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MSNBC Sports
News provided by MSNBC.com
New advisers say NFL is serious about reform

CHICAGO (AP) Beth E. Richie is a professor and a college administrator. She has written articles and books about feminism, battered women and the prison system, and provided training for police, judges and other groups.

So when the NFL called to ask for help with its domestic conduct policy, Richie wanted to make sure it was more serious than window dressing.

"The players and the teams are one thing that almost could be easily managed," said Richie, the director of the Institute for Research on Race and Public Policy at Illinois-Chicago. "I wanted to know are they interested in the fan base, the sponsoring organizations, the other corporate interests?

"We almost haven't had a moment like this in the work to end violence when such power, such attention, such resources could go to prevention, changing culture, bystander education, those kinds of things."

Intrigued by the possibilities, Richie joined a high-profile effort that is hoping to have an impact on domestic violence beyond the sports world. Richie is one of five senior advisers recently hired by the NFL to help shape the league's policy on abuse.

Any action by the league after the Ray Rice scandal will be closely watched by the other sports. But the NFL's new group of advisers believes the process also could have a more far-reaching impact.

"I think that they have the opportunity to model some cutting-edge policies and protocols or guidelines, and I'm excited at the opportunity for that reach to go beyond just the NFL, but into all of corporate America," said Jane Randel, a co-founder of No More, a campaign against domestic violence and sexual assault.

Randel and the other advisers had a hand in a 40-minute educational presentation at last week's NFL meetings in New York. The presentation focused on the dangers of spousal abuse, child abuse, sexual assault and other domestic violence topics.

Richie praised the NFL owners for their attentiveness, and Randel said it was so quiet you could hear a pin drop. Richie and Randel said the owners seemed serious.

"You can see what people in the room are doing, and they were watching and engaged and taking notes and doing all the things that you would want them to do," she said, "because these things really only work if they start from the top."

Randel's background is in cause marketing and corporate communications. She helped start No More in 2009 in an effort to raise awareness and money for organizations working to end domestic violence and sexual assault.

Lisa Friel, another senior adviser, was the head of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit in the New York County District Attorney's Office for more than a decade, and Rita Smith is the former executive director of the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence. Tony Porter is a co-founder of A Call to Men, an organization dedicated to ending violence against women.

"The first thing that we're going to look at is the league's personal conduct policy and how we can educate people about that," Friel said at the owners' meetings. "In a perfect world, the hope is you never have to use the disciplinary end of that policy, right? That you have your standards of behavior, you educate people about them and they don't violate your policy. That's what we're hoping to do."

Sports have been a part of Richie's family life for a long time. She learned more about the business and organizational side of sports when her sister Laurel became president of the WNBA in 2011.

Laurel Richie said in an email to The Associated Press that the NFL made a smart choice in asking Beth for help.

"As a researcher, service provider, and advocate, my sister is one of the nation's leading experts on domestic violence and sexual assault in the African-American community," she wrote.

Beth E. Richie was the last addition to the NFL panel, and her appointment was announced after the Rev. Jesse Jackson and a leading black women's group criticized the league for not including any African-American women in the group of consultants.

It was clear the NFL was "looking for someone to fill that particular niche of race and community accountability," Richie said.

The league is mulling over when to act in cases of domestic violence and sexual assault, particularly when criminal cases drag on.

"I emphasize really, when possible, alternatives to only relying on the criminal legal system because in black communities that's been such a difficult tension," Richie said.

"My instinct has always been to try to find ways that communities can hold people accountable, and only rely on the criminal justice system when communities can't hold people accountable."

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AP Basketball Writer Doug Feinberg and AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in New York contributed to this report.

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Online:

No More: http://nomore.org

National Coalition Against Domestic Violence: www.ncadv.org

A Call to Men: www.acalltomen.org

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Jay Cohen can be reached at http://www.twitter.com/jcohenap

Fri, 17 Oct 2014 17:05:00 +0000
Attorney: NFL, Ravens not helping union Rice probe

The attorney leading the NFL players' union investigation into the Ray Rice domestic violence case told The Associated Press the league and the Baltimore Ravens have not been cooperating.

Richard Craig Smith told the AP on Friday night that the NFL has not provided documents and witnesses requested by the NFLPA's investigators, while the Ravens have refused any cooperation with similar requests.

"I am interested in the facts, and if we get cooperation from all the parties that were involved, we will have an understanding of what happened," Smith said. "We cannot accept public statements that call for transparency, candor and openness and then not allow the investigators to do their jobs."

