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Dolphins' Surtain out, Madison in at Pro Bowl

Posted: Thursday January 30, 2003 10:24 PM

MIAMI (AP) -- Miami Dolphins cornerback Patrick Surtain dropped out of the Pro Bowl on Thursday because of a knee injury and was replaced by teammate Sam Madison.

The undisclosed injury gives Madison a fourth consecutive trip to the Pro Bowl. Madison had 31 tackles and three interceptions last season, a year in which he criticized himself for not playing to his standards.

Surtain, making his first Pro Bowl, had been a starter for Sunday's game. Instead, Houston's Aaron Glenn and New England's Ty Law will start for the AFC squad. Madison will be the lone reserve at cornerback.

Madison's addition to the AFC squad gives the Dolphins seven players in the Pro Bowl, including defensive tackle Tim Bowens, safety Brock Marion, linebacker Zach Thomas and running back Ricky Williams.

County commissioner files lawsuit against Bengals

CINCINNATI (AP) -- A Hamilton County commissioner who contends the Cincinnati Bengals violated their stadium lease by failing to be competitive filed a taxpayer suit Thursday against the team and the NFL.

Commissioner Todd Portune also named all of the NFL's other franchises in the suit filed in Hamilton County Common Pleas Court. The complaint alleges fraud, civil conspiracy, antitrust violations and breach of contract.

"The Bengals are confident the claims are without merit and will vigorously defend the action," the team said in a statement.

The league also criticized the suit.

"Mr. Portune is acting without the support of the county commissioners or the county prosecutor and, in our opinion, his approach is not constructive and will not succeed," NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said.

Portune's lawyer, Robert Furnier, said the suit was filed because the Bengals and the league refused to meet with the commissioner or negotiate a new lease for 65,000-seat Paul Brown Stadium.

"Commissioner Portune was forced to bring this litigation to preserve these claims for the citizens of Hamilton County," Furnier said. "In the weeks to come, commissioner Portune will seek the support of the Hamilton County Board of Commissioners to join the lawsuit."

Portune wants the Bengals to renegotiate their lease for the $458 million stadium, which opened in 2000. Earlier this week, he asked the National Football League to provide an $80 million loan to enable county taxpayers to pay off the stadium debt within the originally projected 20 years.

Portune said projections show it will take at least 35 years to retire the stadium debt with revenues from a half-cent sales tax increase county voters approved in 1996.

Portune says the Bengals promised, in return for the stadium, to field a competitive team. Cincinnati hasn't made the playoffs since 1990, and just finished the worst season in franchise history at 2-14.

In a letter this week to NFL commissioner Paul Tagliabue, Portune demanded that the Bengals agree to $124 million in lease changes along with the $80 million loan from the NFL.

The NFL has made loans available to eight other NFL cities for new stadiums, Portune said in his letter.

Portune, the only Democrat on the three-member county commission, was not a member when the tax surcharge was approved by voters or when the commission negotiated the lease with the Bengals.

He was elected in 2000, defeating incumbent Republican Bob Bedinghaus, the point man on the stadium project who bore the brunt of recriminations over some $51 million in cost overruns.

County commissioners started legal action last year to try to recover about $45 million from contractors.

Hufnagel becomes quarterbacks coach

FOXBORO, Mass. (AP) -- John Hufnagel became quarterbacks coach of the New England Patriots on Thursday, filling a two-year vacancy in the position after Dick Rehbein died before the 2001 season.

Hufnagel has held the same job with Jacksonville, Cleveland and Indianapolis.

The Patriots didn't have a quarterbacks coach after Rehbein died of a heart problem Aug. 6, 2001, during training camp. Coach Bill Belichick and offensive coordinator Charlie Weis worked with the quarterbacks after that.


 
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