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29 years after crash, Rivera enters College Hall

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29 years after crash, Rivera enters College Hall

NEW YORK (AP) Gabe Rivera was maybe the greatest defensive lineman to play at Texas Tech.

They called him Senor Sack. He was an All-American in 1982 and was drafted by the Steelers in the first round in 1983.

He has trouble remembering his playing days now. A car accident during his rookie season left him in a wheelchair and robbed him of some of his memory.

The congratulations that came after he was elected to the College Hall of Fame helped bring back some of those faded memories.

``When people started congratulating me, they'd say `I remember when you did this and did that.' It feels good that they remember those things,'' Rivera said Tuesday.

He was part of a class of 14 players and three coaches inducted into the Hall of Fame on Tuesday night at the national Football Foundation banquet in Manhattan.

Heisman Trophy winner Ty Detmer and former Miami coach Jimmy Johnson also were inducted.

``At this point in your life, you've been removed from football long enough now that you really appreciate those times you had and you kind of take a step back and reflect on all that and all the friends and teammates and coaches you were able to play with,'' said Detmer, who won the Heisman for BYU in 1990.

The other players in the latest Hall of Fame class are LSU tailback Charles Alexander, Purdue halfback Otis Armstrong, California quarterback Steve Bartkowski, Southern California split end Hal Bedsole, Notre Dame tight end Dave Casper, Rice quarterback Tommy Kramer, Syracuse receiver Art Monk, Colorado State defensive back Greg Myers, UCLA offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, Kansas State linebacker Mark Simoneau, Air Force safety Scott Thomas, and Colorado guard John Wooten.

The other coaches are Phillip Fulmer, who won the first BCS title in 1998 with Tennessee, and R.C. Slocum, who coached Texas A&M from 1989-2002.

Rivera grew up in San Antonio and went to west to play college football in Lubbock for the Red Raiders as a linebacker and a tight end. He went from about 230 pounds to 280 and turned into one of the best defensive linemen in the country.

During his senior season, he had five sacks and 62 solo tackles, including 10 tackles for loss.

He was the 21st overall draft pick in 1983 by Pittsburgh, but in October of that year he got into an automobile accident that left him a paraplegic. He sustained head injuries that caused some lingering memory issues.

He said he tries not to think about could have been.

``You try not to but your mind tells you these things and it's like, I probably could have done that,'' he said. ``It's kind of hard sometimes.''

The 51-year-old Rivera said for several years after his accident, he struggled physically and mentally. It was hard for him to not be bitter.

``From the accident in `83, it took maybe 5, 6, 8 years to get control (of my life),'' he said. ``At one time I just changed my life and started going forward.

He added: ``I was mad at the world, mad at God and stuff.''

He tries now to focus on the good things that have happened to him since the accident - such as meeting his second wife, Nancy. He met her when he hit her with his wheelchair at the San Antonio zoo.

``I still run into her but now she gets mad,'' he said, smiling.

Still, life is not easy.

``It's a struggle for us every day,'' he said.

Rivera said he is susceptible to infections and we went through a stretch five years ago where his health was not good.

``I'm in a good part now,'' he said. ``We control everything. My wife helps tremendously.''

He said when he found out earlier in the year that he had been elected to the Hall of Fame, he was shocked and overjoyed. It also helped him recall the days when he was Senor Sack.

``Nowadays people come up to me, `I remember you running this guy over and doing these things.' Some of the time they say it, and, oh, now I remember. It comes back to me.''

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Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

Capitals are the class of the Metropolitan Division for fifth year in a row

You know what’s fun? Winning Metropolitan Division titles. 

No, it’s not as good as the big prize. The Capitals will never top their 2018 Stanley Cup championship. But winning a competitive division against their biggest rivals five years in a row? Pretty, pretty good. 

Washington took its fifth in a row officially on Tuesday when the NHL announced that the regular season had concluded thanks to the ongoing coronavirus. The Capitals just outlasted the Philadelphia Flyers with 90 standings points to 89. The difference over 69 games? One extra Caps game going into overtime for a single point. 

Credit to the Flyers for making a late run. No one was playing better in the NHL than Philadelphia just before the season was halted. Whether that carries over into the Stanley Cup Playoffs remains to be seen. 

But the Capitals should take pride in that streak. It’s hard to do in an age of parity. They play in a division where the Pittsburgh Penguins won two Stanley Cups in the previous four seasons. The two teams slugged it out three times in the second round. That’s the luck of the draw, and so four straight division titles -- and two Presidents’ Trophies -- meant just one Cup for Washington. 

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It’s also rare to dominate a division the way the Capitals have for five years. The Anaheim Ducks won the Pacific Division title every year from 2013 to 2017. Prior to that, the Detroit Red Wings won the Central Division an astounding eight times from 2001 to 2009. It doesn’t get you a championship -- Washington won the expired Southeast Division from 2008 to 2011 -- but it does mean you played great hockey year after year.

And to do it in the reconstituted Patrick Division, where long-time rivals like the Penguins, Flyers, Rangers, Islanders and Devils joined with newer rivals Carolina and Columbus, makes it even sweeter. Add another banner to the rafters at Capital One Arena. The Caps are the class of the Metropolitan Division yet again. 

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Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

Nationals will not lay off full-time business or baseball employees amid coronavirus pandemic

The Washington Nationals decided to use “partial furloughs” to keep their baseball and business employees at work through the end of their contracts or the calendar year.

The road map works like this:

All full-time business and baseball employees will receive a reduction in pay and hours ranging from 10 to 30 percent. If the employee’s contract runs to the end of baseball season -- typically Oct. 31 -- then these parameters apply from now until then. If the employee is not on contract, these reductions persist until Dec. 31.

No full-time employee is being laid off because of the economic impact from coronavirus.

An example: If a person works a 40-hour week, and has the 10 percent reduction in pay and hours, they are down to a 36-hour week at 10 percent pay cut.

The reduction scale slides. The highest-paid employees, like Mike Rizzo, are taking the largest reduction in pay. Then on down the line.

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The Nationals deciding to do this now allows their staff to know what the future holds as opposed to wondering month-to-month what decision the organization will make in regard to their job status.

Major League Baseball organizations remain uneasy about their financial future in 2020 since the season has stalled. The league and its team owners are in the midst of negotiations with the MLBPA while attempting to find a safe, revenue-satisfactory path back to the field.

Meanwhile, teams across the league are assessing their non-player finances, and the approach varies. For instance, the Anaheim Angels decided last week to furlough some non-playing employees.

In Washington, no full-time employee will be laid off because of this salary adjustment.

USA Today was first to report the Nationals’ overall decision.

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