Monday's Sports In Brief

Monday's Sports In Brief


AUSTIN, Texas (AP) Lance Armstrong ended a decade of denial by confessing to Oprah Winfrey that he used performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press.

The admission came hours after an emotional apology by Armstrong to the Livestrong charity he founded and turned into a global institution on the strength of his celebrity as a cancer survivor.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the interview is to be broadcast Thursday on Winfrey's network. She tweeted afterward, ``Just wrapped with (at)lancearmstrong More than 2 1/2 hours. He came READY!'' She was to appear on ``CBS This Morning'' on Tuesday to discuss the interview.

The confession was a stunning reversal for Armstrong after years of public statements, interviews and court battles in which he denied doping and zealously protected his reputation.


KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Jovan Belcher had a blood-alcohol level more than twice the legal limit when he shot his girlfriend nine times and then killed himself in front of his coach and general manager, an autopsy showed.

The Jackson County Medical Examiner report on Belcher, 25, raised new questions about whether police should have done more before the Dec. 1 murder-suicide. Officers found Belcher sleeping in his idling car about five hours earlier, but let him go inside a nearby apartment to sleep it off.

At the time of the autopsy, Belcher's BAC was 0.17, more than twice the limit of 0.08 percent for Missouri drivers, and it was likely higher when he shot girlfriend Kasandra Perkins, 22, at the couple's Kansas City home. A police report released previously said Belcher had gone out the night before with a woman he was dating on the side while Perkins attended a concert with her friends.


OAKLAND, Calif. (AP) - Oakland manager Bob Melvin got a two-year contract extension that takes him through the 2016 season after he led the A's to a surprising AL West title last year.

Oakland became the first team in major league history to win a division or pennant after trailing by five games with less than 10 to play, sweeping three games against Texas to win the division.

The A's lost to Detroit in the deciding game of its best-of-five AL division series. Oakland ended a five-year stretch without a winning record or playoff berth, finishing 94-68 with a majors-best 14 walkoff wins by a young team and rotation of rookies.

Melvin was voted AL Manager of the Year. The 51-year-old took over from the fired Bob Geren in June 2011. Melvin led the Diamondbacks to the NL West title in 2007 and also won 93 games in his rookie season with Seattle in 2003.


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Kevin O'Neill was fired as Southern California's basketball coach after 3 1/2 years during which he failed to turn around a program weighed down by NCAA issues that preceded his arrival and a string of player injuries.

O'Neill had a 48-65 record, including 7-10 this season after going 6-26 last year, setting a school record for losses.

Veteran assistant Bob Cantu will serve as interim coach while USC searches for a successor.

Cantu took over for O'Neill during a Pac-10 tournament semifinal game against Arizona in 2010-11 when the coach was suspended after getting into a confrontation with a Wildcats booster. He has remained on the staff through four coaching changes and is the Pac-12's longest tenured assistant.

Athletic director Pat Haden said it was evident to him that the program needed new leadership.


ABU DHABI, United Arab Emirates (AP) - Rory McIlroy and Tiger Woods are on the same team now - at least when it comes to sponsorship.

McIlroy officially made the switch to the swoosh as Nike confirmed one of the worst-kept secrets in golf, announcing it had signed a multi-year deal with the top-ranked Northern Irishman.

The deal means Nike now has golf's two biggest names representing its brand, as Woods has been with the sportswear company since turning pro in 1996. Nike did not disclose any financial details of the deal, but industry observers have estimated that McIlroy will be paid up to $20 million a year to use the company's equipment and apparel.

McIlroy said he was ``really excited'' to start the season and insisted he has made a ``seamless'' adjustment to his new equipment, especially his driver.


LONDON (AP) - FIFA President Sepp Blatter has raised fresh doubts about the safety of playing the 2022 World Cup in Qatar during the summer.

There have been growing calls to move the tournament to the winter to avoid the sweltering desert heat that is expected to exceed 104 degrees in June and July.

Blatter says players and fans will be fine in the air-conditioned stadiums. But he adds that the World Cup is also an event outside the stadiums, ``so it is a question mark.''