The union's investigation, like a similar probe organized by the NFL, isn't a law enforcement inquiry and the parties involved aren't under any legal obligation to comply with requests. The league and the union, however, have each said separately that they wanted answers in the case.

A spokesman for the NFL couldn't comment immediately when reached Friday night while a spokesman for the Ravens didn't immediately return a phone message.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell suspended Rice indefinitely Sept. 8 for violating the league's personal conduct policy, once video of Rice hitting his then-fiancee was released publicly.

The players' union hired Smith, a former federal prosecutor, one month ago to oversee its investigation into how the Ravens and the league handled themselves during the events that led to the suspension, as well as how the team handled issues like due process. Separately, the NFL hired former FBI director Robert S. Mueller III to conduct a probe into how the league handled evidence as it investigated the claims against Rice. NFL owners plan to make the findings of Mueller's report public.

Smith said the union's investigation is important to ensuring the process was fair, and that requires transparency.

"If the NFL is genuinely concerned about fixing the issues that led to an admitted mistake, then they should be honest and forthright about what they knew and when they knew it," Smith said. "We want both our team and Bob Mueller's team each to be able to conduct a thorough review of all the relevant facts."

Smith, the head of regulatory and governmental investigation for the law firm Norton Rose Fulbright, represented the union during the Saints bounty scandal that resulted in four players being reinstated from suspension through an appeal in 2012.

Goodell originally suspended Rice for two games. Once the video became public, the Ravens cut Rice, and the league banned him indefinitely. The league considered the video to be new evidence, giving Goodell the authority to further suspend Rice.

The players' union appealed Rice's suspension, saying he should not be punished twice. Former U.S. District Judge Barbara S. Jones was selected by the commissioner and the players' union to hear the appeal. A person familiar with the case told the AP that Judge Jones told Goodell on Wednesday that he should testify at the hearing, which will be held Nov. 5-6.

The person, speaking on condition of anonymity because details haven't been made public, said Adolpho Birch, the NFL's vice president for labor policy, league attorney Kevin Manara and security chief Jeffery Miller also are expected to testify along with Ravens President Dick Cass and general manager Ozzie Newsome. Rice plans to testify and his wife, Janay, might testify, the person said.

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AP NFL websites: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

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Follow Rob Maaddi on Twitter: https://twitter.com/AP-RobMaaddi

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 23:08:00 +0000
Union questions NFL's domestic violence plan

NEW YORK (AP) The players' union has questioned why the NFL's domestic violence training and education program "treats all players as perpetrators."

In a memo sent to NFL Players Association members on Thursday by Executive Director DeMaurice Smith and obtained Friday by The Associated Press, the union also said the plan "doesn't build a positive consensus to warning signs."

Smith and union special counsel Teri Patterson described two meetings this month with the league in which an NFLPA commission was briefed on the league's approach to educating players, coaches, executives, owners and NFL personnel about domestic violence. He wrote that a "good overview of domestic violence, sexual assault and child abuse" was presented. But "it did not address larger issues of violence in and outside of the home."

The NFL said of the "perpetrators" claim: "Nothing could be further from the truth. The presentation expressly recognizes that people in the NFL are often falsely portrayed and that the actions of a few damage the reputations of many."

"What the program teaches is that everyone can and should be part of the solution," the league statement said.

The union memo also said the "NFL's presentation doesn't focus on follow-ups and providing continuous resources at the clubs to address potentially violent situations as well as preventing them."

The NFL's educational program was shown to the AP on Oct. 7, and it included information from a memo sent to the 32 clubs on Sept. 18 that pointed out local resources available to all team personnel and their families. That document indicated a plan was in place to provide those resources and follow-ups for those who need it.

The union memo to the players also said the NFL presentation "doesn't include any psychological information about the type of behavior that could lead to acts of violence or warning signs of negative behavior, but instead seemed to focus almost entirely on what happens after a violent incident has been committed."

The league's plan calls for experts who work in the psychological space to offer a research perspective of societal issues, recognizing that these are intimate crimes that impact people in many ways. The program calls for each club to have such experts available to the teams, or what the NFL calls "the entire club family."

That can include a clinician, human resource workers, player engagement executives, security personnel and a mental health professional who works with the club.

The union added that although the league indicated that the trainers for this educational program will be experts, the NFL did not list any specific names, titles or relevant backgrounds of the people they intend to utilize for the training.

