HOUSTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Veteran offensive lineman Bruce Matthews, whose performance has been matched only by his durability, will officially announce his retirement on Monday. The Tennessee Titans have called a news conference regarding Matthews for 3 p.m. Eastern time at the Texas offices of club owner Bud Adams.
Matthews, one of the greatest offensive linemen in NFL history, was quoted Friday in the Houston Chronicle that he is retiring after a 19-year NFL career.
Matthews, 40, played his entire career with the Houston Oilers/Titans franchise, earning 14 Pro Bowl berths and making an NFL-record 229 consecutive starts.
This past season, he tied Merlin Olsen for the most Pro Bowls in NFL history -- nine at guard and five at center. He played in 296 career games, the most of any non-kicker in league history.
During his stellar career, Matthews never missed a game because of injury. He was sidelined for games in 1983 and '87 because of contract disputes.
"Playing football for the Oilers and Titans was never a job for me, it was always a privilege," Matthews told the newspaper. "I've been blessed to play with great guys in great cities in front of great fans, but now it's time to move on. I have no regrets."
Matthews and guard Randall McDaniel, who retired earlier this year, were the only NFL players to appear in every game in the 1990s. Matthews' string of consecutive games played dates back to Nov. 29, 1987.
Matthews' decision to retire was not totally unexpected. He did not attend any of the Texans' offseason minicamps. There had been speculation that he would play a 20th season with the expansion team.
With his retirement, Matthews is a virtual lock to be a first-ballot selection for the Pro Football Hall of Fame's class of 2006. He came to the Oilers with ninth overall pick in the 1983 draft out of Southern California, where he used to pave the way for Charles White and Marcus Allen.
His retirement will leave Washington Redskins cornerback Darrell Green as the only active player from the 1983 draft.
During his career with the Houston/Tennessee franchise, Matthews has helped open holes for the likes of Earl Campbell, Mike Rozier and Eddie George. In Houston, Matthews and Mike Munchak, the club's first-round pick in 1982, became the anchors of an offensive line for a team that made the playoffs for seven straight years (1987-93), but never advanced to the AFC championship game.
Matthews also was the most outspoken player when Adams moved the franchise to Tennessee following the 1996 season.
The crowning jewel of his career came when he started at left guard in the Titans' Super Bowl XXXIV 23-16 loss to the St. Louis Rams.
WNBA All-Star game takes place in D.C.
WASHINGTON, July 15 (UPI) -- Lisa Leslie and the Western Conference look to continue their mastery of their Eastern Conference counterparts Monday night at the MCI Center in Washington in the fourth annual WNBA All-Star Game.
Leslie won Most Valuable Player honors at the inaugural game in 1999 and duplicated the effort by scoring 20 points and grabbing nine rebounds in an 80-72 West victory last season to improve to 3-0 in the event. The West forced 21 turnovers and scored 25 points off of them as the East turned in a sloppy effort.
There is also the chance that Leslie might give a sellout crowd an extra thrill after making three dunk attempts in practice Sunday.
The Houston Comets have a pair of forwards to join Leslie in the West's frontcourt. Sheryl Swoopes is back after missing all of last season with a knee injury and will pair with Tina Thompson, the 2000 All-Star MVP.
Seattle rookie Sue Bird and Sacramento's Ticha Penicheiro make up the starting backcourt for the West.
The Eastern Conference's chances for victory were diminished severely after the injury to hometown favorite Chamique Holdsclaw of the first-place Washington Mystics. Holdsclaw, the league's leading scorer and rebounder, has missed her team's last six games with a sprained left ankle.
She has been replaced on the roster by Mystics teammate Stacey Dales-Schuman, a rookie from Oklahoma. Dales-Schuman and reserve center Tammy Sutton-Brown from the Charlotte Sting are the first two Canadians to make the WNBA All-Star Game.
New York point guard Teresa Weatherspoon and Charlotte's Dawn Staley comprise the East's backcourt, with rookie Tamika Catchings and New York center Tari Phillips also starting.
Charlotte Coach Anne Donovan, who led the Sting to the championship series a year ago, is making her first appearance as coach of the East.
