The NFL notebook …
COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. ó Green Bay Packers great Forrest Gregg, a man celebrated for his durability on the football field, is facing a difficult challenge away from the gridiron.
Nicknamed ěIron Manî for playing in a then-record 188 consecutive NFL games during his Hall of Fame career, Gregg told The Associated Press heís been diagnosed with Parkinsonís disease.
Although the cause of the debilitating neurological disorder is unknown, Gregg, his family and his neurologist say his disease may be related to numerous concussions he suffered during his playing career in the 1950s at SMU and from 1956-71 with the Packers and Dallas Cowboys.
The 78-year-old Gregg was diagnosed last month after being referred to Dr. Rajeev Kumar, a Parkinsonís expert and medical director of the Colorado Neurological Instituteís Movement Disorders Center in Denver.
Greggís symptoms include hand tremors, a stooped posture, shortened stride and softened voice.
ěIíd like to stop it there if I could,î he told the AP in an interview.
There is no cure for Parkinsonís, but a combination of drugs, exercise and physical therapy can delay the devastating effects of the disease that strikes more than 50,000 Americans every year.
EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. ó Benny Sapp was sitting at home in Florida, waiting for the phone to ring for 10 weeks after he was cut by the Miami Dolphins in Week 1.
The veteran cornerback was starting to wonder if he was ever going to play again, until the Minnesota Vikings finally called this week. Perhaps as desperate for a defensive back as Sapp was for work, the Vikings signed him to a one-year deal on Wednesday to try to help plug the holes in a depleted secondary.
DENVER ó Wide receiver Eric Decker has particular interest in the halftime show at the Denver Broncos’ game against the New York Jets on Thursday night.
His girlfriend, country singer Jessie James, will perform at Sports Authority Field during the break.
Decker feigned ignorance when asked about it Wednesday after talking about facing cornerback Darrelle Revis.
“Who’s the halftime entertainer? Some lady, a beautiful girl?” he asked. “I’m excited. I wish I could sneak out, but don’t tell Coach Fox. I’ve got somebody recording it for me.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. ó Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel has had surgery on his injured throwing hand and coach Todd Haley still hopes that he will be back this season.
Cassel hurt his right hand in Sunday’s 17-10 loss to Denver. The former Pro Bowl quarterback had surgery Monday evening to repair what Haley called a “significant” injury.
Haley said Wednesday he doesn’t know when Cassel will be able to return. The team has not placed him on injured reserve, which means he could return this season. Haley said much of that will depend on how Cassel recovers this week.
The Chiefs play Monday night at New England, giving backup Tyler Palko a little more time to prepare. Rookie Ricky Stanzi will be the backup.
RICKY THE RAVEN
OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) ó As Ricky Williams draws closer to the end of NFL career, he’s playing less and enjoying it more.
Since winning the Heisman Trophy at Texas and joining the New Orleans Saints in 1999, Williams has amassed nearly 10,000 yards rushing and scored 73 touchdowns. He has had five 1,000-yard seasons and served as a workhorse for both the Saints and Miami Dolphins.
Now 34, Williams has assumed a backup role with the Baltimore Ravens. Playing behind Ray Rice, Williams has thus far gained only 230 yards on 54 attempts, exceeded double-digits in carries only twice and has scored one touchdown in nine games.
Williams isn’t complaining. In fact, he can’t remember being happier.
“It’s been interesting,” Williams said Wednesday. “It’s been an adjustment for me, but I love the organization and I love my teammates so I’m having a good time. I’m enjoying myself. Anytime you play a team sport, the success of the team really makes everything better. It’s nice.”
Williams played a similar role last season in Miami, where he averaged 10 carries per game.