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MSNBC Sports
News provided by MSNBC.com
Michigan AD apologizes for mistakes with QB injury

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) Roughly 12 hours after embattled Michigan coach Brady Hoke said he'd been given no indication that quarterback Shane Morris had been diagnosed with a concussion, athletic director Dave Brandon revealed in a post-midnight statement that the sophomore did appear to have sustained one.

That capped a bizarre day in which Michigan tried to address questions about the coaching staff's handling of Morris, who took a violent hit in the fourth quarter of Saturday's loss to Minnesota.

"In my judgment, there was a serious lack of communication that led to confusion on the sideline. Unfortunately, this confusion created a circumstance that was not in the best interest of one of our student-athletes," Brandon said in a statement released shortly before 1 a.m. Tuesday. "I sincerely apologize for the mistakes that were made.

"We have to learn from this situation, and moving forward, we will make important changes so we can fully live up to our shared goal of putting student-athlete safety first."

Morris took a crunching hit from Theiren Cockran on Saturday and briefly looked as if he was having trouble standing, but he remained in for the next play and threw an incompletion before coming out of the game.

Devin Gardner replaced him, but later on that drive, his helmet came off at the end of a play. While Gardner sat out for a play, as required, Morris went back in and handed the ball off to a running back.

Asked Monday if Morris had been diagnosed with a concussion, Hoke said: "Everything that I know of, no." Hoke said Morris would have practiced Sunday night if not for a high ankle sprain.

But in his statement, Brandon said: "As of Sunday, Shane was diagnosed with a probable, mild concussion, and a high ankle sprain. That probable concussion diagnosis was not at all clear on the field on Saturday or in the examination that was conducted postgame. Unfortunately, there was inadequate communication between our physicians and medical staff, and Coach Hoke was not provided the updated diagnosis before making a public statement on Monday."

Brandon said he has had numerous meetings since Sunday to determine what happened with Morris. He said Morris had been treated for a sprained ankle earlier in the game, and medical staff on the sideline believed that was why he stumbled while trying to walk around after being hit by Cockran.

"The team neurologist, watching from further down the field, also did not see the hit. However, the neurologist, with expertise in detecting signs of concussion, saw Shane stumble and determined he needed to head down the sideline to evaluate Shane," Brandon said.

As for how Morris went back in after Gardner's helmet came off:

"Shane came off the field after the (incomplete pass) and was reassessed by the head athletic trainer for the ankle injury," Brandon said. "Since the athletic trainer had not seen the hit to the chin and was not aware that a neurological evaluation was necessary, he cleared Shane for one additional play."

Brandon said the neurologist and other team physicians were not aware Morris was being asked to return to the field, and Morris left the bench when he heard his name called and went back into the game.

"Under these circumstances, a player should not be allowed to re-enter the game before being cleared by the team physician. This clearly identifies the need for improvements in our sideline and communication processes," Brandon said.

Brandon said Morris was examined for a concussion after the game and wasn't diagnosed with one at that point.

Hoke was already facing pressure over Michigan's performance this season. The Wolverines fell to 2-3 after losing 30-14 at home to Minnesota.

If there was one major point Hoke seemed to stress Monday, it was that he doesn't have input into whether a player is healthy enough to play. If a player shouldn't be going back in the game, that is the trainer's call.

"I knew the kid had an ankle injury," Hoke said. "That's what I knew."

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 06:57:00 +0000
NFL has laundry list of verboten celebrations

Dancing Billy "White Shoes" Johnson, shuffling Ickey Woods and the group high-fiving Fun Bunch? Their entertaining touchdown celebrations would be illegal in today's NFL.

Though the league rulebook has some very specific examples of what constitutes a penalty, the gray area is as wide as ever.

Take, for example, Husain Abdullah's drop to his knees after returning an interception for a touchdown Monday night. It threw the referees for a loop - and caused them to throw a flag. In their eyes, the Chiefs defensive back violated the language in Rule 12, Section 3(d) that states "Players are prohibited from engaging in any celebrations while on the ground."

But Abdullah is a devout Muslim, who had always vowed he'd fall to his knees if he ever reached the end zone. Critics pointed out that many players have knelt in Christian player and weren't penalized, most notably Tim Tebow, who's one-knee genuflection became a meme. After further review, the NFL said since it was part of a religious expression, and Abdullah should not have been flagged.

Highlights from the NFL's forbidden list, who may have caused it and who might get nailed today.

