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Martin Acquitted on All Counts

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From Associated Press

Miami Dolphin wide receiver Tony Martin, acquitted on all charges of money laundering, walked away from the federal courthouse Thursday vowing to clean up his life.

“I’m going to be more strict on myself and trust my family more,” the Pro Bowl receiver said as dozens of friends and family members clustered behind him.

Jurors deliberated almost 17 hours over three days before finding Martin not guilty on four counts of laundering drug money on behalf of longtime friend Rickey Brownlee and one count of conspiracy to hide drug proceeds.

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Martin, 33, could have faced three to five years in prison if convicted, effectively ending his NFL career.

“It was all or nothing, and my whole career was flashing before me as I sat there,” Martin said. “This is a lot of weight off my shoulders.”

Brownlee was found guilty on all five money laundering charges and one count each of possessing heroin or cocaine with the intent to distribute and conspiracy to possess and distribute.

With two prior drug convictions on his record, he faces life in prison when he is sentenced on Nov. 9.

Thursday’s result leaves Martin free to join the Dolphins, who signed him to a four-year, $14.2-million contract in April.

“I’m going to get ready for practice now,” he said. “Coach [Jimmy Johnson] might make me run extra laps, but that’s OK. I’m ready for it.”

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Jeff George outplayed Randall Cunningham again before injuring his left knee and Ramos McDonald returned a fumble 59 yards for a touchdown for the Minnesota Vikings (2-1) in a 17-13 victory over the Philadelphia Eagles (0-3) in an exhibition game at Minneapolis.

Cunningham, a former Eagle playing against them for the first time, was sacked four times and had three fumbles and no touchdown passes. George completed nine of 13 passes for 152 yards and a touchdown before leaving the game because of a sprained knee, the same one he injured in the Vikings’ exhibition opener.

In exhibition games, George is 24 for 29 for 348 yards, with four touchdowns and no interceptions. Cunningham is 24 for 33 for 234 yards, with one touchdown. The Eagles’ Donovan McNabb, the second overall pick in the NFL draft, threw a 19-yard touchdown to Dietrich Jells on the first play of the fourth quarter.

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Fred Taylor ran for touchdowns of 16 and 86 yards to lead the Jacksonville Jaguars (2-1) to a 31-6 victory over the Kansas City Chiefs (1-2) at Jacksonville, Fla.

The Chiefs played their first-unit offense into the third quarter, but neither Kimble Anders nor Bam Morris--the two running backs competing for the starting job--was effective in new coach Gunther Cunningham’s attempt to establish a smash-mouth offense. Anders had 11 yards in three carries and Morris had 37 yards in nine attempts.

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Detroit Lion tackle Aaron Gibson, the team’s No. 1 draft pick this year, needs surgery on his injured left shoulder and will be out for the season. It’s believed that Gibson injured the shoulder before being drafted out of Wisconsin. . . . New York Giant left guard Lance Scott will have to wait at least four weeks before doctors decide whether he needs surgery on his sprained right knee. . . . New Orleans Saint tight end Cam Cleeland might be sidelined all or part of the season because of bone chips that cause swelling and irritation in his Achilles’ tendon. Cleeland still hasn’t made a decision on having surgery. . . . The Arizona Cardinals gave injured offensive lineman Ernest Dye a reserve non-football injury classification. The Cardinals, while under no obligation, would continue to pay Dye’s medical benefits, although it would no longer pay his salary. Dye and two teammates were returning to training camp Aug. 16 when they were injured in an auto accident. Dye’s right arm was nearly torn off in the rollover and he may never regain full use of it. . . . Tackle John Tait, Kansas City’s No. 1 pick in the draft this year, might sit out the season and reenter the draft next year. Tait, who left Brigham Young after his junior season, told the Salt Lake Tribune he would rather miss the 1999 season than sign a deal he considers undesirable.

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