Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Where Are They Now? Part 6

Matt Willig played for the Super Bowl 34 Rams and retired after a stint with the 49ers. He went on to do some acting.

In 2009, he had supporting role as a caveman tormenting Jack Black and Michael Cera in the motion picture Year One. He appeared as a gang member named Little Chino on the Showtime series Dexter (2007). He has appeared as a bodyguard named Uri on the NBC series Chuck, and has also appeared in an episode of My Name is Earl entitled "Bullies". Matt has acted in numerous national commercial campaigns, including a Capital One spot with David Spade, a Bud Light spot, and as an action hero in a Halls commercial. He also appeared in a season 7 episode of Malcolm In the Middle, as a recovering alcoholic named Crash and had a small role in the 1993 Hong Kong action movie Full Contact. He has also appeared in a minor role in iCarly as the "Sledghammer".

He lives in Brentwood, CA with his wife Chris.

Az-Zahir Ali Hakim


Hakim was drafted by the St. Louis Rams in the fourth round (96th overall) of the 1998 NFL Draft. He appeared in nine games including four starts during his rookie season, catching 20 passes for 247 yards and a touchdown. He collected three receptions in first career game at the Chicago Bears on November 8, 1998. He made his first start against the Carolina Panthers two weeks later, making two receptions for 25 yards. He scored two touchdowns (nine-yard touchdown reception, 34-yard run on reverse for a touchdown) in victory over the New England Patriots on December 13.


In 1999, Hakim would have quite possibly his best career season. He would also earn a Super Bowl ring after the Rams beat the Tennessee Titans in Super Bowl XXXIV. During the regular season, Hakim appeared in 15 games and caught 39 passes for 677 yards and eight touchdowns. His touchdown total was second on the team behind only Isaac Bruce's 12, while Hakim's 18.8 average remains also remains a personal best. Hakim also added his first punt return touchdown on the season.

Hakim had the best game of his career against the Cincinnati Bengals on October 3, becoming only the fourth player in team history to score four touchdowns in a game. The feat tied the mark previous reached by Bob Shaw, (1949) Elroy Hirsch (1951) and Harold Jackson (1973). His 84-yard punt return for a touchdown tied for the fifth longest in team history and was the third longest in the league during the 1999 season. He also set the team record for punt return yards in a game with 147. All three of his receptions went for touchdowns (9, 51, 18), and he became the first Rams’ player with three receiving touchdowns in a game since December 15, 1996 when Eddie Kennison accomplished the feat against the Atlanta Falcons.

In addition to his career game, Hakim also posted his first 100-yard receiving game against the Carolina Panthers on December 5. Hakim's four receptions, 122 yards and two scores helped St. Louis clinch the division that day.


Hakim continued his impressive production in 2000, setting career highs in multiple statistical categories. His 53 catches, 734 yards, long reception of 80 yards and 32 receptions for first downs remain personal bests. His four touchdowns on the year also represent the second-best total of his career. On special teams, Hakim's 15.8 punt return average led the NFC and was second in the NFL. He also returned his second punt for a score during the season.

The best game of the season for Hakim came in the regular season opener against the Denver Broncos on September 4. During the game, Hakim racked up five catches, 116 yards and two touchdowns. He set a career best with an 80-yard touchdown grab, and also took a punt 86 yards for a score. Hakim was one of three Rams players to surpass 100 yards on offense during the game (wide receiver Torry Holt and running back Marshall Faulk being the others), marking just the second time in franchise history the feat had been accomplished.

Other highlights on the season for Hakim include a November 5 contest against the Panthers when he had eight catches for 116 yards and a touchdown, as well as a 65-yard punt return in the NFC Wild Card playoff game against the New Orleans Saints on December 30. That game also featured a lowlight for Hakim, as he muffed a Saints' punt in the closing minute, allowing the Saints to retain possession and run out the clock, killing what was nearly an impressive Rams comeback.


In what would be his last season as a member of the Rams, Hakim totaled 39 receptions for 374 yards and three touchdowns. He appeared in all 16 games for the second straight season and started two of them. His punt return average took a significant dive from the year before, dropping from 15.3 in 2000 to just 9.2 in 2001.

In late September, Hakim joined Henry Ellard, LeRoy Irvin an Eddie Kennison as the only Rams players to amass more than 1,000 career punt return yards. He passed Kennison to move into third place all-time the following month.

Also during the season, Hakim completed his first career pass with a 51-yard touchdown to Isaac Bruce. Hakim also had 90 receiving yards and five rushing yards in a Super Bowl XXXVI loss to the New England Patriots.


