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NFL Notes

Ocho Cinco not only Bengal making changes

September 14, 2008|From the Associated Press

Keith Rivers wore No. 55 at USC, where the number has been passed from one prominent linebacker to another. When the Bengals made him the ninth overall pick in the draft, he had to get a new one.

Linebacker Ahmad Brooks already had 55, so Rivers got No. 58 for preseason games.

When Brooks was released after the final preseason game, Rivers claimed his old number.

It came with a steep price tag: roughly $10,000.

When a player makes such a change, he has to pay for the inventory of jerseys with his old name or number. Receiver Chad Ocho Cinco ran into the problem when he legally changed his surname before the season opener. The league ruled that he had to keep "Johnson" on the back of his jersey until he takes care of the problem.

Rivers estimated that it cost him between $9,000 and $10,000 to buy up the inventory of his old No. 58 jerseys.

He'll donate them to charity.

To Rivers, it was worth it.

"It was important, but I wasn't sulking because I didn't have it," Rivers said. "I'm just happy I got it. I'm not very superstitious, but guys who have had No. 55 and kept it have done well."

As USC, the number has been passed from Junior Seau to Willie McGinest to Chris Claiborne and to Rivers, who wanted to keep it in the pros.

"It's just something that's been special to me," Rivers said.

Battling prostate cancer

Hall of Famer Len Dawson is a prostate cancer survivor and he's trying to spread awareness during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.

The former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback who has been a popular broadcaster in that city for more than three decades -- he became a sportscaster even while still an active player -- has teamed with Depend and to promote the importance of consulting with a physician and being proactive about prostate health.

"Generally, men are stubborn. We don't like stopping for directions, let alone going to the doctor," Dawson said. "If it wasn't for my wife (Linda) actually making the appointment for me to get tested, I might not be here today.

"My advice to men 40 or over is to get checked early and annually, especially if they have a history of prostate cancer in the family. That makes you more at-risk."

Dawson was in Gillette Stadium's broadcast booth when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury last Sunday.

"When I saw the hit, I knew it was serious," he said. "Brady was letting go of the ball, and had his left foot planted, which meant that his knee was locked.

"In the many years I've been covering Chiefs games, I don't think I ever heard (the stadium) more silent than at that very moment. You could hear a pin drop.

"Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time; many could make the argument that by the time he's done, he'll be the best ever, and I wouldn't dispute it."

Martin's call

Jamie Martin got his three kids enrolled in school in St. Louis last week, and he was contemplating life after football when the 49ers asked him to spend a 16th year in the NFL.

Martin, the 38-year-old veteran on his seventh NFL team, will be the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback after joining the club Wednesday.

He was the 49ers' first choice to fill up the roster because of his familiarity with Mike Martz's offense from his time with the Rams in 2001-02 and 2004-05.

"I've had crash courses in this offense before, so I'm a little bit better prepared for it this time," Martin said. "It shouldn't take too long to get going on it."

Martin actually has known Martz since his rookie season with the Los Angeles Rams in 1993, when Martz was an offensive assistant and Martin was a practice-squad quarterback from Weber State. Martz was Martin's quarterbacks coach in 1994, and the two both stayed with the Rams through the next two years after the club's move to St. Louis.

"I definitely have been following (Martz) in the different places he's been over the years," said Martin, who spent the last two seasons with the Saints while Martz was Lions offensive coordinator. "When you're a quarterback, you just kind of follow the injuries to the quarterbacks."

Although Baltimore was the only team to express much interest in Martin after he left the Saints, he felt good about his chances to stick with the 49ers when he traveled to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a physical. Martin has made many such trips during his itinerant career.

"You pack to stay, and you see what happens when you get out here," Martin said. "I was hoping to stay, because I had to pay $50 for the extra bag on Delta."

Let's shake on it

After Minnesota's loss at Green Bay, Vikings Coach Brad Childress was not at midfield to shake Packers Coach Mike McCarthy's hand as per the typical NFL postgame ritual.

Though the teams deepened their dislike for each other this summer during Brett Favre's unretirement saga -- when the Packers filed tampering charges against the Vikings that were eventually dismissed by the league -- Childress said he wasn't trying to stiff McCarthy.

He was in the Lambeau Field tunnel, counseling quarterback Tarvaris Jackson after his interception essentially ended the game and sealed Green Bay's 24-19 win.

"We had something that we wanted to discuss. I wanted to see where his frame of mind was. It wasn't an orchestrated deal, or anything in that manner," Childress said.

The two coaches exchanged messages on Tuesday. McCarthy also said there was no ill will between them.

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