NEW YORK (AP) — Five former NFL players, including six-time Pro Bowl defensive end Neil Smith, are suing the union for not providing accurate information about the risk of head injuries.
The lawsuit on behalf of Smith, Ladell Betts, Anthony Davis, Christian Ballard and Gregory Westbrooks was filed Thursday in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri, with the plaintiffs claiming the NFL Players Association “withheld information from the players about the risks of head injuries.”
The former players are seeking medical monitoring and financial compensation for long-term chronic injuries, financial losses, expenses and intangible losses. It refers to the “pathological and debilitating effects of traumatic brain injuries (TBI) caused by concussive and sub-concussive impacts.”
The players named former union presidents Trace Armstrong, Troy Vincent and Kevin Mawae in the suit.
“This lawsuit has no merit and we will defend our union and our past presidents,” the NFLPA said in a statement. “It erroneously alleges that the NFLPA knowingly and fraudulently concealed from players the risks of head injuries players faced by playing in NFL games and practices over the last several decades.
“The NFLPA has made the health and safety of its members a priority and the advancements in professional football on concussion education, prevention and treatment are a result of our efforts.”
The lawsuit notes that the players paid dues to the union, which assured them their best interests would be protected. But, the plaintiffs say, that did not happen.
“We believe that the most important resource in the NFL is the players, and the most essential part of a player’s body is the brain,” said attorney Kevin Regan, who is representing the players in the lawsuit. “Considering the millions of dollars received as dues from NFLPA members, the NFLPA did not do enough to protect its members from traumatic brain injury.”
The union also is accused of “engaging in a campaign of disinformation designed to dispute accepted and valid research regarding the connection between repetitive head injuries or concussions and degenerative brain disease; and to create a falsified body of research that the NFLPA could cite as proof that truthful and accepted neuroscience on the subject was inconclusive and subject to doubt.”
Smith spent 13 seasons in the NFL, nine with Kansas City, and was one of the game’s top defensive players. He retired in 2000.
Betts was a running back for nine seasons, the first eight with Washington. He retired in 2010.
Davis played eight seasons with four teams and won a Super Bowl with Baltimore after the 2000 season, his last year in the league.
Ballard, a defensive end in 2011 and 2012, left the Vikings last September. Coincidentally, he is being represented by the union in a grievance concerning about $240,000 in 2013 salary that he collected but the team is trying to recoup.
Westbrooks, now 61, played parts of seven seasons from 1975-81 as a linebacker and special teamer with four clubs.
BOSTON (AP) — Jonny Gomes’ go-ahead shot into the center field bleachers left him just one pinch-hit homer behind the Red Sox all-time leader.
And Gomes wanted to make it clear that there was no comparison.
“You can go ahead and get it out there,” he said with a little grin. “I’m not chasing any of Ted Williams’ records.”
Gomes’ two-run homer capped a four-run sixth inning that gave Boston a 5-4 win over the Kansas City Royals on Friday night.
In two seasons with the Red Sox, six of his 19 homers have come as a pinch hitter.
“For me, that’s the opportunity I feast on,” the right-handed hitting platoon outfielder said. “I hope I didn’t shock anyone.”
He did have Royals manager Ned Yost questioning his decision to bring in lefty Scott Downs (0-3) to face lefty Jackie Bradley Jr. only to see Gomes step into the role he relishes.
“I gambled and lost,” Yost said. “They’ve pinch hit one time in the last three games in the seventh inning, a bunch in the eighth and ninth. I wasn’t sure if they were going to do it in the sixth, so I gambled right there. Bad decision.”
Another two-run shot in the sixth by Xander Bogaerts off James Shields had cut the deficit to 4-3.
The Red Sox maintained their momentum after winning four of their last five games before the All-Star game. They entered the break in last place in the AL East but were coming off Clay Buchholz’s 11-0 complete-game win over Houston, their season high for runs.
“The way that guys fought back tonight that was sort of reminiscent of last year” when the Red Sox won the World Series, Buchholz said.
Buchholz (5-5) allowed four runs in six innings against Kansas City. Koji Uehara allowed Omar Infante’s two-out double in the ninth, but got his 19th save in 21 chances.
