August 29th, 2013
04:14 PM ET

NFL and ex-players reach deal in concussion lawsuit

The National Football League has reached a "historic" settlement with thousands of retired players who accused the league of deliberately concealing the dangers of head trauma, the case's mediator said Thursday.

The deal calls for the NFL to pay $765 million to fund medical exams, concussion-related compensation, medical research for retired NFL players and their families and litigation expenses, according to a court document filed in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia.

The agreement still needs to be approved by the judge assigned to the case, which involved more than 4,500 former players.

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Filed under: Health • Pro football
Patriots player mum as police search for clues in man's death
June 20th, 2013
05:05 AM ET

Patriots player mum as police search for clues in man's death

Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez is used to throngs of media clamoring to ask him questions, but the NFL star has never had to deal with them camping outside his home.

After reports that the player had been questioned in connection with a homicide not far from his Massachusetts house, that's what he's been faced with for the past three days.

A line of reporters waited on the road in front of his house Wednesday, along with neighbors eager for a word from the player.

Nearby, police sifted through the woods for clues that could shed some light on what happened to Odin Lloyd, 27, who was found dead less than a mile from Hernandez's expansive home in North Attleborough.

Hernandez has yet to say anything publicly.

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Filed under: Football • Massachusetts • Pro football
Former NFL announcer Pat Summerall dies
April 16th, 2013
06:10 PM ET

Former NFL announcer Pat Summerall dies

Pat Summermall, the football player turned legendary play-by-play announcer, died Tuesday, He was 82.

He was best known as a broadcaster for teaming with former NFL coach John Madden. Summerall also worked for years alongside former player Tom Brookshier and became the voice of the NFL in the 1970s and 1980s, calling most of the league's signature games.

Summerall called games for CBS, Fox and ESPN and worked more than 10 Super Bowls.

As a player, he was a placekicker, who played for the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants from 1952 to 1961. He scored more than 500 points as an NFL player.

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Report: Flawed device, errors contributed to Super Bowl blackout
The Mercedes-Benz Superdome stands in semi-darkness shortly after halftime of the Super Bowl on February 3.
March 21st, 2013
09:29 PM ET

Report: Flawed device, errors contributed to Super Bowl blackout

A combination of technical and communication failures contributed to the partial power outage that disrupted this year's Super Bowl, an independent analysis has determined, utility Entergy New Orleans said Thursday.

The power was cut off to half the Mercedes-Benz Superdome early in the third quarter of Super Bowl XLVII between the Baltimore Ravens and San Francisco 49ers, causing a 34-minute delay in the February game.

Dr. John Palmer of Palmer Engineering & Forensics said a recently installed relay had a "design defect" that caused it to trip in an unpredictable way.

He said the device's trip level had been left at the factory default setting, which was inappropriate for its application in the dome.

Palmer's report also cited "inadequate communication between the manufacturer and the utility" as a contributing factor.

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Filed under: Energy • Louisiana • New Orleans • Pro football • Sports • Super Bowl • U.S.
NFL checking 'do you like girls' allegation
Nick Kasa plays for Colorado against Stanford last November. Kasa says an NFL team asked him an inappropriate question.
February 27th, 2013
08:38 PM ET

NFL checking 'do you like girls' allegation

The National Football League is investigating whether draft prospect Nick Kasa was questioned about his sexual orientation during a recent skills audition for NFL scouts and coaches, a spokesman said Wednesday.

Kasa, who played tight end at the University of Colorado, told CNN earlier Wednesday that during the audition, he was asked: "Do you have a girlfriend? Are you married? Do you like girls?"

"Any team or employee that inquires about impermissible subjects or makes an employment decision based on such factors is subject to league discipline," said Greg Aiello of the NFL.

League policy states that teams "neither consider nor inquire about sexual orientation in the hiring process," Aiello said. "In addition, there are specific protections in our collective bargaining agreement with the players that prohibit discrimination against any player, including on the basis of sexual orientation."

