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On tour but never out of touch

Alice in Chains are busy touring Europe in support of their new album, "Black Gives Way To Blue," but lead guitarist Jerry Cantrell will still be getting his NFL fix despite a hectic schedule.

"I'm totally stoked," Cantrell said by phone from London last week. "I've got Slingbox on my computer, so I've got the NFL on the network channels. I've got that all dialed in and I also have DirecTV's supercast, which you can watch all the Sunday Ticket games, too."

As a fan of Pittsburgh and Seattle, Cantrell will surely be getting more enjoyment from watching Steelers (6-2) games than his struggling hometown Seahawks (3-5).

"I kind of predicted that before the season started," Cantrell said. "I hate to talk bad s--- about my team, but it's a transition year from [former coach Mike Holmgren to Jim] Mora coming in and also the injuries that [quarterback Matt] Hasselbeck had last year. And we lost Walter Jones, we lost [Chris] Spencer the center; I mean that's huge. And that's no good for the running game and the protection of the quarterback and then Matt got cracked again. It's been rough.

"Even if they did stay healthy, I still thought that they would be 8-8 at best. I think it's gonna be a couple of years before they get that system going, and to be quite honest with you I'm still not sure … I'm still kinda bummed out that we hired Mora as a coach," Cantrell said with a laugh. "I think we could've done better."

Alice in Chains are still in the United Kingdom this week before heading to the European mainland shows in 12 cities in 10 countries between Nov. 19 and Dec. 4. This leg of their European tour finishes up with concerts Dec. 6 in Nottingham, England, and Dec. 7 in London before they return to the States for a Dec. 11 show in Las Vegas.

During their travels, Cantrell and bassist Mike Inez still have to manage their team in the Alice in Chains Fantasy Football Charity League on ESPN.com. Cantrell also has one other fantasy team and Inez has three others, they said.

"Me and Jerry are really good with it," Inez said last week by phone. "That's the one thing that's really nice for us to do that kind of stuff because it gets us off the crew, and off all the money and the logistics of touring and the travel, so it's kind of nice for us to just sit there and talk fantasy football for a couple hours every night."

Cantrell's JC Aroma of Tacoma fell to 4-5 after losing 98-70 to Scott Ian's Mean Machine last week in the charity league. The guitarist is a fantasy football rookie who showed up the league organizer.

"A lot of these guys that I got involved this year have never played it before and I think a lot of them are really liking it so it's pretty cool."


Each participant in the Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League will put up one valuable item for auction by the end of the season. The league champion will designate which charity receives the auction's proceeds.

Weekly updates on the Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League, trash talk and interviews with the owners will be published on ESPN.com's The Life section throughout the season. Members of the league also will drop by SportsNation for occasional chats.

Here are the standings after Week 9, with a look ahead to this weekend's matchups (mouse over the photos for bios of the participants):

Alice in Chains & Friends Charity Fantasy Football League Standings

  • Kenny Wayne Shepherd
    Place of birth: Shreveport, La. Age: 32 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

    Personal: Shepherd cut his musical teeth opening for The Rolling Stones, Aerosmith, Bob Dylan, The Eagles and Van Halen.



  • Jerry Cantrell

    Place of birth: Tacoma, Wash. Age: 43 Fantasy football experience: 5 years Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks/Pittsburgh Steelers

    Personal: Lead guitarist Cantrell's legacy with Alice In Chains includes 14 million albums sold, 19 Top 40 singles and six Grammy nominations.



  • Scott Ian

    Place of birth: New York Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: New York Giants

    Personal: When Ian isn't playing guitar for Anthrax, he's schooling amateurs at the poker table.


  • Vinnie Paul

    Place of birth: Abilene, Texas Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: 10 years Favorite team: Dallas Cowboys

    Personal: Paul, who formed Pantera with his late brother Dimebag Darrell, plays drums the way Ray Lewis hits people. In other words, hard.


  • Zakk Wylde
    Place of birth: Bayonne, N.J. Age: 42 Favorite team: New York Giants

    Personal: Wylde landed the job of lead guitarist and co-songwriter for Ozzy Osbourne at the age of 19 and later founded Black Label Society.


  • Kenny Aronoff

    Place of birth: Albany, N.Y. Age: 56 Fantasy football experience: 3 years Favorite team: Indianapolis Colts

    Personal: Aronoff has played drums for a who's who of rock legends, including Elton John, The Rolling Stones, Lynyrd Skynyrd and many more.


  • Matt Willig
    Place of birth: Whittier, Calif. Age: 40 Fantasy football experience: 0 years Favorite team: No favorite, but "I do like to watch the Carolina Panthers every Sunday, especially to watch my boy, [left tackle] Jordan Gross, play."

    Personal: One of two non-musicians in the league, Willig spent 12 years in the NFL with six different teams.


  • Duff McKagan
    Place of birth: Seattle Age: 45 Fantasy football experience: Rookie Favorite team: Seattle Seahawks

    Personal: Before playing bass for Velvet Revolver, McKagan spent 13 years with Guns 'N' Roses, so he's ready for anything.


  • Mike Inez
    Place of birth: San Fernando, Calif. Age: 43 Fantasy football experience: 6 years Favorite team: Oakland Raiders

    Personal: Before playing bass guitar for Alice In Chains, Inez was rocking arenas with Ozzy Osbourne.


  • Matthew Berry
    Place of birth: Denver Age: "Late 30s" Fantasy football experience: 17 years Favorite team: Washington Redskins

    Personal: Berry, who wouldn't disclose any musical talents, is ESPN.com's Talented Mr. Roto and a five-time award winner from the Fantasy Sports Writers Association.