Hakim joined the Detroit Lions as a free agent in 2002 and proceeded to have a rebound season in terms of receiving yards and in the punt return game. He started all 10 games in which he appeared during the season, catching 37 passes for 541 yards and three touchdowns. He also posted a 14.8 punt return average and had his third career return touchdown.

It didn't take long for Hakim to make a splash with his new team, as he holds the honor of scoring the first touchdown at Ford Field following the team's move from the Pontiac Silverdome. Other season highlights include a career-high nine receptions against the Miami Dolphins and seven catches for 143 yards against and a score on the first offensive play of the game against the Green Bay Packers.

Hakim suffered a hip injury on a shuffle pass against the New York Jets on November 17. He would miss the rest of the season due to the injury, and was the team's leading receiver when he was placed on Injured Reserve on November 10.


Despite missing the first two games of the 2003 season recovering knee surgery, Hakim went on to start 12 of the 14 games he appeared in and become Detroit's leading receiver during the season. He finished the year with 49 catches for 449 yards and four touchdowns.

Highlights from the season include a 21-yard pass to fellow wideout Charles Rogers (the second pass and completion of his career), a two-point conversion on a pass from Joey Harrington against the Chicago Bears, and a crucial 18-yard catch on a game winning drive in another contest against the Bears. He had 19 catches over a three-game span during the year, which was the most ever for him in that amount. However, his best game of the season came against his former team, as he totaled 101 yards on offense and scored a touchdown against the Rams.


In 2004, Hakim finished second on the team in both receiving yards and receiving touchdowns despite missing four games due to ankle, back and groin injuries during the season. He finished with 31 receptions for 533 yards and three touchdowns.

Early in the season against the Houston Texans, Hakim eclipsed the 3,000-yard receiving mark for his career. In a game against the Minnesota Vikings, he and Roy Williams became the first Lions duo to each reach 100 receiving yards in the same game in nearly five years.


Hakim was released by the Lions in April 2005. He received interest from multiple teams before and on June 15 it was believed he had signed with the Kansas City Chiefs. The move would have reunited him with former Rams head coach Dick Vermeil. However, some provisions in the contracts caused the league to void the deal, and Hakim and Vermeil decided it would be best if he did not join the team. Hakim signed a one-year deal with the New Orleans Saints on June 19.

During the season, Hakim was the team's third best receiver and finished with 34 catches for 489 yards and two touchdowns. He set a career high with nine kickoff returns, while his punt return average was the lowest of his career at just 7.6 yards.


Despite receiving some interest in the 2006 offseason, Hakim remained unsigned until the regular season began. He signed a one-year deal to return to the Lions in 2006, despite new head coach Rod Marinelli in charge. Not all was unfamiliar to Hakim, however, as this time around with the Lions he would be working with former Rams offensive coordinator and head coach Mike Martz, who was now the offensive coordinator in Detroit.

Hakim's second tenure with the Lions was not nearly as productive or long as the first. In six games with the team, he caught just 17 passes for 147 yards. He was eventually released on October 30, and remained unsigned until joining the San Diego Chargers on December 14 after wide receiver Malcolm Floyd was placed on Injured Reserve. Hakim was inactive for all three games as a Charger, resulting in the first season of his professional career in which he did not score a touchdown.


After his contract expired following the 2006 season, Hakim once again became a free agent. He received little interest on the open market, but on March 22 he signed a one-year contract with the Miami Dolphins. The move reunited him with new Dolphins head coach Cam Cameron, who was offensive coordinator in San Diego the previous season.


Az-Zahir Hakim signed a contract in the UFL and the Las Vegas Locomotives. He also decided to start his own burger establishment called "Quickies" located in the Tempe area.

Tuesday, March 16, 2010

Where Are They Now? Part 5

Tony Horne

Antonio Tremaine Horne (born March 21, 1976) is a former professional football player in the National Football League (NFL). Undrafted as a walk on, he played the 1998, 1999, and 2000 seasons with the St. Louis Rams, where he was primarily used as a wide receiver and kickoff returner. In 1998, he finished sixth in the NFL with 1306 yards on kick returns, adding 892 yards in 1999, and 1379 in 11 games in 2000, when he again finished sixth in the league.[1] Horne works as a strength and speed coach at D1 Sports Training in Greenville. He attended Richmond Senior High in Rockingham, North Carolina, where he was a quarterback and a wide receiver in college at the University of Clemson. In 2000 he signed on as a free agent with the Kansas City Chiefs before suffering a knee injury during that preseason that ended his pro career.

Mike Jones

Michael Anthony Jones (born April 15, 1969, in Kansas City, Missouri) is a former American football linebacker in the National Football League. During his NFL career, which started in 1991 and ended after 2002, Jones played on three teams: the Los Angeles/Oakland Raiders, the St. Louis Rams, and the Pittsburgh Steelers.

