Saints quarterback Drew Brees doesn't expect to become as popular in the land of the Jets and Giants as he is in New Orleans, but he's providing the region devastated by Superstorm Sandy an example of the community activism that has made him revered in the Big Easy.

The Brees Dream Foundation is donating $1 million toward recovery from Sandy. In New Orleans, his foundation has helped rebuild schools, playgrounds and athletic fields that were damaged by Hurricane Katrina, which devastated New Orleans in August 2005, less than a year before Brees joined the Saints as a free agent.

"Obviously, we know the type of devastation that a hurricane like that can cause," Brees said. "Being here six months after (Hurricane) Katrina and the length of time it's taken to get things back here and then also to watch (Hurricane) Gustav come through here and (Hurricane) Isaac, we can only imagine the devastation and the way that it's changed people's lives up there. I know they have a long road ahead of them. Certainly they can use all the help they can get. It's something we felt compelled to do as a foundation."


EXTRA MOTIVATION: Titans right guard Deuce Lutui has some extra motivation when Tennessee visits Jacksonville on Sunday that doesn't involve football. The veteran is playing for Sgt. Jacob M. Schwallie of Clarksville, Tenn.

Lutui was flying back to Nashville on Tuesday night from Arizona when Titans fan Tom Schwallie recognized the lineman in first class and gave him a metal bracelet commemorating his son. The black bracelet is engraved with Schwallie's name, the name of the 82nd Airborne Division he served in and May 7, 2012 — the date Jacob Schwallie was killed in action in Afghanistan at age 22.

A father of five himself, Lutui said the man became so emotional that the lineman got up during the flight, crossed the aisle and hugged Schwallie.

"We meet people through God for a reason," Lutui said. "I mean this is just a reminder of how thankful I should be for this Thanksgiving. For him to give up something so close to him, it belonged to his son. It was made for his son. he said, 'You don't have to wear it. Just put it in your locker and let the boys know Jacob was a great fan and he was a great young man and he served in the Army.'"

Lutui gave Schwallie his Titans sweat shirt, with the man advising the lineman to just hug his children, be thankful and not yell at them too much. Lutui noted his mother lost her youngest child in a car accident, and he called home to talk to his wife as soon as the flight landed.

Schwallie later shared a photo of his son's gravestone along with a picture of his wife wearing Lutui's sweat shirt. The lineman, who posted a photo of the bracelet on Twitter and his Facebook page, wants to invite the Schwallies to an upcoming home game.

"This is such an inspiring story, an honor for me to hold this band that's such a treasure for him," Lutui said.


SOARING CRO: Everything changed for Antonio Cromartie while sitting on a flight home after a game earlier this season.

The New York Jets cornerback was sitting next to teammate and good friend Darrelle Revis, who gave Cromartie a pep talk in which he urged him to become the type of player everyone believes he could be.

"We always talk, but it was a different (kind of) conversation," Cromartie said. "I'm grateful."

Cromartie is having an outstanding season for the Jets, magnified by the fact he has become the team's No. 1 cornerback after Revis was lost for the year with a knee injury at Miami in Week 3. Cromartie, in his third year with the Jets, has routinely shut down opponents' top receivers, just as Revis does when he's healthy.

"It took for him to come to me as a peer to make me understand we can have one of the greatest one-two punches at the corners with me playing at this level," Cromartie said. "I thank Revis for coming to talk to me and being a great teammate."

Cromartie has always been considered one of the league's top athletes, and even said in training camp he ranked himself as the team's No. 2 receiver behind Santonio Holmes. The knock, however, has been his mental lapses at cornerback and inability to be a consistent force at the position. Cromartie also wasn't regarded as much of a team leader, which he has become since Revis' injury.

"That's something I took for granted, having Revis on the other side, and not being able to play at that high level when he was here," Cromartie said. "I think the biggest thing for me is to continue to build on it, week after week, and make sure that I continue to be this guy even when Revis comes back next year for the start of training camp."

Coach Rex Ryan and defensive coordinator Mike Pettine have raved at times about Cromartie's abilities, but also have pointed out the inconsistencies that have prevented him from becoming an elite player. He knew it, too, and acknowledged as much to Ryan and defensive backs coach Dennis Thurman earlier this season.

Cromartie said some of his struggles came from thinking too much before each play, rather than letting his instincts take over. He said he's also more comfortable now mentally — on and off the field.

"I'm at a totally different place, career-wise and life-wise," he said. "I'm just going out and playing football. I'm enjoying it and having fun. At the end of the day, I don't know how much longer I'm going to be playing, so I'm just going to go out and have fun as much as I can."


DANCING & PRANCING: Von Miller's gyrations on the field have everything to do with his AFC-leading 13 sacks. His prancing in the locker room is all about his alma mater.

Denver's dominant defender caught plenty of razzing from his Broncos teammates when Texas A&M jumped from the Big 12 to the SEC this year. They insisted his school could never hang with the big boys.

That chatter grew quieter when the Aggies (9-2) hung tough in a 3-point loss to Florida and when they lost to LSU by four.

Now, nobody's trash-talking his Aggies.

The silencer was the Aggies' 29-24 win over then top-ranked Alabama earlier this month. In interviews leading up to that big game, Miller talked up Texas A&M freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel and boldly predicted the defending national champions were about to lose at home.

"When you talk about something and they're able to do it, it's the best feeling in the world," said Miller, who would rather talk about his school's SEC success than his own sensational sophomore season in the NFL.

He's quite certain he won't have to defend his school anymore, either.

"I can always fall back on that Alabama game," Miller said. "That's historic for our school. Yes sir, Johnny Football for Heisman. I don't think there's any college football player out there that's as exciting, or that's playing the type of football that he's playing or beating the type of teams that he's beating. So, if I had won the Heisman and I had a vote, he'd get my vote."


SCRAMBLING WILSON: While critiquing Seattle Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson, Miami Dolphins defensive coordinator Kevin Coyle told his players the rookie reminded him of Fran Tarkenton.

The Dolphins' defenders didn't know who that was.

"They all looked at me like, 'What?'" Coyle said.

For the uninitiated: Tarkenton is a Pro Football Hall of Famer who once held the NFL career records for yards passing and touchdowns passing. And Coyle said the way Wilson scrambles is reminiscent of Tarkenton.

"He at times evades the rush going backward," Coyle said. "If you had watched Fran Tarkenton in his day, it wasn't going forward, he would lose ground — sometimes 5, 10, 15, 20 yards — to try to run away from whoever. This guy can do those things, and he's got that sixth sense of where the rush is coming from, and he finds a way to scoot away."

The Dolphins play Wilson and Seattle on Sunday.


AP Pro Football Writers Barry Wilner and Arnie Stapleton and Sports Writers Joe Kay, Dennis Waszak Jr., Teresa M. Walker, Steven Wine and Brett Martel contributed to this story.


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