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Richard Sherman looking forward to fatherhood

PHOENIX (AP) Richard Sherman has contingency plans in place should his girlfriend give birth to their first child - a son - before Sunday's Super Bowl against New England. Sherman doesn't seem worried about the potential arrival of his son interfering with his chances at winning a second straight Super Bowl title. He's expecting his son to be cooperative from birth. "He's not supposed to come on Sunday. Obviously that would change some things. But I think he's going to be a disciplined young man and stay in there until after the game. He's going to do his father his first favor and stay in there for another week or two," Sherman said on Thursday. "But I've thought about the possibility of him coming during the game and coming before the game and we have things in place in case that happens and we'll cross that bridge when we get there. But I did not know it was a topic of national debate, honestly. I would not like to miss the birth of my first son, my first kid. Thankfully, hopefully and God willing we won't have to cross that bridge." Sherman revealed the pending birth of his son earlier this week in a first-person article for The MMQB. Sherman also had no reservations about the idea of his son playing football in the future. "Football teaches you discipline and helps you develop a sense of leadership and courage and camaraderie among your friends and teammates," Sherman said. "It also shows you how to work with the group, how to depend on one another, how to trust someone to do their job and how to be dependable, to do your job. There are a lot of aspects of football that people don't talk about, and these are the things you learn and they are essential throughout your life." WORTHY CAUSE: Cancer Treatment Centers of America and the NFL Alumni Association announced a partnership to raise awareness among NFL Alumni and fans around the country about screening, diagnosis and treatment for prostate cancer. The partnership also calls for CTCA to treat NFL Alumni who are fighting the disease at each of its five hospitals (in Atlanta, Chicago, Philadelphia, Phoenix and Tulsa). CTCA will also become a sponsor of the NFLA's Super Bowl of Golf, an annual member event that is part of the NFLA's charitable fundraising activities. Other than non-melanoma skin cancer, prostate cancer is the most common cancer among men in the U.S. Nearly one in seven men will be diagnosed with prostate cancer in their lifetime. The American Cancer Society estimates that 233,000 new cases of prostate cancer were diagnosed in the U.S. in 2014. More than 29,000 men succumbed to the disease that year. BRIGHT LIGHTS IN THE BIG APPLE: The Empire State Building will track the Super Bowl on its tower lights with a virtual scoreboard on Sunday. The lights, which will shine in the colors of the New England Patriots and the Seattle Seahawks, will change depending on the score of the game, ultimately shining in the colors of the winning team for the rest of the evening.

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 00:18:00 +0000
Judge: Jury can watch Super Bowl unless Hernandez mentioned

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) The 18 New England residents sitting on the jury in the murder trial of former Patriots star Aaron Hernandez will be allowed to watch the home team play in Sunday's Super Bowl, but the judge overseeing the case says they must leave the room if his name is mentioned. Hernandez caught quarterback Tom Brady's last Super Bowl touchdown pass in the Patriots' 2012 loss to the New York Giants. Now he is on trial for murder, charged with the June 2013 killing of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister. The trial is playing out just as Hernandez's old team is preparing to take on the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL championship game. Bristol County Superior Court Judge Susan Garsh closed the second day of testimony Friday by telling jurors they may watch the game if it is important to them, but they must be vigilant for mention of the case or Hernandez. "You hear that word, you've got to walk out of the room," Garsh said. "Distance yourself." The judge previously told jurors that they are not allowed to discuss the case with anyone, even to tell their families or employers that they are sitting on the jury for Hernandez. During jury selection, jurors were asked if they were Patriots fans, but that did not mean they were automatically disqualified from being selected. Hernandez had a $40 million contract with the Patriots when he was arrested. Earlier Friday, Lloyd's mother, Ursula Ward, was overcome with emotion and had to leave the courtroom as a prosecutor showed graphic photos of her son's body at the industrial park where he was found. The 27-year-old Lloyd was shown lying on his back with his left fist curled in a ball over the gunshot wounds to his chest. It was the second straight day she left the courtroom in tears. Lloyd's body was found riddled with bullets in an industrial park near Hernandez's North Attleborough home, not far from Gillette Stadium. On Friday, two men who worked at a business in the industrial park described a teenage jogger coming to their office early on the evening of June 17, 2013, then leading them down to an empty lot. One of the men, David Swithers, said he stopped about 20 feet away and saw a man on his back. The judge had cautioned jurors that the images would be graphic and that they shouldn't let their emotions sway them in the case. "He was stiff and motionless. There were flies flying in and out of his nostrils," he said. "I called 911." Also testifying Friday was Shaneah Jenkins, 23, who was dating Lloyd. Her sister, Shayanna, 25, is Hernandez's fiancee and the mother of his 2-year-old child. The sisters sit on opposite sides of the courtroom, Shaneah with Lloyd's mother and Shayanna with Hernandez's family. Shayanna Jenkins was not in court Friday. Shaneah Jenkins testified that she introduced Lloyd to Hernandez and that although they had a cordial relationship, they were not close. She said the two men would hang out in the basement or smoke marijuana together when they came to visit, but that, apart from the weekend Lloyd was killed, the two men did not spend time together without her there. Hernandez's lawyer, Michael Fee, told jurors in his opening statement that Hernandez and Lloyd were friends and that Hernandez had no reason to kill him. He said they could have some day been brothers-in-law. Shaneah Jenkins is expected to resume testimony the next day court is in session. That could be Monday, though the judge told jurors a snowstorm forecast for then could delay that. In a separate murder case that has yet to go to trial, Hernandez was charged last year in Boston with killing two men in 2012 after someone spilled a drink on him at a nightclub. The judge has ruled that prosecutors in the Lloyd case cannot tell the jury about those slayings. --- Follow Michelle R. Smith at: http://www.twitter.com/MRSmithAP

