Browns receiver Braylon Edwards' best play of the season may have taken place off the field.
Touched by an emotional visit with 15-year-old Denzel Douglas, a heart transplant patient who died last week in the Cleveland Clinic, Edwards paid for the youngster's funeral and burial expenses.
During his hospital visit on Oct. 16, Edwards gave Douglas a signed jersey and a game ball from a win over Miami. Last Sunday, Edwards dedicated his two-touchdown game in St. Louis to the memory of Douglas, who passed away two days earlier.
Douglas, whose favorite player was Edwards, will be buried Friday in the No. 17 jersey with the football at his side.
Douglas had received a heart transplant in July 2006.
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TJ MEANS TD: The overshadowed half of the Bengals' receiving tandem is getting most of the catches and touchdowns this season.
With Chad Johnson drawing double and sometimes triple coverage, T.J. Houshmandzadeh has become Carson Palmer's most frequent target. Houshmandzadeh leads the NFL with 58 catches, putting him more than halfway to Carl Pickens' team record of 100 in 1996.
Houshmandzadeh has caught at least one touchdown pass in each of Cincinnati's seven games. He has nine overall, tied with Cleveland's Braylon Edwards for second in the league. Randy Moss leads with 11 touchdown catches.
For most of his seven-year career, Houshmandzadeh has been overshadowed by Johnson, his chatty former teammate at Oregon State. That's changing.
``I've said it before: I wouldn't trade him for any receiver in this league, point-blank,'' Palmer said. ``He's done nothing but make plays this first half of the season. He's done nothing but make plays that a lot of guys can't.''
While Johnson is known for getting open on the deep pass, Houshmandzadeh is the Bengals' best underneath threat. He's known for holding onto the ball after taking a nasty hit.
``There's been times when I go over and kind of yell at him or talk a little smack to him, and he pops right up and gets back in the huddle and plays,'' Palmer said. ``There's a number of guys in this league that don't return to games after some of the shots he's taken.''
Houshmandzadeh is aware he's on pace to break team records, but the team's 2-5 start has taken all the fun out of it.
``Well, individually it's cool,'' he said. ``But at the end of the day, you're losing. Michael Jordan or Kobe Bryant can score 35 points in a game, but if you lose, it doesn't matter.''
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A TICKET TO CANTON: The most obscure name on the preliminary list of 124 nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame Class of 2008 belonged to Leo Carlin, the director of ticket client relations for the Philadelphia Eagles.
The 70-year-old Carlin joined the Eagles as a part-time ticket office employee in 1960 and has been with the team for 48 years.
``There were no credit cards and people lined around that office all day long,'' he said, recalling the early years. ``I would stand in that window all day long trying to service the public. It was a long, long procedure. Of course, there weren't the computers until a little bit later on.''
Carlin is realistic enough to realize his chances of gaining election to the Hall are minuscule, but he's thrilled to be on a list that includes Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, former Eagles quarterback Randall Cunningham and other greats.
``I'm sure Jerry Jones is trying to figure out who Leo Carlin is, too,'' Carlin said.
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STAR-STRUCK SEAHAWKS: Seahawks quarterback Matt Hasselbeck and coach Mike Holmgren know Brett Favre better than most in the NFL. Hasselbeck was Favre's first protege backup in Green Bay a decade ago, while Holmgren coached Favre into two Super Bowls.
Yet both were awed by the latest magic from Favre.
``Well, he threw a nice pass, I know that,'' Holmgren deadpanned of Favre's 82-yard touchdown pass to an in-stride Greg Jennings in overtime to beat Denver. He threw a beautiful pass, a perfect pass.''
Holmgren, 10 seasons removed from coaching Favre, still talks to him. When Favre was contemplating retirement following the Seahawks-Packers finale two years ago, he walked from his private jet unannounced onto the Seahawks' plane parked next to it so he could talk to Holmgren.
So, yes, moments like Monday night's make Holmgren smile.
``Oh, yeah. I see him, they show the close-ups, and he's gray,'' the coach said, chuckling. ``The guy's an amazing guy, and he will always be a special guy for me.''
Hasselbeck, battling through a strained oblique after a knee sprain caused him to miss four games last season, was even more impressed with another aspect of Favre's last game. It was his 244th consecutive start in the regular season.
``It's kind of crazy,'' Hasselbeck said. ``Especially Brett, because of the way he plays is reckless. He takes a lot of hits. To be out there each and every game, to start, it really is amazing. It's really absurd is what it is.''
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SUPER AD: Some NFL player will know he's appearing on the Super Bowl telecast long before the AFC and NFC representatives are decided.
That player will be the choice of fans and an NFL panel through the league's search for the most appropriate story the player presents in the form of a commercial. The Super Ad, if you will, is to feature the player who pitches the best idea for the commercial.
Currently, NFL Films is traveling to all 32 team headquarters and having players present their ideas. Already, they have received presentations from 130 players and expect to double that number.
``These are very inside stories about who these players are and what their personalities are. Who they are as people,'' says Lisa Baird, the NFL's senior vice president of marketing and consumer products. ``We want the ad to hit at the inspiration of the story. I think it will be a very clever interpretation of the athlete's story; we want to make sure the ad speaks to the audience for the Super Bowl, remaining faithful to the idea the players present.''
The players' pitches will be posted on the league's Web site (nfl.com) after Nov. 29, and fans can vote on their favorite until Dec. 26. The league and NFL Films will pick the 48 best pitches for the site and will archive the others so that all of them can be viewed.
``At the end of December, we'll narrow it to a final eight, one from each division,'' Baird adds. ``Then comes a vote over a 10-day period on nfl.com.''
The winning ad will appear during the Super Bowl telecast.
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MIKE AND HERM: Green Bay coach Mike McCarthy makes a triumphant return to Arrowhead Stadium on Sunday. He launched his coaching career in Kansas City in 1993 as a quality control assistant under Marty Schottenheimer. He later became Schottenheimer's quarterbacks coach, working with Rich Gannon, Steve Bono and Elvis Grbac.
When he first got to town in 1993, he became good friends with a young defensive secondary coach named Herm Edwards, who was also just beginning his coaching career.
``I used to tease Mike when he came in here with (then-offensive coordinator Paul) Hackett and said, `Here comes another genius,' `` Edwards said. ``I always called those guys geniuses in the West Coast offense. But you could tell then, he's very good, very knowledgeable about the West Coast offense.''
McCarthy, who went to school at nearby Baker University, an NAIA school, said he has great memories of Kansas City. He also didn't mind taking a friendly jab when asked about his impressions of Edwards.
``Typical defensive coach with a chip on his shoulder,'' McCarthy joked. ``He's a lot of fun to be around. Paul Hackett was clearly one of the coaches that made a huge impact on my professional career, but Herm Edwards is a very good coach.''
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AP Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York and Sports Writers Tom Withers in Cleveland, Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Doug Tucker in Kansas City, Colin Fly in Green Bay and Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia contributed to this story.

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