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Sports
News provided by MSNBC
Giants GM Reese speaks with injured DE Pierre-Paul

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) The New York Giants finally have spoken with defensive end Jason Pierre-Paul about his injuries. Giants general manager Jerry Reese said Monday morning in a radio interview that "it was a personal conversation, and I want to keep it private between him and I." Reese added that the Giants are not annoyed about their inability to communicate with Pierre-Paul since he was injured in a fireworks accident July 4 in Florida. The team has not released details of the injuries suffered by Pierre-Paul in part because it has not been given the opportunity to physically examine him. The team sent representatives to Florida after the accident but they were unable to visit in the hospital with Pierre-Paul. Coach Tom Coughlin has not spoken with Pierre-Paul. "But as long as someone in the building is talking to him, as long as Jerry is talking to him, then the lines of communication are open," he said. "I'm sure I'll end up on the phone with him soon." Reese said on WFAN in New York that he also has spoken to Pierre-Paul's agent. Pierre-Paul has yet to sign his franchise tag tender, worth $14.8 million for 2015. Should he wind up on the non-football injury list once he signs it, the Giants would not be liable to pay him as long as he is on that list. Pierre-Paul is entering his sixth NFL season. A first-round pick in 2010, he helped the Giants win the Super Bowl the next season with 16 1/2 sacks. Last year, he had 12 1/2. Pierre-Paul is the team's top pass rusher, and the Giants brought back Steve Spagnuolo as defensive coordinator this season. Spagnuolo builds his defense around getting pressure on the quarterback. But his injuries and his uncertain contract situation have placed his availability for 2015 in doubt. "I wish Jason nothing but the best. It's a traumatic situation. It was an accident," Reese said Sunday at the Giants' training facility. "My heart goes out to him. For a young man to have a traumatic event like that, it's life changing for him. And I hope and pray for the best for him." --- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Mon, 03 Aug 2015 21:09:00 +0000
Packers TE Quarless loses daughter at birth

GREEN BAY, Wis. (AP) Green Bay Packers tight end Andrew Quarless revealed Monday he missed the first two days of training camp because his daughter died at birth last week. Quarless had initially been excused from the first practice of camp on Thursday for what coach Mike McCarthy termed "a positive personal situation." The coach's tone changed ominously the following day when Quarless was again absent, saying the sixth-year tight end was dealing with "a very difficult family situation." On Monday, after fully participating in his first practice of camp, Quarless shared the devastating news and acknowledged that returning to football had been something of a safe haven. Quarless had taken part on a limited basis in Saturday's practice before players had Sunday off. He struggled at times to keep his emotions in check as he spoke Monday after several family members, including his 5-year-old son, watched practice. "It's the saddest day of my life," Quarless said. "I thank this team for the type of support they have given me to help me get through this. Just very thankful for these guys. It's really a family in here. "I (was) looking forward my first day getting back out there today. It felt real good. It felt real good just to get out there, catch some passes, be able to run around a little bit, kind of get back to your old self and get back into things. "The most important thing was my son was able to come out there. He was really looking forward to being a big brother," Quarless said. "Today was rough. I'm a little drained. I was drained the past couple of days. ... being around my teammates having fun and actually smile, actually to smile and be happy, that was good for me." Quarless had been looking forward to his daughter's birth, especially in the wake of his July 4 arrest in Miami Beach, Florida, on a misdemeanor gun charge. He allegedly fired two shots into the air after an argument with a group of women, according to police. He pleaded no contest last month and is due in court on Aug. 24. Quarless faces a possible suspension under the NFL personal conduct policy, although it's unclear when such a decision would be made. Defensive lineman Letroy Guion was arrested on drug and gun charges in February and reportedly learned last month that he'd be receiving a three-game suspension, although he is appealing. Asked how his conversation went with McCarthy after his arrest, Quarless replied, "He was very upset. Very upset. I just apologized to him for bringing negativity to this place. We have a great group of character guys. There's just so much character in this locker room. I just apologized for bringing negative because you never want to bring negative to something like this." Quarless said McCarthy then told him to "just focus, don't be too hard on yourself" and to learn from his mistake. "Life is serious. I'm a role model to a lot of kids," Quarless said. "You can't take things for granted and I don't take this organization for granted and I don't take my position for granted. I'm just really, really thankful. That's the main word I can really use is thankful for this group of guys. "My whole mindset about life has kind of changed a lot. With my daughter, I promise you, I was looking (to find) a little bit of happiness in my daughter. You just can't take life for granted." -- AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Mon, 03 Aug 2015 20:36:00 +0000
Blue Jays, Royals escalate feud by trading barbs on Twitter

