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Former PSU players, Harris, say Freeh report flawed

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Former PSU players, Harris, say Freeh report flawed

Franco Harris and two other former Penn State football players say the report about Penn State's handling of the Jerry Sandusky sex abuse scandal "is highly flawed, and factually insufficient." Harris, Rudy Glocker and Christian Marrone sent to other Penn State alumni an email and letter criticizing the Freeh report that they plan publish in The Wall Street Journal and other large publications. The email and letter were obtained by The Associated Press on Friday. The players claim there was a rush to judgment by the media, the board of trustees, university officials and the NCAA after the blistering report was released two weeks ago. The report compiled by a team led by former FBI director Louis Freeh accuses school officials, including late coach Joe Paterno, of covering up the abuse to avoid bad publicity. "A grave injustice has occurred over these past two weeks that began with the issuance of the Freeh report," the email states. "After much review, it's clear the report is highly flawed, and factually insufficient. Yet, the media, the Board of Trustees, University officials and the NCAA, seem to have read only the conclusions and not the content of the report and have failed to question the report's evidentiary basis or lack thereof -- they have rushed to judgment. As a result, OUR program has been brutally harmed and our Coach has been completely tarnished." Sandusky, the former longtime defensive coordinator at Penn State under Paterno, was convicted of using his position at Penn State and as head of a youth charity to molest 10 boys over a period of 15 years. He's awaiting sentencing. Penn State was sanctioned by the NCAA for its handling of the Sandusky case, based largely on the findings in the Freeh report. The NCAA did not conduct its own investigation nor did it wait for criminal cases against two other Penn State officials to play out. The NCAA's penalties wiped away 14 seasons' worth of victories for Paterno, taking away the record he held as the winningest coach in the history of Division I college football. Penn State was also banned from postseason play for four seasons by the NCAA and had severe scholarships limits placed on its football program. The email asks those who support its claims to sign the letter and return it by Saturday. Harris is one of Penn State's greatest players. He played fullback for Paterno in the early 1970s and went on to a Hall of Fame career with the Pittsburgh Steelers. Glocker graduated from Penn State in 1992. Marrone graduated in 1997. The letter, dated July 27 and titled "Rush to Judgment," claims the "snap judgments reached by the Freeh report about what Coach Joe Paterno knew and what he did deserve further analysis. In short, we believe this report has irresponsibly impugned Paterno's reputation without sufficient evidence." The players criticize the thoroughness of the Freeh report because the investigators did not interview many of the central people in the case, including Paterno, who died in January, Penn State Athletic Director Tim Curley and Vice President Gary Schultz, who are both awaiting trial on charges of perjury and failure to report suspected child abuse, and former assistant coach Mike McQueary, who was a key witness in the case against Sandusky. The players say Freeh made what he deemed "reasonable conclusions" about Paterno's alleged "cover-up" based on three emails. But the emails, two from 1998 and one from 2001, do not support that conclusion, the players say. The players say an email from Curley to then-Penn State University President Graham Spanier dated May 5, 1998, was used as evidence by the report to conclude "Paterno was fully and completely informed of the details of the investigation" of allegations against Sandusky. "But how does Mr. Freeh know for sure?" the players say in the letter. "Freeh's investigators did not interview Curley, and Penn State President Graham Spanier (who was interviewed), didn't remember the email at all." The players say an email dated May 13, 1998, from Curley to Schultz, titled "Jerry" and asking, "Anything new in this department? Coach is anxious to know where it stands," is too vague to be used as proof of a cover-up. The players point out the District Attorney chose not to prosecute Sandusky after a report was filed by police in 1998 about an allegation of sexual abuse. The players also say an email from Curley to Spanier and Schultz sent in 2001, after McQueary had seen Sandusky assaulting a boy in the showers of Penn State's football building, "unjustifiably portrays Paterno as omnipotent apparently for the sole purpose of tearing him down," in the Freeh report. "We will never hear from Coach Paterno, but those of us who knew him believe he, deserves the benefit of the doubt and like all citizens, is presumed innocent until proven guilty."

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Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Fixing their 'Swiss cheese' defense now a top priority for the Caps

Heading into the 2017-18 season, defense was a question mark for the Capitals. That question mark grew even bigger with Matt Niskanen on LTIR. Now, in the wake of an 8-2 loss to the Philadelphia Flyers and with Niskanen out until at least early November, Barry Trotz knows the team needs to fix the blue line and they need to do it fast.

“We've got to be better,” Trotz told reporters after Tuesday’s morning skate. “But there’s areas of our game that we can be better. We can be better in our own zone. We can take care of business defensively. That’s got to be our security blanket. We had too many holes in our d-zone. It was like Swiss cheese.”

RELATED: TROTZ HAS SHUFFLED THE DEFENSIVE PAIRS. WHAT DO THEY LOOK LIKE NOW?

