Former PSU players, Harris, say Freeh report flawed

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Former PSU players, Harris, say Freeh report flawed

Franco Harris and two other former Penn State football players say the report about Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal "is highly flawed, and factually insufficient." Harris, Rudy Glocker and Christian Marrone sent to other Penn State alumni an email and letter criticizing the Freeh report that they plan publish in The Wall Street Journal and other large publications. The email and letter were obtained by The Associated Press on Friday. The players claim there was a rush to judgment by the media, the board of trustees, university officials and the NCAA after the blistering report was released two weeks ago. The report compiled by a team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh accuses school officials, including late coach Joe Paterno, of covering up the abuse to avoid bad publicity. "A grave injustice has occurred over these past two weeks that began with the issuance of the Freeh report," the email states. "After much review, it's clear the report is highly flawed, and factually insufficient. Yet, the media, the Board of Trustees, University officials and the NCAA, seem to have read only the conclusions and not the content of the report and have failed to question the report's evidentiary basis or lack thereof -- they have rushed to judgment. As a result, OUR program has been brutally harmed and our Coach has been completely tarnished." Sandusky, the former longtime defensive coordinator at Penn State under Paterno, was convicted of using his position at Penn State and as head of a youth charity to molest 10 boys over a period of 15 years. He's awaiting sentencing. Penn State was sanctioned by the NCAA for its handling of the Sandusky case, based largely on the findings in the Freeh report. The NCAA did not conduct its own investigation nor did it wait for criminal cases against two other Penn State officials to play out. The NCAA's penalties wiped away 14 seasons' worth of victories for Paterno, taking away the record he held as the winningest coach in the history of Division I college football. Penn State was also banned from postseason play for four seasons by the NCAA and had severe scholarships limits placed on its football program. The email asks those who support its claims to sign the letter and return it by Saturday. Harris is one of Penn State's greatest players. He played fullback for Paterno in the early 1970s and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Glocker graduated from Penn State in 1992. Marrone graduated in 1997. The letter, dated July 27 and titled "Rush to Judgment," claims the "snap judgments reached by the Freeh report about what Coach Joe Paterno knew and what he did deserve further analysis. In short, we believe this report has irresponsibly impugned Paterno's reputation without sufficient evidence." The players criticize the thoroughness of the Freeh report because the investigators did not interview many of the central people in the case, including Paterno, who died in January, Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz, who are both awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse, and former assistant coach Mike McQueary, who was a key witness in the case against Sandusky. The players say Freeh made what he deemed "reasonable conclusions" about Paterno's alleged "cover-up" based on three emails. But the emails, two from 1998 and one from 2001, do not support that conclusion, the players say. The players say an email from Curley to then-Penn State University President Graham Spanier dated May 5, 1998, was used as evidence by the report to conclude "Paterno was fully and completely informed of the details of the investigation" of allegations against Sandusky. "But how does Mr. Freeh know for sure?" the players say in the letter. "Freeh's investigators did not interview Curley, and Penn State President Graham Spanier (who was interviewed), didn't remember the email at all." The players say an email dated May 13, 1998, from Curley to Schultz, titled "Jerry" and asking, "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands," is too vague to be used as proof of a cover-up. The players point out the District Attorney chose not to prosecute Sandusky after a report was filed by police in 1998 about an allegation of sexual abuse. The players also say an email from Curley to Spanier and Schultz sent in 2001, after McQueary had seen Sandusky assaulting a boy in the showers of Penn State's football building, "unjustifiably portrays Paterno as omnipotent apparently for the sole purpose of tearing him down," in the Freeh report. "We will never hear from Coach Paterno, but those of us who knew him believe he, deserves the benefit of the doubt and like all citizens, is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

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Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Nats' bullpen, defense continue to cause problems, lead to losses

Starter A.J. Cole made it 5 2/3 innings on Saturday afternoon, which is pretty good considering that's how much Max Scherzer and Stephen Strasburg combined to pitch against the Rockies less than two weeks ago. Gio Gonzalez also only made it three innings in that series due to a rain delay.

And in the time since, the Nats' bullpen has been battered around by all sorts of elements including injuries and short outings from starters. The Nationals' next off-day on Thursday, Sept. 1 can't come soon enough to put them out of their current 20 games in 20 days misery.

Cole's outing, by all accounts, could have been a lot worse. But unfortunately for the Nationals, Saturday's game went to extra innings, forcing manager Dusty Baker to do some things he wouldn't normally prefer to do. Like, use the newly acquired Marc Rzepczynski for 2 1/3 innings. Or, to go to Mark Melancon for the third straight game. Or, to leave Yusmeiro Petit on the mound in the 11th even when it was clear he just didn't have it.