TORONTO (AP) The Royals and Blue Jays have moved on: After an exchange of hit batters, they're now trading barbs on Twitter. First, Blue Jays slugger Jose Bautista posted a message Sunday night saying he had "lost a lot of respect" for Ned Yost after hearing the Royals manager praise home plate umpire Jim Wolf's handling of Sunday's game. Two Blue Jays batters were hit by pitches and reliever Aaron Sanchez was ejected for retaliating by hitting Kansas City infielder Alcides Escobar. That prompted Royals pitcher Yordano Ventura to post Tweets calling Bautista a "nobody" and accuse him of stealing signs. Ventura later deleted the messages. Bautista took the high road when asked to respond to Ventura's comments Monday. "He's a young player that could use some maturing," Bautista said. "Hopefully he focuses on playing the game and allowing his ability to create a name for himself." Bautista didn't back down from his remarks about Yost, calling the manager's praise of Wolf "ridiculous." Wold warned both benches after Royals pitcher Edinson Volquez hit Toronto's Josh Donaldson in the first inning of Sunday's game, a 5-2 Blue Jays win. Donaldson complained to Wolf after Volquez and reliever Ryan Madson missed high and inside later in the game. Madson also hit Toronto's Troy Tulowitzki. Neither pitcher was ejected. Volquez responded after the game by calling Donaldson "a little baby." Wolf ejected Sanchez after Escobar was hit on the thigh in the eighth, causing both benches and both bullpens to empty. Blue Jays manager John Gibbons, who had been ejected earlier for arguing with Wolf, returned to the field for the melee. No punches were thrown.

Mon, 03 Aug 2015 18:37:00 +0000
Winter Classic to bring Bruins, Canadiens to home of Pats

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) The Winter Classic is coming to the home of the New England Patriots. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman joined officials from the Boston Bruins and Montreal Canadiens on Wednesday to say the Original Six rivals would meet at Gillette Stadium on New Year's Day. The Bruins will be the first team to host the event twice. They also hosted it in 2010, at Fenway Park. Patriots owner Robert Kraft also spoke at the ceremony, just hours after his impassioned "Deflategate" defense. Bettman notes that the three organizations are among the most successful in their sports, with 34 championships. The Canadiens have won 24 of those, but the Patriots are the defending Super Bowl champs. Bettman also says the league has extended the game's title sponsorship with Bridgestone for another five years.

Wed, 29 Jul 2015 19:35:00 +0000
Michel Platini confirms he will run for FIFA president

GENEVA (AP) Michel Platini has launched his campaign to succeed Sepp Blatter as FIFA president, aiming to give the scandal-hit governing body "the dignity and the position it deserves." Platini, the UEFA president and a FIFA vice president, wrote to member federations in Europe on Wednesday saying he will stand in the election and is counting on their support. The FIFA election is on Feb. 26 and would-be candidates must apply by Oct. 26. "There are times in life when you have to take your destiny into your own hands," wrote Platini, who turned 60 last month. "I am at one of those decisive moments, at a juncture in my life and in events that are shaping the future of FIFA." Platini has for years been the obvious candidate to succeed Blatter, his mentor in FIFA politics. But a rift between the long-time allies deepened when Blatter broke a promise to leave office in 2015. The former France great chose last year not to oppose Blatter, who won a fifth presidential term on May 29. Four days later, Blatter announced his resignation plans under pressure from American and Swiss federal investigations of corruption implicating FIFA. "However, recent events force the supreme governing body of world football to turn over a new leaf and rethink its governance," Platini said. Platini chose to run after getting encouragement from some of his fellow FIFA vice presidents last week in St. Petersburg, Russia. Five of the six confederation leaders, including Platini, were there for the 2018 World Cup qualifying draw with only the North American regional body missing. Platini then traveled to Philadelphia for the Gold Cup final on Sunday, and briefed CONCACAF leaders on his plans. They included FIFA executive committee colleague Sunil Gulati, the U.S. Soccer Federation president. The U.S. body was among the five FIFA members which nominated Prince Ali bin al-Hussein to challenge Blatter two months ago. The Jordanian prince was publicly supported by Platini but Blatter had pockets of support across Europe in a 133-73 victory. Platini met the prince in the south of France last week and discussed the FIFA election. Though not the first would-be candidate to launch a formal bid, Platini is the most serious contender in the contest so far. Another former FIFA vice president, Chung Mong-joon of South Korea, has suggested he will run after stating last week that he doubted Platini was serious about wanting the job. Former Brazil great Zico and Liberia federation president Musa Bility have said they want to seek the five nominations required to be a candidate. Diego Maradona also said he wants the FIFA job, although the colorful former Argentina great is unlikely to be taken seriously. The most detailed manifesto by any recent presidential hopeful was issued by Jerome Champagne, the former FIFA international relations director whose exit in 2010 was engineered with Platini's support. However, Champagne did not take part in the last election after failing to get the five nominations required by a January deadline.

