Vikings defensive end Kenechi Udeze
Renee Jones Schneider, Star Tribune
Udeze opts to retire after leukemia battle
- Article by: SID HARTMAN
- Star Tribune
- July 30, 2009 - 7:14 AM
Kenechi Udeze, the Vikings defensive end who missed last season because of leukemia, has retired.
Coach Brad Childress said Wednesday that Udeze, the team's first-round draft choice (20th overall) in 2004 out of Southern California, has ended his comeback attempt.
Efforts to reach Udeze were unsuccessful.
Udeze tied for the team lead in sacks in 2007, but got sick following the season and was diagnosed with acute lymphoblastic leukemia (ALL) in February 2008. He had a bone marrow transplant last July and felt well enough to participate in this spring's minicamps and organized team activities.
But after the practices, Udeze apparently decided he needed to devote his time to fighting his illness.
After a June workout, he told the Star Tribune: "I'd be lying if I said it was easy. There was never an easy point. The first time I went back to USC and started working out with the fellas, I fell. I took two steps and I fell. I took small steps at first and, to where I am now, I can't complain."
In June, Udeze said he had recently had a biopsy. Childress also said at the time he thought Udeze, who was a little heavy, would be 100 percent by the time the team reported to training camp in Mankato.
Udeze also expected to graduate in mid-May from USC with a degree in sociology.
ALL is a fast-growing cancer of the white blood cells. The donor for Udeze's bone-marrow transplant was his brother, Thomas Barnes. Udeze has made public speaking appearances this year in support of cancer research.
Udeze and his wife, Terrica, have a young daughter, Bailey. He sat out last season while on the reserve/nonfootball injury list and was paid his base salary of $807,500. He was the winner of the team's Ed Block Courage Award.Trying to deal
At least it looks like the Twins are trying to make a deal, given the appearance of scouts and other officials from around the league hanging around the Metrodome.
General Manager Billy Smith admits he is trying to land a righthanded hitting second baseman and a pitcher.
On Tuesday, Mike Radcliff, vice president of player personnel, and former General Manager Terry Ryan spent most of the day working on computers checking on talent.
That followed a meeting with Smith, assistant GM Rob Antony, advance scout Bob Hegman, Ryan and Radcliff. More work by the same group was done Wednesday. Hegman had been in Pittsburgh scouting the Pirates before coming here.
However, the player they would have liked to secure, Pirates second baseman Freddy Sanchez, was traded to the Giants.Decker won't sign
Radcliff said Gophers baseball and football player Eric Decker, who was drafted in the 27th round by the Twins, is interested only in football right now.
The Twins must sign Decker by Aug. 15 to maintain his rights. Radcliff said that won't happen.
"Decker told us that he is going to play football this fall, then prepare for the football draft after that, and definitely take part in the NFL combine if invited," Radcliff said.
So Decker still can play baseball for the Gophers next season and decide which sport he is going to play, and no doubt the money offered for each sport will be a factor.Jottings
Ron Gardenhire said he doesn't expect former Twin Torii Hunter to play this weekend against the Twins. Hunter was placed on the disabled list earlier this month because of a strained adductor muscle on his right side and still is a long way from recovering.
The Gophers can boast of having a collegiate wrestler in the past four Olympics, a record coach J Robinson doesn't believe many schools can match. Brandon Paulson was a silver medalist in 1996, Garrett Lowney won a bronze medal as a redshirt freshman in 2000 and made it on the team again as a junior in 2004. Jake Deitchler, who will be a freshman at the U this season, made the Greco-Roman team in 2008. Meanwhile, Dustin Schlatter will be competing for the USA World freestyle team in Denmark in September. Schlatter was an NCAA champion as a true freshman, finished third as a sophomore and seventh as a junior and will return for his senior year.
Gophers catcher Kyle Knudson caught Tim Griffin's no-hitter for the Mankato Moondogs in the Northwoods League on Monday night. Knudson was 2-for-3 as the Moondogs defeated visiting St. Cloud 6-0. AJ Pettersen of the Gophers had two RBI for Mankato. The no-hitter was also the 12th in the 16-year history of the league.
Tom Lehman will appear at an autograph session at the official PGA Championship Golf Shop at Hazeltine National on Aug. 8. The golf shop will be open Aug. 8-9. The PGA Championship will be at Hazeltine from Aug. 10-16.
Tim Madsen, an Elk River native, recently was named assistant men's hockey coach at Niagara University. Madsen was a four-year (2004-08) member of the Niagara men's hockey team.
The Wilkes-Barre/Scranton Penguins of the AHL have re-signed goaltender Adam Berkhoel, a Woodbury native and former University of Denver standout, to a contract. Berkhoel appeared in 28 regular-season games last year, posting a record of 15-11-2, a goals-against average of 2.53, and a save percentage of .910. ... Apple Valley native Karl Goehring, a former North Dakota standout goalie, has been named assistant coach of Syracuse in the AHL.
Wild center Mikko Koivu was ranked as the No. 1 Finnish player in the game by NHL.com, while Wild goalie Niklas Backstrom came in at No. 3.
Rochester native Colin Stuart has had a busy offseason. After spending the past two seasons with the Atlanta Thrashers, Stuart originally was traded to Toronto July 1, before being traded to Calgary on July 27.
Of the 14 NHL teams that missed the playoffs last season, Craig Custance of the Sporting News ranked the Wild No. 2 in having the best chance "to make a successful postseason run this year." The Los Angeles Kings were ranked No. 1.
Former Gophers winger Ryan Potulny has re-signed with the Edmonton Oilers. Potulny, 24, played eight games with the Oilers in 2008-09, tallying three points and finishing third among all AHL goal scorers with 38 goals in 70 games last season for Springfield.
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