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Tuesday's Sports in Brief

Tuesday's Sports in Brief

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) Serena Williams' dominating run at the majors ended in a painful loss to American teenager Sloane Stephens.

After the biggest victory of her life, the 19-year-old Stephens is headed to the semifinals of the Australian Open.

Williams hurt her back in the eighth game of the second set, slowing down her serve, restricting her movement and causing her obvious pain.

Stephens kept her composure, blocking out the injury issue on the other side of the net, and rallied for a 3-6, 7-5, 6-4 victory on Wednesday.

It was Williams' first loss since Aug. 17, and her first defeat at a Grand Slam tournament since last year's French Open.

The 15-time major winner hadn't lost a match at a Grand Slam tournament since the French Open, where her first-round exit sparked her resurgence in the second half of 2012 that included titles at Wimbledon, the London Olympics, the U.S. Open and the WTA Championship.

Stephens next plays defending champion Victoria Azarenka.

In the men's draw, U.S. Open champion Andy Murray moved into the semifinals with a 6-4, 6-1, 6-2 win over unseeded Jeremy Chardy of France.

PRO FOOTBALL

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - Former Oakland coach Bill Callahan denied allegations made by two of his former players that he ``sabotaged'' the Raiders in their Super Bowl loss to Tampa Bay 10 years ago.

Former Raiders receivers Tim Brown and Jerry Rice both said in recent interviews they believe Callahan undermined his own team in the Super Bowl in 2003 because of his close friendship with Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden by altering the game plan less than two days before Oakland's 48-21 loss.

``... I am shocked, saddened and outraged by Tim Brown's allegations and Jerry Rice's support of those allegations made through various media outlets over the last 24 hours,'' Callahan said Tuesday in a statement. ``To leave no doubt, I categorically and unequivocally deny the sum and substance of their allegations.''

NEW YORK (AP) - Sean Payton is back as coach of the New Orleans Saints.

Payton's season-long suspension for his role in the Saints' bounty program was lifted by NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell nearly two weeks earlier than expected.

The decision allows Payton to attend the Senior Bowl in Mobile, Ala., on Saturday, where some of the top college players available for the NFL draft will be competing.

NEW YORK (AP) - The NFL is looking into Tom Brady's leg-up slide that hit Ravens safety Ed Reed in the AFC championship game.

League spokesman Greg Aiello said ``any play of that nature is routinely reviewed.''

Brady could be subject to a fine if the league believes he violated any player safety rules.

Reed says Brady attempted to apologize this week for the slide.

``He actually reached out to me, texted me,'' Reed told WJZ-FM in Baltimore.

NEW YORK (AP) - Jets coach Rex Ryan was uninjured in a three-car accident in eastern Pennsylvania last week.

A team spokesman confirmed that Ryan was issued a warning and no citation after the accident on Jan. 14 in Bethlehem, Pa..

No one in the other two cars was injured in the accident, which was first reported by Deadspin.com.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Hall of Famer Charlie Joiner retired from his job as wide receivers coach for the San Diego Chargers, ending his 44 years in the NFL as a player and coach.

GRAPEVINE, Texas (AP) - Dallas Cowboys defensive lineman Jay Ratliff is free on bond after his arrest on suspicion of driving while intoxicated.

The 31-year-old nose tackle was arrested shortly after midnight after his pickup truck sideswiped a tractor-trailer on Texas 114 about 20 miles northwest of Dallas.

MOBILE, Ala. (AP) - Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones said that coach Jason Garrett may give up play-calling duties on offense.

Speaking to reporters at Senior Bowl practices, Jones said offensive line coach Bill Callahan could inherit play-calling duties, but stopped short of saying a decision had been made.

ATLANTA (AP) - A 46-year-old man was arrested in a stabbing near the Georgia Dome following the Falcons' NFC Championship game loss.

Georgia Dome spokesman Jason Kirksey says James Lewis McCoy of Villa Rica was arrested by the Georgia World Congress Center Authority Police Department. Information on McCoy's charges was not immediately available.

BALTIMORE (AP) - Fans watching NFL games on television have grown accustomed to the imaginary yellow line that runs across the field in accord with the first-down marker.

That first-down line could one day become part of the in-game experience at all 32 NFL stadiums.

Alan Amron, with financial backing from former NFL player and broadcaster Pat Summerall, has developed the First Down Laser System. Amron said the system projects a first-down line across the field that can be seen in the stadium and on TV.

The league is intrigued, but not completely sold on the idea - not yet anyway.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - The woman whose photo was used as the ``face'' of the Twitter account of Manti Te'o's supposed girlfriend says the man allegedly behind the hoax confessed and apologized to her.

Diane O'Meara told NBC's ``Today'' show that Ronaiah Tuiasosopo used pictures of her without her knowledge in creating a fake woman called Lennay Kekua. Te'o asserts he was tricked into an online romance with Kekua and, until last week, did not understand he was being hoaxed.

O'Meara went to high school in California with Tuiasosopo, but she says they're not close. She said he called to apologize Jan. 16, the day Deadspin.com broke the hoax story.

PRO BASKETBALL

SACRAMENTO, Calif. (AP) - Sacramento Mayor Kevin Johnson had a stern warning for Seattle SuperSonics fans who are excited about the prospect of the NBA returning to the Puget Sound next season.

``Don't celebrate too early,'' he said.

In front of a cheering City Hall crowd filled with fans and public officials, Johnson introduced the first part of his four-step plan to keep the Sacramento Kings in California's capital city.

The three-time NBA All-Star guard turned mayor said he has secured 20 investors who have pledged at least $1 million each to be part of a local group to buy the franchise. Johnson said the major partners he hopes will anchor the last-ditch deal to keep the Kings from moving to Seattle will be revealed as soon as this week.

MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) - The Memphis Grizzlies traded Marreese Speights, Wayne Ellington, Josh Selby and a future first-round draft pick to the Cleveland Cavaliers for Jon Leuer.

The trade is the first big move by the Grizzlies' new ownership and clears about $6 million in salary in getting Memphis under the luxury tax threshold this season. The Grizzlies rank fourth in the West and are 6-4 over their past 10 games after the NBA's best start this season.

The deal gives the lottery-bound Cavs another first-round pick to improve a team entering Tuesday night's home game against Boston with a 10-32 record - second-worst in the Eastern Conference. Speights also will help replace center Anderson Varejao who will miss the remainder of the season after developing a blood clot in his right lung.

BASEBALL

CINCINNATI (AP) - The Reds will host the 2015 All-Star game at Great American Ball Park, the city's first since 1988, a person familiar with the decision told The Associated Press.

Commissioner Bud Selig will discuss the decision on Wednesday in Cincinnati, where he's also appearing to promote Major League Baseball's latest urban youth academy, according to the person speaking on condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.

The Cincinnati Enquirer first reported the decision.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Hall of Fame pitcher Sandy Koufax is going to work for the Los Angeles Dodgers as a special adviser.

The team announced that the 77-year-old Koufax would join them.

Koufax will be a special adviser to team chairman Mark Walter. The former Dodgers great also will work with pitchers during spring training, a role he's held for several years.

CYCLING

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) - Welshman Geraint Thomas won the short but demanding second stage of cycling's Tour Down Under on Wednesday, avoiding a 15-man fall near the finish that brought down world champion Philippe Gilbert.

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Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

Keenum's concussion vs. Ravens likely played part in new NFL guidelines

The concussion suffered last year by Rams quarterback Case Keenum against the Ravens, and the way it was handled, surely played a part in new punishment announced Monday by the NFL for teams violating the league’s concussion protocol.

The Players Association and the league made a joint announcement about the new standards.

Under the new policy, teams could be fined anywhere from $50,000 to $150,000 for a first violation of the concussion protocol, or suffer loss of draft picks. For a second violation, the minimum fine will be $100,000.

Major concerns about enforcing in-game concussion protocol were raised during a November game last year at M&T Bank Stadium between the Rams and Ravens.

With just over a minute left to play, Ravens defensive lineman Timmy Jernigan sacked Keenum, and the back of his head slammed violently against the turf. Keenum held his head while lying on the ground and initially had trouble getting to his feet.  

The Rams’ athletic trainer ran onto the field to check on Keenum, but he remained in the game. Keenum fumbled two plays later, and after the game, it was announced he had suffered a concussion.

The league investigated the Rams’ handling of the situation and the team was not fined. However, not everyone was satisfied, including NFLPA president Eric Winston.

“Show me someone that says, ‘No, the Rams did exactly the right thing,”’ Winston told the St. Louis Post-Dispatch last year. “They didn’t. Everybody knows they didn’t.  So there has to be discipline, right? Because when a player doesn’t do something that he’s supposed to do, he gets fined for that when it comes to health and safety.”

As a result, the NFL and the Players Association have agreed on punishment that could help protect players who have been concussed.

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New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

New commercial shows Flacco should just buy cars, not sell them

Fortunately for Joe Flacco, he was born with an arm meant for chucking footballs prodigious distances and a body destined to stand in an NFL pocket. That's because — if he wasn't in possession of these gifts and didn't have the work ethic to put them to good use — he may not be cut out for everyday life and a typical job.

Last year, a Pepsi and Tostitos commercial came out and showed that the Ravens quarterback was clueless when it came to party throwing. A recent Ford ad, meanwhile, is demonstrating that No. 5 should stick to purchasing vehicles as opposed to selling them.

Here's the spot in its entirety:

Trying to convince someone to buy a car because it's "like two motorcycles stuck together" is not exactly the best selling point. As the commercial concludes, letting Flacco focus on the field and the professionals take care of everything else is the most ideal use of everyone's time.

RELATED: RAVENS SHOULD CONSIDER A RUNNING BACK BY COMMITTEE APPROACH

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NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

NFL great Jim Brown worked with league to reinstate Josh Gordon

Jim Brown, one of the greatest NFL players of all time, has been actively involved in trying to rehabilitate the career of Browns wide receiver Josh Gordon.

In his role as a special advisor with the team, Brown has been in contact with Gordon, who was conditionally reinstated by the NFL on Monday.

Gordon has been suspended 27 of the Browns’ last 32 games due to violating the league’s substance abuse policy. The league announced Monday that Gordon would still be suspended the first four games of the 2016 season, but could be reintstated Week 5.

Gordon can join the Browns when they begin training camp Thursday, and participate in team meetings and activities. If Gordon meets all of the league’s behavior requirements during his suspension, he can return in Week 5. He will miss the Ravens-Browns game Week 2 in Cleveland, but could Gordon could face the Ravens when they host the Browns in Week 10.

Gordon is an extraordinary talent, who led the NFL in receiving yards in 2013, with 1,646 yards in just 14 games. Plenty of people, including Brown, are hoping Gordon has finally put his problems behind him.

“I’ve talked with Josh twice on the phone, and the last time I talked with him he sounded very motivated and I think he was in rehab and feeling good about it and discovering some things about himself,” Brown told Cleveland.com. “He really seemed ready to take responsibility for himself.”

Robert Griffin III and all the Browns’ quarterbacks will certainly be glad to see Gordon in camp. Ironically, Gordon’s 2016 debut could come against the Patriots in Week 5, who will also be expecting quarterback Tom Brady to return from his four-game suspension for Deflategate.