Jones attended college at the University of Missouri, where he originally played as a running back. He was converted to the linebacker position when he signed with the Raiders as a rookie free agent.

He is well known for his actions during the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV, known as The Tackle, when he tackled then-Titans receiver Kevin Dyson at the one-yard line to preserve a Rams victory. He also had a superb performance during the regular season that year, recording 1 sack and 4 interceptions, which he returned for 96 yards and 2 touchdowns. He also recovered 2 fumbles, returning them for 51 yards and a touchdown.

Jones finished his 12 seasons with 9 sacks, 8 interceptions, 132 return yards, 5 fumble recoveries, 94 return yards, and 4 touchdowns (2 interceptions and 2 fumble recoveries) in 183 games. He is currently the head coach of the football team at Hazelwood East High School in Hazelwood, Missouri.

London Fletcher

London Levi Fletcher-Baker (born May 19, 1975 in Cleveland, Ohio) is an American football linebacker who currently plays for the Washington Redskins of the National Football League. He spent four seasons with the Rams before joining the Buffalo Bills in 2002. On March 2, 2007, Fletcher and the Redskins agreed to a 5-year, $25 million contract with a $10 million signing bonus. Known as one of the most consistent and knowledgeable linebackers in the game, Fletcher has never missed a game in his lengthy career, a feat further magnified by the intense physicality of the middle linebacker position.

St. Louis Rams

Fletcher began his professional career with the St. Louis Rams as an undrafted free agent.He was one of the two rookie free agents to make Rams’ opening day roster, he played in all 16 regular season games, starting the season finale at San Francisco. Fletcher earned the Rams Rookie of the Year Award as teams’ Rookie of the Year[1].

In 1999, Fletcher led the Rams in tackles after winning the starting middle linebacker position during training camp, he led the Rams with 138 tackles for the season were the most by a Ram since Roman Phifer collected 149 in 1995 season[1]. He was a starting linebacker for the Rams in Super Bowl XXXIV, in which the Rams defeated the Titans 23-16. He also was named to the All-Madden team. In 2000, he again led the team with 193 tackles, eclipsing old franchise mark of 185 set by LB Jim Collins in 1984. Fletcher earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors for the first time in his career after making 14 tackles (9 solo) and tying a career-high with two sacks against the Minnesota Vikings on November 10[1]. He established season and career highs in sacks (5.5), interceptions (4), and quarterback pressures (9) and adding a forced fumble[2].

In 2001, Fletcher earned NFC Defensive Player of the Week honors twice, first in the game against the San Francisco 49ers on September 23, he led the team with a career-high 21 tackles, 15 solo. The second time was after his big performance against the New England Patriots on November 18 as he led the team with 17 tackles with one pass deflection; forced a fumble on the Rams’ three-yard line that led to a 97-yard scoring drive to end the first half and intercepted a Tom Brady pass with 5:18 left in the third quarter for an 18-yard return[3]. This season the Rams made the Super Bowl XXXVI but were defeated by the Patriots 20–17, after kicker Adam Vinatieri made a game-winning 48-yard field goal as time expired.

Buffalo Bills

After 2001 season, Fletcher was signed by the Buffalo Bills and immediately made an impact on Bills defense, setting a career high and franchise record with 209 tackles, breaking the old mark of 206 set by Chris Spielman in 1996[1]. He also was selected as a Pro Bowl alternate eight times though he has never actually been a Pro Bowler[4]. Since 2002, Fletcher started all 16 regular season games for the Bills until his last season in 2006, when he Recorded a team-high 157 tackles, including nine for loss, set a career high with 14 deflections and tied a career high with four interceptions. On September 10, in the first regular season game, Fletcher scored his first career touchdown after recovering a fumble by patriots´Tom Brady and returning it five yards for a touchdown only 12 seconds into the game[5]. Fletcher was named a 2007 Pro Bowl alternate in his last season as a Bill.

Washington Redskins

On March 2, 2007, he signed with the Washington Redskins for five years and $25 million[6][7]. He currently serves as a captain for the defense. Fletcher was named to the NFC squad in the 2010 Pro Bowl after Jonathan Vilma's New Orleans Saints qualified for Super Bowl XLIV.[8] Fletcher was also one of three candidates for the 2009 Walter Payton Man of the Year Award, which was ultimately won by the Kansas City Chiefs's Brian Waters[9] He also finally made the 2010 Pro Bowl as a Washington Redskin, but only due to the other players ahead of his declining to go to the Pro Bowl.

