Hakim doesn't muff chance to join Saints
Hakim doesn't muff chance to join Saints
2001 -- Rams wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim outmaneuvers Atlanta linebacker Mark Simoneau.
Wide receiver Az-Zahir Hakim returned to the scene of the crime - in the eyes of some Rams fans, anyway - when he signed last week with the New Orleans Saints. It was at the Superdome on Dec. 30, 2000, that Hakim fumbled a punt that blunted a Rams rally and helped the Saints escape with a 31-28 victory in a wild-card playoff game.
The Rams had stormed back from a 31-7 fourth-quarter deficit and were about to get the ball back with just over a minute and a half remaining. But Hakim muffed the punt - on a fair catch, no less - and the Saints recovered.
New Orleans never had advanced in the postseason before. Saints coach "Jim Haslett said I helped them win their first playoff game, and I can help them win a lot more," Hakim joked after signing a one-year deal with the Saints.
Hakim was with the Rams, mainly as their No. 3 receiver, for four years before getting a five-year, $16 million free-agent contract with Detroit in 2002. After the Lions released him this spring, he appeared to be headed for a reunion with ex-Rams coach Dick Vermeil, agreeing to terms with the Chiefs. Advertisement
But Hakim left Kansas City abruptly and headed south. He declined to discuss the reasons, although it was speculated that he bolted after the Chiefs refused to guarantee him a roster spot.
"I'm a New Orleans Saint; that's it," said Hakim, 28. "When I first took the trip (to New Orleans), the guys made it so comfortable for me. . . . I just had a gut feeling that I wanted to be in New Orleans, so I pretty much re-chose. Dick Vermeil understood what the deal was, and he let me go. It was a decision I had to make."
Brooks shows support for Gandy
Another former Ram has been making news in New Orleans. According to agent Neil Schwartz, left tackle Wayne Gandy is refusing to accept a salary reduction. He has the support of at least one teammate.
"I think the guy deserves every penny of" the $5.25 million he's due this year, quarterback Aaron Brooks said. "Tapping on Wayne's shoulder for a pay cut is not the answer. That's kind of unfair, in my opinion. I respect him. I look up to him, as a player and as a person."
Gandy, 34, was a first-round draft choice of the Rams in 1994. He has missed just one game since then, making 168 starts over 11 seasons.
Saints general manager Mickey Loomis disputes Schwartz's assertion, saying he "never asked Wayne to reduce his salary. I haven't done that. I don't know where that story came from."
Hakim leaves opening for Mitchell
When Hakim said goodbye to Kansas City, Freddie Mitchell said hello. Mitchell, also a free-agent wideout, grabbed a one-year deal with the Chiefs. A former first-round draft choice out of UCLA, Mitchell made more headlines with his mouth than his receiving during four years in Philadelphia. The Eagles released him last month.
"Freddie definitely likes to hear himself talk," said Chiefs offensive lineman John Welbourn, who played with Mitchell in Philly. "There's nothing wrong with that. We're entertainers, and he's entertaining. When I was there, it was never distracting. I always got amusement out of it. There was always some funny angle he was working."
But Mitchell wasn't spouting any outrageous proclamations when he arrived in KC. "I'm happy to be here," Mitchell said. "I've got a lot of learning to do. I've got to learn the playbook.
"We've got a lot of good young guys out here that are fighting for starting jobs, too. It's not given to me. I'll have to earn it. This is the NFL. Every year there's a young guy trying to take your spot."
Mitchell, 26, didn't even grouse about being the Chiefs' No. 2 choice, behind Hakim. "He knows the offense; I would have chosen Az, too," Mitchell said. "He can come right in. He's been with Vermeil. So it's not really second fiddle."
Underwood comeback fizzles
An attempt to resurrect his career in the Canadian Football League ended when ex-NFL defensive end Dimitrius Underwood was cut recently by the Ottawa Renegades.
Minnesota's first-round draft pick in 1999, Underwood also spent time with Miami and Dallas in the NFL. His career never blossomed, largely because of his bouts with bipolar disorder. He tried twice to commit suicide, once in September 1999 and again in January 2001.
Underwood, 28, was released after appearing in just one preseason game for Ottawa.
RE: Hakim doesn
Underwood....wow I forgot about him. And we though Sully was a bust. I guess there is a bigger bust in the history of the NFL. At least Sully shows up, he may be eating hot dogs standing on the sidelines, but at least he has played some snaps.
good word for hakim........"muff"
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