Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) The NCAA's probe of Miami's athletic compliance practices is ramping up yet again.

Only this time, the Hurricanes aren't exactly the subject of the inquiry.

In a bizarre twist, it's college sports' governing body itself that is being investigated after NCAA President Mark Emmert acknowledged on Wednesday ``a very severe issue of improper conduct'' by former investigators working the long, complex Miami case.

The NCAA said its investigation was based, at least in part, on information that it should not have had access to, the testimony of those who appeared under subpoena to be deposed in the bankruptcy case involving former Miami booster Nevin Shapiro, one of the most notorious Ponzi scheme architects in history.

The NCAA does not have subpoena power. Shapiro's attorney did, and used it - and apparently entered into some sort of contractual agreement with the NCAA, one that apparently either was not or should never have been approved.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) - Victoria Azarenka had to endure some anxious moments before and after her win over American teenager Sloane Stephens.

Li Na wasn't flustered at all while beating No. 2-ranked Maria Sharapova.

The result is that Li will play for the Australian Open title against Azarenka, who ended Stephens' unexpected run to the semifinals with a 6-1, 6-4 victory.

Another player with an easy run Thursday was defending champion Novak Djokovic, who looked like he was conducting a tennis clinic in overpowering No. 4 David Ferrer 6-2, 6-2, 6-1 in just 1 hour, 29 minutes. Djokovic will play the winner of Friday's semifinal pitting Roger Federer and Andy Murray.

PRO FOOTBALL

Add Junior Seau's family to the thousands of people who are suing the NFL over the long-term damage caused by concussions.

Seau's ex-wife and four children sued the league Wednesday, saying the former linebacker's suicide was the result of brain disease caused by violent hits he sustained while playing football.

The wrongful death lawsuit, filed in California Superior Court in San Diego, blames the NFL for its ``acts or omissions'' that hid the dangers of repetitive blows to the head. It says Seau developed chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE) from those hits, and accuses the NFL of deliberately ignoring and concealing evidence of the risks associated with traumatic brain injuries.

Seau died at age 43 of a self-inflicted gunshot in May. He was diagnosed with CTE, based on posthumous tests, earlier this month.

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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - A person familiar with the decision says the NFL has fined New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady $10,000 for kicking Baltimore Ravens defender Ed Reed during Sunday's AFC championship game.

The fine was first announced on NFL.com. An official with knowledge of the penalty confirmed it to The Associated Press on the condition of anonymity because it had not been announced.

NEW YORK (AP) - The San Francisco 49ers will be the first team to touch down in New Orleans for the Super Bowl when the NFC champions arrive Sunday night. The Baltimore Ravens are set to show up Monday.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - Frank Gore will pay closer attention to his socks for the Super Bowl.

The San Francisco 49ers running back was fined $10,500 by the NFL after he wore his socks too low in Sunday's NFC championship game at Atlanta, an equipment violation. It marked the second time he was fined this season.

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) - The Oakland Raiders hired Tony Sparano as an assistant head coach who will work with the offensive line.

Sparano comes to the Raiders after one season as offensive coordinator for the New York Jets, who had one of the NFL's worst offenses. The Jets ranked 30th of 32 teams in overall offense, and averaged 17.5 points per game.

Sparano, who will be entering his 30th year coaching, was the head coach of the Miami Dolphins for four years before being fired.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te'o admitted to Katie Couric he answered questions about his ``dead,'' online girlfriend even after he received a call Dec. 6 from a woman posing as the fake person.

Te'o also maintained he played no part in the hoax.

Pressed by Couric to admit that he was in on the deception, the All-American said he was convinced the woman he knew as Lennay Kekua died in September. Te'o claims he never met Kekua in person but developed a serious relationship with her through phone calls and electronic messages.