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February 8th, 2013
03:41 PM ET

Manufacturer blames Super Bowl outage on incorrect setting

[Updated at 3:41 p.m. ET] We're now getting possibly competing explanations about why the Super Bowl power outage happened Sunday.

Hours after the Entergy New Orleans power company announced that it believed a newly installed electrical relay device was to blame, the device's manufacturer responded that the outage happened because the device was operated at an incorrect setting.

Get the details here.

[Posted at 9:49 a.m. ET] The cause of Sunday's power outage at the Super Bowl in New Orleans has been traced to an electrical relay device, Entergy New Orleans Inc. announced Friday. This device has since been removed from service and new replacement equipment is being evaluated.

The 35-minute electrical outage at the Super Dome set off a storm of social media amusement among viewers and inspired advertising tweets with blackout twists.

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Filed under: Football • Louisiana • New Orleans • Pro football • Sports
2013 Super Bowl: The best photos
February 3rd, 2013
09:28 PM ET

Superdome power outage halts Super Bowl XLVII

Super Bowl XLVII ground to a halt early in the third quarter Sunday night, when about half of the lights in the Superdome went out.

Lights in the New Orleans stadium's upper tier went dark with the Baltimore Ravens leading the San Francisco 49ers 28-6, minutes after the Ravens' Jacoby Jones ran back the kickoff that opened the second half a record 109 yards for a touchdown.

About 10 minutes later, an announcement inside the Superdome indicated that the lights would be restored "momentarily." A short time later, lights began coming back on incrementally.

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Parcells, Carter, Sapp headline new Pro Football Hall of Fame class
Bill Parcells -- far right -- was head coach for four teams before his induction, along with six others, to the Hall of Fame.
February 2nd, 2013
09:40 PM ET

Parcells, Carter, Sapp headline new Pro Football Hall of Fame class

The Pro Football Hall of Fame is about to get a lot bigger.

The hall's selection committee on Saturday - meeting in New Orleans, on the eve of Super Bowl XLVII - selected  former players Larry Allen, Cris Carter, Curley Culp, Jonathan Ogden, Dave Robinson, Warren Sapp and legendary coach Bill Parcels. They'll be formally inducted in August.

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NFL union chief asks league to allow worker's comp claims
January 29th, 2013
11:04 AM ET

NFL union chief asks league to allow worker's comp claims

The head of the National Football League Players Association says the league can take quick steps to help players' health by ending its opposition to the players' worker compensation cases.

DeMaurice Smith spoke CNN's Carol Costello in an exclusive interview on Tuesday after word that the union is giving $100 million to a Harvard Univeristy-led study on player health.

The study will take 10 years, but Smith said the league can start making things better for players now.

“We are asking the National Football League to stop fighting our players on their worker’s comp cases, which is the main way our players get health care for the injuries they suffer at work," Smith said.

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NFL reinstates Saints' Payton after yearlong suspension
Sean Payton is back with his team after a year's suspension over the team's bounty scandal.
January 22nd, 2013
11:31 AM ET

NFL reinstates Saints' Payton after yearlong suspension

Sean Payton's season of exile from the National Football League is officially over.

The NFL on Tuesday reinstated the New Orleans Saints head coach after he served a seasonlong suspension for the Saints' bounty scandal. The reinstatement came after Payton met with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and "acknowledged ... his responsibility for the actions of his coaching staff and players," an NFL news release said.

"Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension," Goodell said in the release. "More important, it is clear that Sean understands and accepts his responsibilities as a head coach and the vital role that coaches play in promoting player safety and setting an example for how the game should be played at all levels.”

Payton said he was "thankful today Commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement."

"As I stated back in March, I, along with (Saints General Manager) Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program,” Payton said in a statement released by a Saints spokesman.

"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations. Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed."

Payton's reinstatement is immediate, meaning he can attend this week's Senior Bowl, a college all-star game featuring NFL Draft prospects.

