Cadillac Williams expresses desire to remain with Bucs

Rumors have been that Cadillac Williams may return to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as a third-down back and if the club’s former first-round draft pick has anything to do with it, he will return.

Tampa is a very special place for me,” Williams told Anwar Richardson of the Tampa Tribune. “This is the team that drafted me. It's a team that has been through the good times and bad times with me. At the lowest point of my career, the organization was definitely behind me.

“The fan base in and out the community, dealing with different people, it's a very special place to me. I've grown accustomed to the area and living here. Tampa is a great city, great place and most of all, a really great place to play. It's definitely a place I would love to play and finish out my career, but only time will tell.”

The Bucs running game took off last season with rookie LeGarrette Blount carrying the load, and he’s clearly the feature back of the future. But Williams displayed tremendous value as a third-down back, not only for his skill as a receiver but his ability to handle pass protection responsibilities. Those skills and the leadership he provides in the locker room make him an important player for the club. Williams endured a lot already with two major knee injuries, and he’s been a model of toughness for the franchise.

Pro Football Weekly reported the St. Louis Rams could also have interest in Williams, who surely has some value, even at 29.

“It's a mixed feeling,” Williams said. “It definitely good to be wanted, but with the whole lockout you definitely can't visit a team. You can't sit down to talk to people to get that feel about the organization. It's a tough situation to be in.”

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

49ers told to zip it when it comes to Alex Smith

The San Francisco 49ers have expressed all the love in the world for free agent quarterback Alex Smith this offseason.

Now, they’re going to have to keep their feelings to themselves.

Apparently the NFL has told the 49ers to zip it when it comes to singing the praises of Smith, who is expected to be re-signed and who has been helping coordinator player-run practices.

Eric Branch of the Santa Rosa Press Democrat reports the NFL reached out to the club. Coach Jim Harbaugh has already issued Smith a playbook.

I’m not answering any questions about Alex Smith,” Harbaugh told Branch. “The league has mandated we do not talk about him … The NFL has mandated that we don’t talk about players who are not under contract — who are free agents who haven’t signed. We’ve been sent a memo saying we can’t talk about it.”

So, we’ll have to wait for the lockout to end and Smith to sign with the team for Harbaugh to comment on the quarterback again.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Freddie Mitchell warns Kevin Kolb on reality in Philadelphia

Leave it to Freddie Mitchell to come up with the needed catch on fourth-and-26 and leave it to the former Philadelphia Eagles wide receiver to speak his mind.

Mitchell did just that in a recent visit with Howard Eskin and Ike Reese in Philadelphia on WIP. He ripped into the idea that Andy Reid would look out for Kevin Kolb’s best interest when it comes to possible trading the quarterback. That’s after Mitchell laughed at the idea. And laughed a little more.

Hat tip to the fine folks at for providing the full transcript which you can find right here.

“Yeah, OK. Believe that if you want, Kevin. Believe that if you want. Hey, I’ll tell you what, Andy Reid, I love him to death. He’s like my father and whatever else, but I’m gonna keep it real. Andy is going to do what is best for the Philadelphia Eagles.

“I tried when I was going on after we lost the Super Bowl (XXXIX) or whatever else. I went in there and I did not want to go to the media or whatever else I said, ‘Hey, Coach Reid, I had problems with Donovan McNabb. You know I can’t eat off of 12 catches a year. I need more catches. I’m doing all the things with the blocking and whatever else to make it happen. I need more catches. Donovan will not throw me the ball.’

“Andy Reid was like ‘OK, Fred, well just don’t tell nobody. You don’t have to come to this next minicamp. We’re going to try to … I know a couple of teams and we’re going to try to trade you.’

“At the end of the day what he tried to do was he tried to put a price tag on me that nobody was even going to touch. When they found out that they wasn’t going to touch me, he released me, and then the blackball began with all kinds of dirt saying I was a cancer to the team. I talk too much and everything else. It’s funny because you never heard a teammate complain about me. You never heard that or whatever else, but he put the cancer (comment) on. Kevin Kolb do not think them guys or anybody in the NFL is your friend. The only friend that you have is your agent and if you’re a left- or right-handed quarterback is your arm. That’s it. Them guys at the end of the day they are going to go and save their job, save their butt, and go out and do what’s best for the Philadelphia Eagles. You need to do what you need to do.”

Of course, Mitchell leaves out the fact that trading Kolb is probably what Reid believes is best for the Eagles. He's not signed past 2011 and the team needs to get something for its investment while it can.

