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Reggie White among those eligible for Hall

Associated Press

Reggie White, a two-time NFL defensive player of the year who died last year at 43, heads a list of players, coaches and contributors eligible for induction in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

White is eligible for the first time along with quarterbacks Troy Aikman and Warren Moon. Other first-year eligible players include running back Thurman Thomas, wide receiver Andre Reed and offensive lineman Dermontti Dawson.

NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue and longtime owners Art Modell and Ralph Wilson are on the preliminary list that includes five former head coaches and 11 contributors.

A member of the NFL’s 75th anniversary team, White was named to the Pro Bowl a record 13 straight times from 1986-98. He earned top defensive player honors in 1987 and 1998. He retired in 2000 as the career sacks leader with 198, a mark later passed by Bruce Smith.

White, who played with Philadelphia, Green Bay and Carolina, died on Dec. 26 in Cornelius, N.C.

From a preliminary list, Hall of Fame selectors will choose 25 candidates who will advance as semifinalists. That list will be trimmed to 13 candidates, who will join veterans committee nominees John Madden and Rayfield Wright as finalists.

The Class of 2006 will be announced on Feb. 4, the day before the Super Bowl in Detroit.

NFL legends at Mara memorial

On a crisp autumn morning, perfect for the game he loved, New York Giants owner Wellington Mara was revered as a peerless father, friend and football man at a service packed with luminaries from across an extraordinary career.

Mara’s coffin sat in the aisle of St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York flanked by the two most important groups in his long life: his wife, Ann, their 11 children and an assortment of grandchildren on one side, and this year’s Giants on the other.

The Manhattan cathedral took on the cast of Canton, Ohio, as it swelled with NFL greats: fellow Hall of Famers Frank Gifford, Andy Robustelli, Gene Upshaw, John Madden and Willie Brown. Tagliabue was there, along with Giants favorites from the 1950s through the 1990s.

Mara died at the age of 89 Tuesday at his suburban New York home after a long fight against cancer.

An assortment of NFL coaches with ties to Mara also turned out, including Dallas coach Bill Parcells, New England’s Bill Belichick, Carolina’s John Fox and Cleveland’s Romeo Crennel. Their attendance, two days before Sunday’s kickoffs, spoke volumes about their level of regard for Mara. Owners from at least another dozen franchises came to mourn, further evidence of his standing as the league’s senior owner.

Carswell upgraded to serious condition

Denver Broncos offensive lineman Dwayne Carswell was upgraded to serious condition, a day after having his spleen removed and undergoing other surgery after a five-car traffic accident on his way to practice.

“He’s doing better, a lot better,” coach Mike Shanahan said. “They think he will be able to sit up soon. He’s still in the intensive care unit, but they’re hoping he can be out of there by tomorrow.”

A team spokesman said Carswell had tubes removed and was breathing without assistance.

Aurora police issued a summons to Marquita Brister, 22, for investigation of careless driving. Police spokesman Anthony Guzman said investigators believe she triggered the crash by making an abrupt lane change. Brister was treated and released from the hospital shortly after the accident.

Around the league

Baltimore Ravens fullback Alan Ricard was placed on injured reserve, ending his season after six games because of chronic calf injuries. A Pro Bowl alternate in 2003, Ricard has started just two games this season after aggravating calf injuries dating back to training camp.

Running back Jamal Lewis ranks 28th in the NFL with 54.3 yards per game and has been limited to 2.9 yards per carry.

He has continually noted Ricard’s absence as a significant contributing factor in the offense’s struggles.

•Oakland Raiders safety Derrick Gibson was placed on injured reserve, five days after dislocating his left wrist. Gibson was injured early in Oakland’s 38-17 victory over Buffalo. The fifth-year pro from Florida State underwent surgery Monday to place pins in his wrist.

•Cornerback Terrence McGee signed a four-year contract extension, allowing the Buffalo Bills to lock up their No. 2 pass defender and Pro Bowl kickoff returner through 2009. The deal was worth $18 million and includes a $5 million signing bonus, McGee’s agent, Terry Bolar, told the Associated Press.

•Green Bay Packers tight end David Martin might miss Sunday’s game against Cincinnati after straining his right hamstring in practice on Thursday.

•San Diego Chargers fullback Lorenzo Neal, who has blocked for eight straight 1,000-yard rushers, has agreed to a two-year contract extension through the 2007 season.

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