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Notebook: Vikings sign pro wrestling star Brock Lesnar

| Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Brock Lesnar is hoping to become the next big thing for the Minnesota Vikings.

Better known to World Wrestling Entertainment fans as "The Next Big Thing," Lesnar signed a contract with the Vikings on Tuesday.

The former NCAA heavyweight wrestling champion from Minnesota wants to win a spot on the defensive line. At 6-foot-3 and 286 pounds, the 27-year-old Lesnar has not played football since his senior year of high school in South Dakota.

"He's very serious about this," said Lesnar's agent, Ed Hitchcock. "He worked out today and (coach) Mike Tice said he wanted to sign him."

Lesnar retired from the WWE in March. In April, he sustained a pulled groin, bruised pelvis, broken jaw and broken left hand in a motorcycle accident.

Lesnar tried out for the Vikings in June and had another workout with them on Tuesday. The Vikings open training camp on Friday.

After that workout a month ago, Lesnar said, "This isn't a publicity stunt."

"This is the real deal," he said then. "It's something I want to do. I don't want to wake up when I'm 50 years old and say I should have tried."

Scott Studwell, the Vikings' director of college scouting, was willing to give Lesnar another look.

"He is a project with a capital P," Studwell said in June. "He's got physical tools, but he has a long way to go."

Hitchcock said then-Tampa Bay coach Tony Dungy expressed interest in Lesnar after he left school.

"Football is something he's always wanted to pursue," Hitchcock said.

The Vikings also signed guard Tam Hopkins and former Central Catholic tight end Jeff Dugan. They released safety Ben Nauman and defensive tackle Jeff Womble.

Lions sign Butler, Page

The Detroit Lions signed sixth-round draft pick Kelly Butler to a three-year contract and unrestricted free agent Brashear and West Virginia graduate Solomon Page to a one-year deal.

Financial terms of the deals were not disclosed.

Butler was taken 172nd overall. The 6-foot-7, 334-pound tackle started 38 games during the last three seasons at Purdue, where he registered 78 knockdowns during his senior year.

Page spent the 2003 season with San Diego, where he played in eight games, including seven starts. The 6-foot-4, 325-pound guard missed eight games with an ankle injury. Page was a second-round draft pick out of West Virginia for the Dallas Cowboys in 1999.

Broncos release Mobley

Former All-Pro linebacker John Mobley was released by the Denver Broncos because of a lingering neck injury that will keep him from playing this season.

Coach Mike Shanahan emphasized that Mobley could be back if he recovers.

Mobley bruised his spine on Oct. 26 in a collision with teammate Kelly Herndon and Baltimore running back Jamal Lewis. Mobley had hoped to return this season, but a specialist determined last month that the bruise was still there.

The 31-year-old failed his physical before the start of training camp this week and the Broncos elected to release him to clear a roster spot.

"You have to release him to get down to the maximum number of players you can have on the team," Shanahan said. "It doesn't mean we don't want John Mobley back on our football team. If six months to a year from now he feels like he is ready to go, then we will assess him then."

Mobley was one of Denver's most consistent players after the Broncos drafted in the first round in 1996. He started 102 of 105 games in eight seasons, played on Denver's two Super Bowl teams and was an All-Pro in 1997, when he had 162 tackles and four sacks.

Mobley was convicted of drunken driving on April 23 and faces between seven days and a year in jail and a fine of $450 to $1,000. Sentencing is scheduled Friday.

Police said he failed a roadside sobriety test in December 2002 after he was stopped for driving 69 mph in a 40 mph zone.

In 1999, he pleaded guilty to driving while impaired, driving without a license and careless driving. He was sentenced to probation and community service.

Mobley started his career as Denver's weakside linebacker, switched to strongside in 2002, then moved back seven weeks into last season after Ian Gold injured his knee.

"He's a great guy and a heck of a football player," Broncos defensive coordinator Larry Coyer said. "He's constant, he's tough, he's capable of playing any game and to lose a man of that caliber is tough."

Mobley's injury leaves the Broncos with plenty of questions at linebacker.

Al Wilson is back in the middle, but Gold signed with Tampa Bay in the offseason. After that, it will be wide open.

The Broncos still have Donnie Spragan and Jashon Sykes, who were solid in place of Gold and Mobley last season. But those two will likely get pressure for the starting jobs by this year's first-round draft pick, D.J. Williams, and Terry Pierce, who played just three games last season after Denver took him in the second round of the draft.

"To be frank about it, you get so used to seeing him and having the same group of linebackers that it's a unique experience," Coyer said. "But both John and Ian set the bar and we're not going to let the bar slide."

Patriots' Colvin unable to practice

New England Patriots linebacker Rosevelt Colvin, who missed most of last year with a broken left hip, has been placed on the team's physically unable to perform list.

The procedural move does not mean Colvin won't be ready for the regular-season opener. But it preserves the team's options in case he isn't.

Colvin, who injured his hip in the second game of last season, will not practice in pads or take part in contact drills when the defending Super Bowl champions begin training camp Thursday at Gillette Stadium.

The linebacker was placed on the active PUP list, rather than the reserve PUP list. Had be been placed on the reserve list, he would have been ineligible to practice or play for the first six games of the regular season.

Players may be taken off the active PUP list at any point of training camp.

Also placed on active PUP were long snapper Lonnie Paxton and offensive lineman Matt Light.

New England signed Colvin as a free agent in 2003, after he led the Chicago Bears with 10.5 sacks in the previous last two seasons. He had one sack in each of his first two games before he injured his hip Sept. 14 in a 31-10 win at Philadelphia. He went on injured reserve the next day and underwent surgery.

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