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Redskins' Cooley blames lockout for lost season; Vikings facing stadium challenges

ASHBURN, Va. -- The NFL has made Chris Cooley a millionaire many times over. During the NFL lockout, when he was banned from working with the Washington Redskins' training staff, he could've hired the best physical therapists around to help him with the left knee that was feeling stiff from surgery in January.

Instead, he figured he would handle it himself. He didn't think the knee was that bad.

It was a decision that essentially cost him a season, and maybe his career. The knee didn't recover. He missed almost all of training camp and muddled through five games, unable to run more than 10 yards without pain. He had the knee drained 15 times.

"I feel 100 percent that I'm a casualty for the season of the lockout. I think it was a shame that they didn't let players who had surgery spend time with the doctors and trainers they trust on a daily basis, I wish I could've."

This week, coach Mike Shanahan placed the two-time Pro Bowl tight end on injured reserve.

Cooley finally went to a therapist in late June, much too late. The knee was sore and swollen throughout the preseason. He played in the first five regular season games, but he caught only eight passes for 65 yards and was even taking snaps at fullback.

Cooley flew to Florida on Sunday and met with Dr. James Andrews. The verdict: Shut the knee down, or else risk having to undergo a micro-fracture procedure that could be career-ending.

"Dr. Andrews thought a microfracture would be 50-50, at best 70 percent, that I would play again," Cooley said.

Cooley is now on crutches, having been told to keep weight off the knee for two weeks. He can't run for the next three to four months. He says the prognosis is that he'll be ready for minicamp next spring.

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Vikings move possible

MINNEAPOLIS -- A cadre of Minnesota legislators opposed to putting public money into a deal for a new Vikings stadium acknowledged Thursday they'd let the team flee the state rather than let themselves be strong-armed into cutting a deal at any price.

Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak, meanwhile, laid out two funding options and three possible sites in a bid to keep the team from bolting from the city to the suburbs -- or beyond. His plan relies on new sales and lodging taxes or proceeds from a potential downtown casino.

The Vikings have four games remaining on their Metrodome lease, and have made it clear that they won't re-up without assurances that a new stadium will get built. Team owner Zygi Wilf has stopped short of threatening to leave the state, but other cities craving an NFL franchise are paying attention.

"We don't want them to leave, but if they're going to leave I guess that is going to happen," said state Sen. David Hann, a Republican who led a news conference by a bipartisan group of lawmakers fighting efforts to expand gambling to help pay for a new stadium. The lawmakers said their opposition extends to using all forms of taxpayer money.

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Around the league

*Security personnel at NFL games will begin using hand-held metal detectors as part of the screening process before fans enter the stadiums. Beginning Nov. 20, the detectors will be used at stadium gates because "we are always striving for ways to improve our security procedures at all of our stadiums," an NFL spokesman says.

*A publicist for Terrell Owens says the former Bills receiver "absolutely" did not attempt suicide or overdose on pills earlier this month.

In a statement, publicist Diana Bianchini says an assistant arrived at Owens' home on Oct. 6 after he had taken a sleeping aid to fall asleep.

The assistant did not realize that, became concerned and called 911. Bianchini says that when police arrived, Owens was responsive.

*A person with knowledge of the situation says San Diego Chargers Pro Bowl left guard Kris Dielman suffered a seizure on the flight home Sunday after sustaining a concussion in a loss to the New York Jets.

Dielman said he won't play Monday against Kansas City.

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