Around the league (or in this case, leagues)

Spent a good part of the morning at a charity event in  downtown Baltimore, where I caught up with Ravens corner Domonique Foxworth (more on that later). So I’m getting this posted a little later than I imagined. Sorry about that. I’ll have a big blog looking at where Michael Vick might end up coming later this afternoon.

Okay, first, some Derrick Mason info. The Ravens receiver spoke on the phone with coach John Harbaugh yesterday, but that was not the end of the communication, according to a source. The sides remain scheduled to meet face-to-face later this week, and many people in the organization have the feeling Mason will end up playing football this season. Also, one thing to keep in mind regarding Baltimore’s receiver tryouts on Friday — a lot of the receivers attending were contacted prior to Mason even announcing his retirement. So it wasn’t a totally reactionary thing.

Drew Bennett‘s tryout, for instance, was scheduled way back during OTAs. And the Ravens’ contact with the agent for free agent receiver Joe Horn goes back well before Mason retired as well. I wouldn’t read a ton into their contact with Horn at this point, and other teams who have been in contact with Horn include Tennessee and Tampa Bay, according to his agent, Ralph Vitolo.

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As for Vick, some personnel guys and former general managers I spoke to think that, depending on the decision by Commissioner Roger Goodell, and how much of a ringing endorsement Vick gets from the league office, there could be a chilling mechanism at work, whereby teams tread very lightly. Perhaps Vick’s best option becomes the new United Football League. Now, some football people think the guy will get signed by an NFL club within a month of being of reinstated — should that occur — and opinions vary. Several execs suggested, too, that the NFL and it’s teams wouldn’t mind the UFL being a trial balloon for Vick, with him playing there, monitoring the Public relations reaction and public reaction, which would perhaps make his eventual return to the NFL more subdued.

Again, if you made me guess — and it’s just my hunch — I think Vick gets cleared to play NFL football in some capacity in 2009.

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There are a lot of guys in this league who are sincerely dedicated to outreach and community service, and Foxworth is one of them. He is a native of the Baltimore area, he played at the University of Maryland, and after spending three years in Denver and one in Atlanta, he signed with his hometown team in March. Foxworth, a rising star within the NFLPA ranks, was in a blighted section of Baltimore this morning to represent the union as it launches it’s initiative t0 join President Barack Obama‘s “United We Serve” program. Foxworth also announced the start of a program very dear to his heart, as he is building an outreach network for Baltimore boys, called Baltimore B.O.R.N. (Boys Opportunity Resource Network).

Foxworth explained to me that with the help of local businesses his program will identify “bright, motivated” kids in at-risks settings at the sixth grade level, and then provide them with seven years of help through mentoring and tutoring workshops to help them succeed through the completion of high school and into college. The same kids will stay in the program. “There are some great kids in this area who need some help to knock down the obstacles that might keep them from being the success that they should be,” Foxworth said.

As anyone who watched HBO’s “The Wire” could see (that show was spot on real), the Baltimore city school system needs help. I told Dominique that it sounded like he was trying to find kids like Michael and Dukie, two characters from “The Wire,” and help eliminate the negative forces that can stunt their development. “That’s a great analogy,” Foxworth said. “That’s exactly what we’re trying to accomplish.” I wish him all the best, and if you see this Domonique, hit me up. I’d love to help out with writing classes or anything else. Sounds like a great program.

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As we already know, there will be several ex-NFLers playing in the UFL. The league announced J.P. Losman as the starting quarterback in Las Vegas, and I am told ex-NFL QB, Tim Rattay will back him up. Former NFL safeties Adam Archuleta and Will Demps are also with that team, along with former special teams standout Gary Stills … Another name to add to the close-to-signing draft pick list is Atlanta’s second-round pick William Moore. Both sides have made considerable progress, according to a league source … The Buffalo Bills, who play in the Hall of Fame Game and thus open camp early (this weekend), had yet to begin any real talks with top pick Aaron Maybin as of midweek, according to a source. Maybin’s agent, Joel Segal, is generally a guy who likes to see the deals of those slotted around his draft picks before executing new contracts, and that, coupled with the Bills’ early camp, makes it seem unlikely this contract will be done before Buffalo’s players hit the field Saturday …

I’m going to expound on this more later in the week, but there’s some interesting chatter in the scouting community about how NFL teams will handle UFL scouts, and their access, once camps open. Teams are enacting their own policies, and personnel guys around the league have been exchanging ideas. Some clubs might bar them, some might allow them on-field access only on days that are open to the public. Seems to me that if the UFL does become viable on some level, then NFL scouts might want player info from them at some point, too, so sharing some info makes sense long-term. Just my two cents … And, last but not least, a big shout out to Chase Williams, son of New Orleans defensive coordinator Gregg Williams. Chase, who will likely graduate from high school in Virginia early (in the winter rather than spring), committed to Virginia Tech today after having been pursued by a slew of big-time college programs. The kid is a beast — 6-foot-3, 240 pounds and runs a 4.66 40 with a 35-inch vertical and 400 pound bench press — and I know his father could not be more proud. Williams’ other son, Blake, is a Princeton grad who now serves on his father’s staff with the Saints. Football bonds run deep in that family. Congrats and good luck.

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