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 Tony Romo is the NFL's top quarterback - in merchandising.
Just more than a year into his reign as the starter in Dallas, Romo sits atop the category, according to sales on NFLShop.com. Heady territory, in front of LaDainian Tomlinson, Peyton Manning and Tom Brady.
``I think it's just the franchise,'' Romo said. ``It probably happens to quarterbacks around here. I haven't been around that long.
``It's a good feeling, it's neat that we have that many fans that follow us, that care about our team. I think it's a product that we're winning football games, and it's an exciting thing right now.''
Rounding out the top 10 are Brian Urlacher, Brett Favre, Brady Quinn - yeah, we know, he has never played a down - Reggie Bush, Adrian Peterson and Troy Polamalu.
Asked who was buying all those No. 9 Cowboys jerseys, Romo laughed and said:
``Yeah that was me, pushed me over the top. No, my mom really buys a lot.
``It's a neat feeling just that people care about you that much and that they root on our team that much, but it's kind of an embarrassing thing, too, in some ways. I like it; it's a fun thing.''
It's even fun for Terrell Owens, who wasn't complaining that he ranked well down the list.
``That's great, obviously,'' he said of Romo being No. 1. ``He deserves it. Just the emergence of him from last year to this year. He's a guy that's putting people in the stands. We're America's Team and everybody watches America's Team. When you're a quarterback and you're getting paid handsomely, everybody's going to go out and support you. It's very deserving.''
Not surprisingly, the Cowboys are No. 1 among the 32 clubs. Maybe they are right about being America's teams.
Ranked second are the Bears, followed by the Steelers, Colts, Patriots, Eagles, Redskins, Chargers, Broncos and Packers. At least New England is in the middle of the pack somewhere.
The final word on the Cowboys' popularity belongs, naturally, to T.O.
``We're America's Team. Everybody wants to be with the best,'' Owens said. ``It's just a tribute, really, to the guys that are on this team and the success we're having.''
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CLEANING UP THE LEAGUE: Titans coach Jeff Fisher says ejecting players for helmet-to-helmet tackles should take care of some of the vicious hits seen around the NFL in recent weeks.
``There's going to be the chance that there will be a player ejected for something that was thought was one thing but was not,'' Fisher said. ``But it's important. The players realize it. The league office has placed a very, very high priority on player safety. It's for their own good.''
Fisher recalled a situation against Pittsburgh in a playoff game where he had a player penalized, only to see later it wasn't helmet-to-helmet.
Such hits won't be reviewed before a player is ejected, and Fisher, co-chairman of the league's competition committee, said the situation does not fall under the ``replay envelope.''
The Titans could have lost defensive tackle Albert Haynesworth under this new rule Oct. 21 when they played Houston. Replays showed Haynesworth kept his head to the side of Texans quarterback Matt Schaub's helmet when making a tackle.
``And I still to this day have not heard, have not seen it personally, but I heard how it was described to me by a league official and that's the kind of thing they want to make sure that we avoid,'' Fisher said.
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WEDGE BUSTER: Yes, that was All-Pro safety Brian Dawkins on special teams after the Philadelphia Eagles took a one-point lead late in the fourth quarter at Washington last Sunday.
Dawkins didn't want to take any chances after the team rallied from a nine-point deficit in a game it had to win. So he decided he needed to be on the field to cover an important kickoff.
``I just felt like it was something I had to do and wanted to do,'' Dawkins said of his first appearance on the unit in at least seven years. ``I didn't really ask to go in; I said that I was going in. I wanted to be out there, so that's what happened.''
Dawkins didn't make a tackle on the play, but his teammates stopped Rock Cartwright at the 25. Dawkins then assumed his regular spot at free safety and helped the defense shut down the Redskins' final two drives.
Asked what he would've done if coach Andy Reid refused to allow him to cover the kickoff, Dawkins said: ``Honestly, I probably would have snuck out there.''
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RARE BALL: A rare autographed game ball from the 1934-35 Green Bay Packers has been donated to the team's Hall of Fame by James Miller in the name of his mother, Mayme Toule Miller.
Mayme Toule Miller was the manager of the Astor Hotel from 1928-38. The downtown Green Bay hotel was considered a home away from home during the season for many Packers.
Miller befriended many players, including halfback Roger Grove, who presented the ball to Miller during the 1935 season as a token of appreciation for the accommodations the players received at the hotel. Grove had Curly Lambeau and all the players sign the ball, including Pro Football Hall of Famers Lambeau, Arnie Herber, Clarke Hinkle, Don Hutson, Johnny ``Blood'' McNally, Mike Michalske and Cal Hubbard.
Oddly, the players also wrote their college on the ball.
The ball is believed to have been used in one of the team's first night games, in Milwaukee's State Fair Park.
``I'm honored to donate this ball in the name of my mother,'' James Miller said. ``She loved her job and has many great stories from her days at the hotel. I know the Hall of Fame is the appropriate place for the ball.''
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RAMBLING MAN: The football landed in Bobbie Williams' arms, and everybody on the field waited to see what the Bengals offensive guard would do next.
He tucked it under his right arm and took off.
The eight-year veteran got to act like a running back for the first time in his career last Sunday, recovering Carson Palmer's airborne fumble and heading upfield for a few yards in a 21-7 win at Baltimore.
The 6-foot-4, 345-pound lineman had only one thought in mind.
``Try to get out of bounds and most of all, don't fumble,'' Williams said, reliving one of his favorite and most uncomfortable moments on the field. ``That's the main thing. Whatever else happens, don't fumble.''
He didn't lose the ball when cornerback Corey Ivy hit him low to take him down. Ivy got a concussion out of the play. Williams got a memory.
``That's probably an offensive lineman's dream,'' coach Marvin Lewis said. ``You have the ball in your hands and you have the chance to run over some guys. He ran over a guy, and the poor guy never came back. It was a good, heads-up play.''
Williams hadn't run with a football since the seventh grade.
``It wasn't supposed to come to me then, either,'' Williams said. ``I was blocking on a kickoff return and it came to me. I just caught it and took off with it. Everybody was like: Yeah!''
It's not surprising that Williams ranks his first professional run among his best moments in the game.
``It's just a page in my life, and it was a good one, a fun one,'' he said. ``It's something that happened. It's not something I expect to happen again.''
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AP Football Writer Barry Wilner and Sports Writers Teresa M. Walker in Nashville, Jaime Aron and Stephen Hawkins in Dallas, Rob Maaddi in Philadelphia, and Joe Kay in Cincinnati contributed to this story.

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