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© St. Petersburg Times, published April 14, 2001

Raiders sign Garner to 4-year contract

OAKLAND, Calif. -- Charlie Garner, the free-agent running back who has rushed for at least 1,000 yards the past two seasons, signed a four-year contract with the Raiders on Friday.

Garner, an eight-year veteran who spent the past two seasons with the 49ers, had been courted by several other teams, including the Panthers and Chiefs, agent Scott Crawford said.

But the 5-foot-9, 187-pound Pro Bowl selection was wooed to the Raiders by coach Jon Gruden, who worked with Garner when both were with the Eagles. Garner also liked the idea of staying in Northern California.

"I'm a guy who believes in stability," Garner said. "And knowing where you stand, and that you're in a situation where you are wanted, that helps out."

Garner rushed 258 times for 1,142 yards last season, his second straight season with 1,000 or more rushing yards. He also ran for a career-high seven touchdowns.

Garner will join Oakland's top rusher, Tyrone Wheatley, and a group of talented backs the team referred to last season as "The Committee."

Anchored by Wheatley, Napoleon Kaufman and scrambling quarterback Rich Gannon, the Raiders ran for 2,470 yards last season, nearly 1,000 more than their opponents.

Room was made for Garner with the departure of Kaufman, who retired this week to devote more time to his family and ministry.

Financial terms of Garner's deal were not released.

"Obviously, I've had two Pro Bowl-caliber years with the 49ers, so that's helped me tremendously," he said.

Gruden, Eagles offensive coordinator before taking over the Raiders, said he was excited about working again with Garner, who played five seasons in Philadelphia.

CHARGERS: John Carney's 11-year run as San Diego's kicker might be over. The Chargers signed 49ers restricted free agent Wade Richey to an offer sheet. The 49ers have a week to match the offer or lose Richey. If Richey joins the Chargers, he'll supplant Carney. Carney is San Diego's career scoring leader with 1,076 points.

TITANS: The league reinstated defensive tackle Josh Evans, 28, after he served a one-year suspension for violating the league's drug policy a third time, agent Mitchell Frankel said. Evans, who sat out last season while serving the suspension, is set to make about $1.4-million for the 2001 season in the final year of his contract, Frankel said.

Marinovich admits addiction to heroin

LOS ANGELES -- Former NFL quarterback Todd Marinovich admits he used heroin as he made comeback attempts in Canadian and Arena football leagues.

"How can you play as an addict?" he told the Los Angeles Times. "I don't know. I don't know. I had been playing so long, it was second nature and I probably could have played in my sleep."

Marinovich pleaded no contest March 27 to a felony heroin possession charge; he avoided a prison sentence by agreeing to enter a yearlong drug treatment program.

Police found heroin in Marinovich's car when they pulled him over in Los Angeles on Dec. 13 for driving without a license plate. Marinovich, who had been in and out of methadone treatment at the time, said he had just seen a dealer about an old debt, and the dealer had left him the drugs as a present.

If the police hadn't stopped him, he would have gotten high, Marinovich told the newspaper, adding, "They saved me."

The 31-year-old quarterback said he has a long, progressing history of drug use: He drank beer and smoked marijuana in high school to loosen up with girls, then used hard liquor and cocaine at the University of Southern California. His drug use led to several arrests, showdowns with USC coach Larry Smith, and the Raiders forced him to check into the Betty Ford Clinic.

He said he planned to sign with a team in the CFL, which doesn't test for drugs. After the British Columbia Lions signed him, his drug habit only worsened, he said. The 6-foot-5 quarterback dropped to 185 pounds by season's end.

He tried to give up drugs as he started playing for the Arena Football League's Los Angeles Avengers last year, but said he started using again.

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