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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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After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

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Associated Press

After releasing Martez Carter the Redskins are thin at running back

The Redskins are very thin at running back right now. 

Today at practice the Redskins had three running backs on the field. Rob Kelley and Kapri Bibbs are fully healthy while Chris Thompson is limited as he recovers from a broken leg he suffered last November. 

Injuries have hit the depth at running back. The most recent casualty was Martez Carter, who was waived with an injury designation. 

The move was surprising since Carter had some good runs against the Jets during their preseason game on Thursday and he did not appear to be injured during the game. 

Coach Jay Gruden did not offer any more details as to what the injury to Carter was, only that he is no longer with the team. 

Also sidelined with lower leg injuries are Samaje Perine and Byron Marshall. According to media reports, Perine will be out one week and Marshall for two to four. Gruden would not confirm the timelines, saying only that they are undergoing treatment and the timetable for their returns in unknown. 

The Redskins will bring in some running backs to try out on Sunday. They will need at least one and probably two in order to get through the upcoming preseason game against the Broncos on Friday. 

In other personnel moves, the Redskins waived linebacker Jeff Knox and defensive end Jalen Wilkerson and signed offensive tackle Kendall Calhoun, defensive back Darius Hillary, and wide receiver Allenzae Staggers. 

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Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page, Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter  @TandlerNBCS and on Instagram @RichTandler

 

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Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

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NBC Sports Washington/USATSI

Alex Ovechkin and wife Nastya Ovechkina welcome baby boy

After lifting the Stanley Cup just over two months ago, something else very exciting has happened in Alex Ovechkin's life.

Saturday morning, Nastya and Alex Ovechkin welcomed their first child, a baby boy named Sergei, after Ovechkin's late brother. 

Ovi spent this week practicing at the Florida Panthers' facilities with other NHL players living in the surrounding area.

After the Cup's visit to Moscow, Nastya and Alex settled down at their apartment in Miami, staying put and preparing for the birth. 

The couple were married two years ago but didn't hold an official ceremony until July of last year. The celebration was as lavish as you'd expect.

She revealed her pregnancy shortly after the Cup victory, and has kept us up to date on life this summer via Instagram. A few weeks ago, the Ovechkins graced HELLO! Russia magazine, showing off Nastya's baby bump among their glamour shots.

💛 @aleksandrovechkinofficial #hello #hellorussia @hello__ru

A post shared by Nastasiya Ovechkina (@nastyashubskaya) on

Congratulations to Ovi and Nastya, and all our best wishes for health and happiness!

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