But don’t say Mitchell didn’t warn Kolb.

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<em>Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Tuesday news and notes

Jim Tressel and Ohio State

The first thing I do every morning after I get up is get on my computer to find out the latest sports news. When I saw Jim Tressel resigned from Ohio State as head football coach on Monday, I got an ugly feeling in my stomach.

Tressel is one of the best coaches and finest men I have ever had the pleasure to meet in my days as a scout with the Giants and Bears. Tressel became head coach at Youngstown State in 1986 and because I was the Midwest scout for the Giants I called on Youngstown at least once a year. Tressel ran a great program, turning that team into one of the better I-AA programs annually. The one thing you learned about Tressel when you made those visits was that he cared about the school he worked for, the coaches he hired and the kids who played for him. He was extremely loyal to all of them. Because of that loyalty those same kids played hard for him.

Jim TresselICONJim Tressel went 9-1 against Michigan as Ohio State's head coach.

When Tressel took the Ohio State job, he didn’t change a bit. He still had tremendous loyalty to the school, his coaches and his players. He also did a great job returning Ohio State into one of the great programs in the country. Most scouts would agree that after he took over at Ohio State, the school became one of the better schools to visit each year. Tressel and his staff took excellent care of NFL scouts and you knew when you left Ohio State you got honest information. That’s not always the case in the world of scouting.

As a coach or player for Ohio State, the biggest game of the year is the last game versus Michigan. When Tressel took the Ohio State job in January 2001, the Buckeyes had a 2-10-1 record in the previous 11 games against Michigan — something that was simply not acceptable in Columbus, Ohio. Tressel vowed to return Ohio State to its past glory and in his 10 games as coach against Michigan, the Buckeyes won nine of them. How did he do that? He became a great recruiter and not only did he outrecruit Michigan, he outrecruited most of college football!

It’s his ability as a recruiter, however, that also did him in as a head coach.

To win in college football you have to have great players and Tressel was able to get many of the top high school players to come to Ohio State. One of the things Tressel pledged to recruits was his loyalty. It’s too bad the players weren’t as loyal to him! Great players don’t always have great character and Tressel failed to see that in some of the players he recruited to OSU. Players like Terrelle Pryor are very selfish people and they care more about themselves than they do about the people around them. The selfishness those players showed got Tressel in trouble, because in the end, Tressel’s loyalty to his players was there but those same players had no loyalty to Tressel or Ohio State.

One last thing that many people don’t know about Jim Tressel is that while serving Ohio State as head coach he became one of the best fundraisers the school had. He was in the same class as Joe Paterno and Bobby Bowden in being able to raise money for the school.

It will be a long time before Ohio State finds a person who compares to Jim Tressel. Ohio State will find out it misses Tressel much more than he misses Ohio State.

Paycuts in the NFL

Many websites have had articles criticizing NFL owners for cutting the pay of coaches and other employees. I don’t like to see anyone lose money, but to be fair to the owners, no coach or employee who has had to take a pay cut did so without knowing it was coming months and sometimes years in advance. Most of the contracts coaches, scouts and other contractual employees signed in the last few years had clauses in the contracts stipulating that if there was a strike, lockout or any other type of work stoppage the club could in fact reduce the employees pay by a certain percentage. There are some coaches and scouts that signed contracts as long as two years ago knew this might be the case. When you know that far in advance, you can’t bitch.

Owners get criticized as greedy rich men who want to hold on to their money. Not true! These men own a business and like most people who own a business they want and expect to make a profit. When they buy the franchise they assume a huge risk. An NFL franchise doesn’t come cheap. If you were to try and buy one now it would cost you in the area of a billion dollars and in some cases much more. The owners owe it to themselves to have a fair labor agreement with the players.

Let’s make one thing clear — players come and go but the franchise remains. Many if not all of these owners lost millions and millions of dollars over the last five years because of the poor economy. Do you think the players cared? No! They want their money regardless. From my viewpoint I wish the leaders of the NFLPA would stop the legal BS and sit down and negotiate….because in the end that’s the only way they will get a deal!

Hall of Famer Andy Robustelli dies at 85

Andy Robustelli, a Hall of Fame defensive end best known for his play as a member of the New York Giants, has died.

The Stamford Advocate reports Robustelli passed earlier today at the age of 85.

Robustelli was a seven-time All-Pro who was selected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1971. He was named the league’s MVP in 1962 and helped lead the Giants to a title in 1956. Undersized even at that time at 6-foot, 230 pounds, Robustelli used his quickness and smarts to overmatch offensive linemen.

