Several NFL players apparently were victims of a high roller accused by federal investigators of bilking investors for at least $31 million, the Austin American-Statesman reported yesterday.
FBI agents believe the players, including three members of the Cardinals and one Browns player, contributed to a $5.5 million investment wired to Brian Russell Stearns by Los Angeles sports agent Robert Caron.
Stearns, 29, was arrested at his $2.2 million Lake Austin home last month. The FBI seized the house, two jets worth more than $10 million, a $2 million helicopter and $800,000 in vehicles, plus undisclosed amounts of money in bank accounts.
A federal grand jury in New York this week indicted Stearns on a charge of conspiracy to commit wire fraud. Stearns, who has maintained his innocence through an attorney, remains in jail.
Court documents unsealed Thursday said Cardinals players Eric Swann and Johnny McWilliams, along with Larry Centers, who now plays for the Redskins, invested money with Stearns.
* QB UPDATES: The 49ers' Steve Young, still bothered by postconcussion symptoms, won't play Sunday at St. Louis. Jeff Garcia will make his second straight start. . . . The Chargers' Erik Kramer will start in place of injured Jim Harbaugh Sunday in Detroit.
* OBITUARY: Dave Whitsell, a defensive back on the Bears' 1963 NFL championship team, died Thursday after battling prostate cancer. He was 63.