NFL Nation: Mike Utley

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

One NFC North alumnus (guard Randall McDaniel) got into the Pro Football Hall of Fame on Saturday while another (receiver Cris Carter) absorbed a significant snub. Here's another disappointment that didn't get quite as much attention on Sunday: Defensive end Richard Dent, who was turned away for the fifth consecutive year.

Dent finished his career with 137.5 sacks, which at the time ranked third in NFL history. He made it past the first round of cuts Saturday, an advance that Brad Biggs of the Chicago Sun-Times considers an important milestone. But Dent, in an interview with David Haugh of the Chicago Tribune, seemed to take the news pretty hard.

"I don't feel much at all," Dent said. "I'm just numb to the situation. I really don't have much to say."

Dent has lost out to four other pass-rushers in the past two years: Fred Dean, Andre Tippett, Bruce Smith and Derrick Thomas.

Continuing around the NFC North on Super Bowl Sunday:

  • Minnesota has approached Fox Sports reporter Jay Glazer for help in getting quarterback Tarvaris Jackson involved in a mixed martial arts program. But Jackson doesn't seem too interested. Asked by Sean Jensen of the St. Paul Pioneer Press, Jackson said: "Nah. I'm not planning on it."
  • Detroit was focusing its personnel search on former Jacksonville executive James "Shack" Harris late last week, and now it seems likely that Harris is the Lions' choice. Nicholas J. Cotsonika of the Detroit Free Press confirms the hire.
  • Former Lions offensive lineman Mike Utley, paralyzed during a 1991 game, was a guest of Pittsburgh executive Kevin Colbert at the Steelers' practice Saturday. Colbert worked for the Lions front office earlier in his career.

Posted by ESPN.com's Kevin Seifert

A little bit here and there:

  • The Associated Press reports the Green Bay Packers will at least partially base their tampering case against the Minnesota Vikings on "more than normal" phone activity between Brett Favre and Vikings offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell. The calls took place in the time period after Favre asked the Packers for his release. (Again, it seems only fair to judge the content of the conversations, not the existence of conversations themselves. But the NFL has a relatively low standard for tampering, as it showed during the Chicago-San Francisco case.)
  • In a twist, both Favre and Aaron Rodgers were in Los Angeles on Wednesday to attend the ESPY awards.
  • Indianapolis Colts coach Tony Dungy told the New York Times he is "a little bit more on the team's side" in the dispute between the Packers and Favre. "Now he wants back in with them but wants back on his terms," Dungy said. "He's saying, 'I didn't work out, I'm just ready to play now and I'm your best bet to get to the Super Bowl."
  • Will new Chicago Bears running back Kevin Jones come back to haunt the Detroit Lions? And have the Lions adequately replaced him with Tatum Bell and rookie Kevin Smith?
  • Seventeen years after he was paralyzed, former Lions offensive lineman Mike Utley has regained most of the use of his hands and has some voluntary movement in his lower legs and feet. His goal is to one day return to Detroit and walk off the field.

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