Eric Hosmer had three hits and two RBIs for the Royals as he extended his hitting streak to 14 games.
Daniel Nava started Boston’s four-run rally with a one-out single that slid out of left fielder Alex Gordon’s glove as he dove. Bogaerts was in a 14 for 123 (.114) slump, but hit Shields’ 1-1 pitch into the center-field bleachers for his seventh homer of the year.
Stephen Drew, batting .158 in 29 games since joining the Red Sox in late May, followed with a ground-rule double. After David Ross struck out, Downs came in.
Gomes drove a 2-2 pitch to nearly the same spot where Bogaerts’ homer landed. It was Gomes’ sixth homer of the year and his second as a pinch hitter.
“He stays prepared and anticipates the moment,” Boston manager John Farrell said.
The Royals had taken a 1-0 lead in the first on a double by Infante and an RBI single by Hosmer. The Red Sox tied it in the second on Brock Holt’s RBI single.
Kansas City made it 3-1 in the fourth on run-scoring singles by Salvador Perez and Gordon then added a run in the fifth on Hosmer’s RBI single.
David Ortiz led off the third for Boston and was out on a strange play.
He hit a towering popup to the first-base side of the mound. Shields appeared uncomfortable trying to catch it so first baseman Hosmer and third baseman Mike Moustakas raced in to help. Hosmer raised his glove, but the ball ticked off it and Moustakas cradled it for the out.
“Tough sky,” Hosmer said. “Moose was playing over there for the shift so we are both running after it. I kind of saw it last second, tried to put a glove on it and it hit off my glove. Lucky, Moose was right there to save me.”
More strange glove work occurred in the top of the fourth when Hosmer hit the ball sharply down the first-base line.
A ball girl, seated beside the low fence in foul territory, fielded it cleanly then quickly dropped it. It was too late, though, and Infante, who had singled, was stopped at third while Hosmer reached second. Both ended up scoring anyway on the singles by Perez and Gordon.
Yost argued that Infante should have been allowed to score but “my judgment doesn’t count.”
BRENTWOOD, Tenn. (AP) — Jacksonville State is picked to win the Ohio Valley Conference championship by media covering the league.
The Gamecocks received 118 total points and nine of a possible 14 first-place votes in the league’s preseason media poll, which was released Friday. Tennessee State earned four first-place votes and was second in the poll. Two-time defending champion Eastern Illinois received the other first-place vote and was picked third. They were followed in order by Eastern Kentucky, Tennessee Martin, Murray State, Tennessee Tech, Southeast Missouri State and Austin Peay.
Jacksonville State running back DeMarcus James was named preseason offensive player of the year. The preseason defensive player of the year is Tennessee State end Anthony Bass.
A preseason poll from the league’s head coaches and sports information directors will come out Monday.
ST. LOUIS (AP) — St. Louis Cardinals ace Adam Wainwright took the blame on Friday for the flap that ensued after he said he served up pitches to Derek Jeter during the All-Star game.
The 12-game winner spent part of the first day following the All-Star break explaining his comments after the retiring Yankees shortstop doubled off him in the first inning Tuesday.
Wainwright said he made a poor choice of words describing the at-bat against a player he called “the Michael Jordan of baseball” for the last 20 years.
He accepted responsibility for the resulting furor he says was fueled by the “Twitter-verse” that marred his experience.
“I’d be lying to say it didn’t,” Wainwright said. “But you bring something upon yourself, what can you expect?”
Wainwright did a second round of interviews on Tuesday in an attempt at damage control and said Friday he had contacted Jeter through Yankees teammate Kelly Johnson.
“Derek is the last guy who needs an explanation from me on this,” Wainwright said. “This is not something he needs.”
He didn’t second-guess any of his pitches.
“Apparently, saying I piped one to him meant I intentionally threw one down the middle,” Wainwright said. “It didn’t work out well. I had a very good time pitching, though, I really did.”
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny thought Wainwright, always outgoing and a thoughtful interview subject, might be more guarded in the future. After watching video of the interview, he was critical of media that would “run off with that thing.”
