Eagles Offering Skier Bloom A Shot at Return to Football

By Mark Maske
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, May 1, 2006

The Philadelphia Eagles are giving an NFL chance to Jeremy Bloom, the Olympic skier who was a wide receiver and kick returner at the University of Colorado. The Eagles, as part of their busy draft weekend, selected Bloom in the fifth round yesterday.

Bloom abandoned college football before the 2004 season after losing an eligibility fight with the NCAA but wants to return to the sport. He hurried to the scouting combine in Indianapolis in late February after returning from the Olympics in Turin, Italy, and gradually worked back into football-playing shape. He said at the combine he was retiring from skiing to devote his full attention to football.

Many NFL talent evaluators regard him as a marginal prospect as a receiver but think he has a chance to earn a job as a special-teams player, particularly as a returner.

"I went into this thing thinking I wasn't going to get drafted and doing the free agent deal," Bloom said, according to the Associated Press. "I try to lower expectations when things are out of my control."

The Eagles need help at receiver, having failed to land a front-line player at the position this offseason after losing Terrell Owens. The club signed Jabar Gaffney as a free agent but fell short in its bid to trade for the Green Bay Packers' Javon Walker, who was dealt to the Denver Broncos for a second-round pick Saturday.

The Eagles continued to remake their offensive and defensive lines yesterday by trading two veterans, guard Artis Hicks and defensive tackle Hollis Thomas. Hicks was sent to the Minnesota Vikings for a sixth-round choice and a swap of fourth-rounders. Thomas was dealt to the New Orleans Saints in an exchange of fourth-round draft positions that enabled the Eagles to select Georgia guard Max Jean- Gilles.

Patriots Pick a Kicker

The New England Patriots, looking to replace two-time Super Bowl hero Adam Vinatieri after the kicker signed with the Indianapolis Colts as a free agent, selected Memphis place kicker Stephen Gostkowski in the fourth round yesterday. The Patriots previously signed former Tampa Bay Buccaneers kicker Martin Gramatica to compete for the job. . . . The St. Louis Rams traded tight end Brandon Manumaleuna to the San Diego Chargers for a fourth-round pick. . . . The Cleveland Browns inquired yesterday about trading for Detroit Lions quarterback Joey Harrington but were unable to complete a deal. Harrington wants to be traded to Miami.

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