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Wednesday's Sports in Brief

Wednesday's Sports in Brief

NEW YORK (AP) The Penn State child sex abuse scandal was selected as the sports story of the year by U.S. editors and news directors in an annual vote conducted by The Associated Press.

The news broke in November 2011, with a grand jury report outlining charges against Jerry Sandusky, and the outrage that followed led to the firing of Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno. But the aftershocks were felt long into 2012: Sandusky was convicted in June of assaulting 10 boys, and the NCAA handed down brutal sanctions in July.

In both years, the scandal was picked as the top sports story, the first time since the AP began conducting its annual vote in 1990 that the same story was selected twice in a row. The results of this year's tally were announced Wednesday.

Lance Armstrong being stripped of his seven Tour de France titles was No. 2 and the Saints bounty scandal was No. 3.


COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Moments after his team lost a basketball game, Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey spoke of a bigger loss.

The first-year coach of the Eagles gave an impassioned plea for government and private leaders to act soon to prevent further massacres such as the one at Sandy Hook Elementary School in Newtown, Conn., last week that left 20 children and six adults dead at the school.

``The last thing I want to say is I'm really, really lucky, because I'm going to get on an eight-hour bus ride, and I'm going to arrive in Rock Hill, South Carolina, and I'm going to walk into my house, and I'm going to walk upstairs, and I'm going to walk into two pink rooms with a 5-year-old and a 4-year-old laying in that pink room, with a bunch of teddy bears laying in that room,'' he said, concluding his remarks in the wake of a 65-55 loss at No. 7 Ohio State.

``And I'm going to give them the biggest hug and the biggest kiss I've ever given them. And there's 20 families in Newtown, Conn., that are walking into a pink room with a bunch of teddy bears with nobody laying in those beds. And it's tragic.''

Kelsey called on political leaders to get past petty differences and accomplish something.

``I didn't vote for President Obama. But you know what? He's my president now. He's my leader. I need him to step up,'' he said. ``Mr. (John) Boehner, the Speaker of the House ... OK, he needs to step up.''

He also called for others to get involved and prevent a reoccurrence of such tragedies.

``Parents, teachers, rabbis, priests, coaches - everybody needs to step up,'' he said.


EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - For much of his hour-long visit with the family of a 6-year-old boy killed in the Connecticut school shootings, Victor Cruz talked about football, life and young Jack, the child who idolized him.

The New York Giants wide receiver somberly recounted his meeting with Pinto's parents and brother in Newtown, Conn.

He struggled in his retelling only when asked about the family's decision to bury the child in the receiver's No. 80 Giants jersey. The father of an infant girl, Cruz stopped for a moment, and his eyes became watery.

``You never go through some circumstances like this and circumstances where a kid faces or a family faces something of this magnitude at their school,'' Cruz said. ``This definitely was the toughest by far.''

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - New York Jets' third-string quarterback Greg McElroy is getting his first NFL start Sunday, stepping in for the benched Mark Sanchez and leapfrogging backup Tim Tebow on the depth chart. Rex Ryan made the decision Tuesday to go with the team's seventh-round pick last year out of Alabama.

Ryan would not go into detail about why he chose Greg McElroy over Tebow with two games left in a lost season. He reiterated his comments from Tuesday that it was his decision - and his alone - saying it was a ``gut'' call.

``Obviously, I'm a little disappointed,'' Tebow said. ``You try to handle it the best you can.''

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger apologized to offensive coordinator Todd Haley for his comments following a 27-24 overtime loss to Dallas last Sunday.

Roethlisberger took Haley to task over the team's inability to feature tight end Heath Miller in the second half and wondered why the Steelers didn't stay in the no-huddle offense. The quarterback says he was frustrated after Pittsburgh (7-7) lost for the fourth time in five games and that he was unable to keep his emotions under control.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Washington Redskins quarterback Robert Griffin III was fined $10,000 by the NFL for wearing Adidas at his postgame news conference Sunday.

The NFL said the fine was for ``unauthorized apparel.''

DETROIT (AP) - The daughter of a former Chicago Bears player from the 1950s is accused of illegally collecting money from an NFL pension plan years after her father's death.

Constance Helwig-Langlois was charged with fraud in Detroit. She's the daughter of John Helwig, who played defense for the Bears.

Federal prosecutors say the NFL retirement plan kept sending checks to John Helwig's Detroit-area address after his 1994 death, saying his daughter kept the scheme going until 2011, and that the erroneous payments added up to more than $200,000 over 17 years.


SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) - Notre Dame coach Brian Kelly was voted Associated Press coach of the year after leading the Fighting Irish to a spot in the BCS championship game.

No. 1 Notre Dame is 12-0 and will play No. 2 Alabama for the national title on Jan. 7 in Miami.

