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SPORTS BRIEFLY

Raiders still calling, but Herring says no

OXNARD, Calif. - With two starting offensive tackles injured, the Oakland Raiders aren't giving up on Eli Herring.

Herring, who played collegiately at Brigham Young, told all NFL teams he would not play professional football for religious reasons.

With a history of successful gambling on draft picks with other obligations - Bo Jackson (baseball), Napoleon McCallum (naval service), Rocket Ismail (Canadian Football League) - the Raiders drafted Herring in the seventh round last spring.

They initially figured they could wait and see if Herring might change his mind. But when starting tackles Gerald Perry and Greg Skrepenak went down with minor injuries before the opening preseason game at Dallas, the Raiders called again.

Again, but the 6-foot-7, 340-pounder had not changed his mind.

Herring told the Contra Costa (Calif.) Times that he remains steadfast in his plans, primarily because the NFL plays most of its games on Sundays.

"One of the Ten Commandments is to keep the Sabbath holy," Herring said. "I don't think playing football falls into that category."

Herring said he has received several phone calls and letters from the Raiders at his apartment on the Brigham Young campus, where he continues work towards his degree and a planned career as a high school teacher.

"We laugh when they call and write letters," said Herring's wife, Jennifer. "They want him to come to the preseason workouts, but we have other things going on."

Herring, 26, is already old by rookie standards in the NFL. He spent two years on a mission for the LDS Church in the middle of his college career.

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