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Published: Thursday, 12/7/2006

UM's Woodley wins Lombardi

ASSOCIATED PRESS

HOUSTON - Michigan defensive end LaMarr Woodley won the Rotary Lombardi Award as the nation's top college lineman or linebacker last night, becoming the first Wolverine to win the honor.

The 6-foot-2, 269-pound Woodley was the Big Ten's Defensive Player of the Year after ranking among the nation's leaders in sacks (11), tackles for loss (15.5) and forced fumbles (4).

The other three finalists were Penn State linebacker Paul Posluszny, Ohio State defensive tackle Quinn Pitcock and Texas offensive guard Justin Blalock. Posluszny also was a finalist last season. Woodley and Posluszny are also finalists for this season's Bednarik Award, honoring the nation's top defensive player.

Woodley is the eighth Big Ten player to win the Lombardi award. Ohio State linebacker A.J. Hawk won last season and Ohio State offensive guard Orlando Pace won it in 1995 and 1996.

tBLOOMINGTON, Ind. - Indiana has extended football coach Terry Hoeppner's contract through the 2011 season.

As the season neared an end, rumors swirled that Hoeppner might step aside because of health concerns.

Last December, he had brain surgery to remove a tumor from his right temple. In September, Hoeppner needed a second procedure to remove what he described as scar tissue.

Hoeppner has a 9-14 record in his two years at Indiana, leading the Hoosiers to within one win of bowl eligibility this season as they finished 5-7.

"Coach Hoeppner has captured the hearts of all loyal Indiana University fans since his arrival two years ago," Indiana president Adam Herbert said. "His strength of character, professional knowledge and boundless enthusiasm for IU football are in keeping with the very high traditions that have long been the hallmark of our athletic teams."

HOMESTEAD, Fla. - Jeff Gordon, Jimmie Johnson, and Sam Hornish Jr. tested their prototype cars yesterday for the Grand-Am Rolex Sports Car Series 24 Hours of Daytona race.

"It's been a blast," Gordon said. "Yesterday, I was pretty excited just to be able to drive a car that performs like this on a road course. It's a lot of fun. Obviously, with our track record in the Cup series on the road courses, I like the road courses."

Gordon will make his first appearance in the 24-hour race on Jan. 27-28. He will share the No. 10 Pontiac Riley with Wayne Taylor and Max Angelelli, who claimed the overall victory in the 24-hour race in 2005.

Hornish is listed as one of four drivers in the No. 60 Lexus Riley, alongside his IndyCar teammate Helio Castroneves and Grand-Am regulars Mark Patterson and Oswaldo Negri Jr.

Johnson said that he will co-drive the No. 91 Pontiac Riley with Jim Matthews, Marc Goossens and Ryan Hunter-Reay.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. - New York Giants linebacker LaVar Arrington equated the players union with organized crime, 24 hours before he was scheduled to testify before Congress at a hearing involving his former agent.

Lawmakers will be looking into the NFL Players Association's suspension of Arrington's former agent, Carl Poston, stemming from his handling of a contract the linebacker signed with the Washington Redskins near the end of the 2003 season.

Arrington contends the union acted unfairly in taking away Poston's livelihood.

"They suspended him without a hearing, the NFLPA," Arrington said, sitting in front of his locker at Giants Stadium. "If you are educated and you pay attention to what is going on around you, they do a lot of foul stuff. It's like organized crime, to be honest with you. They are bad."

Union head Gene Upshaw said that Poston made a major mistake in the contract by omitting an alleged second $6.5 million roster bonus that was due in 2006.

"This isn't just about LaVar," Upshaw said. "This is about the other players this guy represents. We have a duty to the other players."

Upshaw added that the union and not Poston is officially Arrington's agent and that it tried to recover the money for Arrington when the mistake became known in January 2004.

"When we got into this, we did it to protect LaVar," Upshaw said. "I couldn't care less about Poston. I felt we'd take care of him [Poston] later, and we did."

Arrington plans to tell his side of the story to the Subcommittee on Commercial and Administrative Law, which has scheduled an oversight hearing for today to examine the NFLPA's arbitration process.

The subcommittee also plans to hear from NFLPA general counsel Richard Berthelsen; and a law professor, according to a witness list" e-mailed to The Associated Press by House Judiciary Committee press secretary Terry Shawn.

Arrington contends that his $68 million, eight-year deal was hastily closed late in the 2003 season because the Redskins wanted to beat a deadline for salary-cap purposes.

Arrington said the Redskins faxed a final version of the contract without including the provision for a second $6.5 million roster bonus in 2006.

"I guess when they sent that, there was deception involved from the start and I guess they were hoping to bank on that and they got away with it," Arrington said.

Neither Arrington nor Poston noticed the error. Arrington signed the contract.

•SAN ANTONIO - An 81-year-old woman has been charged with trying to extort $2 million from Hall of Fame quarterback Bart Starr.

Ruby Y. Young mailed a letter to Starr, 72, alleging a romantic encounter with him in 1960, prosecutors said. Starr, MVP of the first two Super Bowls with the Green Bay Packers, denies knowing the woman, according to a criminal complaint affidavit filed against Young in Birmingham, Ala.

Young was released on bond after a short hearing in federal court. Young told U.S. Magistrate Judge Pamela Mathy she understood the charges and that "it's not true."

The initial letter was dated Oct. 30, according to the affidavit.

"And now, the time has come for you to pay - to pay for the many injuries you caused me. No I am not a pushover Mr. Starr - and no, I do not need the money - but I intend to see that you pay for your wrong doings [sic] to me" said an initial letter.

Prosecutors said in yesterday's editions of the San Antonio Express-News that Young wrote two more letters to Starr.

Starr's son, Bart Starr Jr., said his family felt bad for the woman and only went to the authorities because it seemed like it "could be a dangerous situation."

He said his mother recalled a situation some 30 years ago when a woman from Texas named Ruby, who was about Ruby Young's age, claimed she had met Starr. The woman described the man she met as "a great big guy" who smoked cigars, wore cowboy boots and Stetson hats. Starr is a slender 6-footer.

Her husband later called the Starrs to apologize and said his wife needed help, Bart Starr Jr. said.

No money was paid to Young in response to the recent correspondence, and investigators with the U.S. Postal Service obtained a copy of the first letter from Starr.

BROCKPORT, N.Y. - SUNY-Brockport of Division III forfeited three of its four football victories this season because it used a player who was not a registered student.

Receiver Shannon Brinson played in nine games for the state college, including wins over Salisbury, Frostburg and Morrisville. He didn't play in Brockport's other victory - against Buffalo State in the season finale - after school officials discovered he was not registered.



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