Wed, 29 Jul 2015 11:41:00 +0000
Cardinals name woman to training camp coach position

TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) The Arizona Cardinals have hired Jen Welter to coach inside linebackers through their upcoming training camp and preseason. The Cardinals say Welter is believed to be the first woman to hold a coaching position of any kind in the NFL. Welter played running back and special teams in 2014 for the Texas Revolution of the Indoor Football League, becoming the first woman to hold a non-kicking position for a men's professional sports league. "I am honored to be a part of this amazing team," Welter said on Twitter on Monday night. Welter coached linebackers and special teams for the Revolution last season, becoming the first woman to coach in a men's pro football league. Her general manager with the Revolution was 2015 NFL Hall of Fame inductee Tim Brown. Welter played linebacker for more than 14 seasons in the Women's Football Alliance, mostly with the Dallas Diamonds, where she helped the team win four championships. Welter holds a master's degree in sports psychology. A rugby player at Boston College, she also earned two gold medals on Team USA at the International Federation of Football Women's World Championships in 2009 and 2013. A news conference was scheduled for Tuesday to introduce Welter and Levon Kirkland, a former Pro Bowl linebacker who is the inaugural participant in the Bill Bidwill Coaching Fellowship established to give recently retired NFL players a chance to coach in the league. He will work with outside linebackers for the next two seasons. Four months ago at the NFL meetings, Arizona coach Bruce Arians was asked about the possibility of a woman coaching in the NFL. "The minute they can prove they can make a player better, they'll be hired," Arians said. Speaking to azcardinals.com on Monday, Arians said: "Coaching is nothing more than teaching. One thing I have learned from players is `How are you going to make me better? If you can make me better, I don't care if you're the Green Hornet, I'll listen."' "I really believe she'll have a great opportunity with this internship through training camp to open some doors for her," Arians said. It's the second such barrier to be broken in the NFL this year. The league announced in April that Sarah Thomas would be the first woman to be a full-time NFL official. In the NBA, Becky Hammon is an assistant coach with San Antonio and served as the head coach for the Spurs' team that won the Las Vegas Summer League championship.

Tue, 28 Jul 2015 02:45:00 +0000
IOC urges US to come up with another bid city for 2024 Games