Previously, the NFL announced an advisory group that includes authorities in the domestic violence area such as Tony Porter, Beth E. Richie, Rita Smith, Jane Randel and Lisa Friel.

Another NFLPA observation was: "Too much reliance was placed on using former players to participate in the training. While some former players possess the right qualifications and experience to train personnel on these issues, the league's inability to articulate who these players are raises concerns that call into question the effectiveness of the training."

Many of the player ambassadors, as the NFL calls them, have personal testimonies around these issues and might be helpful, but they would not deliver the education program.

The union added: "The league stated that at each presentation, they will distribute information on suggested local (team city/state specific) resources for domestic violence and sexual assault prevention specialists, licensed club mental health clinicians, club human resource directors and Directors of Player Engagement. The NFLPA commission members recommended that a broader net of resources be included, such as faith-based counselors and male-focused community organizations, etc. The NFL did not provide any explanation as to why one resource was chosen over another or how those resources would be specifically integrated into the workplace, if at all."

In response to the union memo, the NFL said: "We were pleased to meet with the union and are working to incorporate their suggestions into the presentations to clubs. As we emphasized to the union, this first set of presentations is the start of a process of education that will continue in future years."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 22:28:00 +0000
Ted Bishop out as PGA president

ST. SIMONS ISLAND, Ga. (AP) Ted Bishop was ousted Friday as president of the PGA of America over a sexist tweet and Facebook post directed at Ian Poulter.

Bishop was irritated by remarks Poulter made in his book on the Ryder Cup captaincy of Nick Faldo in 2008 and Tom Watson this year. He referred to Poulter as "Lil Girl" on Twitter when stacking up Poulter's feats next to Faldo. In a Facebook post, he noted that Watson (with eight majors) and Faldo (with six majors and the Ryder Cup record for most points) were getting "bashed" by Poulter.

"Really? Sounds like a little school girl squealing during recess. C'MON MAN!" he wrote.

The PGA of America board voted Friday to remove him, meaning Bishop will not be invited to future PGA Championships and Ryder Cups, or any other courtesies extended to past presidents. He is the first PGA president to be ousted. Bishop had one month left on his two-year term.

Bishop, who has two daughters, apologized to Poulter and "anyone else I might have offended" in a statement.

But the head pro from Indiana went down swinging.

Bishop said his fellow PGA officers asked him to resign Friday and he refused, wanting instead to apologize in person to the board and let the process run its course.

"The board heard me out and then voted to impeach me," he said. "That is the due process and I respect that, as painful as it might be."

In removing Bishop as president, the PGA of America board said the remarks were inconsistent with association's policies.

"The PGA of America understands the enormous responsibility it has to lead this great game and to enrich lives in our society through golf," PGA chief executive Pete Bevacqua said in a statement. "We must demand of ourselves that we make golf both welcoming and inclusive to all who want to experience it, and everyone at the PGA of America must lead by example."

The PGA of America has 27,000 members, about 1,100 of them women. Bevacqua said in a telephone interview that he received "a lot of negative feedback from all types of sources, internal and external." He declined to specify whether PGA female members were part of that.

Bishop was irritated by comments Poulter made in his book released this week about the Ryder Cup captaincy of Faldo in 2008 and Watson this year at Gleneagles. Bishop was with Faldo at The Greenbrier on Thursday when he tweeted to Poulter, "Faldo's record stands by itself. Six majors and all-time RC points. Yours vs. His? Lil Girl."

The Facebook post was even stronger. Bishop deleted both Thursday evening and said in an email to The Associated Press that "I could have selected some different way to express my thoughts on Poulter's remarks."

Derek Sprague, expected to be voted in as the next president at the Nov. 22 annual meeting, was appointed the interim president. Paul Levy will handle the roles as vice president and secretary until the election.

Bishop has been one of the most outspoken presidents of the PGA of America. But his social media rant got him into trouble.

"This is a classic example of poor use of social media on my part and if I had the chance to hit the delete button on the things that I sent out yesterday, I would without hesitation," Bishop said. "The PGA of America asked me to avoid any interaction with the media in the past 24 hours and that is why I did not issue a formal and public apology, which I have wanted to do since early this morning."

Bishop described the consequences as "drastic," but that he has to live with his mistake.

"Today, all I have left is my PGA membership and that will always mean the world to me," Bishop said. He is president of Legends Golf Club in Franklin, Indiana.

