Hang on to your shoulder pads, sports fans -- two of the biggest stars in professional football will soon be visiting the Rim country.
Arizona Cardinal defensive linemen Andre Wadsworth and Simeon Rice will be signing autographs from 4 to 6 p.m. July 23 at the grand opening of the PostNet postal and business services, located in the Ponderosa Village Shopping Center near Safeway.
The event will be preceded, at 5 p.m. by a ribbon-cutting ceremony featuring Mayor Vern Stifler and members of the Rim Country Regional Chamber of Commerce.
PostNet owner Bill Lee said that in addition to the presence of Wadsworth and Rice, there would be refreshments, free gifts and a drawing for a color TV donated by the Pueblo Inn.
As starting defensive ends for the Cardinals, Wadsworth and Rice were two of the most heralded players in the NFL.
Drafted third overall last year, and the first non-quarterback chosen, Wadsworth played his first professional football game Sept. 6 against the Dallas Cowboys without a single day of practice.
Prolonged salary negotiations kept him out of the team's training camp in Flagstaff.
Once in the starting line-up, he had no trouble excelling, finishing with 72 tackles, five sacks, 16 hurries, three deflected passes and three fumble recoveries.
Rice was never better than in the Cardinals' playoff win, Jan. 2 in Dallas, when he recorded two sacks and forced a fumble.
In college, he was one of the most decorated players in Florida State football history.
A third overall pick in 1996, Rice exceeded lofty expectations with one of the finest rookie seasons by a defensive end in NFL history. He equaled the rookie quarterback sack record of 12.5 set by San Diego's Leslie O'Neall in 1985. He also was a consensus defensive rookie-of-the-year and a Pro Bowl alternate.
In 1997, he battled through the effects of a training camp virus which caused him to lose more than 15 pounds and miss the entire preseason. He recovered to finish his sophomore year with 58 tackles, five sacks and a team-high 18 hurries.
In college, he was a two-time All-American at Illinois with 45 career sacks which shattered the previous Illini record of 23.
Both are expected to play huge roles in the rapidly improving Cardinals push for postseason honors this fall.