KUALA LUMPUR, Malaysia (AP) With Boston no longer in contention, IOC President Thomas Bach urged U.S. Olympic leaders on Tuesday to pick "the most appropriate city" as a substitute candidate for the 2024 Games. Two-time Olympic host Los Angeles could fit the bill perfectly, according to several IOC board members. The U.S. Olympic Committee severed ties with Boston on Monday, finally pulling the plug on a bid that had been hampered by dismal poll ratings, strong local opposition and months of political wrangling. The USOC now has until Sept. 15 to submit a candidate to the International Olympic Committee and formally enter a race that already includes Paris; Rome; Hamburg, Germany; and Budapest, Hungary. Toronto and Baku, Azerbaijan, are also likely contenders. The IOC has been consulting with potential bids, including Boston, as part of a new "invitation phase"' for interested cities. The IOC is eager to have a strong candidate from the U.S., which hasn't hosted a Summer Games since Atlanta in 1996. "For the IOC this was always about an American bid put forward by the United States Olympic Committee,"' Bach said in a statement. "This invitation phase is also an opportunity to determine which city will eventually be chosen by an NOC. We are confident that USOC will choose the most appropriate city for a strong U.S. bid." IOC officials had just learned of Boston's withdrawal as they gathered for an executive board meeting in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The rest of the IOC membership will be arriving later for a general assembly highlighted by Friday's vote to determine the host city for the 2022 Winter Olympics, with Beijing and Almaty, Kazakhstan, as the two candidates. "It's always a shame when a national Olympic committee selects a city and then is incapable or unable to bring it to the next stage of the contest," IOC vice president Craig Reedie told The Associated Press. "But I suppose after mature reflection and looking at what's happened, it might be a wise decision." "Personally, I hope the United States do find another candidate and produce another applicant city for 2024," Reedie said. Boston had been chosen by the USOC as its bid entry ahead of Los Angeles, San Francisco and Washington. But the USOC was left with little choice but to drop Boston after Massachusetts Gov. Charlie Baker declined to commit to the bid. "It's not (only) bad for the U.S., but it's bad for everybody," IOC board member Juan Antonio Samaranch Jr. told the AP. "Boston was an extraordinary city, very attractive for the Olympic games, a very sporty town. I am very said to hear this." But he said there was enough time for the USOC to change course. "I don't think they need to save face," Samaranch said. "They presented what they thought was a great candidate. It's preseason. They have all the right to change the team and make their final adjustments." After New York failed in a bid for the 2012 Olympics and Chicago lost in the first round of the vote for the 2016 Games, the USOC took steps to try to improve relations with the IOC. Two years ago, the two sides signed a new revenue-sharing agreement, ending a long-running dispute that had helped undermine previous U.S. bids. The U.S. chances for 2024 had seemed strong, but the Boston debacle caught many by surprise. "We were all excited when they (Boston) were announced, but it seems to have stumbled since," IOC vice president John Coates said. "But it's better to face up to these things early if you don't have full public support." Los Angeles hosted the 1932 and 1984 Olympics and now seems poised to enter the 2024 contest. Los Angeles was the only city to bid for the 1984 Games at a time when the Olympics were torn by boycotts and financial problems. The success of those games helped revive the Olympic movement. "They won't have to build temporary stadiums, which is expensive," Reedie said. "It could be the third-time lucky for LA; it was third-time lucky for London." London is the only city which has hosted the OIympics three times. Paris, which staged the games in 1900 and 1924, is also aiming for a third Olympics. Sergei Bubka, the Ukrainian pole vault great who sits on the IOC executive board, said it's important for a U.S. city to be in the running. "Los Angeles has great history, lots of experience," he said. "Why not?"

Tue, 28 Jul 2015 06:03:00 +0000
Olympic champion Shawn Johnson gets engaged at Wrigley Field

CHICAGO (AP) Olympic champion gymnast Shawn Johnson threw out a ceremonial first ball at Wrigley Field - and wound up with quite a catch. Johnson was walking off the field Friday before the Chicago Cubs hosted Philadelphia when she was surprised by longtime boyfriend Andrew East, a rookie long snapper for the Kansas City Chiefs. East dropped to one knee near home plate and presented the 2008 gold medalist with a diamond engagement ring. A stunned Johnson put her hands over her mouth, bobbed her head up and down, then jumped into his arms. Later, she put her feelings onto her Twitter feed. "Today the love of my life asked me to be his forever.AND I SAID YES!" she posted. The 23-year-old Johnson won the balance beam title at the Beijing Olympics. The next year, she won the title on ABC-TV's "Dancing with the Stars."

Sat, 25 Jul 2015 01:04:00 +0000
Canadian media company wants NHL expansion into Quebec City

QUEBEC CITY (AP) The media company Quebecor Inc. has officially entered the running for an NHL expansion team. The company said Monday on its Twitter account that it has submitted its "candidacy for the NHL expansion process in order to bring the Nordiques back to Quebec City." The NHL announced last month that it was opening the formal expansion process. Quebec City has not had an NHL team since the Nordiques left for Denver and became the Colorado Avalanche in 1995. Quebecor owns the new 18,259-capacity Videotron Arena in Quebec City. It's among several groups that have expressed interest in an expansion franchise, along with Las Vegas, Seattle and others. The NHL has said the earliest any expansion would happen is the 2017-18 season. The league set July 20 as the deadline for potential expansion team owners to submit their bids for teams bids that include a $10 million down-payment, with $2 million nonrefundable. There are 16 teams in the Eastern Conference and 14 in the West, which would seem to make Las Vegas and potentially Seattle or Portland, Oregon, favorites for expansion. NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman has said geography is an issue, but not the determining factor. The NHL has a relationship with Quebecor through its French-language television-rights deal with the TVA television network.

