CHARLOTTE (SUFFL) -- After a one-year hiatus, Brian Madeira will return to compete in the brave new SUFFL for the 2001-2002 season, SUFFL announced Wednesday.

Acting on the "open invitation" clause extended to all past SUFFL competitors, Madeira will look to improve on his career-best finish of 5th place in 1997, and his career performance percentage (method B) of .622, which ranks 8th.

"With all the talk about MJ coming out of retirement, I thought to myself, 'You know, I still got it,' and I decided to come back," Madeira said. "I'm not as rusty as you might think, either -- I'm going to win it all this year, baby!" he taunted. Madeira proceeded to allude to an arcane strategy involving Tony Banks and Joey Galloway, the details of which are off the record.

Eric Fialkoff, the league's only retiree who has yet to return to action, was unavailable for comment.

The addition of Madeira, 28, brings the league's total number of teams to 10. "Not that I would deny Fialkoff's return, but I think 10 is the perfect number," beamed a jubilant Commissioner Matt Rumbaugh. "And I have to say I'm not intimidated by his fruitful loins," the defending champ quipped. SUFFL stallion John Vampatella, expecting his fourth child in September, finished in second-to-last place last season.

Rumors that Madeira, without a "keeper," would receive the #1 pick were quickly squelched by the Commissioner's office. "To maintain the integrity of our recent rule changes, and the Pick-Your-Spot(TM) draft order scheme, Madeira will be randomly inserted into the order. There is no better alternative," the office reported.

After keepers are established by August 10, and the draft order is determined by August 17, attention will turn to Saturday, August 25, possibly the greatest Draft Day in SUFFL history. As many as 11 owners will flock to the northeast for the draft, followed by the Syracuse Orangemen's opening game on Sunday at the Meadowlands.

-AM, 07/18/01