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Pittsburgh Zoo shuns Big Ben

Trade rumors have been swirling in Pittsburgh as Ben Roethlisberger’s off-the-field issues continue to mount, but at this point nothing has materialized.

That hasn’t stopped the Pittsburgh Zoo from swapping a display featuring the name of the star quarterback for that of the city’s iconic hockey legend, Mario Lemieux.

The change occurred on an exhibit that compares the height of the facility’s elephants to other creatures.

Lemieux easily was substituted in as he, like Big Ben, is 6 feet 5 inches.

“Mr. Roethlisberger isn’t the most popular person lately,” Tracy Gray, manager of public relations for the zoo, told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.

It’s not likely any monuments of him will be built in Milledgeville, Ga., either.

■ PRIME-TIME INFLUENCE — Deion Sanders has been influential in the lives of many aspiring football players on and off the field, and this year has been no exception.

His dealings with wide receiver Dez Bryant led to the former Oklahoma State star’s suspension that might have caused his draft stock to fall.

Another first-round pick credits Sanders with making him a better person.

Safety Eric Berry told NFL.com that Sanders snubbed him for an autograph when he was in high school, and the experience led to Berry vowing to be accommodating to fans.

“I just try to make sure that if someone comes up to me, whether it’s for an autograph or a handshake — because I’ve been shot down before — I don’t want nobody to feel like that,” he told the website.

■ TEBOW CAUSES “PANIC,” LAUGHTER — Former Florida star Tim Tebow was one of two quarterbacks selected in the NFL Draft’s first round Thursday, and the criticism of the Broncos’ decision to select him so early began in earnest.

At least one NFL executive believed Denver’s decision to trade up and draft Tebow was made too hastily.

One of the teams prominently mentioned as a possible Tebow destination was Buffalo, and rumors suggested the Bills were looking to trade back into the late first round to make that selection.

Not true, Buffalo owner Ralph Wilson told the Rochester (N.Y.) Democrat & Chronicle.

“Denver panicked,” Wilson said. “He’s a good player, but we had no interest in taking Tebow. We were not moving up to take Tebow.”

CBSSports.com columnist Mike Freeman was more pointed in his critique, comparing the Broncos to the perennial doormat in their division.

“Every year, there is a team that puts on a clown suit and makes a fool of itself in the NFL Draft. Often, it’s the Raiders. This year, it was the Denver Broncos, who were bamboozled by the man with the straight smile and crooked delivery,” Freeman wrote.

It only got worse from there.

“The league is laughing at Denver right now. Other teams are guffawing and mocking them and making Broncos jokes. The countdown until Josh McDaniels gets his ass canned has officially started. Denver wasted a valuable first-round pick on a player who will do nothing for years unless they move Tebow to fullback or make him a missionary and have him snip foreskins.”


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