Three get weekly NFL honors
NEW YORK, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Tampa Bay cornerback Ronde Barber, who ended a late drive by Philadelphia in the NFC Championship game, Thursday was named NFL Defensive Player of the Week.
Barber was one of three players recognized. All three will be participants this weekend in Super Bowl XXXVII, in San Diego.
The Buccaneers held a seemingly shaky 20-10 lead when Barber intercepted a pass by Donovan McNabb and returned it 92 yards for a touchdown with 3:12 left in the fourth quarter to send the Bucs to their first Super Bowl.
Barber, who played an outstanding game all around, also had a forced fumble on a blitz, a sack, and four passes defended along as Tampa Bay posted the victory.
"Ronde Barber was all over the place," said Tampa Bay defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin. "I don't think I've seen a DB make as many plays in one game as he did."
Oakland quarterback Rich Gannon and placekicker Sebastian Janikowski were named NFL Offensive and Special Teams Players of the Week.
Gannon completed 29-of-41 passes for 286 yards and three touchdowns to lead the Raiders to a 41-24 win over Tennessee in the AFC Championship game. His 29 completions set a team playoff record, and he also rushed eight times for 41 yards and a TD.
"He was awesome today," said Raiders center Barret Robbins after the game. "It was like he was on a different level. He just had one of those games."
Janikowski made field goals of 43 and 32 yards, and was 5-for-5 on extra points. He leads all kickers with 23 points in the playoffs.
Holmes out for Pro Bowl
KANSAS CITY, Mo., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Veteran Kansas City running back Priest Holmes, who led the NFL in rushing this season, will be a casualty for the Pro Bowl.
Holmes is recuperating from a hip strain suffered in the contest at Denver on Dec. 15. He did not play the final two games of the 2002 season.
Despite missing the last two games, he still rushed for 1,615 yards, caught 70 passes for 672 yards, and scored 24 touchdowns.
Before he was hurt, Holmes was closing in on Marshall Faulk's NFL records for touchdowns in a season (26), and combined rushing and receiving yards (2,429) in a season.
He has been making progress in his rehabilitation, according to Chiefs President Carl Peterson, but the team does not want him to take a chance on playing.
"Upon discussion with Priest, (team doctor) Dr. Browne, and (trainer) Dave Kendall, we concluded that we did not want to take the chance of further injury."
"We're really positive about his progress," said Coach Dick Vermeil. "He really felt if this were an NFL game that week, playing for the Kansas City Chiefs, he would take the chance and go ahead and play, but there's a certain amount of risk involved, and he's not going to be playing for the Kansas City Chiefs that day, so he won't play. My only comment to him was that I would love to see him play, but if he's pushing to play, if he's not ready to play, then he's not quite there and he shouldn't play. He was very receptive to that. He has so much at stake."
Holmes will travel to Hawaii in a few days, where he will fulfill some off-the-field commitments.
"He'll join his teammates on the AFC squad and make a few personal appearances as well," Peterson said.
Harris hired by Jaguars
JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Jacksonville Jaguars Thursday named James Harris their Vice President of Player Personnel.
He had been Pro Personnel Director for the Baltimore Ravens since 1997.
In Jacksonville, Harris is reunited with new coach Jack Del Rio, who spent four seasons as linebackers coach of the Ravens, including the 2000 season when Baltimore won the Super Bowl.
Mike Smith, the Ravens' linebackers coach last season, Tuesday was named Jacksonville's defensive coordinator.
"He was very thorough about the job," said Baltimore Senior Vice President of Football Operations. "He went down there thinking he could be a good fit because of Jack and Mike. He's had to study Jacksonville for the last six years. He knows that football team."
Harris, one of the NFL's first black quarterbacks, played 12 seasons in the NFL with Buffalo, the Los Angeles Rams, and San Diego, passing for 8,136 yards and 45 touchdowns.
In Jacksonville, Harris, 55, becomes the team's top personnel man, and will be the lead figure in draft-day decisions. Former coach Tom Coughlin, who was fired Dec. 30 after a 6-10 season, had a major say in personnel matters.
Before landing in Baltimore, Harris was assistant general manager of the New York Jets from 1993-96, and was a scout at Tampa Bay for six seasons.
Blood, hair recovered from Goodrich car
DALLAS, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Police have recovered blood and hair samples from the windshield of a car driven by a Dallas Cowboys player charged with manslaughter in a deadly hit-and-run accident, court records show.
Dwayne Goodrich told police through his attorney that he thought he struck only some debris when two good Samaritans were killed Jan. 14 on a Dallas freeway. He is free on $50,000 bond, facing two counts of manslaughter.
Demont Matthews, 23, and Joseph Wood, 21, were helping an injured man in a burning car when they were hit and killed by a car witnesses said was traveling more than 100 mph.
Goodrich, 24, surrendered turned himself into Dallas police later in the day. He could face up to 20 years in prison if he is convicted on the second-degree felony manslaughter charges.
In addition to the blood and hair samples, police found tissue and hair underneath weather stripping near the windshield, according to court records released Wednesday. They also found fiber and hair near the right headlight of the 2002 BMW 745i.