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Filed under: Football • Louisiana • New Orleans • Pro football • Sports
Seau had brain disease, examination suggests
Junior Seau committed suicide May 2 in his Oceanside, California, home.
January 10th, 2013
10:29 AM ET

Seau had brain disease, examination suggests

A deeper examination of the late NFL linebacker Junior Seau's brain suggests he had traumatic brain disease after all, the National Institutes of Health says.

An examination suggests Seau had the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the NIH said Thursday.

"On initial examination the brain looked normal but under the microscope, with the use of special staining techniques, abnormalities were found that are consistent with a form of chronic traumatic encephalopathy," the NIH said in a statement.

There was also a small part of his brain with "evidence of scarring that is consistent with a small, old, traumatic brain injury," the NIH said.

Seau's May 2012 death was classified as a suicide. In August, an autopsy showed no apparent signs of damage.

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Former NFL commissioner rescinds player punishments in bounty case
Former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who now coaches for St. Louis, admitted to paying players for vicious hits.
December 11th, 2012
02:22 PM ET

Former NFL commissioner rescinds player punishments in bounty case

Former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue has rescinded punishments against players in the New Orleans Saints bounty case, NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said Tuesday on Twitter.

In March, the NFL said an investigation found the Saints had an "active bounty program" during the 2009, 2010 and 2011 seasons. During this time, players were purportedly offered "bounty" payments if they managed to hurt opposing players and knock them out of a game.

The following statement by the NFL was released following the announcement:

"We respect Mr. Tagliabue’s decision, which underscores the due process afforded players in NFL disciplinary matters. This matter has now been reviewed by Commissioner Goodell, two CBA grievance arbitrators, the CBA Appeals Panel, and Mr. Tagliabue as Commissioner Goodell’s designated appeals officer. The decisions have made clear that the Saints operated a bounty program in violation of league rules for three years, that the program endangered player safety, and that the commissioner has the authority under the CBA to impose discipline for those actions as conduct detrimental to the league. Strong action was taken in this matter to protect player safety and ensure that bounties would be eliminated from football."

December 5th, 2012
11:24 AM ET

NFL linebacker's mother screams as his baby cries in 911 tapes

Inside the Kansas City home that Jovan Belcher fled, his baby daughter wailed, his mother was in hysterics and his girlfriend was quiet. Barely breathing.

This is what the NFL linebacker left behind on Saturday in a rush of violence that left many wondering why.

Few answers came from 911 tapes released this week by police. But the tapes provide a heartbreaking soundtrack of the fleeting moments the morning that police say Belcher killed his girlfriend Kassandra Perkins and then later turned the gun on himself just outside the front door of the Chiefs' practice facility.

"Oh my God. Oh my God. Kasi," Belcher's mother, Cheryl Shepherd, bawled. "The baby is crying ... Please get the ambulance here!"

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Police: NFL Chiefs player commits suicide after killing girlfriend
Reports citing police indicate Jovan Belcher, shown here during a game last week, killed his girlfriend and then himself.
December 1st, 2012
04:35 PM ET

Police: NFL Chiefs player commits suicide after killing girlfriend

In an apparent murder-suicide, a Kansas City Chiefs player shot himself in the head in front of his coaches at a team training facility after earlier shooting to death his girlfriend at her residence, police said.

Kansas City, Missouri, police spokesman Darin Snapp identified the player as linebacker Jovan Belcher, 25, according to NFL.com.

FULL STORY
November 17th, 2012
09:12 AM ET

ESPN: Mike Ditka OK after stroke

Legendary professional football coach and ESPN analyst Mike Ditka is recovering from a stroke he suffered Friday, the sports network said.

Ditka, 73, will not be on ESPN's football shows this weekend, the network said. But Ditka "wanted everyone to know he's OK," ESPN senior coordinating producer Seth Markman said via Twitter.

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NFL Week 6: The best photos
October 16th, 2012
12:23 AM ET

Broncos beat Chargers on huge comeback

Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos overcame a 24-point halftime deficit and beat the San Diego Chargers 35-24 Monday night, one of the biggest comebacks in NFL history.