  • Prior to the 2006 season, he adopted the "Baker" to his last name to honor his late grandmother.
  • Fletcher and his wife Charne have two children, a daughter who was born during the 2007 offseason and a son who was born in August 2008.[1].
  • in 2008, the Redskins nominated Fletcher as their Walter Payton Man of the Year Award representative[10].
  • In 2007, he was named co-winner of the B.J. Blanchard Award, along with quarterback Jason Campbell, an honor given annually to a Redskins player who best helps the local media do their jobs[1].
  • Has been named a Pro Bowl Alternate 9 times. He made his first Pro Bowl after the 2009 season via replacing Jonathan Vilma, due to prepping for the Super Bowl. Fletcher once considered himself the NFL version of Susan Lucci, who won a Daytime Emmy in 1999 in her 19th attempt.

Monday, March 1, 2010

Where Are They Now? Part 4

This time around we are focusing on Kevin Greene a much loved Ram for years by Rams fans from all over the country. The latest on Greene is from last year.

When former linebacker Kevin Greene called seeking an interview for a job, Green Bay Packers defensive coordinator Dom Capers had only one question for him.

"Are you sure you're ready?"

In the five previous years, Greene had served brief summer stints in Pittsburgh, Miami, Jacksonville, St. Louis and Cincinnati as a volunteer assistant coach, and if asked then, his answer would have been no. But when he saw Capers, his old coach in Pittsburgh and Carolina, had landed a coordinator's job in Green Bay, he decided there was no time like the present.

"We had talked over the years and I never thought it was the right time," Greene said in a telephone interview Monday from his home in Florida. "I told him when I called him this was the right time. I wanted to get into it."

"I'm humbled," said Greene, whose long, blond hair and frenzied style of play were as much his trademark as his 160 sacks during a 15-year career. "I'm tickled to death. It's an awesome day for me. The opportunity to be a coach for the Green Bay Packers . . . good googly."

Given Moss was passed over for the defensive coordinator's job and now has to share responsibilities with the linebackers, it wouldn't be surprising if the working relationship between Moss and Greene was a bit strained. But McCarthy had them meet when Greene came to town and the two spent time getting to know one another.

"We spent about an hour together and I don't think there will be any issue," Greene said. "Winston is old school, just like me. My first year was 1985. His was 1987. He's a guy who would hit you just like I would. He believes in the same kind of physical mentality that I do. We hit it off."

Given that in his final season in the NFL, Greene went after Carolina assistant coach Kevin Steele on the sideline with an intent to fight him, it could get interesting with the two volatile coaches working side by side. Greene, however, had gotten good reviews from the Steelers for his work last summer with the team's linebackers and Capers figured he needed someone to help him make the transition to a 3-4 scheme.

Greene personified the 3-4 outside linebacker in Capers' blitz-happy defense, finishing third on the NFL's all-time sack list behind Bruce Smith and Reggie White. His understanding of the position will help potential outside linebackers Aaron Kampman, Brady Poppinga, Desmond Bishop and Jeremy Thompson adjust to a new position.

"He gave us a lot of technique tips," Steelers linebacker James Harrison, the 2008 NFL defensive player of the year, said during a Super Bowl XLIII media gathering Monday. "He's going to be real intense."

Defensive end Brett Keisel, a seventh-year pro, said he really enjoyed it when Greene visited camp, even it was only for a week. He said Greene had a presence among many of the defensive players and showed the same passion he did when he was playing.

"I love Kevin," Keisel said. "He's, like, one of the greatest guys I've ever met. Not only did I watch him and idolize him growing up and as a young player, he came out to training camp and helped not just the linebackers but the D-linemen.

Greene, 46, was not the typical NFL player. While attending Auburn University, he took ROTC classes and later became an Army paratrooper. For 19 years he served as a captain in the Army Reserves, using his offseasons to fulfill his commitment.

He played for Los Angeles, Pittsburgh, Carolina and San Francisco, finishing his career in 1999. His fiery personality and penchant for the dramatic drew him to professional wrestling where in 1997 he teamed with former Chicago Bear Steve McMichael in the WCW.

The NFL ordered him to give up wrestling.

Now an assistant coach, Greene said his job would be to get the outside linebackers accustomed to the 3-4 defense and play with the same kind of intensity he did.

"I played four years with Dom, two in Pittsburgh and two in Carolina," Greene said. "Two of those years I led the NFL in sacks. We were always very productive with our 3-4 blitz scheme. I'm very familiar with what he's trying to implement."

"I'm just fired up. I played fired up as you probably know. I played with passion and desire. I have 15 years of on-field experience and my knowledge of how to play this position is second to none."