Sports Briefs

Posted: Thursday, June 13, 2002

Two injured by explosion at Jacobs Field

CLEVELAND -- As the explosion echoed through Jacobs Field, players stopped in their tracks, a few ducked for cover and Philadelphia manager Larry Bowa cringed.

''I didn't know what is was,'' Bowa said. ''These days you think the worst.''

The explosive device was thrown from the upper deck during the Indians' game against the Phillies on Tuesday night, burning two people -- one an Indians employee.

''It looks like either it was homemade or something that is restricted to a pyrotechnics professional,'' Cleveland Fire Chief Kevin Gerrity said.

The three men suspected of throwing it -- Donald Kreiger, 22; Clifton Oliver, 22; and Andrew Mendez, 20, all of Elyria -- remained in jail Wednesday night. They had not been charged but were being held on suspicion of felonious assault and aggravated arson.

Fire Lt. Clayton Cunningham said investigators want to be sure what was set off before deciding what to do about charges.

Witnesses said the device was about 8 inches long. It shattered the plastic name tag on usher Brian Burke's chest and burned Judith Knight's legs, police said.

Knight, 43, of Strongsville, was leaving the game when the device exploded a few inches from her. She was treated at MetroHealth Medical Center and released.

Nickerson signs with Packers

The Green Bay Packers plugged a glaring hole at middle linebacker Wednesday, signing five-time Pro Bowl selection Hardy Nickerson.

Although terms were not released, Nickerson was seeking a multiyear deal that would pay him at least $1 million this season.

The 15-year veteran chose the Packers over the Philadelphia Eagles.

''I believe the offers were very similar,'' Packers chief negotiator Andrew Brandt said. ''He had to make a tough decision between two quality teams, two quality coaching staffs and two quality Super Bowl contenders.''

Nickerson was cut by Jacksonville on June 3 in a cost-cutting move and visited Green Bay and Philadelphia last week. The Packers and his agent, Eugene Parker, hammered out a deal late Monday.

Nickerson and Parker faxed the contract Wednesday to Green Bay.

''We had targeted Hardy back in February as a guy who could help our football team, and we were hopeful he would be released,'' coach Mike Sherman said. ''I'm anxious to get that caliber of player and person on our team.''

Nickerson is the third significant offseason signing by the Packers, who traded for wide receiver Terry Glenn and lured free agent defensive end Joe Johnson.

Brandt said the deals with all three were cap-friendly in the future.

''We've made some bold moves with Glenn and Johnson and Nickerson, and there was a lot of discussion about future cap and making sure we were not in the mortgaging business,'' Brandt said. ''We are not mortgaging the future with this signing.''

Nickerson said he wanted to play for a Super Bowl contender this year. He never won a championship during his six seasons in Pittsburgh, seven in Tampa Bay or two in Jacksonville.

He will enter training camp as the Packers' top middle linebacker. The Packers waived longtime starter Bernardo Harris over the winter and recently signed 10-year journeyman Robert Jones as insurance as they groom second-year pro Torrance Marshall, who played sparingly as a rookie.

Nickerson said he felt he has plenty to offer after rebounding from an injury-marred 2000 season and missing just one game with a neck injury last year, when he set a franchise record for most tackles.

''I feel like I've got a lot of gas left in the tank,'' he said after visiting the Eagles. ''I know I've got two strong years left in me.''

The Eagles lost two-time Pro Bowl middle linebacker Jeremiah Trotter to Washington following a bitter contract dispute. They also lost starting outside linebacker Mike Caldwell to the Chicago Bears.

The Packers, on the other hand, have added two Pro Bowl-caliber players in Glenn and Johnson this offseason and could all but guarantee Nickerson a starting job.

Sherman said despite reports to the contrary, he hasn't been upset with the progress of Marshall, who has been playing with the first string.

''He's done a tremendous job. He's ahead of where I thought he would be at this time,'' Sherman said.

Marshall insisted he wasn't upset the Packers pursued Nickerson.

''A guy like that can only help me,'' Marshall said. ''He's been a great linebacker over the years. I'm not real worried about him coming in. I'm just glad for the team we got a great linebacker to help us out.''



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