In an interview with Sky Sports News, Blatter addressed other matters. He reiterated his belief in deducting points from teams in cases of racial abuse, and he confirmed that in 2015 he'll be leaving his job as head of soccer's governing body.

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Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

Washington Wizards

Wizards to give fans Phil Chenier emoji signs and 1978 title shirts for special weekend

This weekend was already going to be special for Washington Wizards fans. Now they will get souvenirs to remember it.

As part of their celebration of Phil Chenier's legendary career and the 40th anniversary of their 1978 NBA championship, the Wizards are handing out emoji signs on Friday night and commemorative t-shirts on Sunday. All fans in attendance will receive a giveaway.


The emoji sign has Chenier's face on it and will be handed out for the March 23 game against the Nuggets. Chenier will have his jersey retired at halftime during the game. 

The emoji sign is presented by NBC Sports Washington. You're welcome, Authentic Fans.


The shirts will be given out on Sunday when the Wizards host the New York Knicks. 

Here's the front...

And the back...

Let's take a closer look at that back...

As a reporter who has received many giveaways over the years at pro sports stadiums, these are uniquely awesome. Should be a great weekend for Wizards fans. See you at the arena.


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Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

USA Today Sports

Orioles round out starting pitching rotation, finalize 4-year contract with Alex Cobb

SARASOTA, Fla. -- Alex Cobb's comfort and familiarity with the AL East was the deciding factor in his decision to sign with the Baltimore Orioles.

"They used the AL East and the success I've had in it to their advantage," the 30-year-old right-hander said Wednesday after finalizing a $57 million, four-year contract. "They kept challenging me with it and I love the challenge of pitching in this division and they know that over the times we talked. They did a really good job of making me feel like this is where I need to be."

Cobb gets $14 million in each of the first three seasons and $15 million in 2021, and he would earn a $500,000 bonus in each year he pitches 180 innings. Baltimore will defer $6.5 million from this year's salary and $4.5 million in each of the next three seasons.

He gets $2 million of the deferred money on Nov. 30, 2022, and $1.8 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2023-32. If he doesn't pitch at least 130 innings in 2020, an additional $5.25 million of the final's year salary would get deferred, payable $1.75 million annually on Nov. 30 from 2033-35.


Cobb has a full no-trade this year, then can list 10 teams from 2019-21 that he cannot be dealt to without his consent.

He had spent his entire six-season big league career with Tampa Bay and was the last big-name starting pitcher available in a slow-moving free agent market. He joined Andrew Cashner and Chris Tillman, who were signed last month, in a revamped rotation that includes holdovers Dylan Bundy and Kevin Gausman.

Cobb was 12-10 with a 3.66 ERA in 29 starts last season. He pitched 179 1/3 innings in his first full year back after missing nearly two seasons because of Tommy John surgery.

He had turned down the Rays' $17.4 million qualifying offer in November, and Baltimore pursued him from the start of free agency.

"They didn't stop bothering me the whole offseason," Cobb said. "They were very persistent, and I think that you notice that confidence they have in you just by the way they speak to you and the questions you ask and not questioning anything that's gone on. Everyone's got flaws that they come with and potential things you could really harp on that might not be your strong suit, but they never went down that avenue. They always told me how much they like certain aspects of what I do on and off the field, and just kept repeating how well I fit in here."


Cobb is 48-35 with a 3.50 in six big league seasons. Baltimore will lose its third-highest draft pick, currently No. 51, and the Rays get an extra selection after the first round as compensation.

Jose Mesa Jr. was designated for assignment Wednesday to clear a roster spot.

Baltimore opens on March 29 at home against Minnesota, but Cobb won't be ready to pitch then. He has agreed to be optioned to a minor league affiliate to help build up innings.

"I'm going to be pushing it as quick as I can," Cobb said. "That's going to be up to them. They've invested in me for a four-year period and as much as we know how much every game matters even early in April, we're going to have to look out for the overall future of this whole thing and whole contract and whatever they determine to be the way to protect me and my feedback from the bullpens I'm going to be throwing here in the next few days will probably determine the timeline."