-PROLONGED, CHOREOGRAPHED, EXCESSIVE CELEBRATION: It could be said that the "Fun Bunch" - aka Art Monk, Alvin Garrett and the rest of the Washington Redskins receivers in the early 1980s - took the fun out of the NFL. After touchdowns, they would form a circle and time a group high-five. In a 1983 game at Texas Stadium, Cowboys defenders tried to break up a Fun Bunch celebration by standing in the middle of it. A year later, the league passed a rule banning "excessive celebration." Just last week, Antonio Brown of the Steelers broke this rule, and about three others, when he spun the ball on the ground, pretended he was spinning like the ball, then fell to the ground. He was penalized 15 yards and a scolding from coach Mike Tomlin. Victor Cruz of the Giants says he's planning a new Salsa dance to celebrate TDs.

-USE OF FOREIGN OBJECTS THAT ARE NOT PART OF THE UNIFORM: Would the white shoes Johnson wore when returning kicks for the Oilers back in the day have qualified as "foreign objects?" Who knows? But give these guys an `A' for creativity and advance planning: Terrell Owens pulling a Sharpie pen out of his sock and signing a ball after scoring. And Saints receiver Joe Horn reaching the end zone, then pulling a cellphone out of the padding on the goalpost and pretending to make a call.

-SACK DANCES, HOME-RUN SWING, INCREDIBLE HULK: All are verboten if "committed directly at an opponent." Mark Gastineau of the Jets had one of the first (and possibly the worst) sack dance. It sparked a bench-clearing brawl in 1983 with the Rams and their Hall of Fame offensive lineman Jackie Slater, who said: "One lousy tackle and he puts on a big act. Why don't I dance every time I block him out?" Also forbidden under this category are home-run swings (Neil Smith), incredible hulk gestures (Clay Matthews used to do it. More recently, Packers RB Eddie Lacy cleverly bypassed this by wearing an Incredible Hulk shirt under his jersey) and military salutes (could've potentially put Terrell Davis and the Broncos famous Mile High Salute of the late 1990s in jeopardy).

-THROAT SLASH, STOMPING ON TEAM LOGOS: Fred Taylor of the Jaguars got tagged a few times for a throat-slash gesture that was popular, especially in college football, about 10 years ago. Owens put team logos in the rulebook when, while playing for the 49ers, he ran to the star at the 50-yard line at Texas Stadium after a touchdown. Emmitt Smith responded by doing that himself a bit later. Then, Owens caught another touchdown and did it again, and Cowboys defensive back George Teague met him at the star and laid him out.

-SPIKING THE BALL OVER THE GOALPOST: It had been one of the last bastions of good, clean celebration - that is, until Saints tight end Jimmy Graham knocked the post off-kilter on a slam last season in Atlanta, causing a lengthy delay. This preseason, Graham was penalized twice and fined $30,000 for breaking the new rule. His reaction: "You can't really have fun anymore." Well, Woods still can. The former Bengals runner is featured doing his once-famous Ickey Shuffle in a GEICO commercial that airs during NFL games.

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 20:35:00 +0000
A flawed Ryder Cup system for Americans

GLENEAGLES, Scotland (AP) Paul Azinger is not ruling out a return as Captain America in the Ryder Cup.

But that's not what America needs.

And neither does Azinger.

His reputation only grows each time the Americans fail. Why would he want to risk that when there is no guarantee of reward? With so much focus on a dysfunctional U.S. team, it's easy to overlook that Europe might have been the stronger side, anyway.

Azinger was in a Harley-Davidson bar in Florida on Sunday when the Ryder Cup ended. He answered his phone and said, "Dude, why is my Twitter blowing up?"

The reaction to such a resounding loss and embarrassing exit in the Ryder Cup was to bring back Azinger in 2016 at Hazeltine. So when Derek Sprague takes over as president of the PGA of America the weekend before Thanksgiving, Azinger should be the first person he calls.

Not to hire him. To listen to him.

Azinger might be the one person responsible for giving the Americans their best chance in a game that has gone global.

His greatest contribution had nothing to do with pods, rather how the team was chosen. He refused to take the captain's job for 2008 unless the PGA of America agreed to toss out its outdated qualifying system in which points were rewarded only to the top 10 at PGA Tour events. That stopped working as the tour became populated with the best players from around the world.

And he somehow persuaded the PGA of America to copy the PGA Tour. The new qualifying system is just like the one used for the U.S. Presidents Cup team - based strictly on money dressed up as points. He also asked that the number of captain's picks be doubled to four players.

