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NFL briefs

Compiled from Times wires

© St. Petersburg Times, published April 6, 2001

The NFL is considering leaving the last two Monday Night Football dates open this season in an attempt to televise meaningful games leading up to the playoffs.

The release of the regular-season schedule, planned for Wednesday, was postponed as league officials decide whether to put the plan into effect this season. The schedule release now is planned for next week, reported Thursday.

Owners debated a flexible schedule at their meetings last week that would permit ABC to switch a Sunday game to Monday night late in the season.

For example, if a Monday matchup became unattractive, the network would have the right to ask that it be moved to Sunday and a more attractive Sunday game moved to Monday. The networks that carry Sunday afternoon games, Fox and CBS, might not be thrilled, but they realize Monday Night Football often sets the tone for the entire TV schedule.

Carruth triggerman gets 40-plus years

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- The man who killed former Panther Rae Carruth's pregnant girlfriend was sentenced Thursday to more than 40 years in prison.

Van Brett Watkins was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years, 5 months for shooting Cherica Adams in November 1999 and a maximum of 50 years, 8 months.

Watkins apologized to Adams' mother, Saundra: "Mrs. Adams, I'm very sorry for what I did. And I'll be paying for it in heaven."

Saundra Adams said she forgave Watkins, whom she said was "truly remorseful."

Watkins, 40, pleaded guilty in July to second-degree murder, conspiracy to commit first-degree murder and two other charges. He admitted in court that he fired the gun that killed Adams, who died a month later. Her son survived.

During Carruth's murder trial this year, Watkins told jurors that Carruth paid him to kill Adams.

Carruth was acquitted in January of first-degree murder but convicted of conspiracy to murder and two other charges. He is serving a minimum prison sentence of 18 years, 11 months.

CHIEFS: Steve Beuerlein, the latest in a parade of quarterback possibilities the Chiefs have talked to or been spurned by, couldn't do much but go to dinner when he visited this week. Coming off shoulder and elbow surgery, Beuerlein won't be able to go at full speed for at least a month. ... Kansas City agreed to terms with free-agent cornerback Ray Crockett on a six-year contract. The terms were not disclosed.

COWBOYS: Dallas agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free-agent wide receiver Carl Pickens. Pickens will make just over the league minimum of $484,000 for veterans with at least five seasons' experience. Pickens caught 10 passes for 272 yards and no touchdowns for Tennessee last season. He missed much of the season with a strained hamstring and was released March 1.

49ERS: Starting offensive tackle Scott Gragg agreed to a six-year, $18-million deal to return.

SEAHAWKS: Seattle agreed to terms on a multiyear contract with free-agent linebacker Levon Kirkland, a two-time Pro Bowl selection. The Pittsburgh Steelers released Kirkland on March 8 to make room under the salary cap.

LEN DAWSON SURGERY: The Hall of Fame quarterback and broadcaster was resting comfortably after a quadruple heart bypass at a Kansas City, Mo., hospital. Dawson, 65, had the operation Monday after a routine examination.

JURISPRUDENCE: William "Refrigerator" Perry, a defensive lineman for the 1985 Super Bowl champion Chicago Bears, was charged with domestic violence in Aiken, S.C., for swinging a chair at his wife and threatening to kill her during an argument about a house guest. Former Colts quarterback Art Schlichter was sentenced in Indianapolis to five years in federal prison for credit card fraud and money laundering. The 1982 first-round draft pick, who pleaded guilty in January, was indicted in August for a scheme in which he took money to buy tickets to Pacers, Colts and NCAA Final Four games but never bought the tickets. He offered to pay investors with checks he had stolen from his father.

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