For Petit, in particular, Baker felt like he had no other choice, even after the right-hander served up a two-run homer to Charlie Blackmon.

"We felt badly for Yusmeiro because we had to leave him in there, he was our last pitcher we didn't have [Koda] Glover and we were trying to stay away from [Mark] Melancon because that was his third day in a row and we didn't have [Shawn] Kelley. We were down to our last player, we had no more players on the bench and that was our last player, I don't know who was going to pitch if he didn't get out of that inning. He took one for the team so to speak," Baker said.

Petit's inning got off on a sour note with an error by Anthony Rendon at third base. It was one of two errors committed by the Nationals on Saturday. One was by Rzepczynski in the seventh and that one helped lead to a run. Rzepczynski also messed up fielding a bunt in the ninth. Cole also allowed a run on a wild pitch during an intentional walk.

It was a rough day for the Nats, who were plagued by uncharacteristic mistakes. That has been a theme lately and the Nationals hope it ends soon.

“We address it daily, but you cant harp on it. Like I said the other day these things go in streaks," Baker said. "Tony is sure handed over there. We haven’t seen Rzepczynski. He just threw that ball over the head. They bunted on us twice a couple of times and got hits on us. We just have to continue to work.”

The Nats have now made 14 errors in their last nine games. It's been bizarre to watch and it has some at a loss for words.

“Can’t call it. I don’t know. One of those things," left fielder Jayson Werth said.

[RELATED: Harper explains ejection vs. Rockies: 'It's not a strike']

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Bryan Stork clarifies next move after week of speculation with Redskins

Bryan Stork clarifies next move after week of speculation with Redskins

After days of speculation if Bryan Stork would actually end up in Washington, the former Patriots center clarified his next move via Twitter. 

Redskins GM Scot McCloughan traded for Stork earlier this week after it became apparent New England intended to release the 2014 draft pick out of Florida State. It was unclear, however, if Stork would accept the trade to the 'Skins as he mulled retirement options. 

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Stork has dealt with a number of concussions in his two-year NFL career. After playing in a Super Bowl as a rookie, his 2015 season was limited by head injuries. 

Coming to the Redskins, Stork may have an opportunity to compete for playing time. Kory Lichtensteiger is installed as the starting center, but he struggled in the third preseason game against the Bills and was lost for much of the 2015 season to injury. 

McCloughan has openly said he wants big, tough guys up front on the offensive line. Stork - at 6-foot-4 and 310 lbs. - with a documented nasty streak definitely fits that bill. 

Whether or not Stork pushes Lichtensteiger for the starting spot - or even competes for the No. 2 center job with Spencer Long - the price for Stork is tough to argue. McCloughan gave up just a conditional seventh round pick to acquire the former New England starter. 

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Three observations as post-injury Flacco returns to field in preseason debut

Three observations as post-injury Flacco returns to field in preseason debut

BALTIMORE – Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco played two series Saturday night against the Lions, and completed 11 of 16 passes for 94 yards before leaving the game. It was Flacco’s first game since his season-ending knee injury last November. Here are three observations from Flacco’s action:

1. The Ravens got what they wanted - they got Flacco work, and he escaped unscathed.

Flacco had talked about playing the entire half, but Ryan Mallett took over in the second quarter. Flacco had already thrown 16 passes, and his knee has not been an issue since Day 1 of training camp. After seeing what happened to Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo the night before, it was hard to blame the Ravens for playing it safe.

Flacco got his first sack out of the way, and it came courtesy of an old friend. Lions tackle Haloti Ngata got credit for sacking Flacco for a one-yard loss. Flacco and Ngata were teammates with the Ravens for seven seasons. Flacco got right up, and Ngata and Flacco now have something else to laugh about, because he shrugged it off and continued to play. 

MORE RAVENS: WATSON LOST FOR SEASON

2. Flacco had good chemistry with wide receiver Mike Wallace.

He tried to hit Wallace deep on his first pass, and Wallace caught three passes for 37 yards. Wallace was one of the new weapons the Ravens acquired this offseason, and he has talked about how much he looked forward to playing with Flacco. Perhaps the Ravens will get more from Wallace than the Vikings and Dolphins did in recent years.

3. Flacco did enough to enter Week 1 feeling even more confident.

He won’t play in the preseason finale, so Flacco can prepare for Week 1 against the Bills, and he has already gotten his feet wet in game action. Mission accomplished.