Sat, 31 Jan 2015 03:52:00 +0000
Browns receiver Josh Gordon says he was caught drinking

CLEVELAND (AP) Browns receiver Josh Gordon said on Thursday that his latest trouble with the NFL results from having a few drinks with teammates. Gordon said in an open letter on Medium that he accepts responsibility for a failed alcohol test that could bring another suspension from the league. The 23-year-old receiver said he had two beers and two other drinks with teammates on a flight to Las Vegas on Jan. 2, after Cleveland's season ended. The former Pro Bowler was suspended for last season after testing positive for marijuana, but the penalty was reduced to 10 games. Gordon said that as part of the reduction, he agreed not to drink alcohol. He said he was tested for it when he got off the plane in Las Vegas. "As a strict condition to my reinstatement in Week 12, I had to agree not only to abstain from drinking for the rest of the season, but also to submit to an alcohol screen as part of my in-season drug testing under the league's substance-abuse protocol," Gordon said. The receiver said he thought the requirement no longer applied when the season ended, but he was mistaken. The Browns missed the playoffs with a 7-9 record, finishing last in the AFC North. "It doesn't matter if I thought that the league-imposed restriction on drinking had expired at the end of the regular season; what matters is that I didn't confirm whether or not that was the case," Gordon said. "Now, that oversight has further jeopardized my relationship with my team and our fans, my reputation, and maybe even my career." Gordon rejected criticism from media commentators, saying they don't know him well enough to form opinions about him. Gordon's absence was noticeable on a team that struggled on offense last year. Cleveland hired Joker Phillips as wide receivers coach on Thursday, Phillips' first full-time NFL coaching job. Phillips was most recently in college football as a wide receivers coach for Florida in 2012-2013. Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving in 2013. The following May, it was revealed that he failed another test for marijuana. His representatives unsuccessfully argued to an arbitrator that his failed drug test was the result of second-hand marijuana smoke. The one-year suspension was shortened as part of the NFL's overhaul of its disciplinary system. The NFL has not yet announced punishment for the failed alcohol test. Gordon also was arrested for drunken driving in North Carolina last July.

Thu, 29 Jan 2015 23:40:00 +0000
3 Hawks, Durant and Westbrook are NBA All-Star reserves

NEW YORK (AP) Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague were picked Thursday as reserves for the Eastern Conference All-Star team, giving the sizzling Atlanta Hawks three selections. Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook made the West team despite early season injuries for the Oklahoma City stars. The Miami Heat also had two reserves in Chris Bosh and Dwyane Wade. But Portland surprisingly only had one in LaMarcus Aldridge. Point guard Damian Lillard was not among the seven reserves. Atlanta has won 17 in a row and has a 38-8 record, second-best in the NBA. The Hawks were hoping for four spots, but Kyle Korver was not chosen by East coaches. "Our whole starting five deserves to be there," Teague said before the results were announced. "We have a good ballclub. We're all playing at a really high level right now. And we're playing as a team. That's all you can really ask for." Cleveland's Kyrie Irving, last year's All-Star game MVP, and first-timer Jimmy Butler of Chicago were the other players announced to the East roster. The rest of the West reserves for the Feb. 15 game at Madison Square Garden in New York are James Harden (Houston), Klay Thompson (Golden State), Tim Duncan (San Antonio) and Chris Paul (Clippers). Head coaches in each conference had to vote for two guards, three frontcourt players and two players regardless of position. They couldn't vote for players on their own teams. The starters were voted by fans and announced last Thursday. LeBron James (Cleveland), Pau Gasol (Chicago), Carmelo Anthony (New York), John Wall (Washington) and Kyle Lowry (Toronto) will start for the East. Stephen Curry (Golden State), Kobe Bryant (Lakers), Anthony Davis (New Orleans), Blake Griffin (Clippers) and Marc Gasol (Memphis) were voted in from the West. Bryant is out for the rest of the season after surgery to repair a torn rotator cuff in his shoulder and his replacement on the roster will be chosen by Commissioner Adam Silver. West coach Steve Kerr of the Warriors will decide who takes Bryant's spot in the lineup. With their backcourt of Curry and Thompson, the Warriors have two All-Stars for the first time since Chris Mullin and Tim Hardaway in 1993. Atlanta's Mike Budenholzer will lead the East. He will get to coach three of his players, the first trio of Hawks All-Stars since John Drew, Eddie Johnson and Dan Roundfield in 1980. "We love for our players to have success and for our players to be appreciated," Budenholzer said. "Yeah, there's a sense of pride. They work really hard. They do a lot of things we appreciate. If other people are appreciating them, that's a good thing." Korver, shooting 53 percent from 3-point range, still might have a chance if Wade isn't able to play in his 11th consecutive All-Star selection. The Heat star is battling a strained right hamstring. The powerful West has many more snubs, including Lillard, whose Trail Blazers are tied for third in the conference and who is averaging 21.8 points. Sacramento's DeMarcus Cousins wasn't picked despite averaging 23.8 points and 12.3 rebounds as perhaps the best big man in the league this season, and neither Memphis nor Dallas had a reserve selected despite their strong play and worthy candidates. Marc Gasol said he thought both Mike Conley and Zach Randolph should have been chosen. "We're the second-best team in the West. I feel like us being there, both (should be there) because they are a huge part of what we do," Gasol said. "All-Stars should be about winning and telling guys that's how you play. You play well on a winning team, you're supposed to be there." Duncan did make it for a 15th time, joining Shaquille O'Neal and Kevin Garnett with the third-most selections behind Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (19) and Bryant (17). Durant will get the chance to improve his 30.6 points per game average in the All-Star game, best all-time. West coaches went with the league's reigning MVP even though he has missed 25 of the Thunder's 46 games and the team is only 23-23, currently out of playoff position. "I love Kevin Durant, but he hasn't played enough games," TNT's Charles Barkley said. "This isn't a lifetime achievement award. Lillard is having a terrific year."

