NFL Nation: Muhammad Ali

Green-Ellis trains on Ali's hallowed ground

April, 12, 2011
4/12/11
12:54
PM ET
Float like a butterfly, sting like a Law Firm.

Boston Herald reporter Ian R. Rapoport has revealed one of the more interesting conditioning stories of the lockout.

BenJarvus Green-Ellis has been working out at the historic 5th Street Gym in Miami Beach. That's the workshop where Muhammad Ali honed his craft under trainer Angelo Dundee.

"There's a lot of great tradition at the gym," Green-Ellis told Rapoport. "You really have to check it out. And when I leave there, I'm drenched from head to toe like I hopped out of the swimming pool."

All boxers need a nickname, and Green-Ellis already has one of the NFL's best: the Law Firm because of the way his name reads.

Patriots fans with an affinity for the Sweet Science will get a jolt out of seeing the photos of Green-Ellis that ran with the story.

Green-Ellis works out at the 5th Street Gym five days a week on top of his regular football training. He decided to try boxing as a way to push himself beyond and to improve his footwork.

"They really put me through it," Green-Ellis said of the 5th Street Gym staff. "There's no sitting down. I like it, and it's especially good for my core. That's where it starts. Working on hand-eye coordination, my footwork in there, keeping up my good cardio, different things for my shoulders -- it helps out. And I like being able to hit the pads. They push me to my limits and past my limits."

He hasn't sparred yet, and might not ever. He said he doesn't have dreams of being a prizefighter like Baltimore Ravens safety Tom Zbikowski.

Dundee's head trainer, Matt Baiamonte, noted Green-Ellis is a dedicated student of the sport, a trait Bill Belichick certainly recognized with football. Green-Ellis overcame not being drafted and waived multiple times to become the AFC East's only 1,000-yard rusher last season.

"He picks it up really quick," Baiamonte said, mentioning the pros who train at the gym. "David Haye, Andre and Anthony Dirrell, they're amazed with his progress.

"What I really like about Ben is, if I mention a fighter's name, he actually goes home and finds stuff on YouTube and studies the fighters. He'll say, 'In this fight, he did this,' and 'I've been practicing this.'

"If only I could get some of my fighters to do that."

Reggie Jackson slams Jets for smack talk

January, 13, 2011
1/13/11
9:38
PM ET
The man who once called himself "the straw that stirs the drink" in the Bronx is advising the New York Jets to chill out.

New York Yankees legend Reggie Jackson thinks the Jets should shut up and concentrate on getting ready for Sunday's playoff game against the New England Patriots.

Jackson actually called in to ESPN 1050 host Michael Kay's show Thursday specifically to blast the Jets for calling out Tom Brady and Bill Belichick. Jackson said it's as absurd as insulting Sandy Koufax or Tom Seaver or Jack Nicklaus before playing them.

"What are you talking about? What are you doing? Shut up! Play football!" Jackson said.

Jackson, a Baseball Hall of Famer, played football at Arizona State before switching full-time to the diamond.

He was particularly agitated by Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie calling Patriots Brady an "ass----" and Jets head coach Rex Ryan for making fun of Brady. Ryan jabbed Brady for seeing the Broadway play "Lombardi" on Saturday night instead of watching the Jets beat the Indianapolis Colts.

Kay asked Jackson if he ever talked smack to an opponent.

"For what?" Jackson replied incredulously. "So that Don Sutton or Tom Seaver or Jerry Koosman or somebody would bear down harder on me? They're tough enough! And what's that make me? It makes me a fool.

"There are only two guys that made predictions. One guy did it every week that he fought in the '60s, and that was Ali, and he was real. He truly was the greatest. The other guy made one prediction in his career. It was a fluke, and it worked: Joe Namath.

"The greatest players in history, Woods, Nicklaus -- name all the greats -- Jimmy Brown, Johnny Unitas, Montana. They don't run their mouth. The wannabes, the imitations do."

Jackson admitted he generally gets a kick out of Ryan, but Mr. October scolded Cromartie like a Mr. December.

"Go look at the hardware, dude," Jackson said. "Walk through the lobby up there and look at the stuff that's there. You don't have that. You don't have anything close to it.

"Shut up. You might learn something. Read. You might figure something out. Watch film. You might get educated. If not, you got a chance to get embarrassed on Sunday. I hope you don't because I like the Jets."

