Bengals rookie tailback working to help young cancer patient
Every time running back Rex Burkhead takes a handoff during Cincinnati Bengals rookie minicamp and tucks the ball under his right arm, that red "Team Jack" wristband stands out. The thin band reminds everyone of a 7-year-old cancer patient back in Nebraska who has changed Burkhead's life in a lot of ways. Jack Hoffman is on his wrist and in his thoughts as he moves on to the NFL.
"It's very humbling," Burkhead said. "I think I've gotten more from the relationship than he has, honestly. It's helped me look at many things in my life in a new perspective. It's made me not get down on things. ... If I'm going through times that I think are tough, it's nothing like what he's going through. I just can't appreciate enough having the relationship with him."
Rex and Jack have become quite a pair.
Burkhead got the meet the boy as part of Nebraska's life skills program. Jack has a tumor located in a part of the brain that's difficult to reach. His prognosis was grim. His relatives are Cornhusker fans and he looked up to Burkhead.
Could they meet? Sure.
They had lunch. Burkhead gave them a tour of the stadium. He promised to stay in touch, mindful of the lesson his parents Robyn and Rick taught him.
"I think they've brought me up the right way, made sure I have a level head, never let me get too high on myself," Burkhead said. "I can't thank them enough for raising me that way.
"You're a football player yes, but there's another side to you and the most important side is how good of a person you are."
Burkhead is working with the family to promote awareness of pediatric brain cancer and raise funds for research. Jack is doing well, responding to treatment that's shrinking the tumor. Burkhead talks to Jack's father, Andy, nearly every day as they work on the campaign.
Their relationship became a national topic when the Cornhuskers decided to let Jack suit up and score a touchdown during their spring game last month. President Obama saw video of the run and invited the Hoffmans and Burkhead to the White House.
The Bengals drafted Burkhead in the sixth round on Saturday, April 27. Two days later, he accompanied the Hoffmans to the White House and met with Obama for about 15 minutes.
"Sitting in the West Wing waiting for the president to come out and get you is a pretty unreal experience," Burkhead said.
Andy Hoffman was touched by that moment.
"The best thing is when the president told Rex, 'Thank you for everything that you've done for Jack.' That was cool," Hoffman said. "To me, all of the awareness was part of the visit and the goal, but that was a very humbling and rewarding experience — to hear the president of the United States thank Rex. We've told him thank you a thousand times, but to have it come from a guy like that is really special."
Ex-Cat Warford hurt at Lions' minicamp
Former Kentucky offensive lineman Larry Warford, who was drafted in the third round of the NFL Draft by the Lions, had to leave Saturday's rookie minicamp practice early with an arm injury. Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said Warford, who was not available in the locker room after practice, did not hurt his shoulder and didn't appear too concerned about the injury, which the team did not elaborate on.
"It wasn't serious enough to keep him in(side)," Schwartz told the Detroit Free Press. "He stayed around (practice after it happened). That's one of the things, he caught an elbow that hurt. But we'll see. We'll err on the side of caution when it comes to just about every injury or situation we have right now."
Baseball Future Bat Cat tosses perfect game
Ashland Blazer's Logan Salow, a University of Kentucky signee, threw a perfect game against Lawrence County in the King of the Mountain tournament at Prestonsburg on Saturday. Salow, a left-hander, had 18 strikeouts in a 2-0 victory. As of May 2, Salow had a 1.88 ERA and also led Ashland with a .408 batting average.
■ The Lexington Legends' Colin Rodgers pitched six shutout innings and Mark Peterson added one of his own in a 2-0 seven-inning victory against the West Virginia Power in the first game of a doubleheader Saturday at Whitaker Bank Ballpark. Rodgers (3-1) had six strikeouts and lowered his ERA to 2.30. Raul Mondesi Jr. and Jin-Ho Shin both had two hits and and RBI for Lexington.
Tide take NCAA regional; UK women 12th
The top-seeded Alabama women's golf team finished with an eight-shot victory over Tulane in the NCAA East Regional Championship at the Auburn University Club in Alabama on Saturday.
The Crimson Tide's 844 total was the second lowest 54-hole score in school history. Stephanie Meadow led the way with a 13-under 203. Teammates Emma Talley, a freshman out of Caldwell County, and Jennifer Kirby tied for fourth at 5 under.
Kentucky finished 12th overall and Eastern Kentucky was 23rd. The Cats' top finishers were Sarah Harris, Betsie Johnson and Cylia Damerau. All three were tied for 60th at 9-over par.
Demonstrative wins Iroquois Steeplechase
Demonstrative took the lead going to the last of 18 hurdles and won the $150,000 Calvin Houghland Iroquois Steeplechase Stakes by a head on Saturday at Nashville. The 6-year-old gelding, who finished second in last year's balloting for steeplechaser of the year, defeated Divine Fortune in the feature race at Percy Warner Park.
Robbie Walsh was aboard the winner for owner Jacqueline Ohrstrom of The Plains, Va. and trainer Richard Valentine. Demonstrative covered the 3 miles over a soft turf course in 5:42.4.
The last word
The scouting report on Havard Rugland is certainly an odd one. The Norwegian kicker, who is participating in the Detroit Lions' rookie minicamp, became an Internet sensation after producing video footage of all sorts of quirky trick shots. The 28-year-old Rugland back-heels the ball nonchalantly into a trash can and kicks it to somebody on a boat on a lake. In one goofy stunt, he lines up for what looks like a chip-shot field goal — only he's not trying to split the uprights. Instead, his kick sails gently through a basketball hoop.
Detroit Lions Coach Jim Schwartz said:
"He's good at kicking the ball into cars that are driving down the road ... boats and stuff like that. But I don't think you get any more points for doing that. We've got to kick it between the goalposts."