After looking anemic in the first half, Denver's offense - with Manning in his first year as the team's quarterback - got going in the second half. Manning threw three touchdown passes in the half, and the Broncos defense intercepted Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers four times. Two of those interceptions were returned for touchdowns.

"We have been here before," said Manning, who completed 24 of 30 passes for 309 yards. "We know we have the ability to score quickly."

And that's just what Denver did. The Broncos opened the second half with an eight-play drive that went 85 yards for a touchdown.

The Chargers turned the ball over on their next possession for another Broncos touchdown. San Diego had six possessions in the second half and turned the ball over on five of them.

The victory leaves Denver and San Diego atop the AFC West, both at 3-3.

Only four teams have come back from larger deficits, according to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. The largest of those was in a 1993 playoff game, when the Buffalo Bills trailed by 32 points against the Houston Oilers before coming back to win.


Filed under: Peyton Manning • Pro football • Uncategorized
Ex-NFL star, actor Alex Karras dies, 77
Alex Karras starred in the 1980s TV show "Webster" after playing 12 years with the Detroit Lions.
October 10th, 2012
10:15 AM ET

Ex-NFL star, actor Alex Karras dies, 77

[Updated at 11:32 a.m. ET] Alex Karras, the former Detroit Lions defensive tackle turned actor in the ABC sitcom "Webster," died Wednesday in his Los Angeles home following a battle with kidney disease, heart disease, dementia and stomach cancer, according to a family spokesman.

He was 77.

Karras, a Gary, Indiana native, was an All-American at the University of Iowa before becoming a  four-time Pro Bowl selection in the NFL, playing for the Detroit Lions from 1958 to 1970. He went on to star in the 1980s' sitcom “Webster” he played George Papadapolis, the guardian of the newly orphaned Webster, played by actor Emmanuel Lewis and also played the horse-punching Mongo in the 1974 movie “Blazing Saddles."

In April, he joined hundreds of  former NFL players suing the league over concussion-related injuries, serving as lead plaintiff for what was then the 12th concussion-related complaint filed against the NFL by the Locks Law Firm in Philadelphia.

Karras “sustained repetitive traumatic impacts to his head and/or concussions on multiple occasions” during his NFL career, and “suffers from various neurological conditions and symptoms related to the multiple head traumas,” the lawsuit said.

His wife, "Webster” co-star Susan Clark, said in April that Karras suffered from dementia.

The more than 2,000 NFL players who are suing the league claim the NFL misled players concerning the risks associated with concussions. The NFL has repeatedly said that player safety is a priority and that any allegation that the NFL intentionally sought to mislead players has no merit.

According to his family, "Karras had always dreamed of being an actor," and got a boost when Lucille Ball "took him under her wing and allowed him to train in small parts."

Karras also co-wrote autobiographies called "Even Big Guys Cry" and "Alex Karras by Alex Karras."

"His love of nature and most especially of the ocean, where he spent many happy days on his fishing boat, led him to support numerous organizations committed to protecting our environment for future generations," his family said.

Memorial services are being planned and will be announced soon, his family said.

September 6, 2012: Football players more likely to develop neurodegenerative disease, study finds

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NFL confirms suspensions for 4 in Saints bounty scandal
The Saints' Jonathan Vilma will sit out the season after all, according to an NFL decision Tuesday.
October 9th, 2012
05:42 PM ET

NFL confirms suspensions for 4 in Saints bounty scandal

The National Football League reaffirmed Tuesday that it would suspend four players in connection with the New Orleans Saints' controversial "bounty" program, a month after the league postponed the suspensions after the players appealed.

Suspensions for two of the players former Saint and current Cleveland Brown Scott Fujita and free agent Anthony Hargrove have been reduced. But the suspensions for Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma (the rest of the season) and defensive end Will Smith (four games) are unchanged.

The league suspended the four in May, concluding that they had leadership roles in the Saints' pay-for-injury program. But the league postponed the suspensions in September after an appeal, with an appeals panel saying Commissioner Roger Goodell would review the punishment and need to clarify the reasons for the punishments.