Angels put closer Percival on DL
KANSAS CITY, July 15 (UPI) -- Early Sunday evening, after the completion of a weekend series in Kansas City, the Anaheim Angels placed veteran closer Troy Percival on the 15-day disabled list, retroactive to last Thursday, because of an "infection of an abrasion near his left Achilles tendon," according to club officials.
Percival took a flight from Kansas City for Anaheim on Sunday morning to have his left heel examined by team physician Dr. Craig Milhouse.
Percival suffered a two-inch scrape on the heel while boating with his family over the All-Star break, and the scrape became infected near his Achilles tendon.
For the year, Percival (3-1) has 22 saves in 24 chances, with an ERA of 2.15. It is the second stint on the DL this season for Percival. He was sidelined in April with a strained muscle in his side. Also, he becomes the third Anaheim reliever to be placed on the disabled list in the last 17 days, joining Dennis Cook and Al Levine.
Last season, Percival had 39 saves in 42 chances, breaking his own team record for save percentage.
The injury comes at an inopportune time for the Angels, who begin an 11-gane stretch against Seattle and Oakland, their top two rivals in the American League East, on Wednesday. Anaheim (53-37) is four games behind first-place Seattle and one game ahead of Oakland.
To take his spot on the roster, the Angels called up righthander Matt Wise from Triple-A Salt Lake City of the Pacific Coast League.
Alfredsson gets new two-year deal from Ottawa
OTTAWA, July 15 (UPI) -- The Ottawa Senators Monday officially announced the signing of Daniel Alfredsson, a restricted free agent, to a two-year contract.
Financial terms were not disclosed, but the Ottawa Sun reported Friday that the talented right wing from Sweden could make up to $9.5 million if performance bonuses are reached.
Alfredsson, who made $3 million last season, has twice missed the start of training camp because of contract disputes, including last season.
The Senators' captain led the club in scoring last season with a career-high 37 goals and 34 assists in 71 games. He added seven goals and six assists in 12 playoff games as the Senators advanced to the Eastern Conference semifinals for the first time since 1998.
Ottawa's chances of re-signing its top player improved in June, when the club dealt winger Shawn McEachern and his $3.1 million salary to Atlanta.
Alfredsson, 29, has spent his entire career with the Senators, tallying 160 goals and 250 assists in 474 games.
Strudwick signs with Blackhawks
CHICAGO, July 15 (UPI) -- Defenseman Jason Strudwick, who has spent the last four-plus seasons with the Vancouver Canucks, Monday signed the with the Chicago Blackhawks.
Contract terms were not disclosed.
Strudwick, an unrestricted free agent who turns 27 on Wednesday, played in 44 games for the Canucks last season, recording two goals, four assists and 96 penalty minutes.
The third-round draft choice of the New York Islanders in 1994 has played in 261 NHL games, collecting four goals, 16 assists and 410 penalty minutes. He was traded from New York to Vancouver for Gino Odjick on March 23, 1998.
Armstrong settles for second in time trial
LORIENT, France, July 15 (UPI) -- Three-time defending champion Lance Armstrong had to settle for second place at the Tour de France Monday, both in the individual time trial and the overall standings after nine of 20 stages.
Armstrong has two weeks remaining and a series of tortuous climbs through the mountains to prove he is worthy of a fourth consecutive championship in cycling's most famous event, but Spain's Igor Gonzalez Galdeano emerged Monday as a potentially dangerous rival.
The 52-kilometer ride against the clock from Lanester to Lorient separated the would-be challengers from the true threats and Armstrong covered the distance in one hour, two minutes, 29 seconds.
That was 11 seconds behind stage winner Santiago Botero of Colombia, who began the day in 30th place overall and moved all the way to fifth. It was the first time since 1999 that Armstrong had not won an individual time trial at the Tour de France.
Gonzalez Galdeano started the day in first place, 34 seconds in front of Armstrong, and held onto the yellow jersey that goes to the overall leader by finishing fourth in the time trial -- 19 seconds behind the winner and eight seconds behind Armstrong.