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 19:54:00 +0000
FIFA vote to be held Feb 26; Blatter defies calls to go now

ZURICH (AP) Sepp Blatter will stay in control of world soccer for seven more months after resisting calls to step down immediately ahead of a presidential election, which FIFA decided Monday will be on Feb. 26. A defiant first public appearance by Blatter since his resignation statement last month began in pandemonium as he was showered in fake money by a comedian who gatecrashed the media conference at FIFA's headquarters. "Where is my security?" Blatter shouted. The interruption provided an awkward reminder of a far more serious incident for FIFA in May, when the arrest of soccer and sports marketing officials plunged the game's ruling body into its deepest crisis. Jolted by dual American and Swiss criminal investigations into soccer corruption, Blatter suddenly announced four days after being elected for a fifth term that he would leave FIFA. "It was not only the pressure of any authorities ... it was also the pressure of political interference and also the pressure of you, media," said Blatter, who is a target of the U.S. investigation. "I had to do something very special and I did it. In footballing terms, I kicked the ball out of the field to stop something." FIFA's executive committee decided at a meeting Monday on the February election date and Blatter ended weeks of uncertainty by insisting he would not perform one of his renowned about-turns by in fact being a candidate. "On the 26th of February FIFA will have a new president," Blatter said. "I cannot be the new president because I am the old president." The 79-year-old Blatter, who first joined FIFA 40 years ago, has held onto the most powerful job in world soccer since 1998. Prince Ali bin al-Hussein, who lost to Blatter in May, had told The Associated Press earlier Monday: "President Blatter's resignation cannot be dragged out any longer. He must leave now." But while Blatter said he felt "regret" about the crises, he insisted he would not be "abandoning" the presidency until a successor is elected by the 209 members. "I am still the elected president by 133 national associations and I will use my mandate as president ... to make sure that when at the end of February I come at the end of my career I can say the FIFA we have started again - with the reforms," Blatter said, highlighting the need to "rebuild the reputation of FIFA." The Feb. 26 date was seen as a political victory for Blatter over UEFA and other confederations, who thought they had agreement on Sunday for Jan. 15. Instead, Blatter and senior vice president Issa Hayatou cited the importance of the second-tier African Nations Championship - a tournament for little-known home-based players - hosted in Rwanda from Jan. 16-Feb. 7. Presidential candidates must gain five nominations from FIFA's 209 member associations by an Oct. 26 deadline. Only former Brazil great Zico and Liberia football federation president Musa Bility have so far expressed their intention to stand. Other potential candidates are Prince Ali and UEFA President Michel Platini, who is still mulling over his decision. "He loves the fact that UEFA is associated with football on a daily basis and the thousands of matches we organize," Platini's spokesman, Pedro Pinto, said outside FIFA headquarters. "FIFA is a more political organization and he is a man of football. He's not a man of politics." In a statement Platini limited himself to saying: "Now we have a concrete date, which means we can look forward to new leadership which will surely bring with it new ideas and new solutions." Platini welcomed the creation of a reforms task force, which will consider introducing term limits, integrity checks for executive committee members and pay details. Blatter declined repeatedly on Monday to reveal his salary. But Blatter did respond to calls from World Cup sponsor Coca-Cola and former FIFA advisers Transparency International to appoint an independent person to oversee the reforms required to shape the organization's future. The reforms panel will feature two representatives from the Asian, African, European, and North and Central American confederations, and one each from South America and Oceania. "We must now make sure that the reforms outlined today will be undertaken in a swift and effective manner," Platini said. "This is an exciting time for FIFA because we can work together to improve it and restructure it for the good of the game." Reformers want FIFA to appoint a respected figure from outside the sport to oversee the next election and reforms of FIFA. Kofi Annan, the former United Nations secretary general from Ghana, has been mentioned for the role. "The rumors linking Mr. Annan to the FIFA job are just that: rumors," Annan's office told the AP, stressing that he is currently "fully committed" to other roles. Bility, the Liberian federation head, said he was "very disappointed" with the Feb. 26 election date. "It does not reflect the urgency of the situation," he told the AP by telephone. "The anxiety, the wait cannot help knowing that we expect to have a new leadership." Bility said he is sure he will secure the nominations required to make the ballot. "I am very encouraged," he said. "You know, I am keen viewing those rumors of those who are running. I don't see any new faces. They are all names who have been around for all these years."

Mon, 20 Jul 2015 15:59:00 +0000