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 04:44:00 +0000
Lakers stop 9-game skid, edge Bulls in double OT 123-118

LOS ANGELES -- Jordan Hill scored 26 points and forced the second overtime with a clutch jumper, and the Los Angeles Lakers snapped their nine-game losing streak in thrilling fashion with a 123-118 victory over the Chicago Bulls on Thursday night. Wayne Ellington scored 23 points and rookie Jordan Clarkson added 18 for the Lakers, who held off the Bulls for their first victory since Jan. 9. With big late baskets from everybody in their patchwork lineup, the Lakers avoided matching the 1994 squad coached by Magic Johnson for the longest skid in the 16-time champion franchise's history. All-Star Jimmy Butler matched his career high with 35 points for the Bulls, who rallied from a nine-point deficit in 70 seconds late in regulation. Pau Gasol had 20 points and 10 rebounds in his Staples Center return to face the Lakers, and he forced the first overtime with the tying tip-in shot with 11 seconds left. Derrick Rose added 17 points before missing a jumper at the first overtime buzzer for the Bulls, who flopped after their thrilling win at Golden State on Tuesday. Carlos Boozer had 16 points for the Lakers, who improved to 1-3 since Kobe Bryant was lost for the season with a torn right rotator cuff. Hill's short hook shot at the regulation buzzer rattled out, but he hit a tying 20-footer with 16 seconds left in the first OT. Rose badly missed his 20-footer at the first OT buzzer. Ellington hit two early shots in the second overtime to put the Lakers up for good. Los Angeles made five of its seven shots in the second OT while holding on. The Lakers gave a pregame tribute to Gasol, who won two NBA titles in seven seasons in Los Angeles before leaving as a free agent last summer. Gasol got standing ovations in warmups and again before the game, when he stepped to center court and waved both arms at fans wearing commemorative gold T-shirts. Los Angeles led by 15 points in the second half, and Hill's basket with 1:29 left put the Lakers up 98-89. After Butler hit a 3-pointer, two free throws and a breakaway dunk, Gasol leaned over Robert Sacre and tipped in Rose's miss with 11 seconds left. Rose's 3-pointer to open overtime gave the Bulls their first lead. Gasol made one free throw with 35 seconds left to put Chicago up 106-104, but Hill drained his long jumper before Rose failed to score on an isolation play. TIP-INS Bulls: Chicago coach Tom Thibodeau said the entire locker room was "thrilled" by Butler's selection as an All-Star reserve: "He has worked extremely hard to put himself in that position." ... Gasol had 23 points and 13 rebounds while the Bulls beat the Lakers on Christmas in Chicago. ... The Bulls and the NHL's Blackhawks are both in Southern California on lengthy trips while Disney on Ice takes over the United Center. The Blackhawks lost to the Kings in this same building Wednesday. Lakers: Los Angeles hadn't played a double-OT game since April 22, 2012. ... Nick Young missed his second game with a sprained right ankle. ... Boozer is being paid about $13.5 million not to play for the Bulls this season. Chicago got rid of the power forward using the amnesty clause last July after four seasons together. Soccer greats David Beckham and Robbie Keane and MLS Commissioner Don Garber all watched the game from courtside. UP NEXT Bulls: At Phoenix on Friday. Lakers: At New York on Sunday.

Fri, 30 Jan 2015 06:41:00 +0000