Plane over PSU: Take down statue or we will

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Plane over PSU: Take down statue or we will

STATE COLLEGE, Pa. (AP) -- Joe Paterno's name is losing its luster, whether it's the tent city outside Beaver Stadium where students camp out for prime football tickets or the name associated with his alma mater's football coach job.

"Paternoville" is out, swapped for "Nittanyville" on Monday. So respected was Paterno that another university -- Brown, the late coach's alma mater -- had attached his name to its coaching job. That too ended.

In a matter of months, the once unimpeachable Paterno name has become an albatross to be shed rather than an honor. The tainted reputation results from a scathing report by former FBI director Louis Freeh that concluded Paterno helped cover up child sex abuse allegations against former assistant Jerry Sandusky.

It's even tarnished the bronze statue of Paterno that had been a rallying point for students in the months since Sandusky's November arrest touched off a scandal as notable for its breathtaking allegations as its place: Happy Valley.

On Tuesday, a small plane pulled a banner over State College reading, "Take the statue down or we will."

Nike took Paterno's name off a child care center on its corporate campus on Thursday, the same day the Freeh report was released. Company founder Phil Knight -- whose rousing defense of Paterno at a memorial service after his death drew thunderous applause -- said in statement that "it appears Joe made missteps that led to heartbreaking consequences. I missed that Joe missed it."

The halo that had floated above Paterno's head in a State College mural was removed Saturday. In its place the artist added a blue ribbon in support of child abuse awareness.

And a Connecticut middle school said it would paint over its own mural of Paterno.

Although there was some negative reaction to Paterno immediately after Sandusky's arrest -- the Big Ten dropped Paterno's name from the conference championship trophy where it had been next to that of Amos Alonzo Stagg, who won almost 100 fewer games -- the pace has picked up since the Freeh report was released.

The Paterno statue outside Beaver Stadium has been a point of much contention. Critics have called for the statue to be taken down after the Freeh report concluded that Paterno was aware of a 1998 allegations against Sandusky -- in contrast to his grand jury testimony and an interview given after his firing -- and that he was involved in the decision to not report a 2001 incident to the authorities even after his superiors had decided to.

The Freeh report raised the culpability of Paterno and former university President Graham Spanier to the same level as two other key figures: former Vice President Gary Schultz and athletic director Tim Curley.

Both Schultz and Curley await trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse. A judge on Monday set an Aug. 16 court date for oral arguments on pretrial motions.

Spanier is not charged.

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Gio Gonzalez has plenty to work on before Nats playoffs begin

Gio Gonzalez has plenty to work on before Nats playoffs begin

Gio Gonzalez' seesaw 2016 regular season is officially in the books. Next stop: the NL Division Series where he will face the L.A. Dodgers, likely in Game 3 and possibly with one of the two teams' season on the line. Either way, it will be important.

Over the years, teams have trotted out far less accomplished pitchers in playoff games, ones with nothing close to the track record of Gonzalez. And for long stretches this season, he has been effective, like in July and August when he held a 3.16 ERA across 11 starts.

But a lot has happened since August for Gonzalez, both on the field and off of it. In his five starts since, he's given up 19 runs in 23 innings. That stretch includes his 3 2/3 innings on Wednesday night against the Diamondbacks, when he gave up three runs on eight hits and three walks and threw a whopping 100 pitches.

Just in time for the playoffs.

The Nationals have an unenviable situation without Stephen Strasburg, who is rehabbing a right flexor strain, and with Joe Ross still building his workload. They better hope the version of Gio Gonzalez they see in the NLDS is better than the one they have witnessed over the last several weeks.

“It wasn’t that good, but we didn’t score any runs either. He had a lot of pitches in a short period of time," manager Dusty Baker said after the Nats' 3-0, rain-shortened loss.

"They ran his pitch count up. They didn’t swing at very many balls and it looked like they were trying to wait on his fastball."

Gonzalez will now have to make adjustments in bullpen sessions over the course of the next 12 days. He will have to do that with a lot on his mind. Gonzalez heads to the funeral of close friend Jose Fernandez on Thursday and was pitching with extra emotion against Arizona. 

“He’s an emotional-type guy," Baker said. "I talked to him a little bit about Fernandez and he was pitching for him and for us. Just wasn’t a very good night."

Now Gonzalez will have plenty of time to grieve and recalibrate before he sees the Dodgers. Whether that hurts or helps has yet to be determined.

“It can [help]. Just depends on, not only can it reset him, but after things have subsided some… they say time heals all wounds, but some wounds take longer to heal," Baker said.

"It probably won’t really set in until after the season when he’s back in Miami and around and Jose’s not around. Hopefully, he can have a couple good ‘pens and get it back together because we’re certainly going to need him come playoff time."

Gonzalez does have some success against the Dodgers to build off of. He holds a 1.69 ERA across 32 innings vs. L.A. since 2012 and held them to one run through six earlier this season.

Gonzalez is also just ready for a fresh start.

"You start the postseason with a zero ERA. It's a new series. New way to look at it," he said.

[RELATED: Podcast: Can Nationals win without Wilson Ramos?]

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If hairline fracture not enough, Cowboys Dez Bryant reportedly fined

If hairline fracture not enough, Cowboys Dez Bryant reportedly fined

Even when things are going well in Dallas it seems like controversy is never too far away. The latest stems from wide receiver Dez Bryant injuring his right knee during last Sunday's victory over the Bears. 

News of the severity of the injury did not emerge until Wednesday, when Cowboys coach Jason Garrett revealed Bryant suffered a hairline fracture where his tibia bone hits the knee. 

Why the wait? Reports from Dallas show that Bryant missed his scheduled MRI on Tuesday and the tests could not be held until Wednesday. Bryant also missed team meetings on Tuesday. 

MORE REDSKINS: PREPARING WITHOUT DOCTSON

Due to missing the meetings and MRI Tuesday, Bryant has been fined an undisclosed amount, per the reports

The injury comes at a tough time for the Cowboys as the offense has moved the ball well with rookie QB Dak Prescott. 

Dallas has won two games in a row after a narrow loss to the Giants to open the year. In three games, Bryant has 150 receiving yards and a touchdown. 

Against Washington in Week 2, Bryant went for more than 100 yards receiving. Late in that game, the Redskins began to shadow Bryant with Josh Norman.