That prompted Azinger to say, "If we win, I'll go down as having the lowest I.Q. of any genius who ever lived."

He sure looked like one. His system of "pods" was genius. Three groups of three qualifiers told Azinger whom they wanted as a captain's pick (Steve Stricker was a pick but treated like a qualifier that year). They were accountable for each other as a pod, and ultimately a team.

Phil Mickelson referred to it as a "winning formula." It's more about the philosophy than the details.

And above all, it's about team.

That's what Europe has figured out. The Americans had that under Azinger. They also had it under Davis Love III, except that Europe had better putters at Medinah, and that works in any format golf is played.

But to identify the problem with the Americans is to study the team that keeps beating them. That starts with how the captain is selected.

Paul McGinley wasn't chosen by a club pro.

The 12 players on the tournament committee for the European Tour who put him forward as the captain, the same system that selected Jose Maria Olazabal and Colin Montgomerie. It will change for 2016, but the same principle applies. Getting the players invested started with having everyone under the same flag.

The past three captains, one player from the tournament committee and European Tour chief George O'Grady are on the panel that picks the 2016 captain.

How did PGA President Ted Bishop decide on Watson? Reading a book.

He was coming home from the boondoggle in Bermuda known as the PGA Grand Slam of Golf when he read a book by the late Jim Huber on Watson's remarkable run at Turnberry in 2009, when he was an 8-foot putt away from winning the British Open at age 59. He called Huber about his "out-of-the-box" idea, and Huber loved it. Bishop consulted his officers, called Watson and a year later took a chance.

"I think it's important for the people to understand that the PGA of America has an obligation to try to pick and find the captain that we feel is going to put our team in the best position to win," Bishop said when he introduced Watson as captain. "We feel he's certainly the perfect person to do this, based on his playing record in Scotland."

It's hard to say which is more dreadful. That he would connect Watson's playing record in Scotland with his ability to lead players half his age? Or that the PGA of America alone decides to should be captain?

Why not involve the players? Why not involve the past captains?

Europe has a formula that began under Tony Jacklin and has been used in various capacities by just about everyone except Nick Faldo, whom Azinger referred to as the "lone wolf." Faldo brought his own system, and it was the one European loss in the last 15 years.

All of Europe seems to be involved in the Ryder Cup.

The PGA of America runs this show by itself, and there is a built-in disconnect because it has no involvement with PGA Tour players except at the PGA Championship every year, and the Ryder Cup every other year.

There is no continuity in America, even on the rare occasion when it wins.

The Ryder Cup is closely contested because the players are great. Even so, Europe has won eight of the last 10.

And unless something changes, the gap will only widen.

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 14:44:00 +0000
Cardinals running back facing 9 charges for hitting wife

PHOENIX (AP) Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer has been formally charged with assaulting his wife during two arguments in July at their Phoenix apartment.

An indictment publicly released late Friday charges Dwyer with felony aggravated assault and eight misdemeanors, including assault, criminal damage and disorderly conduct.

Investigators say Dwyer broke his wife's nose with a head-butt during a July 21 argument and engaged in a dispute the following day in which he punched his wife and threw a shoe at his 17-month-old son, who wasn't injured.

Dwyer had been booked on Sept. 17 on suspicion of aggravated assault against his son, but the indictment doesn't charge him with any crimes related to the child.

Prosecutors say it's not unusual for grand juries to return slightly different charges than those initially brought in a case.

A message left for Jared Allen, an attorney representing Dwyer, wasn't immediately returned Monday.

Police say the first dispute between the couple erupted after Dwyer's wife learned about his recent phone contact with another woman and came to believe her husband was cheating.

The arrest came at a time when the NFL and Commissioner Roger Goodell are under fire over a series of violent off-the-field encounters involving some marquee players, including Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy.

The NFL has said the Dwyer case will be reviewed under the league's personal-conduct policy. The day after his arrest, the Cardinals placed Dwyer on the reserve/non-football illness list, meaning he can't play for Arizona again this season.

An Oct. 6 status conference has been scheduled for Dwyer.

Mon, 29 Sep 2014 21:40:00 +0000
Twins fire manager Ron Gardenhire after 13 seasons

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) He was the third base coach who gave Kirby Puckett a high-five to punctuate his winning homer in Game 6 of the 1991 World Series.

He was the trusting candidate who took Minnesota's managing job when many thought the Twins were about to be contracted in 2002.

