In Sports from United Press International

March 27, 2003 at 12:33 AM
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Emmitt Smith signs with Arizona

TEMPE, Ariz., March 26 (UPI) -- Emmitt Smith, pro football's all-time leading rusher, signed a two-year contract Wednesday with the Arizona Cardinals.

The Cardinals made a move to improve their stature in the league, having reached the playoffs just once since moving from St. Louis in 1988.

Financial terms were not disclosed, but Smith reportedly received nearly $8 million.

Smith, who turns 34 in May, rushed for 17,162 yards in 13 years with the Dallas Cowboys before being released on Feb. 27.

NFL leaves overtime alone

PHOENIX, March 26 (UPI) -- Overtime will remain the same in the NFL and a decision on expanding the playoff field has been put on hold.

Altering the overtime rules and increasing the postseason participants from 12 to 14 teams were the hot topics for discussion during the NFL meetings, which concluded Wednesday. But one was rejected and the other was tabled.

A proposal to give each team the ball in overtime fell seven votes shy of passing. Needing 24 of 32 votes, the overtime change received 17 votes. There were 14 votes against with the Oakland Raiders, as they often do, abstaining.

Since overtime was instituted in 1974, a coin toss has determined which team gets the ball. The club that scores first wins. Under the rejected proposal, a two-possession system would have given both teams a chance to score.

Last year, the NFL had a record 25 overtime games. Ten of those were decided on the first possession and 15 were won by the team that won the coin toss.

Adding a playoff team in each conference did not even come to a vote, but will merit further discussion in the May meetings in Philadelphia.

The NFL realigned to eight four-team divisions last season with the division winners and two wild cards in each conference advancing to the playoffs.

Tomjanovich takes leave of absence

HOUSTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Houston Rockets Coach Rudy Tomjanovich said Wednesday he is taking a leave of absence to begin treatment for cancer on his bladder.

Amid reports that he might rejoin the team for their home game against the Los Angeles Lakers on Wednesday night, Tomjanovich held a news conference to announce that he will be gone indefinitely.

Larry Smith will remain the interim coach in Tomjanovich's absence.

The Rockets began play Wednesday in the eighth and final playoff spot in the Western Conference, one game ahead of the Phoenix Suns.

On March 18, Tomjanovich was diagnosed with a superficial bladder tumor that did not require surgery but does mandate once-a-week treatments. He has remained at his Houston home for much of the last week and missed the team's five-game road trip that concluded Monday.

Tomjanovich, who never had missed a regular-season game as Rockets' coach before the diagnosis, is in his 12th season as Rockets coach.

Priest Holmes has hip surgery

KANSAS CITY, Mo., March 26 (UPI) -- The Kansas City Chiefs announced Wednesday that star running back Priest Holmes had undergone hip surgery Tuesday night.

He is expected to be ready for training camp.

After visiting with a specialist in Miami, Holmes had surgery to remove soft tissue and loose fragments in his hip

"He'll be on crutches for about four weeks, but I am told he'll be able to run full speed by June and that's what we're counting on," Chiefs Coach Dick Vermeil said.

Holmes, 29, appeared on his way to winning a second straight NFL rushing title before he was forced to miss the last two games of the 2002 season with a hip injury. He also was on the verge of breaking Marshall Faulk's single-season record of 26 rushing touchdowns in 2000.

After winning the rushing title with 1,555 yards in 2001, Holmes had 1,615 yards and 24 touchdowns last season before he was injured in a loss at Denver on Dec. 15.

Kwan leads qualifying group

WASHINGTON, March 26 (UPI) -- Michelle Kwan skated early but efficiently and finished atop her qualifying group Wednesday at the World Figure Skating Championships.

Kwan's program to Roderigo's "Aranjuez" included six triple jumps. Her only error was a bobble in the middle of a combination that resulted in an awkard single toe loop as the second jump.

American Sasha Cohen finished third overall, behind Russian Elena Sokolova.

Woods ready for Players Championship

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., March 26 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods, who won by 11 shots last Sunday when he was ill, should be healthy Thursday when he starts his bid for another title.

Woods, the winner of three of his four starts this year, is scheduled to embark on his opening round at The Players Championship at 7:40 a.m. EST.

His task has been made somewhat easier this week by the absence of Ernie Els and Phil Mickelson, the No. 2 and No. 3 players in the world rankings. Els, who recently injured his right wrist while hitting a punching bag at home in London, has withdrawn as a precaution to ensure he will be healthy for the Masters.

Mickelson pulled out to be with his wife, who gave birth to their third child on Sunday.

But Woods still will have to overcome one of the strongest fields of the year, one that includes 47 of the world's top 50 players.

Woods overcame a bout with food poisoning last week to win the Bay Hill Invitational.

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