Jackson later added: "You don't know what he's talking about because you've never won. So don't tell me how he thinks. You don't know. Acknowledge that. That's not my opinion. That's fact."

I can't wait to hear what Mike Richter has to say about all this.

Posted by ESPN.com's Mike Sando

Nick Wagoner of stlouisrams.com says Steve Spagnuolo is anxious for the Rams' to open their first minicamp under his leadership. They'll get going at 6:30 a.m. Thursday. Spagnuolo: "I was telling somebody the other day that when you finally get to this point, you finally feel like this is what you got hired to do. We're coaches, that's what we do, that's what we enjoy so now we get a chance to get out there and do exactly what we enjoy doing."

Adam Caplan of ScoutNFLNetwork.com says the Seahawks and Rams are among the teams expected to meet with Utah pass rusher Paul Kruger before the draft.

Jim Thomas of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch's report about Gus Frerotte's expected deal with the Rams drew a couple of wisecracks in the comments section. The first: "Great, when will Jamie Martin report for camp?" The second: "Re-sign Jeff Smoker too." Not bad, but in reality, who were the Rams supposed to sign as a reasonably priced backup?

Vaughn McClure of the Chicago Tribune says the Bears want to make Orlando Pace their starting left tackle. He also says the Bears' interest in former Panthers and Seahawks cornerback Ken Lucas is only "lukewarm" at this point. Don't be surprised if Lucas re-signs with Seattle.

Sonja Haller of the Arizona Republic provides details from Kurt Warner's appearance at Muhammad Ali's annual charity event. Ali's wife, Lonnie, honored Warner with a sports leadership award. Lonnie Ali on Warner: "If there ever was an athlete that I think epitomizes everything that this man sitting next to me [Ali] is, he's sitting right there."

Nakia Hogan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune says Phoenix, New Orleans and Miami have submitted bids to land the 2013 Super Bowl. Owners plan to make a decision during their May meetings.

Kent Somers of the Arizona Republic says the Cardinals invited a limited number of college prospects to their headquarters before the draft. The team didn't value such visits when Dennis Green was the head coach and it's tough to argue with some of the results. Ohio State running back Chris Wells is expected to visit soon.

Also from Somers: Cardinals president Michael Bidwill and general manager Rod Graves attended USC's pro day. Coach Ken Whisenhunt and owner Bill Bidwill did not.

CBSSports.com quotes Cardinals receiver Anquan Boldin as saying he wants to re-sign with the Cardinals. Boldin: "Hopefully, something gets done. We'll see what happens. At this point I'm leaving it up to everyone else and just trying to enjoy life."

Eric Williams of the Tacoma News Tribune checks in with draft analyst Rob Rang for a look at how the Seahawks might approach the draft. Rang says he would be surprised if the Seahawks passed on Aaron Curry if given a chance to draft the Wake Forest linebacker. Rang on Michael Crabtree: "He's a spectacular talent. I really think he's an Anquan Boldin type of player. He doesn't have that elite speed, but you know, for me the fact that he wasn't able to run for scouts matters very little. Even the [foot] surgery matters very little, because Jonathan Stewart had the same surgery and he was every bit the player his rookie season that I thought he would be. Michael Crabtree will be as well."

Michael Steffes of Seahawk Addicts looks at the Seahawks' offensive linemen and tight ends heading toward the draft. The team did not draft an offensive lineman in 2008. Expect that to change this year.

Aaron Weinberg of nextseasonsports.com looks at the six players Seattle has drafted among the top five overall picks. Steve Niehaus, Kenny Easley, Curt Warner, Cortez Kennedy, Rick Mirer and Shawn Springs were the players chosen.

Matt Barrows of the Sacramento Bee lists USC's Mark Sanchez among the college prospects expected to visit with the 49ers before the draft. Barrows: "The 49ers are wise to show interest. In Sanchez does fall to 10 on April 25, there will be plenty of teams clamoring to grab him, creating an opportunity to trade down. Who knows, maybe the Broncos will still be stuck with unhappy Jay Cutler on draft day and will be willing to make a deal."

Kevin Lynch of Niner Insider thinks the 49ers might have their best group of receivers since Terrell Owens departed. Lynch: "After a rocky start to the offseason, the 49ers have seemingly recovered. In the last week, they've signed a possible replacement to the departing Jonas Jennings at right tackle in Marvel Smith and now have an assurance [Isaac] Bruce will come back."

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