing quarterback because Hali told her his job was to hit the quarterback. Hali had 11/2 sacks and forced a fumble by 49ers quarterback Alex Smith in a 41-0 victory. "How can I explain my emotion?" Keita said.
You want fries with that?
Former Marshall teammates and quarterbacks Chad Pennington and Byron Leftwich will meet for the third time when the Jets visit the Jaguars. Pennington led a late drive for a 13-10 win in 2003, and Leftwich won in overtime last year on a 36-yard touchdown pass to Jimmy Smith. The two have vastly different backgrounds - Pennington is a country kid from Tennessee and Leftwich a city kid from Washington D.C. - but hit it off instantly. Pennington, four years older, recalls Leftwich as a freshman betting him dinner he could throw it through the uprights from the 50-yard line. Pennington took the bet then took Leftwich to McDonald's.