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Congressmen write NFLPA's Smith about HGH testing

Congressmen write NFLPA's Smith about HGH testing

NEW ORLEANS (AP) Chastising the NFL Players Association for standing in the way of testing for human growth hormone, two members of Congress told union head DeMaurice Smith in a letter sent Monday that they might ask players to testify before their committee.

House Oversight and Government Reform Committee chairman Darrell Issa, a California Republican, and ranking Democrat Elijah Cummings of Maryland asked Smith to turn over documents connected to HGH negotiations between the NFL and the NFLPA.

``We are disappointed with the NFLPA's remarkable recalcitrance, which has prevented meaningful progress on this issue,'' the letter said. ``We intend to take a more active role to determine whether the position you have taken - that HGH is not a serious concern and that the test for HGH is unreliable - is consistent with the beliefs of rank and file NFL players.''

The 10-year labor contract approved by the league's owners and players in August 2011 paved the way for HGH testing once certain parameters were set. But the union wants a new population study to assess the validity of the test for NFL players; it is used currently by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball.

Issa and Cummings also wrote that the NBA and its players have ``made significant progress toward implementing an HGH test.''

``Despite being the first of the major professional sports leagues to agree to test for HGH, the NFL has now fallen far behind its counterparts in implementing the agreement,'' the lawmakers wrote.

The letter added: ``The Players Association's resistance to implementing an HGH test has led us to question whether the NFLPA leaders actually believe that HGH is a problem in the sport. For that reason, we intend to pursue a fact-finding agenda to determine whether NFL players consider HGH a problem in the league.''

NFLPA spokesman George Atallah said in a telephone interview that the letter was received Monday and that the union intends ``to fully cooperate with the committee's requests, as we have done from the beginning of their interest in this issue. ... If the committee decides to hold a hearing, we would look forward to participating this time.''

In December, the House Oversight panel did not invite the league or union to participate in a hearing to examine the science behind HGH testing. Experts testified that the test is reliable.

Issa and Cummings both said at the time they expected additional hearings.

Even once scientific issues are resolved, there will be other matters the league and union need to figure out, including who administers the test and what the appeals process will be.

``The players' union takes our direction from the players, and we have been consistent in our desire for a fair, effective and transparent implementation of an HGH test,'' Atallah said.

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Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Panthers honor Florida shooting victims before game against Capitals

Prior to their matchup against the Capitals, the Panthers honored the victims of the shooting at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Fla.

Thursday night's game was the Panthers' first game on home ice since the shooting last week. BB&T Center, the home of the Panthers, is located about 20 minutes south of Parkland.

Both teams wore the school’s hat during warmups, and the Panthers will wear the school’s logo on their helmets and “MSD” patches on their jerseys for the rest of the season.

There was a was a moment of silence and ceremony prior to the game, during which the video board showed the pictures and names of all 17 victims.

Following the video Panthers goaltender Roberto Luongo, who lives in Parkland, took the ice to give his own moving tribute. 

"It's time for us, as a community, to take action. Enough is enough." Luongo commended the school's teachers and said of the students, "You guys are an inspiration for all of us. You guys are giving us hope for the future." 

"When I'm done playing hockey, I want to spend the rest of my life in Parkland," Luongo said. "I love that city."

In addition to the ceremony and uniform tributes, the Panthers hosted a blood drive beginning at today noon and lasting through the second intermission of the game in an effort to replenish local blood banks.

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5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

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Associated Press

5 things to know about new Wizards player Ramon Sessions

The Washington Wizards signed point guard Ramon Sessions to a 10-day free agent contract on Thursday. Here are five things to know about the newest Wizards player...

**Sessions has played for Washington before. He was acquired by the Wizards at the trade deadline in 2015 and played out the 2014-15 season, appearing in 28 regular season games and 10 more in the playoffs. Sessions then spent the whole 2015-16 season with the team before leaving the following summer to sign a free agent deal with the Charlotte Hornets. In 1 1/2 seasons with the Wizards, Sessions averaged 9.2 points, 3.0 assists and 2.5 rebounds. He shot 46 percent from the field and 34.4 percent from three.

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**Sessions played one season for the Hornets and spent part of this year with the New York Knicks. The Knicks waived Sessions on Jan. 13. Over the past two seasons in Charlotte and New York, Sessions has averaged 5.7 points, 2.5 assists and 1.4 rebounds while shooting 37 percent.

**This is Sessions' 11th NBA season. In addition to the Wizards, Hornets and Knicks, he has spent time with the Bucks, Cavs, Lakers and Kings. He began his career in Milwaukee after getting selected in the second round of the 2007 draft.

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**Sessions went to the University of Nevada from 2004 through 2007 and left an impressive legacy as one of the best players in the program's history. The school's practice facility is, in fact, named after Sessions. It is called the 'Ramon Sessions Basketball Performance Center' and Sessions donated $1 million towards construction costs.

**Sessions overlapped with former Wizards player JaVale McGee at Nevada. Sessions was in his final season as a junior when McGee was a freshman. The Wolfpack were quite good that year. They peaked at No. 10 in the nation, the highest ranking in school history, and advanced to the second round of the NCAA Tournament.

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