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Pats' Kraft, Eagles' Lurie Cherish 'Friendly Rivalry'

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Saturday, February 5, 2005; Page D09

JACKSONVILLE, Fla., Feb. 4 -- The owners of the two Super Bowl teams, the Philadelphia Eagles' Jeffrey Lurie and the New England Patriots' Robert Kraft, are close friends. Lurie is a Boston native and grew up a Patriots fan. His uncle played tennis regularly with Kraft, and he bid against Kraft before Kraft purchased the Patriots from James Orthwein in January 1994.

"We had a friendly rivalry," Kraft said this week. "But in the end, we're good friends, and we talked about it being pretty cool if the two of us could be in this game together, both being Patriot fans and growing up within five miles of one another. And it's finally happened. . . . I love him on every [NFL owners'] committee I'm on because he and I think the same way and we vote the same way. We forged a good friendship and he's a terrific guy, and I thank him for having the second-best team in the NFL."

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Weis Is Working Overtime (washingtonpost.com, Feb 4, 2005)
Thomason Settles Into Role With Eagles (washingtonpost.com, Feb 3, 2005)
E. Smith Retirement May Come as Cowboy (washingtonpost.com, Feb 2, 2005)
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Lurie attended the first game in Patriots history on the day after his ninth birthday, watching them lose to Denver on Sept. 9, 1960. He switched his football allegiance after he bought the Eagles from Norman Braman about three months after losing out to Kraft in his attempt to buy the Patriots. But the object of his baseball passion didn't transfer from Boston: He remains a die-hard Red Sox fan. He attended Game 7 of last year's American League Championship Series at Yankee Stadium, and took Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb with him to Game 2 of the World Series at Fenway Park.

"I might have converted [McNabb] into a Red Sox fan," Lurie said.

Patriots Coach Bill Belichick, front-office chief Scott Pioli and Kraft have navigated the salary cap and free agency better than anyone else in the NFL in recent seasons. But the Eagles' decision-making triumvirate of Coach Andy Reid, club president Joe Banner and Lurie isn't far behind.

"I'd like to think that they run their organization the way we do," Kraft said. "I think there are a lot of similarities in the way we do things. And the success they've had, going to four [straight NFC] championship games, that's really quite spectacular. We [he and Lurie] have had a number of conversations and shared our thoughts on a lot of issues. But in the end, you have to hire the right people who know how to execute and go get the players. In the end, this is about the players and getting people of good character who perform the way we want." . . .

The Eagles will start Keith Adams ahead of Mark Simoneau at one outside linebacker spot. Simoneau is available to play Sunday after missing both of the Eagles' wins in the NFC playoffs because of an ankle injury suffered Jan. 3. But the coaches opted to stick with Adams, who played well during the playoffs as the fill-in starter.

Hall of Fame Vote

Voting for the Pro Football Hall of Fame will take place here Saturday morning. The media members who serve as electors, including Leonard Shapiro and Michael Wilbon of The Washington Post, are scheduled to meet and select three to six inductees from a list of 15 finalists that contains two former Washington Redskins teammates, wide receiver Art Monk and guard Russ Grimm.

Quarterbacks Dan Marino and Steve Young appear to be virtually certain choices. Former New York Giants linebacker Harry Carson informed Hall of Fame officials that he wanted to be removed from consideration because of his displeasure with the selection process, but he remains among the finalists because the institution's bylaws have no provisions for a candidate to withdraw. The group of finalists also includes former Dallas Cowboys wideout Michael Irvin. Enshrinement is Aug. 7 in Canton, Ohio. . . .

The Patriots, who have had a vacant spot on their 53-man roster, are promoting guard Billy Yates from the practice squad, Belichick said. The move is almost certain to be ceremonial, as he's probably headed for the inactive list Sunday.

J. Lewis Reports to Prison

Baltimore Ravens running back Jamal Lewis reported to federal prison camp in Florida on Friday to serve a four-month sentence for using a cell phone to try to set up a cocaine deal, a U.S. Bureau of Prisons spokesman said. Dan Dunne, the prisons spokesman, said Lewis reported to Federal Prison Camp, Pensacola on Saufley Field at about 11:40 a.m.

"It's a [minimum-security] facility where inmates are required to work, and it provides auxiliary work force for the military there," Dunne said. "The chief job for the inmates is grounds maintenance work."

McNabb Salutes Williams

McNabb will be only the third African American quarterback to start a Super Bowl, following Doug Williams and Steve McNair. Only Williams has won, and McNabb says his experience this week has given him a deeper appreciation of what Williams accomplished. "I can't imagine the questions he received," McNabb said this week. "Obviously, things have calmed down, and it's not as big an issue as it was then." . . .

Atlanta Falcons tailback Warrick Dunn was named winner of the Walter Payton NFL man of the year award, given for accomplishments on and off the field. . . .

Two police officers patrolling the St. Johns River were injured Thursday night when their boat crashed into a bridge support. The officers, who remained hospitalized Friday, were identified as James Brunet, 41, and Keith Nazworth, 39. Brunet was listed in critical condition with non-life threatening injuries, and Nazworth was in fair condition. . . .

NFL Players Association chief Gene Upshaw said he spoke recently to Maurice Clarett, the former Ohio State tailback whose unsuccessful attempt to change the league's draft-eligibility rules last year through litigation was not supported by the union. Clarett is eligible for this year's draft after sitting out the last two seasons, and Upshaw said: "I tried to get him in the right frame of mind for where he needs to be."

News services contributed to this report.

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