Armstrong moved from eighth place overall into the No. 2 position -- 26 seconds behind Gonzalez Galdeano, who finished fifth in last year's tour.
The 182 riders remaining from the original field of 189 will have Tuesday off before taking part in a relatively easy ride that will carry them into the foothills of the Pyrenees. On Thursday, the mountain tests will begin and that is where Gonzalez Galdeano must show he has the endurance to hold off Armstrong.
After Botero and Armstrong in the individual time trial came Serhiy Honchar of the Ukraine, who was 18 seconds off the pace. Gonzalez Galdeano was next, followed by Laszlo Bodrogi of Hungary (25 seconds back), Raimondas Rumsas of Lithuania (25 seconds), David Miller of Britain (50 seconds) and Dario Frigo of Italy (1:34).
Gonzalez Galdeano and Armstrong distanced themselves from the rest of the field with their time trial performances.
Joseba Beloki of Spain was in third place overall, 1:23 behind. He was followed by Honchar (1:35), Botero (1:55) and Andrea Peron of Italy (2:08).
The biggest casualty in the time trial was Franch star Laurent Jalabert, who suffered a puncutre and fell from 12th to 18th in the overall standings, 4:18 behind the leader.
Gettysburg athlete killed in car accident
GETTYSBURG, Pa., July 15 (UPI) -- Keith Adams, a rising senior at Gettysburg College and a two-year starting linebacker on the Bullets' football team, died early Sunday morning in a one-vehicle crash. He was 23.
Adams was killed early Sunday morning when his 1997 Jeep Wrangler left the road near Mt. Pleasant Township and the 6-1, 215-pounder was ejected. He was pronounced dead at the scene by the Adams County Coroner's Office.
On Saturday, he had attended the wedding of former New Oxford teammate Josh Baker and Amy Dutterer at the amphitheater on the Gettysburg National Military Battlefield. Afterwards, he went out with former teammates and classmates to talk about their good times together.
"We grew up together," former Gettysburg teammate Travis O'Brien told the paper. "Keith did not have a whole lot to say, but when he did, you listened. He was straight-forward. He told you like it was and you respected him for it. He just went about his business."
Adams, a native of Hanover, Pa., was an environmental studies major. He was set to be one of three captains on the 2002 Gettysburg football squad when training camp opened on Aug. 18. He planned to graduate from Gettysburg in December.
"Keith was such a great example of leadership and toughness," Coach Barry Streeter told The Gettysburg Times. "His teammates elected him co-captain, so that tells you what they thought of him. We are all shocked and saddened."
A memorial service will be held in Hanover on Wednesday morning.
After transferring to Gettysburg from Division II East Stroudsburg (Pa.) before the 2000 season, the 1997 graduate of New Oxford (Pa.) High School immediately established himself as one of the Bullets' top defensive players. Playing alongside All-America linebacker Ryan Moore, Adams started nine games in both 2000 and 2001, compiling 152 tackles while earning All-Centennial Conference (CC) second-team honors last season.
In 2000, he established single-season career highs for solo tackles (43), assists (40) and total tackles (83) while finishing second in the conference in tackles per game (9.2). He recorded at least 10 tackles in five different games, including a season-high 13 stops against St. Lawrence on Oct. 28, 2000.
Last season, he again finished second to Moore in total tackles (69), while making a career-high four interceptions and leading the team with 12 tackles for loss, leading to his second-team All-CC selection.
In his final collegiate game, Adams was named the CC Defensive Player of the Week after making seven tackles, intercepting a pass and recovering a fumble in the end zone for a touchdown in a 24-16 win over Franklin & Marshall on Nov. 10, 2001.
Adams starred as a linebacker and fullback at New Oxford from 1994-96, helping the Colonials go 9-3 and reach the District III championship game during his senior season in 1996.
Cougars begin Gesser Heisman campaign
DUSTY, Wash, July 14 (UPI) -- Washington State University officials have planted the seed for the Heisman Trophy candidacy of quarterback Jason Gesser in Dusty, Wash., hanging a 25-foot high banner from a 100-foot high grain elevator.