“It’s a tragedy, it’s terrible,” Matheny said. “That guy should be ashamed, the guy that first started running with it.”
The right-hander said he doesn’t plan on changing anything. He joked Friday that he listened to classical music on headphones before the game and added a snoring sound.
“Be more mindful of the words I use, maybe,” Wainwright said. “But crying out loud, this is ridiculous. The people who completely lost respect for me and all this, just realize this: I messed up the way I described the inning. I don’t feel like I should have to back up my story any more than just telling you exactly what happened.
“Tell you the truth. I can live by that.”
Wainwright is getting extra time off after the break, and is skipping the Dodgers’ series this weekend. He is likely to pitch Tuesday against Tampa Bay.
“We’re going to ride him hard the rest of the way,” Matheny said. “The schedule works out good to get a little more time for him.”
Wainwright entered Friday second in the National League with 138 innings, first with a 1.83 ERA, and tied for the lead in wins. He said he didn’t need a break but doesn’t seem to mind having one.
“This is going to be a pretty torrid race through the end of the season,” Wainwright said. “They’re mindful of that.”
The Cardinals are also putting Shelby Miller in the bullpen and going with a four-man rotation for the time being. They have three more days off the rest of the month, and Matheny said a break had been in the plans for Miller, 7-8 with a 4.29 ERA in 19 starts covering 109 innings.
“How long that lasts, I’m not going to say for the month,” Matheny said. “We’ll see how guys look.”
(Hoover, AL) (AP) – Southeastern Conference players have mostly been content to let league administrators and coaches take up the drumbeat for NCAA reform – not that they’re complaining.
SEC commissioner Mike Slive has even said the Big Five conferences could break away from the NCAA if players aren’t compensated more properly.
South Carolina coach Steve Spurrier has advocated that players should be getting a bigger piece of college athletics’ substantial monetary pie for years.
Maybe the most ambivalent group in the whole process? The players.
“We’re not starving,” Florida quarterback Jeff Driskel said. “But at the end of the day it would be nice to receive a little more compensation.”
The life of major college football players and coaches could change drastically in upcoming years once the NCAA and Big Five conferences are done revamping the current system.
Players at SEC Media Days were mostly pleased about the trend toward a few more perks – including scholarships that would offer full cost of attendance – but also admit they’ve already got it pretty good. The fact that most of those upperclassmen might not be around to benefit might make it easier to downplay.
“I think that shouldn’t be a deterrent, the fact that it might not change while you’re here,” said Georgia receiver Chris Conley, a member of the NCAA’s Student-Athlete Advisory Council.
“You’ve got to think about others. When you don’t think selfishly, you realize that the people behind you are going to have the same problems that you did, so you need to change those things.
“As long as the NCAA keeps evolving and growing, it can’t become stagnant because the country is evolving and growing. As long as it keeps moving forward, that’s all we can ask.”
The NCAA’s board of directors will vote on the Big Five’s push for more autonomy in August and if it’s approved a cascade of changes could come quickly.
Slive said the first item on the agenda would be scholarships that included full cost of attendance, which would allow players a little more financial flexibility.
“There is some angst on the part of many, but I think many realize we’re moving into the 21st century, things are different and expectations of student-athletes are different,” Slive said.
Some players say they’re paying attention to the proposed changes. Others say they’re too busy concentrating on football.
“If it happens, it’s going to be great for the players. I know that,” Tennessee senior linebacker A.J. Johnson said. “But I won’t be here for that. The main thing for me is I will be here for this season.”
Arkansas offensive lineman Brey Cook lives with his family in Fayetteville, so he can get home-cooked meals, free laundry and other comforts of home.
“But that’s not the case for most of the guys,” Cook said. “A lot of guys are from all over the country. Some have children they have to take care of, and sometimes (the current situation) doesn’t cut it.”
Florida cornerback Vernon Hargreaves III said he thinks players should get paid.
“I think we all do. I think it’s a job to play college football,” Hargreaves said. “But I can’t really concern myself with it because I can’t do anything about it.”
Auburn center Reese Dismukes and Georgia coach Mark Richt pointed out that high-profile athletes get plenty of perks.