The team’s first response to Niskanen’s injury was to recall Madison Bowey, a player who impressed in training camp and who likely would have started the season on the team if not for a salary cap crunch and his waiver exempt status.

Bowey’s first game did not go well with the lasting memory being a highlight reel deke Jakub Voracek delivered to turn Bowey around before setting up another Philadelphia goal.

Trotz took ownership of Saturday’s game saying the team did not “insulate” Bowey very well in his NHL debut.

The problem is that it will difficult to insulate him or anyone on the Caps’ defense given how thin the blue line currently is. Washington’s defense currently features two rookies in Bowey and Christian Djoos and Bowey is only one of three right-handed shots. Plus, both Bowey and Djoos are likely better options than either Taylor Chorney or Aaron Ness so it will be tough to take either rookie out of the lineup.

MORE CAPITALS: HOW TO WATCH CAPS-LEAFS

Given Washington’s salary cap constraints as they are right back up against the cap when Niskanen returns from injury and his salary is back on the books, it will be difficult for the Caps to make any sort of trade to bring in outside help. Many may point to goalie Philipp Grubauer as a trade chip, but his salary cap hit is only $1.5 million and you can subtract $650,000 from that as the team would have to recall Pheonix Copley to serve as backup. What kind of help can you really get with less than $1 million to play with?

If the team is going to turn things around and shore up its defense, it will mean improving from within.

Said Trotz, “We're in this for the long haul with our defense.”

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

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Wizards vs. Sixers: TV, live stream and radio info, things to watch

John Wall, Bradley Beal and the Washington Wizards battle Joel Embiid, Markelle Fultz, Ben Simmons and the Philadelphia 76ers on Wednesday night.

Here is all you need to know: TV, live stream and radio info, tip-off time, plus three things to watch…

WASHINGTON WIZARDS VS. PHILADELPHIA 76ERS

Where: Capital One Arena
Tip-off: 7:00 p.m.
TV: ESPN (coverage begins at 6 p.m. on NBC Sports Washington)
Live stream: WatchESPN.com
Radio: 1500 AM

Three things to watch...

It all begins

The long, crazy, unprecedented NBA offseason is officially over. It's time to watch some Wizards basketball. This year Washington enters the season with the highest expectations they have had in a while. Coming off their best season since the 1970s, a year in which they won 49 games, their division and reached the second round of the playoffs, the goal is to go further. They want to win more than 50 games and reach the Eastern Conference Finals or beyond.

John Wall, Bradley Beal, Otto Porter and Markieff Morris are all coming off the best seasons of their careers and will hope to take another step. Marcin Gortat will look to continue being a double-double machine. Ian Mahinmi will hope for better health. Kelly Oubre, Jr. will seek a breakout season. And their new-look bench will try to improve on last year's group. The Wizards have the tools to be one of the best teams in the NBA, but they have to stay healthy and prove it now that the rest of the NBA knows what they are capable of.

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A different Wall?

Wall made All-NBA for the first time last season, but there are many reasons to believe the best is yet to come. Wall earned that honor despite sitting out much of last offseason following two knee surgeries. This summer he was healthy and benefitted because of it. He was able to focus on his conditioning like never before and reported in fantastic shape. Now he has his sights on the MVP award and first team All-Defense. We get to see the new version of him on Wednesday night.

Wall, of course, is still finding motivation in the littlest of things. He took issue this summer with ESPN not ranking him in the top 10 among NBA players. And on Tuesday he tweeted what seemed to be a gripe with ESPN not including him in their tweet welcoming back the NBA. Wall, again, appears to be on a mission and the rest of the league should watch out, perhaps especially if you're a rookie point guard getting a lot of hype. While we're on the subject...

[RELATED: HOW MAHINMI LOST WEIGHT, WHY HE LOVES D.C.]

High profile NBA debuts

The Sixers will have two, not one, but two No. 1 overall picks making their NBA debuts on Wednesday night. It's not often you see that and it's a big reason why this one is slated for a national TV audience, that and because big things are expected of Joel Embiid. Markelle Fultz was the top selection in 2017 and will be playing his first game in his own backyard. He grew up in nearby Upper Marlboro, Md. and went to DeMatha Catholic. He won't start, but this is a huge night for him. He is playing his first game on ESPN at home and against Wall, one of the game's best point guards. No pressure, kid.

The other No. 1 pick is Ben Simmons, whom the Sixers took in the 2016 draft. He missed all of last year with a foot injury but is back and ready to remind us of why he went first overall. Simmons had a tremendous preseason and showed off his rare talents as a 6-foot-10 guy who can run the floor with anyone and pass like a point guard. He is going to make an impact in this league, but we don't know exactly what type of player he will be. Watching his debut should be fascinating.

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