Keith Rivers wore No. 55 at Southern California, where the number has been passed from one prominent linebacker to another. When the Bengals made him the ninth overall pick in the draft, he had to get a new one.
Linebacker Ahmad Brooks already had 55, so Rivers got No. 58 for preseason games. When Brooks was released after the final preseason game, Rivers claimed his old number.
It came with a steep price tag: roughly $10,000.
When a player makes such a change, he has to pay for the inventory of jerseys with his old name or number. Receiver Chad Ocho Cinco ran into the problem when he legally changed his surname before the season opener. The league ruled that he had to keep ``Johnson'' on the back of his jersey until he takes care of the problem.
Rivers estimated that it cost him between $9,000 and $10,000 to buy up the inventory of his old No. 58 jerseys. He'll donate them to charity.
To Rivers, it was worth it.
``It was important, but I wasn't sulking because I didn't have it,'' Rivers said. ``I'm just happy I got it. I'm not very superstitious, but guys who have had No. 55 and kept it have done well.''
USC, the number has been passed from Junior Seau to Willie McGinest to Chris Claiborne and to Rivers, who wanted to keep it in the pros.
``It's just something that's been special to me,'' Rivers said.
BATTLING PROSTATE CANCER: Hall of Famer Len Dawson is a prostate cancer survivor and he's trying to spread awareness during Prostate Cancer Awareness Month.
The former Kansas City Chiefs quarterback who has been a popular broadcaster in that city for more than three decades - he became a sportscaster even while still an active player - has teamed with Depend and to promote the importance of consulting with a physician and being proactive about prostate health.
``Generally, men are stubborn. We don't like stopping for directions, let alone going to the doctor,'' Dawson said. ``If it wasn't for my wife (Linda) actually making the appointment for me to get tested, I might not be here today.
``My advice to men 40 or over is to get checked early and annually, especially if they have a history of prostate cancer in the family. That makes you more at-risk.''
Dawson was in Gillette Stadium's broadcast booth when Tom Brady suffered a season-ending knee injury last Sunday.
games, I don't think I ever heard (the stadium) more silent than at that very moment. You could hear a pin drop.
``Tom Brady is one of the greatest quarterbacks of all time; many could make the argument that by the time he's done, he'll be the best ever, and I wouldn't dispute it. You cannot replace a Tom Brady, but with a talented, experienced supporting cast and a surprisingly reasonable schedule from an opposing team's winning percentage standpoint, I don't see why Bill Belichick and that coaching staff still can't lead that team to 11 or 12 wins.''
MARTIN'S CALL: Jamie Martin got his three kids enrolled in school in St. Louis last week, and he was contemplating life after football when the 49ers asked him to spend a 16th year in the NFL.
Martin, the 38-year-old veteran on his seventh NFL team, will be the 49ers' No. 3 quarterback after joining the club Wednesday. He was the 49ers' first choice to fill up the roster because of his familiarity with Mike Martz's offense from his time with the Rams in 2001-02 and 2004-05.
``I've had crash courses in this offense before, so I'm a little bit better prepared for it this time,'' Martin said. ``It shouldn't take too long to get going on it.''
Martin's quarterbacks coach in 1994, and the two both stayed with the Rams through the next two years after the club's move to St. Louis.
``I definitely have been following (Martz) in the different places he's been over the years,'' said Martin, who spent the last two seasons with the Saints while Martz was Lions offensive coordinator. ``When you're a quarterback, you just kind of follow the injuries to the quarterbacks.''
Although Baltimore was the only team to express much interest in Martin after he left the Saints, he felt good about his chances to stick with the 49ers when he traveled to the Bay Area on Tuesday for a physical. Martin has made many such trips during his itinerant career.
``You pack to stay, and you see what happens when you get out here,'' Martin said. ``I was hoping to stay, because I had to pay $50 for the extra bag on Delta.''
LET'S SHAKE ON IT: After Minnesota's loss at Green Bay, Vikings coach Brad Childress was not at midfield to shake Packers coach Mike McCarthy's hand as per the typical NFL postgame ritual.
Though the teams deepened their dislike for each other this summer during Brett Favre's unretirement saga - when the Packers filed tampering charges against the Vikings that were eventually dismissed by the league - Childress said he wasn't trying to stiff McCarthy.
is interception essentially ended the game and sealed Green Bay's 24-19 win.
``We had something that we wanted to discuss. I wanted to see where his frame of mind was. It wasn't an orchestrated deal, or anything in that manner,'' Childress said.
The two coaches exchanged messages on Tuesday. McCarthy also said there was no ill will between them.
SCHOOL TIES: As might be expected, the most NFL players come from the annual national championship contenders or power schools: Miami, Florida State, LSU, Georgia, Michigan, Ohio State, Texas.
Want offensive linemen? Look to Boston College, a team that is always solid but never great.
In the NFL's annual list of colleges that contribute to league roster, BC is tied for the lead for most players at two positions: guard and center. That figures for a school that has had two dozen offensive linemen drafted in the past two decades. They have three at each position, tied with LSU and Notre Dame at center, and Mississippi and Texas at guard.
The centers are Tom Nalen, a perennial Pro Bowler for Denver who comes from Foxborough, Mass., home of the Patriots; Dan Koppen of New England, who has succeeded Nalen as the Pro Bowl center; and Pat Ross of Arizona.
The guards are Pete Kendall of the Redskins; Chris Snee of the Giants; and Josh Beekman of the Bears.
ong-time fixture at center and guard for the Patriots and Lions, hadn't been moved to tackle after signing with the Jets this year.
Overall, Miami leads with 44 NFL players. Florida State is second with 37, while Georgia, Michigan and Ohio State are tied for third at 36. LSU has 35; Tennessee and Texas 34 each; Southern California 32; and Florida 30.
AP football writers Barry Wilner and Dave Goldberg, and sports writers Joe Kay in Cincinnati, Dave Campbell in Minneapolis and Greg Beacham in San Francisco contributed to this story.

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