The delay allowed Fujita and Smith to play the first few games of this season. Although the other two were eligible to play, Vilma is on the Saints' list of those physically unable to perform, and Hargrove has no team.

"In letters to each player and a memorandum to the clubs, Commissioner Goodell clarified that his decision was based entirely on his finding that the bounty program represented conduct detrimental to the league and professional football," the NFL said Tuesday. "The Saints’ bounty program operated over a three-year period and offered incentives to players for plays including 'cart-offs' and 'knock-outs,' which were plays that caused injuries to opponents."

The following are the new punishments:

Vilma: Suspended for the season, as prescribed previously. He will retain the salary he earned while on the physically-unable-to-perform list during the first six weeks of the season.

Smith: Suspended for four games, as prescribed previously.

Hargrove: Suspended for seven games, down from eight. He will be credited with five games served as a free agent, so he will be suspended only two games when he signs with another team.

Fujita: Suspended for one game, down from three.

The NFL said the decision was made after Goodell met with the players: the "first time those players had agreed to speak directly to the NFL to give their side of the story," according to the league.

The players can appeal the new decision. The players' union, the NFLPA, has opposed the punishments.

The NFL has "failed to produce evidence that the players intended to injure anyone, ever," the NFLPA said Tuesday.

"We will review this decision thoroughly and review all options to protect our players’ rights with vigilance," the NFLPA said.

The NFL previously suspended Saints coach Sean Payton for the 2012 season while levying an indefinite suspension on former Saints defensive coordinator Gregg Williams, who was accused of masterminding the bonus program.

FULL STORY
U.S. sports going the way of the gladiators?
Chiefs quarterback Matt Cassel gets attention after a hit Sunday, and a wreck takes out 25 cars at the Good Sam 500 in Alabama.
October 8th, 2012
03:14 PM ET

U.S. sports going the way of the gladiators?

Are American sports fans turning into the citizens of ancient Rome, turning up to sports events to see mayhem akin to gladiators fighting for their very lives?

Stars in two of the country's most prominent sports were asking those kinds of questions Sunday.

Dale Earnhardt Jr., arguably the sport’s most popular personality in NASCAR racing, said he wonders if fans are "bloodthirsty."

If they watch races to see what transpired at the end of Sunday’s race at Talladega Superspeedway, Earnhardt said they are.

And he’s had enough.

Earnhardt was part of a 25-car pileup at speeds of 200 mph on the final lap of Sunday’s Good Sam 500 that left the Alabama track looking like a junkyard.

"It's not safe. Wrecking like that, it's ridiculous. It's bloodthirsty if that's what people want,” Earnhardt said afterward, according to news reports, including SI.com.

"If this is what we did every week, I wouldn't be doing it. I'd find another job," Earnhardt said.

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NFL owner more interested in winning election than winning games
Woody Johnson owns the New York Jets and is New York chairman of Mitt Romney's campaign.
October 1st, 2012
08:11 PM ET

NFL owner more interested in winning election than winning games

His New York Jets are struggling on the field, but team owner Robert Wood "Woody" Johnson told Bloomberg News today that it's more important to him to see Mitt Romney and Paul Ryan get elected.

Johnson, chairman of Johnson Co. and a great-great-grandson of the founder of Johnson & Johnson, is the New York state chairman of the Romney-Ryan campaign.

His Jets are 2-2 this season, and fans are smarting after Sunday's 34-0 pounding at the hands of the San Francisco 49ers. Nevertheless, Johnson has his priorities. When an interviewer on Bloomberg Television's "Market Makers" asked him whether football or politics was more important, Johnson responded:

"Well, I think you always have to put country first. So I think it’s very, very important, not only for us but in particular for our kids and grandkids, that this election come off with Mitt Romney and Ryan as president and vice president.”

That might be the best news coach Rex Ryan and beleaguered quarterback Mark Sanchez will hear all week.

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