Goodrich told police he was the driver of the car, according to the records.
Goodrich's attorney would not discuss the facts of the case. He has said that his client was remorseful and ready to accept responsibility when he learned people had been hurt in the accident.
Wood and Matthews had pulled off the freeway to help the driver the car that had burst into flames after read-ending a parked truck. They joined a third man who was also trying to assist at the accident scene. The third rescuer suffered a broken leg and driver is recovering from burns.
Goodrich, a cornerback, was a second-round draft pick of the Cowboys out of Tennessee in 2000. A torn Achilles tendon suffered in training camp ended his second year and he played in 11 games this past season, starting only once.
Serena somehow survives at Melbourne
MELBOURNE, Australia, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- Serena Williams Thursday advanced to the women's singles final at the Australian Open with an improbable 4-6, 6-3, 7-5 win over Kim Clijsters.
Williams, the No. 1 seed, kept alive her quest for the so-called "Serena Slam" by saving two match points in her seminal match, and rallied from two service breaks as a shocked Clijsters was rendered helpless.
Williams won the last six games against Clijsters, the No. 4 seed, who has a colossal collapse.
Earlier, older sister, Venus, the No. 2 seed, dispatched the fifth seed, Justine Henin-Hardenne of Belgium, 6-3, 6-3, in 74 minutes.
Serena Williams had a simple explanation for her comeback.
"I'm just a fighter," she said. "I just thought to myself, I didn't come all these miles to lose. I honestly didn't expect to do it like that."
The Williams sisters have contested the last four Grand Slams and the past five in which they have participated, dating back to the 2001 U.S. Open.
Venus won that matchup to capture her fourth career Grand Slam, but Serena, who did not play at Melbourne last year because of an ankle injury, has taken the last three.
Serena is trying to become the first woman to hold the titles of all four majors at once since Steffi Graf in 1993-'94.
Venus Williams broke serve three more times than Henin-Hardenne, and improved to 7-1 lifetime against her Belgian foe.
Saturday, she will play in the ninth Grand Slam final of her career.
"It's so exciting," Venus Williams said after the match. "I have struggled and failed to get this close here (at Melbourne). I've never been in this position, so I am very happy."
"Venus is actually playing a little better than me at this tournament, so I've got to pull something out of my back pocket to be able to go onto the next level," said Serena, who has won her last four matches against Venus to tie the head-to-head series at 5-5. "Obviously, I would like to win one more match. Granted, she wants to win this one as well, wants to get her year started. Who knows, she's probably trying to win all four as well. I'm just trying to win this one, too."
Venus has appeared in the championship match at eight of the last 11 majors, winning Wimbledon and the U.S. Open in 2000 and 2001.
Henin-Hardenne, who put up little resistance, was hoping to reach her second career Grand Slam final. She was runnerup to Venus at Wimbledon in 2000, but was fatigued from her three-hour, 13-minute quarterfinal against Lindsay Davenport.
"For sure I wasn't fresh like I could be (after the Davenport match), but that's not the reason (I lost)," Henin-Hardenne said. "I think that Venus played much more aggressive than me. She returned well, so served good. You know, she came more often than me to the net."
In men's semifinal action, second seed Andre Agassi cruised past Wayne Ferreira, 6-2, 6-2, 6-3, in less than two hours for his 11th victory in as many career meetings with the South African.
Agassi advanced to his fourth Australian Open final. In his 11 ATP matches against Ferreira, the Las Vegas native has dropped just two sets in this tournament.
"It's a great thing," Agassi said after advancing to his 14th Grand Slam final. "This is what you play for. You play to be here on the big occasion. These are the moments you remember the most, so it's very special for me."
Agassi notched 30 winners to just 12 unforced errors and made 72 percent of his first serves. When making his first save, Agassi won 84 percent of those points on the way to winning his 20th straight match at Melbourne. After capturing the Australian title in 2000 and 2001, Agassi withdrew from last year's event because of a wrist injury.
The match between Agassi, 32, and Ferreira, 31, each of whom is appearing in a Grand Slam event for the 50th time, represented the first time players at least 30 years old met in an Australian Open semifinal during the Open era.
Agassi now faces the winner of Friday's matchup between No. 9 Andy Roddick and Rainer Schuettler of Germany.
Raptors waive Brown
TORONTO, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Toronto Raptors Thursday waived forward Damone Brown, who appeared in five games since being signed to a 10-day contract on Jan. 14.
Brown averaged 5.6 points, 3.0 rebounds, and 23.0 minutes per game for the Raptors, and made three starts. He scored 13 points Jan. 14 at Washington, and played 36 minutes Jan. 17 at New Jersey.
Brown participated in Philadelphia's training camp, and began the year with North Charleston of the NBDL.
Ortiz signs with Red Sox
BOSTON, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The Boston Red Sox on Wednesday agreed to terms on a one-year contract with free agent first baseman-designated hitter David Ortiz.
He spent the first six years of his career with the Minnesota Twins.
Financial terms were not disclosed.
Ortiz likely will be used as a designated hitter and a backup at first base for Jeremy Giambi, who was signed by the Red Sox last month at the winter meetings.
