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Rare card could help Houston couple have a child

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Rare card could help Houston couple have a child

HOUSTON (AP) Barry Sanders knows that his trading cards are bought and sold every day.

When the Hall of Fame running back learned that a Houston couple desperate to have a baby was auctioning off one of his most rare cards to fund one last attempt at in vitro fertilization, he was stunned.

Now the former Detroit Lions star is helping spread the word about the sale of the card signed by both he and Walter Payton so Todd and Ula Nelkin can raise $20,000. It's hard for Sanders to imagine one of his cards helping bring a child into the world.

``It would be very, very special,'' Sanders said in an interview with The Associated Press. ``I'm not sure that I even have the words, but it will be very special if I were able to help. Obviously we know there are no guarantees, but I will do as much as I can.''

The 1999 Donruss card has a picture of Sanders and his signature on one side and Payton, who died in November 1999, is seen on the other side with his autograph. It is the only one of its kind rated a 10 by the Beckett grading service.

The Nelkins are auctioning it off this week on eBay.

``I would love to keep the card, but I would rather have a kid,'' Todd said. ``It's a wonderful card. You daydream that maybe 30, 40 years from now, our son or daughter will find out where the card is and what happened to it.''

The Nelkins are huge sports fans and own a sports memorabilia shop in Houston. The met on an online dating site and had their first date at a Houston Rockets game before being married at another one.

``We're two big kids at heart,'' Ula said. ``Whenever we go to an outing, whether it be a movie or a symphony or a musical we think: `We just can't wait to bring our little one to this.'''

They've both always wanted kids, but the 45-year-old Todd and the 42-year-old Ula met later in life and when they decided to have children they learned her eggs were no longer viable. They've been trying to have a child for about three years and already spent about $40,000 on IVF with donor eggs, only to have both rounds end in heartbreak.

Ula had to have emergency surgery after the first try resulted in an ectopic pregnancy. On the next round she never became pregnant. They say their credit cards are maxed out, so they started thinking about their next step. The Nelkins, who are also looking into adoption, say they're financially stable but don't have another $20,000 for when the doctor says Ula is ready for the next procedure.

They hope their intention to use the proceeds of the sale of the card to have a baby will make it more valuable.

``That adds something to the legacy of the card,'' Ula said. ``Maybe this card will be known as the baby maker.''

The couple, who donned Lions shirts while talking about the auction, couldn't believe it when Sanders reached out to them on Twitter. They've since texted with and spoke to Sanders by telephone.

``That's a scream-in-your-closet type of thing,'' Todd said of Sanders' offering to help.

Sanders said he has his ``fingers crossed'' that the Nelkins are able to raise enough money for the procedure and that it's successful this time. Their story touched him because of the joy his children have brought him.

``Part of why I was willing to get involved is because it is a real unique privilege and something that's very important and precious and like nothing else you'll ever do,'' he said of parenthood. ``So the fact that I can maybe lend a small hand to a couple in this way, is a very unique privilege that I don't take lightly. I certainly feel for them. I know how much my kids mean to me, and I know that sometimes couples have problems with that, so I just wanted to do what I could to help them.''

Ula gets emotional when talking about the failed IVF attempts, and that prompts Todd to interrupt her to provide encouragement.

``She would be a wonderful mother,'' he says, patting her hand.

Todd's parents and Ula's mother are all elderly and they hope to give them a grandchild before it's too late.

``This is our last shot,'' Ula said.

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Dan Fegan, former agent for John Wall, dies in car crash

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Photo by Jerritt Clark/Getty Images for Caravan

Dan Fegan, former agent for John Wall, dies in car crash

NBA agent Dan Fegan, who had previously represented many high-profile NBA clients - including John Wall - died in a car crash Sunday morning, according to The Aspen Times. 

According to the report, Fegan's SUV was struck by a bus while trying to merge onto Highway 82 in Colorado a little after 9am this morning. 

The two passengers in the car - an unidentified woman and Fegan's 5-year old daughter - were airlifted to a nearby hospital with serious injuries. 

Fegan was 56.

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The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

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USA TODAY Sports

The human side of the NHL's trade deadline

Congratulations! You just got a new job. There’s just one catch: it’s in a new city.

Oh, and by the way, you start tomorrow. Good luck.

That would be a pretty big shock for anyone, but it is the reality that hockey players constantly face and one that is exacerbated as the trade deadline approaches.

“I know fans and media get really excited about it, but they're not the ones that have to pick up and move their families,” Brooks Orpik said following Sunday’s practice. “I think players are looked at as kind of objects at times, just a number. People don't know there's a human side to trades.”

This season’s NHL trade deadline is 3 p.m. on Monday. Until then, every locker room faces a degree of uncertainty.

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Almost no player or prospect is untouchable. Even if there are no rumors surrounding a team or things seem set, the threat of a trade hangs over the heads of the players like the sword of Damocles until the deadline finally comes and goes.

Even for those players who know they won’t be moved or who can’t be moved because of various clauses in their contracts, it still remains a stressful time as they could still see friends shipped to another city.

“I think what happens on that day is all the players, as soon as they get off the ice at morning skate, they're all looking at their phones and trying to see what happens,” Barry Trotz said. “They want to see what happens around the league.”

Sure, a player can go from a last place team to a contender. On the surface, they should be happy. Behind the scenes, however, midseason trades always carry family implications.

“It's tough on guys,” Orpik said. “Guys have kids in schools or have roots in the community of the teams they play for. As fun as it is for some people, I think as players it can definitely be nerve-wracking for people.”

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When those trades do happen, they obviously can throw a player’s life upside-down.

For those players who are not traded, the team has to adjust both to losing familiar faces and to embracing new ones into the locker room.

“When someone comes into a new group, it's not much changed except for obviously a new piece,” Jay Beagle said. “But it's definitely harder on them so you try to make it as easy as possible on them.”

Thus far, the Capitals have added defensemen Michal Kempny and Jakub Jerabek over the past week. While both trades were done in exchange for draft picks, Taylor Chorney was a casualty of the trades as he was placed on waivers to make room for the new additions and was claimed by the Columbus Blue Jackets.

“It's tough losing guys, especially guys that are well-liked in our room,” Orpik said. “Taylor Chorney is a really well-liked guy so I think that impacted us a little bit.”

On Monday, fans, analysts, players and coaches alike will all be frantically checking their phones looking for the latest trade news, but while the deadline brings excitement for fans, it bears very different feelings for the players involved. Those players are people working a job and those trades mean uprooting their life in a matter of days. Regardless of whether a player is better off in terms of the team situation, there is still a human cost to doing business.

“It can affect certain guys because their names are obviously spread all over the place,” Trotz said. “They're human too. They pretend to not hear it, but they do.”