Putting their needs on the field ahead of his history of trouble, the San Francisco 49ers yesterday signed running back Lawrence Phillips.
"Our hope is that his deep troubles are behind him," General Manager Bill Walsh said in announcing the signing at the University of the Pacific, where the team opened its training camp. "Lawrence will come to the 49ers with a clean slate, as far as football is concerned. I expect him to do quite well here. I think you'll find him to be very pleasant."
Phillips was signed to a two-year deal worth $1.75 million, including a $425,000 signing bonus. He can earn more through incentives.
At least some of that money will be going to the league to pay a fine for violating the NFL's violent crime policy. Commissioner Paul Tagliabue, in a meeting with Phillips two weeks ago, cleared him to play, but told him he would be subject to the fine.
Said Phillips: "This is a great opportunity. I don't intend to screw it up."
BUCCANEERS: Demetrius DuBose, a former football player for Tampa Bay and Notre Dame who fell on hard times, was fatally shot by police who chased him down after he fled a burglary scene in San Diego, police officials said.
Dubose, 28, a former linebacker for the Buccaneers, was shot several times Saturday.
He reportedly fled when officers tried to question him outside a Mission Beach home that had been burglarized. Officers said they tried to stop him by spraying him with mace, but he ran. They caught him, scuffled and he got away again.
When they caught him a second time, they struggled with him. He grabbed the weapons of both officers, Lt. Glenn Breitenstein said.
CHARGERS: Ryan Leaf had surgery to repair a tear in his throwing shoulder, and the team says he's likely to miss the season. The second-year quarterback could be ready to play in 3-4 months if his rehabilitation goes well, but the Chargers aren't inclined to keep a roster spot open for him that long.
COWBOYS: The Cowboys signed former Texas A&M linebacker Dat Nguyen, their 1999 third-round draft pick, to a three-year contract.