GLENDALE, Ariz. - Reggie Brown, inactive. It has happened before to the Eagles' receiver, but it is still stunning when the announcement is made before a conference championship game, the clearest of messages from the organization toward a second-round draft choice who once was going to be a star. Once.

At this point, they prefer Greg Lewis to him.

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"It hurts," Brown said, in the losing locker room after the Eagles were beaten by the Arizona Cardinals, 32-25. "I'm a competitor . . .

"To sit on the sidelines in the championship game, a place that you dreamed of as a kid, it's hard. And for your team to lose, to get this close to the Super Bowl and not be able to do anything to help, it hurts.

"All I can do is swallow it right now," he said. *

- Rich Hofmann