That includes playing on national television, of course, tutors and academic counselors, nutritionists, sports psychologists and up to five years of coaching.
Not to mention tuition, room and board.
“I don’t think that’s that big of a deal,” Dismukes said. “We get a lot of intangibles right now. We’ve got school and all that stuff paid for. You get food and that kind of stuff. Obviously there’s a big push for that these days with all those guys, but we get a lot right now. We’re doing pretty good for ourselves.”
For Richt, there’s also the nurturing received by young men from ages 18-22, who can use college connections as a way to build a professional career if football doesn’t work out.
Richt said Georgia has specific programs in place that can help football players adjust to life after football.
“You can’t always put a price on that,” he said.
CONWAY, Ark. (AP) – Nine University of Central Arkansas football players have been named to the preseason All-Southland Conference teams – including three first-team selections.
The honors were announced by the school Wednesday.
Senior wide receiver Dezmin Lewis, senior offensive tackle Cole Caruthers and junior defensive end Jonathan Woodard were named to the first team.
Senior receiver Damien Watts, senior offensive guard C.J. Simon, senior placekicker Eddie Camara, senior noseguard T.J. Randall, junior cornerback Dillion Winfrey and sophomore return specialist Jatavious Wilson were second-team selections.
(West Plains) – Two West Plains High School golfers are up for the “1 Award” from the Springfield Sports Commission.
Ben Charles, a 2014 West Plains High School graduate, finished his final high school golf season on Tuesday, June 17, where he captured sectional and district championships, and finished with eighth-place at the Class 3 state tournament held at Fremont Hills Country Club during his last season. Charles’ also helped the Zizzer golf team take fifth as a team in Class 3.
Charles, along with Lady Zizzer Golfer Kelsy Temple, are among area students nominated by the Springfield Sports Commission for the “1 Award” as the best girls and boys golfers of the year.
Voters are encouraged to vote once per day through July 22. You can vote by clicking here.
(Minneapolis) (AP) – Sure, it was great for a couple days. The cheers for Derek Jeter. The power of Giancarlo Stanton. The excellence of Mike Trout in the American League’s 5-3 victory.
Baseball’s All-Star party in the Twin Cities was a long series of smiles for players and fans. But the break is over now, and the real fun begins Friday night.
Heading into the second half of the season, there are all sorts of compelling stories from coast to coast. It could be one fun summer in California, where Oakland begins the weekend with the best record in the majors, and the Giants, Angels and Dodgers are in prime playoff position. The trade deadline is in two weeks, and the recovery of several key injured players could dramatically affect a couple of divisions.
The A’s bearded collection of shaggy misfits and stars is looking for the franchise’s first World Series title in 25 years. Sensing an opportunity, general manager Billy Beane got an early jump on the deadline when he acquired pitchers Jeff Samardzija and Jason Hammel in a deal with the Chicago Cubs on July 4.
The blockbuster trade created an awkward scene at the All-Star game, where Samardzija was introduced with the NL reserves and then joined his new teammates in the AL dugout.
“I’m really excited to just put all this to rest now and the sideshow that’s happened right in the middle of all this,” Samardzija said. “It was a great opportunity to get to know these guys more. I flew out here with them. I’m excited.”
There will be no such problem for any other players on the move this month.
Boston pitcher Jake Peavy, Philadelphia second baseman Chase Utley, San Diego closer Huston Street and New York Mets right-hander Bartolo Colon are thought to be on the market as contenders shop for that missing piece that could pay off into October.
“I guess there’s a possibility for anything, but at this point I love playing in Philadelphia,” said Utley, who could veto any deal.
Jeter was warmly greeted everywhere he went this week, and the Yankee captain contributed two hits to the AL All-Star win. Any chance of his final season ending in the playoffs likely depends on the return of rookie ace Masahiro Tanaka, who is out with a partially torn ligament in his right elbow. He is going through a six-week rehab program but season-ending surgery is an option. Michael Pineda also could return from a back injury to New York’s battered rotation.
The Bronx is one of many spots where health is an issue for the stretch run.