Kelly received 25 votes from the AP college football poll panel. Penn State's Bill O'Brien was second with 14 votes. Stanford's David Shaw (four), Texas A&M's Kevin Sumlin (three), Kansas State's Bill Snyder (two) and Alabama's Nick Saban (one) also received votes.


Yahoo Sports reported that Oregon is likely headed toward a hearing with the NCAA committee on infractions after it couldn't resolve an investigation of the football coaching staff's use of a scouting service.

Yahoo cited two unidentified sources in its report.

The NCAA investigated Oregon after questions arose over a 2010 payment of $25,000 to Willie Lyles and his Houston-based recruiting service. Lyles had a relationship with a player from Texas who committed to Oregon.

STANFORD, Calif. (AP) - Stanford coach David Shaw agreed to a ``long-term contract extension'' that will keep him with his alma mater beyond the two years left on his remaining deal.

DAVIDSON, N.C. (AP) - Junior quarterback Will Grier, who threw for a national record 837 yards and had 10 TD passes in a 104-80 North Carolina state playoff win last month, will be a Florida Gator.

The 6-foot-3, 190-pound QB trimmed his choice to five schools before choosing the Gators over North Carolina, Tennessee, North Carolina State and Oregon.

NEW YORK (AP) - Texas has the most valuable college football program in the nation, according to Forbes Magazine.

Forbes' college football evaluations say the Longhorns are worth $133 million, up from $129 million last year.

Michigan ($120 million) was No. 2, followed by Notre Dame ($103 million). The rest of the top 10 consisted of SEC schools. Alabama ($95 million) was sixth.

MANKATO, Minn. (AP) - A Minnesota football coach cleared by a judge of child porn charges stemming from cellphone video of his naked children is no longer on administrative leave, but hasn't yet been reinstated atop the program.

Minnesota State University, Mankato coach Todd Hoffner had been on leave since the videos were discovered on his university-issued phone last August. A judge last month tossed out the charges, agreeing with Hoffner's assertion that the video captured an innocent family moment.


SEATTLE (AP) - The Los Angeles Angels got the pitching depth they wanted. The Seattle Mariners got the power-bat they so desperately needed.

Two foes in the AL West found a way to work together when the Angels traded switch-hitting slugger Kendrys Morales to the Seattle Mariners for left-hander Jason Vargas, filling needs for both teams.


TORONTO (AP) - Donald Fehr and the players' association are ready to get back to the bargaining table at any time. They are just waiting for the NHL to feel the same way.

``(We aren't talking) because the owners have not indicated a desire to resume,'' the NHLPA's executive director said before a charity hockey game.

The sides haven't negotiated since Dec. 6 in New York.


DALLAS (AP) - Dirk Nowitzki went through his first full practice with the Dallas Mavericks since having knee surgery that forced the 11-time All-Star to miss every game so far this season.

Following the practice, Nowitzki gave no timetable on when he might make his season debut, except to say ``maybe any time after Christmas.''


BUENOS AIRES, Argentina (AP) - Argentine journalists don't think Lionel Messi is the country's best athlete for 2012.

Argentine boxer Sergio Martinez was awarded the title of ``Olimpia de Oro,'' given to the South American country's top athlete in voting by its association of journalists.

Martinez defeated Mexican boxer Julio Cesar Chavez Jr. earlier this year in their WBC title fight.

Barcelona star Messi, who has had a record-breaking year with 90 goals, didn't even finish second in the voting. That went to Sebastian Crismanich, the taekwondo fighter who won Argentina's only gold medal in the London Olympics. Messi finished third.


ARE, Sweden (AP) - Viktoria Rebensburg won the women's giant slalom World Cup race, breaking Slovenian Tina Maze's winning streak.

Under floodlights, the German two-time defending champion in the giant slalom clocked the best opening run and then managed to hold on in the second to win in a total time of 2 minutes, 28.94 seconds. Austrian Anna Fenninger was second, 0.62 behind.

Maze, who arrived in the Swedish resort with four consecutive giant slalom wins this season, was third, 0.91 back.

John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen


John Carlson gets the better of John Klingberg in duel of top defensemen

One week ago, the hockey world was captivated by the matchup of Alex Ovechkin and Patrik Laine, two players battling for the Maurice "Rocket" Richard Trophy as the NHL's leading scorer. Tuesday's matchup between the Washington Capitals and Dallas Stars once again pitted two competitors locked in a point battle together in John Carlson and John Klingberg.

Carlson and Klingberg entered Tuesday's games with 59 points each, tied for the league lead in points among defensemen. In a 4-3 win for Washington, both defensemen delivered phenomenal performances as each recorded two points, two assists for Klingberg and a goal and an assist for Carlson.

Tuesday's game was the latest example this season of Carlson rising to the occasion. He has been at his best when he has been needed the most such as when he was averaging 27:46 of ice time a night while Matt Niskanen was out injured.


Carlson's ability to deliver has not gone unnoticed by his teammates.

