Until he signed with the New York Jets, linebacker Bryan Cox thought he was blackballed by NFL teams.
"I all but had deals on the table with two or three teams, and the day I was supposed to leave to sign, my agent called me back and said the deal was off," said Cox, a three-time Pro Bowl selection who has 39 1/2 sacks during his career. "I was getting blackballed."
Cox, fined more than $100,000 for violent outbursts during his career, was signed by the Jets two months after being cut by the Chicago Bears. The Jets needed a linebacker after Marvin Jones, the club's starting middle linebacker, was lost for the season last Friday when he tore ligaments in his left knee.
On Monday, the 6-foot-4, 250-pound Cox said he was close to signing with other teams the past few weeks, only to see the agreements fall through, before the Jets came calling.
Cox signed a one-year, $500,000 deal with no signing bonus. He will see limited action in Thursday's preseason opener at Philadelphia.
"The slate is clean as far as I'm concerned," Jets coach Bill Parcells said of Cox. "I don't ask that anybody's personality correspond to mine. I told him, `Just be Bryan Cox.' I just want him to come in here and help the team. He'll know what we're trying to do here. I think he wants to win. He's going to try hard and that's all I am about."
Besides, Parcells added, "He's the one paying the fines, not me."
The 30-year-old Cox couldn't guarantee that he will not boil over with anger again, but said that Parcells' commitment to winning would make a difference.
"Losing is no fun to me," Cox said. "I don't want to be associated with people who accept losing. I don't accept losing. Sometimes that causes me to go berserk.
"I don't want to be in a situation where the focus is not on winning. This is a violent game, and when you're asking a player to be violent and then to say, `Cool it,' it's difficult to do."
BEARS: Rookie tight end Alonzo Mayes grudgingly signed a three-year contract with Chicago late Sunday night, ending a 10-day hold-out.
"I'm still not satisfied, but what's the purpose of holding out if you're not going get anything out of it," Mayes said. "I just have to go out and prove who I am."
Bears vice president of operations Ted Phillips called the negotiations "a unique situation" because Mayes was a fourth-round draft pick with first-round talent. Mayes' stock dropped after testing positive for marijuana during the NFL scouting combine in February.
Chicago compromised by offering Mayes incentives that would allow him to earn more money than a fourth-round pick usually would.
COLTS: Peyton Manning likes the big targets his tight ends provide him.
The rookie quarterback expects to lean heavily on tight ends Ken Dilger and Marcus Pollard when the Colts open their exhibition season Saturday at Seattle. The 6-foot-5, 259-pound Dilger and the 6-4, 257-pound Pollard will provide Manning with the big targets he didn't have at Tennessee.
"I had a lot of good receivers in college, but never really had a tight end like those two guys. They've got good hands. They're so big, its easy to spot them in a pattern," Manning said. "And they're both excellent blockers.
"I look for them to be a very big part of our offense."
With an inexperienced line and a revolving door at quarterback last season, Colts tight ends combined for only 50 of the team's 317 receptions and 609 of the 3,560 passing yards.
DOLPHINS: Miami receiver Yatil Green, recovering from minor knee surgery, is expected to return for the team's final two exhibition games.
Green, who missed all of his rookie season last year with an injury to his right knee, underwent arthroscopic surgery Sunday on the same knee to remove damaged cartilage.
Despite the setback, coach Jimmy Johnson said he expects Green to regain the form that made him the team's first-round draft choice in April 1997.
"I don't have any reservations," Johnson said. "He has come a long way. You have to remember that the knee injury he suffered a year ago was a severe one."
SAINTS: New Orleans quarterback Heath Shuler is on crutches and wearing a toe-to-knee cast on his left leg.
Shuler, who had offseason surgery that removed the bones in the ball of his left foot and repaired torn ligaments, returned to the doctor who performed the operation this weekend. He had experienced numbness in the foot.
Tests revealed a cyst under the scar tissue on the foot.
"It's pressing on the nerves. That's why I'm having the numbness," said Shuler, who will be in a cast for about five days. "There's nothing they can do about that, but there's no ligament damage. That's what I was really worried about."
PATRIOTS: It didn't take long for New England coach Pete Carroll to be pleased with the Tebucky Jones experiment - only one game.
The second of New England's two first-round selections in this year's draft, Jones played tailback and safety at Syracuse. But Carroll is switching Jones to cornerback.
"Tebucky made it through the game," Carroll said after a 14-13 exhibition loss to the San Francisco 49ers Sunday night. "At least he went out there and got to play a game. He had a couple of plays where he knocked the receiver into the backfield."
On one tackle, Jones pushed the man trying to block him into the ball carrier. None of the receivers he was covering had any re-cep-tions.
"I'm not satisfied, because I don't think you can ever be satisfied," he said. "I want to be one of the best, so that means practice, practice, practice. I have more work to do."