The recovery of Reds sluggers Joey Votto (strained muscle above left knee) and Brandon Phillips (left thumb) and indispensable Cardinals catcher Yadier Molina (right thumb) could affect the bunched NL Central. The Pirates could get starting pitcher Gerrit Cole (tight lat muscle) in the first few weeks after the break.
“We know what we’re capable of doing, and we’re going to play like we’ve been there before, like we’ve done it before,” said slugger Andrew McCutchen, hoping to lead Pittsburgh back to the playoffs for the second straight year. “That’s what we’ve got to look forward to.”
The strained right quadriceps of Toronto’s Edwin Encarnacion and ailing back of Detroit’s Victor Martinez also bears watching. Atlanta, which is battling Washington for the top spot in the NL East, could get a lift from the return of Evan Gattis after the catcher was sidelined by a bulging disk in his back.
Beyond the standings, the races for the individual honors will come into focus.
Trout could add the AL MVP award to his one from the All-Star game, especially if the Angels can run down the A’s in the competitive AL West. Shortstop Troy Tulowitzki is among the favorites for the NL award, but he could be hurt by the Rockies’ poor play.
The NL Cy Young Award features an interesting duel between Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers and Adam Wainwright of the Cardinals.
Trying for a repeat, Kershaw had a 41-inning scoreless streak that ended last week and carried a 1.78 ERA into the break. But Wainwright is 12-4 with a 1.83 ERA in 138 innings, compared to 96 1-3 for Kershaw, who missed all of April with a back problem.
White Sox first baseman Jose Abreu, the overwhelming favorite for AL Rookie of the Year with Tanaka on the shelf, could become baseball’s first rookie home run king since Mark McGwire with the Athletics in 1987.
“He’s continuing to make adjustments with what other teams are trying to do to him,” White Sox manager Robin Ventura said last month, “and when he hits it on the barrel it goes a long way.”
HOYLAKE, England (AP) — Tiger Woods is back at the majors.
Seems like he was never away.
After a shaky start to the British Open, Woods ripped through Royal Liverpool on Thursday much as he did eight years ago when he won the claret jug for the third time. A 30-foot birdie from the fringe of the 11th green got him going. Four more birdies in the next five holes carried Woods to a 3-under 69, leaving him three shots behind leader Rory McIlroy.
Not bad for a guy playing his first major of the year, who was unable to swing a club for months after back surgery.
“I’m only going to get better,” Woods said. “I’m getting stronger, I’m getting faster, I’m getting more explosive. The ball is starting to travel again. And those are all positive things.”
For McIlroy, it was another blistering start.
The question now: Can he keep it going?
McIlroy took full advantage of prime scoring conditions for those who went out early, a 66 putting him in the familiar position of first-round leader. He has played the opening round in a cumulative 55-under par this year, including three 63s and a course-record 64 at last week’s Scottish Open.
But McIlroy failed to win any of those events, largely because of what he calls his “second-round thing,” an acknowledged mental block that he’s struggling to overcome.
His total score on Fridays — 15 over.
“Maybe it’s having higher expectations going out on a Friday because you shot a low round,” said McIlroy, whose goal now is “to put those expectations aside.”
Woods, who has been stuck on 14 major titles for more than six years, is just happy to be playing after the March 31 surgery kept him out of the Masters and the U.S. Open.
He bogeyed the first two holes on a mild, sunny morning with only a hint of a breeze rippling the flags. Down the stretch, he looked more like the player who went 18 under the last time golf’s oldest major was held at this course along the Irish Sea.
“I felt good about a lot of things I did out there,” said Woods, who played the back nine in 4-under 33. “Especially coming back after that start I had today, to fight myself back into the championship.”
The conditions were a far cry from 2006, when he won on dry, fiery course that made the grass more brown than green. This time, Royal Liverpool was lush and relatively soft after intermittent rain on Wednesday.
Matteo Manassero made only one bogey and also shot 33 after the turn, capitalizing on a quirk in the course which puts three par-5s in the closing nine. He birdied them all for a 67.
He wasn’t the only Italian in the thick of things. Brothers Edoardo and Francesco Molinari opened with matching 68s.
