Friend says Simon 'fine' - wherever he is

Super Bowl Notes

MIAMI - Former Eagles defensive tackle Corey Simon is not with the Indianapolis Colts at Super Bowl XLI after leaving the team in October with an undisclosed illness that remains a mystery even to his teammates.

"Injuries happen, and certain things happen, . . . but I really don't know the total story on him," linebacker Cato June said yesterday. "We just want the best for him."

The Indianapolis player who seemed to know the most about Simon was fellow defensive tackle Montae Reagor, who is in Miami but will not play Sunday against the Chicago Bears because he is recovering from facial surgery. Reagor was in an accident while driving to the Colts' Oct. 22 game against the Washington Redskins.

"Me and Corey are real good friends," Reagor said. "I talked to him about a week ago. He's doing fine. He's determined to recover from his injuries, and he's doing good. He's recovered from his arthritis, and he's in good spirits. Corey is always a positive guy.

"Of course he wants to be here. He played in one of these when he was with Philly, so I know it's killing him not to be here. If I wouldn't have come, it would have killed me."

Probably one reason that Simon is not here is the grievance he filed over this year's salary against the Colts, who gave him about $11 million in guaranteed money when they signed him after the Eagles released him just before the 2005 season.

Simon politely declined an interview request this week because of the unresolved grievance.

Colts coach Tony Dungy said he had talked to Simon a couple of times since Simon left the team.

"Basically, our big thing with Corey is just getting him healthy and trying to figure out what this illness is and get him going," Dungy said

Buddy ball

It's Super Bowl week, the Chicago Bears are here for the first time in 21 years, and Buddy Ryan is coaching again.

No, he has not made a comeback with his former team, which made the 46 defense famous and launched his colorful career as a head coach in Philadelphia.

Ryan isn't even in Miami. He's in El Paso, Texas, where he will be one of the head coaches in an all-star football game billed as Texas vs. the Nation. Ryan, 73, is coaching the Nation team. The game is scheduled for Friday night.

The El Paso Times asked Ryan to compare the 1985 Bears' Super Bowl champion defense to the current group.

"The current one is OK," Ryan said. "But the '85 Bears shut out their opponents. But they're a good defense. I especially like their middle linebacker," Brian Urlacher.

Ryan, who never endeared himself to football fans in Texas when he coached the Eagles, had some fun with a comment made by the game's promoter, Kenny Hansmire, who described Ryan's arrival in El Paso as "the devil is coming to town."

The coach told the El Paso Times that he thought that angle was a little much but said, "I've played it up anyway."

Bears defensive coordinator Ron Rivera, who played for Ryan's defense the year Chicago won its only Super Bowl, said he had last seen his former coach last season at a reunion celebrating the 20th anniversary of the team's title. "He's still a character," Rivera said.

Recruiting tool

One of the odder sights you'll see as you drive down I-95 South into Miami is a giant billboard on the right side of the highway. It says simply: RUTGERS FOOTBALL.

The state university of New Jersey, coached by former University of Miami defensive coordinator Greg Schiano, is obviously making a strong pitch for some of the nation's best high school football talent in South Florida.

Still, that billboard really seemed out of place in South Florida rather than in South Jersey.

Party time can wait

This isn't Muhsin Muhammad's first trip to the Super Bowl. The Bears receiver went with the Carolina Panthers in 2004 after beating the Eagles in the NFC championship game.

The 11-year veteran's advice to his younger teammates was simple.

"Man, we've got so much time to party after this is over," Muhammad said.

Muhammad was on the losing end of Super Bowl XXXVIII, when the Panthers lost to the New England Patriots by a field goal.

Getting ready

Urlacher has a routine on game days. It involves TV and fishing.

"Every Sunday when I wake up, there is a saltwater fishing show on ESPN that I watch at 8, and then at 9 o'clock there's another one, and I watch that one until I have to go to the stadium when the game is at noon," the Bears linebacker said. "This Sunday, I'll be able to watch the whole thing" since the game is late.

Once he gets to the stadium, Urlacher said, he snacks on cookies and listens to music. But it's the fishing shows that get him ready.

"There's something relaxing to me about watching fishing shows," Urlacher said.

Extra points

Eagles quarterback Donovan McNabb will be at the Super Bowl festivities today and will hold a news conference for the first time since his season-ending injury in November. . . . Colts kicker Adam Vinatieri is making the fifth Super Bowl appearance of his career. He made four with the New England Patriots, the team he left as a free agent after last season.

- Bob Brookover
and Ashley Fox