Dolphins Seeking Sanders : Football: Even Miami’s players are chipping in to lure the Pro Bowl cornerback to Florida this season.
A Styrofoam cup for donations hangs on the wall in the Miami Dolphins’ locker room, with proceeds going toward a cure for Prime Time fever.
“Every little bit helps! Give til it hurts!” reads a note on the cup.
As team management anxiously courts free agent Deion “Prime Time” Sanders, the cup gives players a chance to support the cause. Contributions thus far total 25 cents.
“I gave a nickel,” cornerback Troy Vincent said with a smile.
Make no mistake, though--Vincent, his teammates and coach Don Shula would love to have Sanders join them. The Pro Bowl cornerback will meet with Shula prior to attending Saturday’s exhibition game against the Tampa Bay Bucs at Joe Robbie Stadium.
Sanders’ high-profile visit, which includes a mid-day news conference, is sure to upstage the game.
“In this day and age, you can’t let that be a concern,” Shula said. “We have to do all we can to put the best team we can on the field, and the players understand that.”
Shula, normally secretive when pursuing free agents, talked freely this week about his interest in Sanders.
“It’s pretty tough to say, ‘No comment,”’ Shula said. “In this situation, you have to acknowledge it’s there.”
If Saturday night’s game seems like an afterthought for the Dolphins, it’s something else for the Tampa Bay “Hurricanes.”
To quarterback Craig Erickson, offensive lineman Mike Sullivan and receivers Horace Copeland and Lamar Thomas -- all former University of Miami stars now with Tampa Bay -- the game represents a sort of homecoming.
“It’s kind of fun to go back home and play in front of the fans,” Thomas said.
Tampa Bay takes a 1-1 exhibition record into the game. Miami is 3-0 and seeking its first four-victory preseason since 1981.
All of the ex-Hurricanes are likely to see considerable action. Erickson will start and play into the third quarter.
“He needs to play a lot,” coach Sam Wyche said of the third-year pro. “He needs to come back after halftime and crank it up.”
Dolphins quarterback Dan Marino also will play at least a half.
Erickson has done well in limited preseason action, completing 15 of 19 passes for 158 yards with one touchdown and one interception. His admirers include Dolphins quarterbacks coach Gary Stevens, the Hurricanes’ offensive coordinator when Erickson played for them.
“Craig Erickson to me is going to be a great quarterback,” Stevens said. “If I was coaching a team and didn’t have a quarterback, he’d be one of the guys I’d want. He has it all -- a good arm, good feet, good leadership qualities and intelligence.”
Among those trying to thwart Tampa Bay’s passing attack is Vincent, playing for the first time since undergoing knee surgery last December.
“The past two weeks I’ve made a lot of progress,” he said. “I’m ready to get back out there and give it a shot.”
Vincent hopes to show Prime Time a couple of flashy moves.