JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 3 -- Paul McCartney came to the Super Bowl on Thursday and avoided any hint -- even the tiniest bit -- of controversy.
McCartney, the sexagenarian former Beatle who will perform for 12 minutes at halftime Sunday, addressed a news conference that included 40 camera crews, 50 photographers and a standing-room-only crowd of more than 300 reporters. One of them asked him to predict a winner.
Paul McCartney, 62, who will headline Sunday's halftime show, says his pick is the Eagles -- or the Patriots.
(Rick Wilking -- Reuters)
"That's a loaded question, and you know it," he said. "I'm rooting for both of them and may the best one win."
Robbins Pleads Not Guilty
Former Oakland Raiders offensive lineman Barret Robbins has pleaded not guilty to attempted murder and other charges stemming from a brawl with police officers on Miami Beach nearly three weeks ago, according to a spokesman in the Miami-Dade State Attorney's Office.
The plea was entered in writing on Robbins' behalf by his Miami attorney, Edward J. O'Donnell, spokesman Ed Griffith said. O'Donnell said in a previous interview that an insanity defense was appropriate. He did not return several calls Thursday.
Robbins' attorney, Drew Pittman, said the written plea was entered because Robbins likely would be physically unable to appear at his scheduled arraignment Wednesday.
Robbins, who was shot in the struggle with the police, remains in a coma, has pneumonia and is still in critical condition, Pittman said. He underwent surgery Jan. 16 at Miami's Jackson Memorial Hospital on wounds to his heart and lung.
Robbins, who has bipolar disorder, allegedly attacked the three officers after they found him huddled in a women's restroom while they were investigating a burglary call. One officer suffered a concussion.
Released last summer by the Raiders after testing positive for the steroid THG, Robbins also was charged with battery on a bouncer outside a San Francisco nightclub in December. He mysteriously disappeared the night before the 2003 Super Bowl and later blamed his failure to take his medication.
Closing In on South Bend
Patriots offensive coordinator Charlie Weis said he will begin his job as head coach at Notre Dame full-time Thursday, after spending three days with his family. Weis has been pulling double duty for weeks but said he hasn't minded the grind. And he said he won't be bothered by the recruiting that so many college coaches disdain.
"It depends on your personality," Weis said. "Some people don't like doing it. I like doing it. But I'm going to turn some people off. If I go into a living room and see a kid not treating his parents with respect, I'm going to say some choice words and say, 'You're not for me.' "
Weis leaves the NFL confident that his coaching abilities will put his alma mater back among college football's top programs, issuing what sounded like a warning to other coaches. "They've had the advantage in recruiting because I came in late," Weis said. "Now it's Xs and Os. Let's see who has the advantage now."
Weis's toughest task upon leaving the Patriots could be saying goodbye to quarterback Tom Brady.
"I told him just to make sure he invites me to Canton [when he is inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame]," Weis said. "I'll miss him because he's an even better person than he is a player. . . . The only bad thing about Tommy is that he went to Michigan. If he's rooting for Michigan when we play them, I'm going to be a little upset."
More than $5 million worth of counterfeit hats, jerseys and other items have been seized as part of a campaign to stop the sale of bootleg goods at the Super Bowl, according to U.S. Customs officials. Some 20,000 items, including NFL clothing and souvenirs, were seized and three people were arrested in the past year in and around Jacksonville. The items were discovered as part of an effort by Customs and the Jacksonville sheriff's office to curtail the sale of counterfeit goods that occurs outside big sporting events. The effort began last year because "we knew we were going to have an influx of stuff coming into town," said Dale Hickman, a supervisory special agent with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, part of the Department of Homeland Security. . . .
Next season's salary cap tentatively has been set at $85.5 million per team, NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw said. That's up from $80.6 million this season. . . .
Representatives from the union and league plan to set arbitration hearing dates this week for the cases involving Washington Redskins linebacker LaVar Arrington and New York Jets quarterback Quincy Carter. Both cases are likely to be heard by June. Arrington and the Redskins are involved in a dispute over money Arrington said was agreed upon but not included in a contract extension, and the union filed a grievance over the conditions under which Carter was abruptly released by the Dallas Cowboys in training camp. . . .
Upshaw said that the Redskins have the highest franchise value, annual revenues and player payroll in the league. According to a source who spoke on the condition of anonymity because the figures have not been made public by the league, the Redskins' annual revenues have reached $250 million, nearly twice as much as those of the lowest-revenue clubs. . . .
A survey of the players conducted by the union ranked the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' field at Raymond James Stadium as the best playing surface in the league, and the Indianapolis Colts' turf at RCA Dome as the worst. The Redskins' FedEx Field ranked 12th. . . .
Union officials said they will seek, as part of their next labor contract with the league, to settle on standard language for players' contracts setting the conditions under which teams can retrieve portions of the signing bonuses in the deals. Clubs have become more aggressive in negotiating terms by which they can force players to refund signing bonuses. An arbitrator ruled that tailback Ricky Williams owed the Miami Dolphins about $8.6 million for breach of contract after his retirement just before training camp.
Staff writer Amy Shipley contributed to this report from Miami. Wire service reports are included.