Stringer's family sues Vikings over death

Wednesday, January 16, 2002

MINNEAPOLIS -- The Minnesota Vikings forced lineman Korey Stringer to practice the day after he fell ill at training camp and didn't attend to him fast enough when he was stricken a second time, his family says in a $100 million lawsuit announced Tuesday.

Stringer, a 335-pound offensive tackle, died Aug. 1 of complications from heatstroke. His body temperature was at 108.8 degrees when he arrived at a Mankato hospital 15 hours before his death.

In their lawsuit, the Stringer family contends that on July 30, the first day of training camp, then-offensive line coach Mike Tice called the 27-year-old player a "big baby" for struggling in the summer heat.

It also says that on July 31, Tice taunted Stringer by showing him a newspaper photo of Stringer doubling over and gasping for breath.

Stringer's widow, Kelci Stringer, said the purpose of the lawsuit mainly is to get answers from the Vikings about how he died.

"The biggest issue here is 'Why is Korey dead?' Not why (owner) Red (McCombs) won't treat me nice," she said at a news conference, wearing a gold football-shaped pin with her husband's number, 77.

"Korey Stringer's heatstroke and his death were utterly and entirely preventable," the complaint said. "Had those responsible for his safety and care, including defendants, exercised even a slight amount of care in carrying out their personal duties to Korey, his illnesses and his death could and would have been avoided."

Tice, now the team's head coach, said in a statement through the Vikings he was "hurt and disappointed."

Bucs in pursuit of Parcells

TAMPA, Fla. -- The Tampa Bay Buccaneers acknowledged for the first time Tuesday that they are pursuing Bill Parcells.

The Bucs fired Tony Dungy, the only winning coach in the franchise's 26-year history, on Monday night and are believed to be close to an agreement with Parcells.

After denying during a news conference that the team had ever had discussions with the former Giants, Patriots and Jets coach or his representative about coming to Tampa Bay, the sons of owner Malcolm Glazer issued a statement saying talks began with agent Jimmy Sexton late Tuesday afternoon.

Sexton did not immediately return a telephone message from The Associated Press.

Speculation about Dungy's future and the possibility that Parcells would return to the NFL with the Bucs began during the Super Bowl in Tampa last January.

The rumor mill heated up again after the Bucs got off a slow start this season, and winning five of seven down the stretch to make the playoffs didn't stop reports predicting Dungy's ouster.

Thomas wins rookie award

CHICAGO, Ill. --Anthony Thomas, not even a starter in Chicago at the beginning of the season, still rolled to a 1,000-yard performance that earned him The Associated Press Offensive Rookie of the Year award on Tuesday.

Thomas, a second-round draft pick out of Michigan, was a backup to James Allen at the start of the season. By midseason, he was an overpowering presence in the Bears' backfield, helping them to the NFC Central title.

"A lot of people didn't think I could do it," Thomas said. "But Chicago had faith in me and gave me an opportunity, and I tried to make the best of it."

He did precisely that, operating behind an improved line and keying a balanced attack that complemented a superb defense. Thomas rushed for 1,183 yards and seven touchdowns, with four 100-yard efforts. He compiled his impressive numbers despite missing two games with a hamstring injury and totaling three carries for 9 yards in the first two weeks of the season.

Spurrier: I have to learn

ASHBURN, Va. -- Steve Spurrier will still wear the visor. He'll still yell at players, even though they're older. He's still going to run the "Fun 'N' Gun" offense, and he'll keep running up the score when he has a chance.

On most everything else, Spurrier pleaded ignorance Tuesday on his first full day in the NFL.

"I need to learn a lot," said Spurrier, who joined the Washington Redskins with a record five-year, $25 million contract.

"I need to learn who all the players are, and the organizational part of it. The playbook? I've got a playbook. We've got plays we can run up the middle all day or we can scatter out and throw it. We got plenty of plays. That won't be a problem. Learning about the NFL is something I'm looking forward to."

The former University of Florida coach was his usual colorful, comical and candid self during a 40-minute news conference Tuesday at Redskin Park. He spoke of the tedium he felt after 12 years of coaching the Gators, his desire to emulate former Redskins coach Joe Gibbs, and his policy of having practices that are less physical -- a point so well taken that defensive end Bruce Smith declared on the spot that he'll return for another season.

"He's a coach that believes you should burn it on the game field instead of the practice field," said the 38-year-old Smith, who said he was considering retirement had Marty Schottenheimer returned.

Chiefs make 2-year deals

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Chiefs have agreed to two-year contracts with linebacker Wes Robertson, wide receiver Terrill Shaw and fullback Paul Shields, the team announced Tuesday.

-- From wire reports

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