Knowing that his battle with cancer was coming to an end, former NFL linebacker Sam Mills planned every last detail of his own memorial -- all the way down to the menu of fried chicken and greens.
"He picked the songs and the scriptures and he told us not to keep you here too long," Carolina Panthers President Mark Richardson said during one of yesterday's eulogies in Charlotte. "And he said he wanted food that tastes good and has lots of grease.
"He didn't want a lobster salad. He wanted iced tea and lemonade and fried chicken. And it's okay if you drop a little grease on your tie -- that's what Sam wanted you to do."
Mills, a five-time Pro Bowl selection and assistant coach with the Carolina Panthers, died Monday at age 45 after a nearly two-year battle with intestinal cancer.
His first memorial was held yesterday in Charlotte, with dozens of current Panthers, former teammates and coaches in attendance, many wearing dark sunglasses and others weeping as they celebrated a man they considered a giant on the field and an inspiration off of it.
A second memorial will be held Monday in his native New Jersey, and Mills will be buried at Monmouth Memorial Park in Tinton Falls, N.J.
Seattle, Dyson Agree
The Seattle Seahawks added depth to their secondary, reportedly agreeing to terms with free agent cornerback Andre Dyson.
According to ESPN.com, Dyson agreed to a five-year, $17.5 million contract that includes a $3 million signing bonus and about $6 million in guarantees. A Seahawks spokesman couldn't confirm the deal.
Dyson's agent, Gary Wichard, didn't immediately return telephone messages left by the Associated Press.
Dyson played his first four years with the Tennessee Titans, starting 52 of 64 games. Last season, he had a career-high six interceptions. He has a career-high 65 tackles in 2003.
The 25-year-old Dyson had been in talks with the New York Jets, who reportedly made an offer last weekend. Seattle had talked with Dyson early in the free agent period.
Dyson will join a talented but young secondary in Seattle, with cornerback Marcus Trufant and safeties Michael Boulware and Ken Hamlin, none of whom is older than 25.
Meantime, the Seahawks signed veteran wide receiver Jerome Pathon, adding depth at the position less than a month after adding another veteran, Joe Jurevicius.
Bills Re-Sign Matthews
Quarterback Shane Matthews re-signed with the Bills, accepting the role to be the team's third-stringer.
Matthews, a 12-year veteran, returns for his second season with Buffalo to work behind new starter J.P. Losman and recently signed backup Kelly Holcomb. The Bills were particularly pleased with how Matthews helped mentor Losman through his rookie season.
Matthews has 22 starts in 28 NFL appearances, and also played for Chicago, Carolina and Washington.