3-13-02, 7:40 p.m.
BY GEOFF HOBSON
The Bengals added another cornerback Wednesday to their list of possibilities when Jeff Burris of the Colts agreed to visit Paul Brown Stadium next week.
Burris' teammate, tight end Ken Dilger, plans to drive over from Indianapolis Thursday for a recruiting visit and he'll be followed by Chargers tight end Freddie Jones Friday.
The Bengals opened talks with Bears cornerback Walt Harris Wednesday by discussing parameters with agent Brian Levy. Although Levy hopes for a more concrete offer Thursday, the gap is apparently wide enough that Harris is now interested in taking a trip to Carolina.
Burris, who turns 30 in June, had three of his 16 career interceptions this past season and one went for a touchdown. He has also visited Seattle and has drawn interest from the Redskins, but there could be what agent Peter Schaffer calls "karma," when it comes to the Bengals.
Before the 1998 season, Burris took the same $4.5 million per year deal that Cincinnati offered in Indianapolis. He said the major reason was his relationship with
then new Colts General Manager Bill Polian, the man whom drafted him in the first round in Buffalo in 1994. But Jim Lippincott, the Bengals director of pro/college personnel, did get a fruit basket out of the deal a week later. That's when Burris, a Notre Dame product,sent Lippincott the gift, along with a Thank You letter.
"He's a classy guy," Lippincott said. "The negotiations were a constant that weekend. Saturday and Sunday and the stakes were high. We were right there, but in the end it came down to Bill Polian.
"You look at him on tape and he's still got it athletically," Lippincott said. "He's got sweet feet. Good, quick feet. He's got all the cover skills and he's a bright guy."
Schaffer said Burris would have visited this week, but he's involved in the player representative meetings for the NFL Players Association.
"I'm working today on the interest from other teams, but I'll let the Bengals know if something comes up," Schaffer said. "They made a serious attempt the last time and it was a tough decision. Six other teams were involved and they stepped up. They did nothing wrong and we wanted to show our appreciation for their interest and professionalism. I believe you create your own karma and you never know when it will come back to help you. We'll see what happens."
SIMMONS BUSY:** Bengals middle linebacker Brian Simmons continues his active offseason in the community when he serves as Honorary Chairman for the April 28 Greater Cincinnati/Northern Kentucky WalkAmerica 2002. He'll be on hand to start the walk and greet walkers as they come through Paul Brown Stadium during the six-mile event.
Last month, Simmons helped kick off a national bone marrow donor awareness program for the U.S. Postal Service that is focused on raising the level of minority donations to fight blood diseases.
Simmons, who set a club record for inside linebackers with 6.5 sacks this past season, is heading into his fifth year with the Bengals. But this is his first offseason he has spent in Cincinnati because his daughter has started school.
"I enjoy the city and I like to be able to get involved in things like that," Simmons said. "When it comes to the March of Dimes, it's all about kids and I think everyone has a connection with children. I got interested in the bone marrow program because minority donations are at a very low level. Lower than others. That's stuff you don't hear much about, but the best chances for a successful transplant for anyone comes from donors with similar backgrounds."
Thousands of walkers plan to take over downtown next month as they support the March of Dimes' fight to save premature babies. This year's route takes the walkers inside Cinergy Field, through PBS and on Newport on the Levee. By walking the full six miles, and getting
donations from sponsors, participants will help fund life-saving research and programs that help save babies in the community and across the nation.
In Cinergy, walkers receive a "Gold Nugget" bag and honorary contract souvenir. At PBS, they receive a souvenir cup. After winding through Newport on the Levee, the walk ends at Sawyer Point and the Taste of WalkAmerica. Some of Cincinnati's finest restaurants will be on hand to serve samples of well known favorites.
To register for the walk, call 1-800-525-WALK. The March of Dimes funds programs of research, community services, education, and advocacy to save babies. For more information, visit the March of Dimes Web site at www.marchofdimes.com/walkamerica, its Spanish Web site at www.nacersano.org or call 1-888-MODIMES.
For information about registering to be a bone marrow donor, call Hoxworth Blood Center at 513-558-1616.