He was drafted in the 19th round in 1951 by the Los Angeles Rams and won a championship with them. He is the only player to have played in the first two nationally televised NFL games. When he retired, he had 22 recovered fumbles, at the time a record.

Robustelli ran a travel agency in his hometown of Stamford, Conn., after his playing days. Funeral arrangements are pending.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Cris Collinsworth volunteers to help coach prep team

The glass isn’t half-full for Cris Collinsworth when he examines the NFL lockout and the labor situation right now.

Rather than wait around for something to happen, the NBC analyst is jumping into the football world – as a coach.

Collinsworth, a former wide receiver for the Cincinnati Bengals, announced this morning that he will coach wide receivers for Highlands High School in Fort Thomas, Ky., where his son Jac is on the team.

I am going to get my football fix this fall even if the lockout cancels the NFL season,” Collinsworth wrote on his blog. “The NFL will probably miss at least half of their season.”

Collinsworth is approaching it with a fun and refreshing attitude.

“I have a theory on coaching. Today's kids missed the fun part of sports. We all grew up playing sports in the yard or on the street. We created our own rules and settled our own disputes. We fought and cussed for the first times in our lives with our best friends. By the time we put on a uniform, we had already fallen in love with the game. Today, these kids are being coached by adults and put on select teams by the time they learn their ABC's. They miss all the fun stuff. They almost look at sports as a job. Too bad.

“Maybe the NFL will save me and actually play football, but if not, you will know where to find me on Friday nights. Go Birds!”

It’s nice to see Collinsworth giving back to the sport. It will be even nicer if he’s calling games on Kickoff Weekend – in early September.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Inside the mess at Ohio State

At best, the situation at Ohio State is a mess.

After head coach Jim Tressel resigned on Monday morning while the school remains under an NCAA investigation, new allegations arose against quarterback Terrelle Pryor, who is one of five Buckeye players suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling merchandise to a tattoo parlor owner.

The Columbus Dispatch reported that both the NCAA and Ohio State are conducting investigations of Pryor due to allegations that he may have received cars and other extra benefits during his time in Columbus.

Terrelle PryorICONHas Terrelle Pryor taken his last snap in Columbus?

While Pryor has been the subject of inquiries in the past, the report notes that this is the most significant inquiry the dual-threat signal caller has faced during his time as a Buckeye. According to the paper, the 6-6, 233-pounder has been connected with more than a half dozen cars during his tenure in Columbus. The quarterback reportedly was stopped for traffic violations three times in the past three years while driving cars that he did not own, and his No. 2 jersey is one of about two dozen autographed jerseys hanging inside a Columbus car dealership where Aaron Kniffin, who also sold cars to Pryor’s mother, brother and dozens of other Buckeye athletes and their family members, previously worked.

Kniffin has maintained that the sales were legitimate and that he did not offer special deals.

While the investigation of Pryor is separate from that of Tressel's resignation, it’s hard to separate the potential fallout from the two cases.

While Tressel’s resignation certainly clouds the future of the Ohio State program — especially with the uncertainty in how the NCAA will discipline the Buckeyes — a potential loss of Pryor to ineligibility would truly weaken the team’s fortunes of competing for a Big Ten championship.

As I wrote following the team’s spring game, Braxton Miller was arguably the most talented signal caller competing to line up under center during Pryor’s five-game absence. The 6-2, 190-pounder displayed a quick release and seemed poised under center this spring, and he was able to make plays with his feet and still maintain vision down the field while flushed out of the pocket.

But the high-profile recruit from suburban Dayton, who reminds many fans of Troy Smith, is just a true freshman who arrived on campus in January. If Pryor never takes another snap in Columbus, is Miller really ready to lead this veteran squad?

Senior Joe Bauserman is the odds-on favorite to start initially because he backed up Pryor the past two seasons and the 6-1, 233-pounder knows the offense better than any other quarterback on the roster. But he really didn’t make a strong impression this spring and is limited athletically.

Sophomore Kenny Guiton shows good mobility in the pocket and displays nice velocity on his throws, and he goes through all of his progressions despite possessing the athleticism to take off and run when it'd be easy to fall back on his run skills. But if he’s tabbed as the heir to Pryor, can he line up under center in Lincoln and keep his poise against a defense as strong as Nebraska — or any other Big Ten defense?

The quarterback situation is just the tip of the iceberg for the Buckeyes when looking at the 2011 season. If one was to project how the program will fare moving forward, that’s quite dicey. And who knows about the other suspended Buckeyes when all is said and done.