He was the affable everyman who presided over the team's turn-of-the-century renaissance and turned the AL doormat into a six-time division champion.

Ron Gardenhire was just about everything in the 27 years he spent in the Twins organization. But even he couldn't survive the worst four-year stretch in franchise history.

The Twins fired Gardenhire on Monday, saying it was time for a new voice after his 13-year tenure concluded with 383 losses over the last four seasons.

"The reason for this change, I think it's safe to say, the last couple years we have not won enough games," Twins general manager Terry Ryan said. "That's what it comes down to. It's nothing more, nothing less than that."

The move was made with one season left on Gardenhire's contract, ending the second-longest active tenure in the major leagues behind Mike Scioscia of the Angels.

Gardenhire played an integral role in the franchise's turnaround, guiding the Twins to the playoffs six times in nine seasons from 2002-10. But Gardenhire's teams only got out of the first round once, and his postseason record was 6-21 with the last win coming in 2004.

The Twins have long been the model of stability in not only baseball but major professional sports, with only two managers over the last 28 years and two general managers over the last 20 seasons.

But all the losing of late became too much to overcome. Over the last four years, the Twins went 78-148 from Aug. 1 on for an abysmal .345 winning percentage.

"I'm gone, I'm outta here because we didn't win," Gardenhire said. "That's what it gets down to in baseball. That's what it should get down to. You have to win on the field and these last four years have been tough for all of us."

The Twins finished this season at 70-92, making Gardenhire just the fourth manager in the game's history to preside over at least four straight 90-loss seasons with the same team, joining Connie Mack of the Philadelphia Athletics (nine), Zach Taylor of the St. Louis Browns (four) and his predecessor with the Twins, Tom Kelly (four). Kelly returned for one more season after his streak, and he retired after an 85-77 finish in 2001.

"One of the things we hope to get back to here is a winning culture across our organization, and not just with the major leagues," Twins President Dave St. Peter said, later adding, "That's clearly one of the goals with this move is to jumpstart that. Not to say that Ron wasn't capable of that ... but I think we believe very strongly that we've gotten away from that in recent years."

In an era when job security for managers is seemingly measured in months, Gardenhire's longevity has been truly unique. The outspoken and fiery Gardenhire quickly became one of the faces of the franchise, as synonymous with the Twins as the interlocking T and C on their caps. He took over for the revered Kelly, who won two World Series championships, just as the organization was starting to regain its footing after years of bad baseball.

"I feel like he's my brother, not my manager," said a glassy-eyed Ryan, who has known Gardenhire dating to their days together in the New York Mets system in the 1980s.

Ryan spent some time away from the organization this year to get treatment for cancer. He said Monday that a recent physical came back favorable and that he will return to the Twins next season.

Ryan offered Gardenhire a chance to remain in the organization, but Gardenhire doesn't believe he's done managing just yet.

"I would have loved to have won a World Series, but that didn't happen," Gardenhire said. "Maybe it's still to come."

Gardenhire clashed with some players over the years, but there was an expectation and hope among the players that he would return.

"We as players had a responsibility to the organization, fans, and coaches to win this season," starting pitcher Phil Hughes tweeted. "We failed."

Gardenhire joined the organization in 1987 and was added to Kelly's staff in 1991. His record as Twins manager was 1,068-1,039. He won the American League Manager of the Year award in 2010, the last time the Twins not only made the playoffs but had a winning record.

"As good as it gets in my opinion. Comes to the park ready to win each and every day. Kind of a players' manager," second baseman Brian Dozier said last week. "Always in good spirits. He knows the game better than anybody I've been around. I 100 percent want him back."

The contracts of Gardenhire's coaches were expiring, but some of them could be brought back. Bench coach Paul Molitor is sure to be considered for Gardenhire's replacement, but Ryan's search will spread outside the organization, too.

"Sometimes people need to hear a different voice," Gardenhire said. "They need a new face. I just want this organization to win; I'll be rooting just like everybody else."

The run of futility has disillusioned a once-passionate fan base, with attendance in Target Field's fifth year the lowest for the Twins since 2004.

Owner Jim Pohlad said dwindling attendance had "virtually zero" impact on the decision and they would have brought Gardenhire back next season if Ryan recommended it.

"He connected with me and our family way more than any single person in our entire career as owners of the team," Pohlad said. "He's just a special guy. He's loved. He's loved by us. I'll always remember him as a winner."

Tue, 30 Sep 2014 01:54:00 +0000

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