MIAMI - Troubled running back Ricky Williams is appealing a positive drug test that could force the Miami Dolphins star to sit out the 2006 season, a person familiar with the case said Monday.

If the positive test result is upheld, it would be Williams' fourth violation of the NFL's substance-abuse policy, meaning at least a one-year suspension.

Previous positive tests were for marijuana, which Williams acknowledged using. But the latest test involved a drug other than marijuana, said the person, who spoke on condition of anonymity because league policy is to keep test results confidential.

The Miami Herald reported Monday that two sources said Williams failed a test for a substance not publicly known.

A ruling on the appeal isn't expected until April. Williams, the 1998 Heisman Trophy winner and 2002 NFL rushing champion, is in India studying yoga and holistic medicine.

SAN DIEGO - The Chargers are primed to let quarterback Drew Brees test free agency.

San Diego general manager A. J. Smith said Monday the team has declined to designate Brees as its franchise or transition player. The deadline for designating a player with either tag is Thursday.

If the Chargers had slapped either of the tags on Brees, he would be guaranteed nearly $10 million in a one-year salary next season. That's too rich for the Chargers, considering Brees was injured in the team's season finale, tearing the labrum in his throwing shoulder while trying to recover a fumble.

Brees underwent surgery last month and is expected to begin throwing in May. But whether he is at full strength by the Chargers' July training camp isn't known.

Brees and the Chargers are talking about a multiyear pact. But so far, no agreement has been reached and on March 3, Brees can negotiate with any team.

NEW YORK - Don't be surprised if Jerome Bettis throws a player or two under the bus during his new television gig.

The former Steelers running back prides himself on his honesty, and promises to tell nothing but the truth when he starts his NBC job as a studio analyst for Sunday night football games.

The Bus retired after helping the Steelers beat the Seattle Seahawks 21-10 in the Super Bowl earlier this month in his hometown of Detroit. His first game will be in Pittsburgh on Thursday, Sept. 7, when the Steelers receive their Super Bowl rings. NBC Universal chairman Dick Ebersol said he wanted to be sure Bettis wouldn't have to choose between being in a studio or attending the game.


LOS ANGELES - The Los Angeles Clippers have signed power forward Vin Baker, the team announced Monday.

Baker has been a free agent since playing for the Houston Rockets in the 2004-2005 season.

Baker, 34, has averaged 15.1 points and 7.5 rebounds in 783 career games. The four-time All-Star also was a member of the 2000 Olympic team that won a gold medal in Sydney, Australia.


No one doubted Annika Sorenstam was the No. 1 player in women's golf. Now it's official.

The Women's World Golf Ranking finally made its debut Tuesday with Sorenstam far atop the list based on her 21 victories worldwide and three major championships over the last two years. Such is her dominance that Sorenstam's lead was nearly double that of Paula Creamer at No. 2. The only surprise was Michelle Wie. The 16-year-old from Hawaii, who turned pro in October, checked in at No. 3 and could move ahead of Creamer depending on what happens in the Fields Open in Hawaii this week on the LPGA Tour.

CARLSBAD, Calif. - Stephen Ames had his golf clubs shipped to Tucson, Ariz., last weekend so they would be there when he arrived for his next PGA Tour event.

One phone call changed everything.

Thomas Bjorn pulled out of the Match Play Championship with a recurring neck injury, and Ames was first in line to replace him in the 64-man field at La Costa Resort. One minute he was on his way to Tucson for a $3 million tournament, the next he was on the practice range getting ready for a $7.5 million World Golf Championship.

That was the good news.

As the No. 64 seed, Ames drew Tiger Woods as his opponent in the first round Wednesday.

College Football

FORT WORTH - Vince Young picked up another trophy, but the national championship quarterback isn't planning to pick up any footballs for NFL scouts this week.

Young, the two-time Rose Bowl MVP expected to be among the top three picks in the NFL draft, officially received the Davey O'Brien Award that goes to the nation's best quarterback during a ceremony Monday night. He was named the O'Brien winner in December, weeks before Texas beat Southern California and 2004 Heisman Trophy winner Matt Leinart for the national title.

Et Cetera

SAN MARCOS - Bill Miller, who served as Texas State athletic director for 17 years and remains the winningest football coach in school history, died Monday. He was 74.

Miller died in Austin of natural causes, school spokesman Ronald Mears said.

A former fullback for the Bobcats, Miller led Texas State's transition from a small NAIA school to a Division I program after becoming athletic director in 1975. Under his guidance, the Bobcats won consecutive Division II football championships and 31 conference titles.


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