As I mentioned on Monday when the Tressel news broke, speculation has begun to run rampant about who may be a fit for the Buckeyes as head coach in 2012.

Luke FickellLuke Fickell will serve as the Buckeyes' head coach for the 2011 season.

Interim coach Luke Fickell will get his shot to impress his bosses right away, as the co-defensive coordinator will lead the team during the 2011 campaign. The 37-year-old is a former Buckeye who received a raise when Notre Dame wanted to add him to its staff. And he’s been linked to head jobs at smaller schools, so he certainly is an emerging commodity on the coaching circuit.

But could Fickell really retain the job in 2012?

It’s hard to imagine, even if the Buckeyes are able to fight through this season's adversity, that Fickell would keep the job past this year. After all, this is The Ohio State University. There are big names on the wish list.

However, will anyone want this job if the NCAA slaps major sanctions on the school? Keep in mind that more allegations were made in the SI story that was released late Monday, including additional players besides the Buckeye Five being involved in the tattoo parlor shenanigans.

So the possibility of major sanctions being applied is the big issue looming over Columbus right now — besides whether or not the team’s rising senior signal caller will be eligible to come to the rescue for the important road date against Nebraska in the middle of the season.

It’s become clear that university president E. Gordon Gee and athletic director Gene Smith were quite shy in investigating Tressel last December when they deduced that “no other violations” had occurred under Tressel. Quite simply, they wanted the Buckeye Five eligible for the Sugar Bowl and didn't do as thorough of a job as they should have done.

While the administration is hoping and praying that the NCAA sees this only as a Tressel problem, it’s hard to imagine the governing body not proclaiming this an Ohio State problem, as well.

If that’s the case, Buckeye fans can stop dreaming of Urban Meyer, Gary Patterson or Bo Pelini. Because this would be a job no established coach would want to touch.

Email or follow me on Twitter at Miller_Dave

Albert Haynesworth settles with man in road rage case

Sounds like Albert Haynesworth has paid up to make his road-rage assault case go away.

Now, the Washington Redskins defensive tackle can focus on his defense for a sexual assault trial scheduled for later on this summer.

The Associated Press reports a Fairfax County (Va.) judge has dismissed Haynesworth’s road rage case today after the troubled player reached an agreement with the alleged victim in the case. Haynesworth had been accused of punching the man at a stop light.

The law in Virginia allows the judge to dismiss misdemeanor cases if the victim has been satisfied, typically by a settlement involving cash.

Details of the settlement were not made public.

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Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

Panthers hire a cop to keep reporters away from practice

The Carolina Panthers are getting to work today but they’d prefer to be left alone.

Yes, the club coming off a 2-14 season would like no publicity at all. A team in need of a good P.R. makeover isn’t going to get one the way it’s going about business though. According to an Associated Press report, the players have hired an off-duty police officer to keep reporters away from their workout at Charlotte Christian School.

The expensive cars in the parking lot didn’t belong to teachers – or students – but the players who showed up. Cam Newton, the club’s No. 1 overall pick, is expected to participate in the workouts which will run through June 9.

Left tackle Jordan Gross has organized the workouts and reports are media will be kept away until the final day. The players are concerned about distractions. Seems to us they’ve got far bigger concerns than that. The lockout is adversely affecting them and it’s also affecting fans. By removing media from the equation, the players aren’t helping the fans anxious for football news.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune

NFL season ticket sales on par with this time last year

Whether the numbers have been skewed – who knows – but in a briefing to owners last week at meetings in Indianapolis, the NFL said season-ticket sales are on pace with this point a year ago.

Daniel Kaplan of Sports Business Journal reports the story, one that is surprising to many considering the NFL’s lockout is steaming full speed ahead toward its third month.

Per the report, owners were apprised of the situation at the same meeting in which commissioner Roger Goodell admitted the lockout is impacting business. Are teams feeling losses out there in ticket sales? If so, what other clubs are picking up the slack?

Many of the longstanding franchises have had no problems selling season tickets. There are waiting lists for many franchises just for the chance to buy season tickets and the lockout isn’t going to put any dent in the demand for tickets in a place such as Green Bay. It takes a lifetime and longer for those on the waiting list there to get tickets.

While it’s an interesting anecdote, it doesn’t reflect clearly what kind of damage will be done to owners and players if significant time is missed during the labor impasse.

Follow me on Twitter: @BradBiggs

Brad Biggs covers the Bears for the Chicago Tribune