``Katie, put yourself in my situation. I, my whole world told me that she died on Sept. 12. Everybody knew that. This girl, who I committed myself to, died on Sept. 12,'' Te'o said in an interview to air Thursday on Couric's syndicated talk show. A segment of the interview with Te'o and his parents was broadcast Wednesday on ``Good Morning America.''

BASEBALL

CHICAGO (AP) - Sammy Sosa thinks he and fellow steroid-tainted star Mark McGwire belong in the Hall of Fame.

Slammin' Sammy also said the Chicago Cubs should retire his number, and he left open the possibility of running for president of the Dominican Republic during an interview Wednesday on the website Ustream.com.

Asked if he thinks he or McGwire belong in the Hall, Sosa said: ``I think so.''

``I'm not going to come here and say anything that is going to jeopardize my future,'' he added. ``But definitely time will determine everything. Right now whatever it is, it is. I am not (somebody who) is going to go out there and say anything I don't want to say. I'm waiting for my time. ... I don't like controversy. Definitely, time will determine everything.''

Sosa, Barry Bonds and Roger Clemens were denied entry to the Hall of Fame in their first year of eligibility amid suspicions their accomplishments were boosted by performance-enhancing drugs. McGwire, 10th on the career home run list, received 16.9 percent of the vote on his seventh try, far short of the 75 percent needed for election.

Sosa, who finished with 609 home runs and ranks eighth on the all-time chart, received 12.5 percent of the vote.

NEW YORK (AP) - Delmon Young has some incentive to lay off the desserts: He can earn $600,000 based on his weight this season.

Young's $750,000, one-year contract with the Philadelphia Phillies allows him to earn an additional $2.75 million in bonuses.

GOLF

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Phil Mickelson relied on some self-deprecating humor and his worst moment in golf to stop the chatter about his taxes.

Mickelson caused a sensation earlier this week by saying new federal and state tax rates kept him from being part of the San Diego Padres' new ownership group and might force him to move away from his native California.

He has referred to the 2006 U.S. Open at Winged Foot, when he hit a drive way left that led to double bogey and cost him a major title. He says this time he was ``way right,'' referring to his position on taxes, and that he should not have spoken publicly about his financial views.

SAN DIEGO (AP) - The first PGA Tour meeting on a proposed rule for long putters made only one thing clear to commissioner Tim Finchem. There's still a long way to go to decide what the tour will do, and it figures to be messy.

``It's a very different kind of issue, and it stirs a lot of strong feelings,'' Finchem said.

Finchem also said there might be a place for bifurcation - two sets of rules for the game - in certain areas of golf, but he did not think the long putter issue was one of them.

SOCCER

LONDON (AP) - Chelsea star Eden Hazard was ejected from the English League Cup semifinal at Swansea for kicking a ball boy in the ribs while attempting to retrieve the ball after it rolled off the field.

Hazard and the ball boy apologized to each other after the game, Swansea said in a statement.

Hazard is likely to face discipline for the incident.

LONDON (AP) - David Beckham's teenage son just might be the next person in his family to play in the Premier League.

Thirteen-year-old Brooklyn Beckham, the oldest of Beckham's four children, is having a tryout with London club Chelsea and played in an under-14 game Tuesday at the team's training facility, people familiar with the situation told The Associated Press. The people spoke on condition of anonymity because they are not authorized to discuss the teenager's activities.

PRO HOCKEY

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Toronto forward Joffrey Lupul fractured his forearm in the Maple Leaf's 5-2 win over the Pittsburgh Penguins and is out indefinitely.

DENVER (AP) - The Colorado Avalanche will be without Steve Downie for the rest of the season after the forward tore his ACL against Los Angeles on Tuesday night.

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - The San Jose Sharks have signed free agent center Scott Gomez to a one-year deal.

Terms of the deal were not released.

Gomez, a 12-year NHL veteran and two-time All-Star, had two goals and nine assists in 38 games with Montreal last season.

CYCLING

ADELAIDE, Australia (AP) - Tom-Jelte Slagter of the Netherlands earned his first professional stage win when he topped the third stage of the Tour Down Under on Thursday, while Britain's Geraint Thomas retained the overall race lead.

AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

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AFC North: Bengals' Eifert expected to miss three months due to surgery

Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert will undergo ankle surgery, according to multiple reports.

Estimates varied on when Eifert would return, but he was not expected to be back on the field until at least mid-August.

Eifert suffered his injury at the Pro Bowl, which he left wearing a walking boot.

His ankle has not responded to treatment as well as Eifert hoped, and he could not join his teammates for OTA’s this week.

A first-round pick in 2013 (21st overall), Eifert led all NFL tight ends with 13 touchdown catches last season, and had 52 catches overall for 615 yards. Still only 25 years old, Eifert has emerged as a major weapon for the Bengals, and they have already picked up his fifth-year option.

The priority for the Bengals is to have Eifert ready for Week 1 when they visit the Jets. Ryan Hewitt, Tyler Kroft, and C. J. Uzomah will see plenty of reps at tight end until Eifert returns.

RELATED: THREE REASONS WHY JOE FLACCO CAN RETURN TO THE TOP

 

NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

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NFL owners vote for modest changes to replay, shun overhaul

The NFL made modest changes to replay rules Tuesday, but did not institute major changes that some teams, including the Ravens, had proposed in recent months.

Owners voted for changes that slightly increased situations where plays can be reviewed, and when officials can turn to the league office for help during games.

Situations subject to replay review, which were not before, include:

- Penalty enforcement

- Proper down

- Spot of a foul

- Status of game clock

Plays not reviewable in the past, that can now be reviewed, include:

- Where a ball in the air crosses the sideline.

- Whether a player was blocked into a loose ball.

- Advancement by a player after either a valid, or invalid, fair catch signal.

- Whether player impetus forced a ball to travel into the end zone.

The Ravens made a proposal in March that would have made all plays reviewable except for offensive and defensive holding, offensive and defensive pass interference, illegal contact, illegal use of hands, and whether a quarterback, receiver, or kicker had been hit illegally. The Patriots had previously proposed that all plays be made reviewable, but that has also been resisted by the owners and the competition committee.

Each team will still be given two replay challenges per game, and will be awarded a third challenge only if the first two are successful.

Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

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Forsett's cousin is on The Bachelorette — and survived the opener

Because Monday Night Football only runs in the fall and winter, one would think that America's TV guide would be lacking a program full of intense, testosterone-driven competition between determined men during the summer time. But that's why ABC has given us The Bachelorette, a dating game show that'll come on once a week and features a woman named Jo Jo looking for love amongst a handful of guys wearing suits that are way too tight and sporting unhealthy amounts of hair gel.

Fine, so it's not a perfect substitution for four quarters of NFL action, but it'll have to do (it beats turning the TV off and interacting with loved ones, at least). And for Ravens running back Justin Forsett, The Bachelorette will actually be more than something he simply puts up on the screen when he doesn't want to watch The Departed, which is seemingly on at least once a day, again. That's because his cousin is a contestant striving for Jo Jo's heart.

Here's what Forsett had to say during the show's premiere:

Then, when asked which of the dudes he was related to, he responded:

When looking through The Bachelorette's cast, there's no Chris, but there is a Christian, whom must be the person Forsett is referring to. As far as how Christian's debut went? Well — to put it into football terms — he picked up a win in Week 1:

Of course, Forsett was unable to escape the night without being on the receiving end of some ridicule. Former Jaguars star (and teammate of Forsett's in 2013) Maurice Jones-Drew fired this message off after seeing the Ravens' workhorse's original post in which he said he hopes Christian would come out on top:

Well, Christian survived the opener, at least. Whether he's able to keep the drive going and eventually cross the goal line as the show's champion, though, is something that will only be revealed in the coming episodes. 

(Author's note: Writing about The Bachelorette while using football metaphors helps make writing about The Bachelorette feel more acceptable). 

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