Suzy Whaley, a teaching pro from Connecticut who qualified to play a PGA Tour event in Hartford in 2003, is among three PGA members running for secretary at the Nov. 22 election. If she wins, Whaley would be in line to be PGA president in 2018.

Whaley said she found Bishop's remarks to be "insulting."

"I was extremely disappointed and they were definitely sexist," Whaley said in a telephone interview. "I'm of 100 percent belief that we need to empower young girls." Asked if she complained to the PGA officers, Whaley said, "I didn't have to do that."

"The PGA of America took incredibly swift action and are taking this extremely seriously," Whaley said. "Obviously, it's critical that we are inclusive."

Poulter was on a plane to China when Bishop posted his remarks and wasn't aware of them until he landed and found his phone filled with messages.

"Is being called a `lil girl' meant to be derogatory or a put down?" Poulter said in a statement. "That's pretty shocking and disappointing, especially coming from the leader of the PGA of America."

Bishop's boldest move as president was to pick Watson as the U.S. captain, saying he was tired of the Americans losing. But the move backfired when Watson's heavy-handed style didn't mesh with a younger generation. Watson, 65, was the oldest captain in Ryder Cup history.

Poulter in his book said that Watson's decision-making "completely baffles me." He was referring to benching Phil Mickelson and Keegan Bradley for both sessions Saturday. He also was critical of Faldo for his commentary on Golf Channel during the Ryder Cup that Sergio Garcia was "useless" in 2008. Faldo was captain of the only European team to lose in the last 15 years, and Poulter wrote, "So who's useless? I think Faldo might need to have a little look in the mirror."

Davis Love III described Bishop as a friend and a "great supporter of golf" and said he would not remember his presidency for this incident. Among other things, the PGA joined up with the LPGA Tour to help pay for its oldest major. The Women's PGA Championship will be sponsored by KPMG, which will use the week to host a major conference for women executives.

"I have said things in my passion for the Ryder Cup that I wish came out differently," Love said. "We all make mistakes on social media."

Sat, 25 Oct 2014 00:44:00 +0000
Bruins lose Chara for 4-6 weeks with knee injury

BOSTON (AP) The Boston Bruins will spend the next four to six weeks trying to fill the hole left by an injury to the tallest player in NHL history.

Defenseman Zdeno Chara tore the posterior cruciate ligament in his left knee but will not need surgery, Bruins general manager Peter Chiarelli said. The team called up two minor-league defensemen on Friday to replace the 6-foot-9 Slovakian who was the 2009 Norris Trophy winner and plays more minutes than any other Bruins skater.

"It's obviously a blow. He's one of the premier defensemen in the league," Chiarelli said. "But I'd rather have it four to six weeks than four to six months."

Chara left Thursday night's game against the Islanders in the first period, one shift after a collision with New York forward John Tavares. He did not appear injured at the time, but his teammates knew it was serious when one of the toughest players on the team left the bench.

"When he's out, he's out," goalie Tuukka Rask said after Friday's practice. "He's played through a lot of stuff."

A third-round pick of the Islanders in 1996, Chara came to Boston as a free agent a decade later after establishing himself as one of the NHL's best players. As the Bruins' No. 1 defensemen, he uses his long reach to stop opposing attacks - usually matched up against the other team's top forward.

Chara led the Bruins to the NHL title in 2011 - with Chara, as the team's captain, receiving the Stanley Cup - and back to the finals two years later. Last season, the team won the Presidents' Trophy for the most regular-season points before losing in the second round to the Montreal Canadiens.

"He's just such a dominant player," fellow defenseman Dennis Seidenberg said. "He's a real treat to have on your team. You get spoiled on the ice, and you don't really appreciate it until he's gone."

Already without defenseman Kevan Miller, the Bruins lost 3-2 on Thursday night to fall below .500 for the season and into a four-way tie for fifth place in the NHL's Eastern Conference. But coach Claude Julien pointed to the third period of the game, in which the Bruins dominated New York, as proof that the team can manage without Chara.

"If we've become that bad of a team because of one player, we weren't that good of a team," he said Friday. "I'd like to think we're better than that."

The team recalled defensemen Joe Morrow and Zach Trotman from Providence of the American Hockey League on Friday. Morrow has one goal and one assists in five AHL games this season. Trotman played two games in Boston last season and has one assist with Providence this year.

"It will take everyone to fill that void," forward Chris Kelly said. "It's not just the defense that needs to defend. It's five men working together in all three zones."

Fri, 24 Oct 2014 19:35:00 +0000

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