"We spent about $2,500 on this likeness of Jason," said WSU Coach Mike Price, whose team is expected to battle for national exposure during the upcoming season. "Some schools spend 100 times that amount and use tall buildings in the nation's largest city, but that's not Washington State."
He was referring to the campaign by the University of Oregon in 2001 for Joey Harrington, the No. 1 pick of the Detroit Lions in this year's NFL draft.
With the inscription "Gess Who 4 Heisman" across the top of his action photo, the banner for Gesser now hangs from a grain elevator along State Route 26, the main highway to the WSU campus from the west and central areas of the state. The town of Dusty, which features the Dusty Café and the Dusty Cooperative (a local agribusiness cooperative), is nestled among the grain fields of the eastern part of Washington state, about 30 miles west of the WSU campus in Pullman. The population is estimated at 10.
"That's pretty cool, but it doesn't look quite as big now," said Gesser, who originally had seen the banner displayed in the entrance to the athletic department's Bohler Gym, where it wasn't dwarfed by the size of the grain storage unit.
Price is credited with coming up with the original idea of a banner boosting Gesser for the Heisman consideration. His "Gess Who" idea was originally to be displayed on a local barn, but then changed to the grain elevator in Dusty, which is owned by the Ritzville Warehouse Company.
Gesser led the Pac-10 Conference in passing and total offense last year as Washington State finished 10-2 and was ranked 10th nationally. This year's team, with many of last year's stars returning, is predicted by most preseason magazines to finish in the top 15 in the national polls.
Gesser threw for 3,010 yards in 2001 and now ranks fifth on the Cougar passing and total offense career lists. Before the end of the 2002 season, the senior quarterback is expected to break all WSU career quarterback records, passing such Cougar greats as Jack Thompson, Drew Bledsoe, Ryan Leaf and Timm Rosenbach.
In his last 20 games, Gesser has tossed 42 touchdown passes. In his first three seasons he threw for 5,422 yards and has amassed 5,522 total offense yards.
Cougar athletic department officials also plan to hang a "Gess Who 4 Heisman" banner somewhere between Seattle and Tacoma, where it can be seen by commuters driving north and south on Interstate-5.
"We would like the banner displayed throughout the month of August to promote our season-opener Aug. 31, against Nevada in the new Seahawk Stadium (in Seattle)," Athletic Director Jim Sterk told the Spokane Spokesman-Review. "We have identified a couple of sites that could give us the visibility we want, but we are still searching for just the right location."
Top UVa recruit to go to prep school
WOODBRIDGE, Va., July 14 (UPI) -- Scholastic All-America linebacker Ahmad Brooks from Woodbridge (Va.) Hylton High School will spend the 2002-03 school year at Fork Union (Va.) Military Academy after committing to playing at the University of Virginia.
Brooks, a 6-3, 240-pound linebacker considered the No. 1 high school prospect in Virginia this year, signed with the Cavaliers in February but did not meet all of the NCAA requirements for freshman eligibility. He had a grade-point average above 2.5, but he failed to reach the minimum SAT or ACT score the NCAA requires for status as a full qualifier.
Virginia had indicated it would accept him as a partial qualifier .. a student-athlete who doesn't meet all the qualifications set forth by the NCAA for grade-point average in the core curriculum and standardized test scores.
Partial qualifiers are ineligible as freshmen but have the opportunity to regain the lost year of eligibility if they graduate in four years. Brooks and his family did not want to sacrifice a year of eligibility. He plans to sign with the ACC school again in 2003.
"This isn't a shock or anything," Bill Brown, who coached Brooks at Hylton, told the Washington Post. "The family and Ahmad have been very aware of this [possibility] from the beginning."
Brooks was part of a recruiting class of 10 SuperPrep All-Americans, four of them Parade All-Americans. He made 207 tackles last season, including 144 solo and 34 for losses.
His talents never better displayed than in last week's Virginia High School All-Star game, when he returned a punt for 76 yards and also threw a touchdown pass and was voted his team's Most Valuable Offensive Player.
He also was named the Post's Defensive Player of the Year for the D.C.-area last fall.