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TOTALLY RANDOM

Chargers rookie Larry English pays big for teammates' dinner

He picked up the nearly $15,000 tab for the team's meal. English got off lightly compared with Shawne Merriman, who paid more than $32,000 for the dinner his rookie year.

September 13, 2009|Mike Penner

San Diego Chargers rookie linebacker Larry English was recently asked to give back nearly $15,000 of his $9.9-million contract. Reason: The Chargers' tradition of having rookies pick up the tab for a team dinner. When the bill for the dinner arrived, it totaled $14,508.67. It would have barely cleared the $14,500 mark, but there was one order for raspberry sorbet.

It might seem extravagant, but in relative terms, English got away cheaply. Shawne Merriman's rookie dinner reportedly cost him $32,000.

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Trivia time

True or false: The 2008 Chargers became the first NFL team to start a season 4-8 and still make the playoffs.

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Rider comeback?

Former NBA bad boy J.R. Rider is planning a return to professional basketball at age 38.

That's easy for him to say. The catch is to find a team willing to go along with the plan.

Rider has reportedly found one. Jay Bowdy, owner of the first-year North Texas Fresh in the American Basketball Assn., told the Minneapolis Star Tribune that he is "in the process of getting it done" and adding Rider to the roster. Bowdy said his team will have to wait to see what Rider first does about an offer to play overseas.

Rider hasn't played organized basketball since a 10-game stopover with the Denver Nuggets in 2001-02. Bowdy said he's well aware of Rider's checkered past with the law, but isn't looking at "what any one of my players has done in the past" -- his team offers players a fresh chance for the future.

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Wish him well

Detroit Lions rookie quarterback Matthew Stafford makes his NFL regular season debut today against the New Orleans Saints. Count Jeff Schultz of the Atlanta Journal-Constitution among those not expecting much.

Schultz wrote: "Understand, rookie starting quarterbacks almost never step into good situations. They are rookie starting quarterbacks because the guy who started before them either stunk or was at the end of his career, or stunk AND was at the end of his career. In either case, that usually means the team stunk and the fans were at the end of their rope.

"But this is worse. This is the Lions. This is a team that went 0-16 last season, and it would've been worse but the NFL hasn't expanded schedules yet. Stafford has NFL talent.

But he certainly didn't show in the exhibition season that he's ready yet. Matt Ryan showed something. Joe Flacco showed something. Stafford has shown off his arm a couple of times, but that's about it.

"The Lions are going to use the Troy Aikman-took-his-lumps-and-turned-into-a-Hall-of-Famer excuse to rationalize this. Sorry. I like the Dallas Cowboys' track record a little better, both in management and coaching."

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Trivia answer

True.

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And finally

From Chris Ferrell of the San Antonio (Texas) Express-News, on boxer Juan Manuel Marquez shown drinking his own urine as part of his training regimen on HBO's "24/7" series: "Offering proof that '23/7' would probably suffice."

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mike.penner@latimes.com

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