“I saw the leaderboard,” said Francesco, the younger of the siblings. “But it’s a tough course, so you have to focus on what you are doing rather than the others are doing — even if it’s your brother.”
The wind picked up through the day, making it tougher for those with afternoon tee times.
Even so, Adam Scott made a run at the leaders, spurred by an eagle at the fifth. The world’s top-ranked player staggered a bit coming to the finish but still managed a 68, matching Spain’s Sergio Garcia and a pair of Americans, Jim Furyk and Brooks Koepka.
Another shot back, Woods was at 69 with countrymen Rickie Fowler, Jimmy Walker and Boo Weekley; Japan’s Hideki Matsuyama, Koumei Oda and Yoshinobu Tsukada; Sweden’s Robert Karlsson; and Australia’s Marc Leishman.
Of the top 17 players in the clubhouse, Scott and Weekley were the only ones to tee off in the afternoon.
“We had perfect scoring conditions,” McIlroy said. “There were plenty of opportunities to make birdies.”
Defending champion Phil Mickelson, who hasn’t won since his 2013 victory at Muirfield, was among those who faded late in the day. He shot 74, closing with a bogey after his second shot sailed out of bounds, forcing him to take a cart back to the spot where he struck the ball for a do-over.
Ernie Els really made a mess of things, the tone set when his very first shot struck a fan in the face. Clearly unsettled, the Big Easy missed a putt of less than a foot at No. 1, then sloppily whacked the ball with a backhanded swipe and missed again, making triple-bogey.
Woods returned to action three weeks ago at Congressional, but missed the cut. It looked as though he might be headed to a similar fate when his second shot of the day settled in one of the treacherous pot bunkers, leading to bogey. At No. 2, he knocked a long putt about 6 feet past the hole and then missed the comebacker to take his score to 2 over.
Woods took advantage of the only par 5 on the front side for his first birdie. But it was that long putt at the 11th that seemed to spark his round, the first of three straight birdies. After another bogey at the 14th, set up by an errant tee shot into the hay, Woods made two more birdies.
“It felt good,” he said, “to be back out there competing again.”
HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) — An adopted son of convicted child molester Jerry Sandusky is providing details of the alleged sexual abuse he suffered at the hands of his father.
Matt Sandusky, who was initially a foster child of the Sanduskys, tells Oprah Winfrey in a TV show airing Thursday night that his overnight visits with the family as a child were good “except for one part, bedtime.”
At bedtime in the Sandusky’s home in State College, he said, Jerry Sandusky’s “ritual began.”
“The overnight visits were — they were good. I mean, except for that one part, bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part. But any other time that we were in the home, that we were doing anything in the home with the family, it was fine and it was — again, you would look at that family and you would say, wow. Like I wish that I had brothers and sisters that cared about me. I wish that I had a mother who cooked dinner every night for the whole family. I wish that I had all of these things. But then at bedtime, his ritual began,” Matt Sandusky told Winfrey in a brief clip released by the network.
The network said Sandusky discusses the grooming, methodical control and manipulation he faced as a child.
He had also discussed the alleged abuse in a documentary, “Happy Valley,” shown earlier this year, and in an audiotape of a 29-minute interview with police detectives that NBC obtained at the time of Jerry Sandusky’s 2012 trial.
Matt Sandusky told investigators Jerry Sandusky had rubbed along or against his genitals. He said then that he did not recall any penetration or oral sex, and that memories were coming back to him.
He said he was coming forward at that time because he had told a different story to an investigative grand jury and wanted to correct the record.
“So that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is. And just to right the wrong, honestly, of going to the grand jury and lying,” Matt Sandusky said two years ago. He was not called to testify, and Jerry Sandusky has not been charged with any crime in relation to his adopted son.
Matt Sandusky is one of six children adopted by Jerry Sandusky and his wife.
Jerry Sandusky, once Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno’s assistant and heir apparent at Penn State University, was convicted of sexual abuse of 10 other boys. He is serving a 30- to 60-year sentence.
Matt Sandusky is among those who have claimed abuse at Sandusky’s hands who have been paid civil settlements by Penn State.
He was placed in foster care with the Sandusky family in January 1995. He was adopted by the family after he turned 18.