Steelers Notebook: Parker ditching rubber sleeves at fan's request
Willie Parker will not wear rubber arm sleeves Sunday against the Patriots because a fan asked him not to. (vs. Bengals 12/03/2007)
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Fast Willie Parker vowed he won't become Fumbling Willie Parker, and, while he's at it, he promised to get rid of the rubber arm sleeves even though he said they help him grip the ball.
"I have to hold onto the ball," said Parker, who lost two fumbles Sunday and came close to losing two others. "Being a running back, you don't want to let that thing go due to anything. No matter what the weather conditions are or what, you have to hold onto the ball, make plays and run hard."
John Madden, part of the NBC Sunday night broadcast crew, suggested on the air that the rubber sleeves made it more difficult to hang onto the football when it was wet or raining.
Parker said it's just the opposite. He said Jerome Bettis is the one who taught him to wear the sleeves and they actually give him a better grip.
"John Madden has a lot of knowledge about the game but a Hall of Famer once told me use those rubber [sleeves] when it gets wet, and I've been using them ever since," Parker said. "No one complains when I'm out there carrying the ball 20, 30 times and not fumbling. It was just a bad game. I was the cause of the fumbles, not those rubber gloves."
Still, he said he will cast them aside no matter what the weather this Sunday in Foxborough, Mass. He said a boy asked him for his autograph Tuesday and then suggested he not "wear those things on your arm" anymore.
"I gave him my word I'm not going to wear them," Parker said. "That's the only reason I'm not going to wear them."
Davenport able to play
The Steelers decided to pass on signing Verron Haynes after they determined that halfback Najeh Davenport was healthy enough to play against New England.
Davenport's right foot swelled after he had acupuncture treatment on it away from the Steelers' facility and not supervised by their medical staff. He had injured his foot while working out on an elliptical machine late last week.
He did not dress Sunday because of the swelling, then he traveled Monday to Miami for the funeral of his former college teammate, Sean Taylor.
The Steelers worked out Haynes, their former back who they released before the season. They wanted to have someone ready in case the swelling in Davenport's right foot jeopardized his availability for their game against New England.
Once they examined Davenport late Monday, they decided not to sign Haynes.
Davenport did not practice yesterday because of his foot.
All three starters who missed the past two games with injuries returned to practice yesterday.
Offensive tackle Marvel Smith (back), strong safety Troy Polamalu (knee) and wide receiver Santonio Holmes (ankle) put in a full practice and should start Sunday.
Hines Ward is the Steelers 2007 Walter Payton Man of the Year. He will compete with the other 31 players nominated for the Man of the Year in the NFL, an award won previously by Bettis when he played for the Steelers.
The Payton award is given to players for their success on the field and their involvement in the community and charitable work. Ward started the Hines Ward Helping Hands Foundation after his 2006 trip to South Korea. It assists biracial youths who face discrimination in that country.
He also is co-chairman of a golf outing that benefits the Caring Foundation and Caring Team, participates in the NFL's "Take a Player to School" program and helps with the Make-a-Wish Foundation.
First Published December 6, 2007 12:00 am