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By GREG AUMAN
© St. Petersburg Times, published February 4, 2001
Tyrone Goodson met with the XFL coaches. He shook hands, watched a practice, and they told him to sleep on it.
But Goodson decided the XFL wasn't for him.
Despite a guaranteed contract and a chance to showcase his talents in the new league, Goodson won't be playing for the Memphis Maniax when they kick off their season this afternoon against the Birmingham Bolts.
"I just decided not to play there," Goodson said Friday from his Brooksville home. "I respect the XFL, and I think it's going to be a good farm league for the NFL.
"Maybe next year will be something different," he said.
The Maniax will open their season at 4 p.m. at Birmingham's Legion Field, not far from where Goodson starred as a receiver at Auburn.
The former Central High School standout said he thinks the XFL experiment can work -- it's just not right for him.
"If I was 40 years old and had kids, I'd definitely take them to a game, especially if I had a son that liked wrestling," said Goodson, who visited with Maniax coaches in Las Vegas three weeks ago.
Goodson is hoping the XFL will release him from his contract so he can sign with an NFL team that might allocate him to play in NFL Europe this spring.
Goodson's agent, Richard De Luca, said he was "hoping it is resolved amicably" in the near future.
"Ty wants to give it one more shot, but if he's going to do it, he wants to do it at the highest level," De Luca said. Multiple NFL teams have shown an interest in signing Goodson, the agent said.
"If he's going to test the waters, he might as well do it with the best," De Luca said.
Steve Ortmayer, the Maniax' director of pro personnel, met Goodson when Ortmayer was special teams coach for the Green Bay Packers last season and Goodson was on Green Bay's practice squad.
Ortmayer said Wednesday that he and Goodson remained "good friends" even though they couldn't work out a way to get him on the field in Memphis.
"He decided he wasn't going to play," Ortmayer said. "He just didn't think he had himself prepared. He's made his decision for this year at least."
Goodson said he could have played in the XFL but felt he was close to signing with an NFL club and didn't want another league to interfere with a lifelong dream to play in the NFL.
"I think everything's going to work out," Goodson said. "If I'm that close, inches close to getting my dream, if I've got a chance, I won't pass that up for any other league."
Goodson missed last season recovering from surgery to correct a knee injury he said he suffered in minicamp with the Packers.
He said he has an injury grievance pending with the league, with the NFL Players Association representing him, and he will meet with the Packers in the next few months to discuss the matter.
One reason Goodson said he didn't feel a need to play in the XFL was that he doesn't have an immediate financial need. The league's base salary of $45,000 plus $2,500 for each win isn't much compared to the NFL's minimum.
"If I was flat broke, I would have had to play," Goodson said. "I probably wouldn't have a decision to make."
While he waits for the XFL to grant his request for a release from his contract, Goodson is working out in Brooksville.
He said if he never makes it into an NFL game, he won't be too disappointed. Goodson is interested in getting a master's degree and possibly coaching at the college level.
For the first time in nearly a year, he's fully healthy and holding to the same hopes he's been working on for the past three years: finding a place in the NFL.