"John's having just a whale of a year, obviously," Niskanen said. "Monster year. Production, been carrying the load all year. He's been just a stalwart back there for us. He leads the way."

"The numbers don't lie, he's been having an unreal season," T.J. Oshie said. "Definitely on the points side of things, but maybe some parts that don't get talked about, the defensive side of things. He rarely loses a battle. It's very encouraging, it gets the bench going when he plays like that."

After the game, Carlson tried to downplay the notion that he elevated his game in response to playing against Klingberg.

"No," Carlson said when asked if he was motivated by the points race. "I think the guys do a good job of pumping that up in the locker room. I just want to go out there and win. I think we played a good game tonight so that's most important."

But while his words were subdued, his play was anything but.

Despite both players getting two points, Carlson got the better of his counterpart by scoring the game-winning goal in the third period, a one-timer slap shot to beat goalie Kari Lehtnonen, to lead Washington to the win.


Carlson may say he was not motivated by Klingberg, but his play certainly seemed to suggest otherwise.

"I think they both know, they know the stats," Barry Trotz said. "They know who they're lined up  [against]. They're proud athletes. You're in a business where there's a lot of alpha males. That's what it is."

Of course, Carlson may not need a matchup with Klingberg to motivate him.

In the final year of his contract, Carlson has picked a good time to set new career highs in goals, assist and points. With a cap hit of just under $4 million, the 28-year-old blueliner will be due a significant raise in the offseason. That price tag continues to climb with every good performance as Carlson continues to cement himself among the league's top defensemen.

"Obviously he's very motivated," Trotz said. "He's in the last year of his contract. He'll be motivated. He's putting out points. He's gotten better and better. He's more poised every year. When he's intense and detailed in his game, he's a top defenseman in the league and he shows it."

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

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Need to Know: Redskins player quick hitters—Offensive starters

Here is what you need to know on this Wednesday, March 21, 36 days before the NFL draft.  

Redskins starters quick hitters—offense

The last couple of days here I looked at how the depth charts are shaping up with a little bit of commentary (offense, defense). Today and tomorrow I’ll take a closer look at the starters with some quick hitters about each one, starting today with the offense.

QB Alex Smith—The deal is done, and the Redskins have their man for five years at $22.2 million per year or, if they prefer, three years at $23.7 million per. It seems like most fans are behind him but there will have to be a few more wins than losses this fall for that to become permanent.

RB Samaje Perine—He got better as the year went on, averaging nearly a half yard per carry more in the last seven games compared to the first nine. But the 3.4 average per carry certainly did not stop both Doug Williams and Jay Gruden from talking about drafting a running back early.

TE Jordan Reed—According to reports, he is rehabbing well from the hamstring and toe injuries that severely limited him last year. Still, expect him to be kept in bubble wrap until training camp and even then, his action may be limited.

WR Josh Doctson—Did Kirk Cousins look away from Doctson too often, lacking the confidence in him to let him go get the 50-50 balls? Will Smith have more confidence in Doctson? The answers to those questions may determine if the third-year receiver breaks out in 2018 or he continues to tease with flashes of ability.

WR Paul Richardson—He’s capable of the acrobatic catch, which should be fun to watch. Richardson was good with Russell Wilson on the off-schedule plays, maybe he can do the same with Smith.

WR Jamison Crowder—I guess it’s fair to say he had an off year in 2017 but his receiving yardage only dropped by 60 yards from 2016. It will be interesting to see if they keep him in as the punt returner after he averaged 6.3 yards per return (23rd of 25 qualifiers) last year.

LT Trent Williams—The six-time Pro Bowler is still in the relatively early stages of recovering from surgery to the knee that kept him from practicing from about Week 6 on. Don’t look for him until training camp and even then, the early workload is likely to be light.

LG Arie Kouandjio—This is the one offensive position that remains up in the air. Kouandjio has shown some grit as a spot starter but I don’t think the organization views him as a 16-game starter.

C Chase Roullier—Shortly after Roullier got the starting job when Spencer Long went out injured, Jay Gruden said that Roullier would be the Redskins’ center “for a long time”. There is no reason to doubt that at this point in time.

RG Brandon Scherff—His concern no longer is trying to live up to having been the fifth pick of the draft. Scherff has to play well enough to justify his 2019 option-year salary, which will be in the vicinity of $13 million.

RT Morgan Moses—He had surgery to repair his ankles, which were an issue most of last season. Still, he didn’t miss a start. Like Williams, even if he’s ready for training camp, don’t expect to see a whole lot of him.

Stay up to date on the Redskins. Rich Tandler covers the team 365 days a year. Like his Facebook page Facebook.com/TandlerNBCS and follow him on Twitter @TandlerNBCS.

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Days until:

—Offseason workouts begin (4/16) 27
—Training camp starts (approx. 7/26) 129
—2018 NFL season starts (9/9) 173

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