Eagles Interested In Another Olympian

The city of Philadelphia is preparing a bid to bring the Olympics to Philadelphia and the Eagles are doing their part to bring Olympians to town as well. After drafting Jeremy Bloom, the birds are looking at another former Olympian.

The Eagles, who drafted one Olympian in April - moguls skier/wide receiver/punt returner Jeremy Bloom - are apparently interested in adding yet another.

The agent for gold medal-winning sprinter Justin Gatlin said the Eagles have contacted him several times over the last three weeks to see if Gatlin would be interested in signing a free-agent contract with the team.

The 6-1, 170-pound Gatlin, who is co-owner of the world record in the 100-meter dash, hasn't played football since his sophomore year in high school. But the Eagles would like to give him a look-see as both a wide receiver and kickoff returner.

That doesn't seem likely, though. Renaldo Nehemiah, the former world-record-holding Olympic hurdler who represents Gatlin, said he has not returned calls or e-mails from the Eagles and has barely mentioned the team's inquiries to his client.

"Football isn't a necessity (for Gatlin)," said Nehemiah, who spent three seasons in the NFL with the San Francisco 49ers (1982-84). "He's doing well enough. He doesn't need it."

Nehemiah could be trying to say Gatlin isn't interested or he could be trying to say the Eagles need to up the ante.

The Eagles finished 14th in the NFL last season in kickoff returns, averaging 22.2 yards per return. Rod Hood finished fifth in the NFC in kickoff returns with a 23.7-yard average. Hood, the team's nickel corner, seldom broke any longer returns. The Eagles had the fourth fewest 30-plus-yard kickoff returns in the league last year.

They also don't have a lot of speed in their wide receiving corps now that Terrell Owens is gone. Their fastest wideout is contact-shy Todd Pinkston, who missed all of last season with a ruptured Achilles tendon.

NOTES FROM THE NEST:

  • Safety Brian Dawkins was part of a contingent of NFL players and executives that traveled to Germany last week to visit injured American soldiers at the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center. The visit was sponsored by the USO. The day before the visit, the group attended the NFL Europe League's championship game, World Bowl XIV.
  • The Eagles' draft class had the second highest average Wonderlic intelligence test score in the league. Their eight picks averaged 26.9 (out of 50) on the test. The only teams picks that scored higher were the Jets (28.0).
  • Two of the best training camp battles are going to come at left guard and strong-side linebacker. The Eagles' traded last year's starting left guard, Artis Hicks, to Minnesota and will have three players - Adrien Clarke, Todd Herremans and rookie fourth-rounder Max Jean-Gilles - compete for the starting job. Last year's starting SAM 'backer, Dhani Jones, is back. But he played poorly last season. Both third-year man Greg Richmond and rookie third-rounder Chris Gocong will push him for the starting job.

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