--Bears linebacker Brian Urlacher's blue-collar image took a bit
of a hit last week after he was spotted spending part of his bye
week in Las Vegas with socialite Paris Hilton, one of the two
hotel-heiress sisters who inhabit the gossip pages and are
frequently lampooned on Saturday Night Live. Urlacher, who
recently filed for divorce from his wife of three years, Laurie,
reportedly was seen giving Hilton a piggyback ride at a nightclub
in the Bellagio after her sandal broke. "I get to meet a lot of
cool people, obviously with what I do," says Urlacher, who has
parlayed his lunch-bucket style into endorsements with Old Spice,
Campbell's soup and McDonald's. "It was a coincidence that I got
to meet her in Vegas, and we kind of hung out a little bit and
that's about it."

--In what sounds like fodder for a Visa commercial, Yankees
shortstop Derek Jeter is planning to vacation after the
postseason on Necker Island, a 74-acre retreat in the Caribbean
owned by Virgin CEO Richard Branson that has a 12-bedroom villa
and a 20-member staff. The rate is $23,000 a day, but, according
to the island's website, "Sumptuous Balinese silks and linens,
warm Caribbean breezes and a dedicated staff welcome you." It is
unclear who will accompany Jeter, though chances are it won't be
George Steinbrenner.

--Dogs may be man's best friend, but in the case of Nip, a
two-year-old German shepherd owned by PGA golfer Ken Green, it
might be the other way around. Green says that last Friday Nip
chased a ball into a canal behind their house in West Palm Beach.
A moment later Green heard another splash and saw a six-foot
alligator going in after her. When Green saw the gator take Nip
underwater--alligators usually try to drown their prey--he jumped
in. "I just grabbed the sucker and held on," says Green. "We were
tussling, and I took it and flung it as hard as I could. I guess
the gator was just as surprised as I was." The alligator took
off, and Green whisked his dog to the vet. Nip needed about 25
stitches, but she--and Green, who was bruised and scratched--are
doing fine.

--Yoga, we've heard, makes you stronger, more limber and helps you
have better sex. But if you're still not convinced of its
benefits, check out Real Men Do Yoga. The new book by journalist
John Capouya has testimony from 21 big-time athletes--among them
Titans running back Eddie George (above), Timberwolves forward
Kevin Garnett and Coyotes goalie Sean Burke--who swear by the
ancient practice. "It helps my whole body," says Mets lefthander
Al Leiter, whose team was a downward dog this season. "I do one
workout between every start. It's absolutely the best, no
bull[flop]." ... That sound you hear is Howard Cosell spinning in
his grave. Halftime of Monday Night Football will now include an
American Idol-like event in which NFL players jam with recording
artists as part of a seasonlong competition. (Players can sing,
play an instrument, deejay or dance.) Fans will choose between
two acts, with the winner of an online vote advancing. Coming up
on Monday: Rams tackle Kyle Turley with 3 Doors Down versus
placekicking brothers Martin and Bill Gramatica with Carlos
Santana.... Things tend to go pretty well when Denzel Washington
stands on a football sideline. That's where the Remember the
Titans star was last Saturday as his son, John David, a sophomore
at Morehouse College, set a school record with 242 yards rushing
against Johnson C. Smith.

COLOR PHOTO: REUTERS (DOG) Picture This Move over Dumbo. The British bassett hound Knightsfollie Ladiesman, 2, hasn't learned to fly yet, but he holds the Guinness World Record for the largest earspan of any pooch: 11.5 inches. He gained the title when his granddad, Biggles, a Hush Puppies shoes model, died last year. Ladiesman also answers to Mr. Jeffries and lives in West Sussex with his owner, Phil Jeffries, who has insured the ears for $48,000. COLOR PHOTO: JIM SPELLMAN/WIREIMAGE.COM (PARIS HILTON) Bear Hugger COLOR PHOTO: 2003 ROB LINDSAY (YOGA) NFL poser COLOR PHOTO: CATHERINE STEENKESTE/NBAE/GETTY IMAGES (SHAQ)

Converse has named its new basketball shoe the Loaded Weapon.


Lakers center, on why he wants to win more NBA championships:
"So I can be remembered in the same breathera as Magic and
Kareem. Right now, I'm not in that breathera."