Leading Off

Brady ditches boot at Patriots' send-off

Tom Brady returned. His boot didn't. The Patriots quarterback walked with long strides and without a limp in his brown wingtips Sunday as he headed for one of the five buses that would take his team to its flight to Arizona for the Super Bowl a week later. For the first time since last Sunday, Brady appeared in front of reporters and photographers in Foxborough, Mass. At a departure rally shortly before the buses left, he walked without slipping on a light dusting of snow on the Gillette Stadium field as flurries fell. "Now this is Foxborough faithful right here," Brady told a crowd of about 15,000 after he reached the podium at midfield along the Patriots sideline. "Thank you guys for coming out." The face of New England's franchise reportedly has a minor high ankle sprain. He wore a protective boot on his right foot last Monday in New York, causing a major stir and concern among Patriots fans.

Raiders to interview Hall of Famer Lofton

Hall of Fame receiver and recently fired San Diego wide receivers coach James Lofton is scheduled to interview with the Raiders today for an unspecified coaching position. Considering Lofton was a candidate for the head-coaching job the past two times the Raiders had an opening, it is unclear what role he would serve if hired. Raiders senior executive John Herrera denied an ESPN report that owner Al Davis drafted a letter of resignation for head coach Lane Kiffin to sign, though multiple sources confirmed Kiffin was given the letter. Lofton was with the Chargers six season before being fired. Lofton, a first-round pick in 1978 out of Stanford, played for five teams from 1978 to '93, including with the Raiders from 1987 to '88.

A's DH Cust denies ever using steroids

Oakland designated hitter Jack Cust, who bashed a team-high 26 homers for the A's in 2007, flatly denied ever using performance-enhancers on Saturday at the team's annual FanFest at McAfee Coliseum. Cust was among the 85 players mentioned in the Mitchell Report. Larry Bigbie, a former teammate of Cust's in the Baltimore Orioles' farm system, claimed in the report that his locker was next to Cust's in 2003 and that Cust told him he had used steroids before and could help Bigbie obtain some of his own. Cust couldn't recall such a conversation with Bigbie ever taking place, and claimed he and Bigbie weren't even friends. Asked point-blank if he had ever tried steroids or human growth hormone, Cust answered with a definitive "No."