"All of our scouts think, and our analysis dictates, that David has a very high ceiling," General Manager Theo Epstein told MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball. "Due to injuries, he hasn't necessarily reached his ceiling. You're looking at a player who can be an impact middle of the lineup bat. An everyday player. That is his ceiling and we hope he reaches it with us."
Ortiz, 27, is coming off his best season, posting career highs in home runs (25) and RBI (75) while batting .272 with a .339 on-base percentage and a .500 slugging percentage in 125 games.
He was used primarily as the DH by the Twins, appearing in only 15 contests at first base. In 132 career games at the position, Ortiz had a fielding percentage of .991.
"When I was with Minnesota, I had a lot of injuries and I started DH-ing," Ortiz said. "But at the same time, I'm just 27 years old. I'm working out hard this winter to see if I can be an everyday first baseman. I think that if I stay healthy, I can put up some numbers that can help Boston go to the playoffs and win a World Series. That's my goal right now. I'm looking forward to playing 160 games in the big leagues. I haven't done that yet."
In 455 games for the Twins, Ortiz batted .266 with 58 homers and 238 RBI. He was limited to 89 games in 2001 by a fractured right wrist.
Report: Connecticut to get WNBA team
NEW LONDON, Ct., Jan. 23 (UPI) -- The WNBA's Orlando Miracle reportedly will relocate to Connecticut, where they will play the bulk of their home games at the Mohegan Sun casino.
The Day of New London is reporting that casino officials completed the final details of the process this week and that a news conference to announce the move will be held on Tuesday.
The Mohegan Sun is located in Mohegan, Ct., and is home to a 10,000-seat arena. The Day said that one to three home games would be played at the Hartford Civic Center.
WNBA officials previously have said that Connecticut was a strong candidate for a franchise because of the strong interest in the state in women's basketball.
The league recently changed its business format, ending central ownerships of teams. For the first time, WNBA teams may now be located in non-NBA markets, and non-NBA owners may pursue ownership of WNBA teams in NBA markets.
The Miracle announced in October that they would relocate in time for the 2003 season.
Orlando was granted a WNBA franchise in 1998, and has posted an all-time record of 60-68 in four seasons. The Miracle made their only playoff appearance in 2000.
The Miracle roster includes former University of Connecticut star Nykesha Sales.
Conradt gets to 800
AUSTIN, Texas, Jan. 23 (UPI) -- University of Texas women's basketball coach Jody Conradt Wednesday night became the second woman to win 800 career games.
When No. 16 Texas posted a 69-58 Big 12 Conference upset of seventh-ranked Texas Tech, Conradt won got her 800th career victory.
By snuffing out a late rally, the Lady 'Horns also snapped Tech's 15-game winning streak.
Conradt, who recorded No. 500 against the Lady Raiders in 1988, improved her all-time record to 800-262 over 34 seasons.
She joins Pat Summitt of Tennessee as the only women's coaches to reach the 800-win club. Summitt posted her 800th career win in a victory over DePaul on Jan. 14.
"I don't remember a lot of the 800, but I can tell you without reservation there was not any harder fought than this one tonight," said Conradt.
"I was there for Coach's 1,000th loss (at Kansas State on Jan. 17, 2000), and we didn't win," said senior forward Tai Dillard. "I was heartbroken. I really wanted us to win this one for her."
Stacy Stephens had 20 points, eight rebounds, and four steals for the Longhorns (12-4, 5-0 Big 12), who led the entire game but needed eight free throws in the final minute to seal the win.
"She's had such a terrific career and done so much for women's basketball," said Tech Coach Marsha Sharp. "It's really fitting she'll be one of the only coaches in the country who reaches that (800) milestone."
Ironically, the Lady Longhorns are at Kansas State on Saturday. The two teams will be playing for first place in the Big 12 in that contest.
Brind'Amour out three months
RALEIGH, N.C., Jan. 22 (UPI) -- Carolina Hurricanes center Rod Brind'Amour will be sidelined three months after undergoing right hand surgery on Wednesday.
Brind'Amour was placed on injured reserve Tuesday, one night after suffering the injury during a first-period faceoff against the St. Louis Blues.
He continued to play and scored a goal in the third period as the defending Eastern Conference champions were beaten, 5-3.
In his fourth season with Carolina, Brind'Amour, 32, leads the team in scoring with 13 goals and 23 assists in 48 games, but the Hurricanes have lost seven straight and are in fourth place in the Southeast Division with 42 points.
Last year, Brind'Amour helped fuel Carolina's upstart run to the Stanley Cup Finals, recording four goals and eight assists in 23 playoff games.
"This is just the way bad years go, you get bad breaks," said General Manager Jim Rutherford.
The veteran had missed just five games since being acquired from Philadelphia on Jan. 23, 2000. Brind'Amour also is a top penalty killer, and leads the team with 20 points on the power play this season.
"It's a blow, no question," said Coach Paul Maurice said. "You can't replace him with one individual."
"We can't hang our heads and sit here and sulk because he's gone," said defenseman Glen Wesley. "We've got to build off of this."