Manuel dedicates season to cancer kids
(Eds: With AP Photos.)
EJ Manuel has joined forces with Camp Kesem, a nonprofit organization whose mission is to support children whose parents have or have had cancer.
The camp has begun a program called Scoring For Good, a fundraising initiative in which participating NFL players donate funds for specific plays. Manuel, currently sidelined with a knee injury, has pledged to donate to Camp Kesem for each touchdown he scores.
Manuel's mother was diagnosed with breast cancer in 2012.
''When my mom was diagnosed, my life changed,'' he says. ''Camp Kesem's mission is one that I support deeply as I can relate directly to each child they help. I am honored to be a part of Scoring For Good and this larger effort to recognize kids affected by a parent's cancer.''
A mobile app has been set up under Scoring For Good, along with a website (www.ScoringForGood.org) this season where fans and donors can follow and even match Manuel's contributions.
Manuel recently invited a group of Camp Kesem kids to a home game and plans to do so again this season.
''We are so excited to have EJ join our family and bring more awareness, and support these kids,''' says Jane Saccaro, Camp Kesem CEO. ''Camp Kesem is inspired by EJ's desire to give back and is excited to help him promote his season this year. EJ's partnership with Scoring For Good will help us help so many more children in need of Camp Kesem's services, and will also help more families who need help know that this life-changing program exists. We are honored to have someone who truly relates to our mission help us help others.''
SCOUTING THROUGH TV: Some NFL players and coaches prefer not to watch games live on TV to check out an upcoming opponent. Count Titans defensive coordinator Jerry Gray as one of those who does, especially with Tennessee visiting St. Louis on Sunday and the Rams playing last Monday night in prime time.
''I want to see what the announcers are saying,'' Gray said. ''The announcers give you more tips than people think because guys on the team tell you everything they going to tell the announcers, so that helps us a whole lot. You get a chance to see some of the little things the announcers say and you jot that down. The next day ... you watch film and see if it's true. If it's true, you bank it up. If it's not, throw it away and start over.''
So how much does Gray ever tell announcers?
''I don't tell them nothing. Nothing. We're going to blitz every down,'' Gray said with a laugh.
OFFERDAHL HONORED: The newest member of Miami Dolphins Honor Roll says he didn't harbor NFL dreams growing up.
Even so, former linebacker John Offerdahl was chosen for the Pro Bowl in each of his first five pro seasons.
''I grew up in a small town in Wisconsin. I had four older sisters. I played the French horn,'' Offerdahl said. ''I had no idea I was going to play at another level. It's just crazy. Quite honestly, it wasn't a dream of mine. But when God gives you a little bit of talent and hard head, you can get far.''
This week Offerdahl became the 26th member of the team's Honor Roll. He played from 1986 to 1993 and has been successful in the restaurant business in South Florida for more than 20 years.
AFC WEST POWER: The AFC West could compile the highest winning percentage for a division through nine weeks of a season if Kansas City, Oakland and San Diego all win this weekend.
The Chiefs (8-0) are at Buffalo (3-5), the Raiders (3-4) host Philadelphia (3-5), and the Chargers (4-3) are at Washington (2-5). Denver (7-1) is off.
AFC West clubs have a .733 winning percentage. Should they sweep, hardly a long shot given the opposition, it would give the division a .757 percentage.
The best through nine weeks was the same division in 1984, .689.
SACK EXCHANGE: Never in NFL history have more than five players had at least 10 sacks through Week 9 of the schedule. Heading into this weekend, four are already there: league leader Robert Mathis of Indianapolis with 11 1-2, Kansas City's Justin Houston and Buffalo's Mario Williams (11 each), and St. Louis' Robert Quinn (10).
If two more players reach 10, it would surpass the mark set in 1983 and equaled in 2000. Sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
Players within range of 10 sacks for the season who are playing this week include the Chiefs' Tamba Hali (9), the Ravens' Terrell Suggs (8), the Cowboys' Jason Hatcher, and the Jets' Muhammad Wilkerson.
AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Steven Wine and Teresa M. Walker contributed to this story.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org
SI Now: Make or break year for Danica Patrick
SI Now: Russell Simmons on the benefits of meditation for athletes