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Friday's Sports in Brief

Friday's Sports in Brief

Gymnast Gabby Douglas, the teenager who became the first African-American to win an all-around Olympic title, won the AP's Female Athlete of the Year on Friday.

She is the fourth gymnast to win the award and first since Mary Lou Retton in 1984. Douglas edged swimmer Missy Franklin in a vote by U.S. editors and news directors that was announced Friday.

``I didn't realize how much of an impact I made,'' said Douglas, who turns 17 on Dec. 31. ``My mom and everyone said, `You really won't know the full impact until you're 30 or 40 years old.' But it's starting to sink in.''

In a year filled with standout performances by female athletes, those of the pint-sized gymnast shined brightest. Douglas received 48 of 157 votes, seven more than Franklin, who won four gold medals and a bronze in London. Serena Williams, who won Wimbledon and the U.S. Open two years after her career was nearly derailed by a series of health problems, was third (24).

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

Count Rick Pitino among the basketball coaches who support gun control.

The Louisville coach was asked during a news conference about his reaction to Syracuse coach Jim Boeheim's comments Monday assailing the nation's gun culture following the school shooting in Newtown, Conn. Pitino agreed with Boeheim, and said he couldn't understand why people wouldn't support gun control.

On consecutive days, Boeheim and Winthrop coach Pat Kelsey used postgame news conferences to express sympathy for victims' families and stress the need for reforms to avoid another tragedy.

Pitino followed by adding that society doesn't need guns.

``The fact that every single person does not want (gun control) would be a mystery,'' he said. ``This is not the beginning of American civilization where we need guns like it's the wild, wild West.''

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The NCAA suspended Texas basketball player Myck Kabongo for 23 games for accepting impermissible benefits and providing false statements during an investigation into the infractions.

Kabongo also must repay $475 to a charity of his choice. The NCAA will count all 11 games that Kabongo has missed toward the suspension. Texas had self-imposed a 10-game penalty.

The NCAA said Kabongo accepted airfare and personal training instruction and then provided false and misleading information about the infractions during two interviews with university officials.

PRO HOCKEY

NEW YORK (AP) - NHL players are a step closer to dissolving their union.

In a vote this week, union members overwhelmingly agreed to give the players' association's executive board the power to file a ``disclaimer of interest'' until Jan. 2.

A person familiar with the outcome of the vote told The Associated Press that the measure was approved 706-22 (97 percent), easily reaching the two-thirds majority required. However, the executive board hasn't made plans yet to meet to discuss whether to file the disclaimer.

The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the results of the vote hadn't been announced.

If the executive board files the disclaimer, the union would dissolve and become a trade association. That would allow players to file antitrust lawsuits against the NHL.

PRO FOOTBALL

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) - Mark Sanchez knows he won't be the New York Jets' starting quarterback this week.

Beyond that, the one-time face of the franchise won't say whether he thinks he'll be back with the team next season.

``I really haven't even thought about it,'' Sanchez said. ``Honestly, I'm a Jet. That's all I've known.''

Whether Sanchez has played his final snap for the team remains to be seen. A person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press that the Jets will consider all of their options regarding Sanchez and backup Tim Tebow. Trades in the offseason cannot be ruled out, but the person, who requested anonymity because the team's personnel plans are private, told the AP that the Jets have not made any determinations involving Sanchez or Tebow.

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) - San Francisco 49ers defensive tackle Ricky Jean Francois has been preparing all week to start in place of All-Pro Justin Smith on the NFL's second-ranked defense.

The 49ers remain uncertain whether that will actually happen Sunday night in a NFC West showdown against the Seattle Seahawks.

Smith's availability is in question after he missed practice Friday because of an elbow injury for the third consecutive day, placing his streak of 185 consecutive starts in jeopardy.

NEW YORK (AP) - Falcons strong safety Chris Hope was fined $30,000 for his helmet-to-helmet hit on New York Giants receiver Victor Cruz.

Hope was penalized for unnecessary roughness on the third-quarter play during Atlanta's 34-0 win on Sunday.

Falcons wide receiver Roddy White and Giants cornerback Corey Webster were fined $7,875 apiece for a skirmish during the game.

In other penalties announced by the NFL, 49ers safety Dashon Goldson was docked $21,000 for an illegal hit; Titans defensive end Antonio Smith and Jets defensive end Quinton Coples were fined $15,750 each for helmet-to-helmet hits; Ravens wide receiver Anquan Boldin and Ravens cornerback Cary Williams were fined $15,750 each for unnecessary roughness; and Chargers cornerback Antoine Cason and Titans safety Jordan Babineaux were docked $7,875 apiece for unnecessary roughness.

SPORTS BETTING

NEWARK, N.J. (AP) - New Jersey's battle with the four major professional sports leagues and the NCAA will continue after a judge rejected arguments that the leagues couldn't prove they would be harmed if the state moves ahead with its plans to allow sports gambling.

In denying the state's request to dismiss the lawsuit by the NBA, NHL, NFL, Major League Baseball and the NCAA, U.S. District Judge Michael Shipp agreed that they have standing to file the suit because expanding legal sports betting to New Jersey would negatively affect perception of their games.

In his ruling, Shipp cited studies offered by the leagues that showed fans' negative attitudes toward game-fixing and sports gambling.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) - Blake Bortles threw for three touchdowns and ran for another to lead Central Florida to a 38-17 victory over Ball State in the Beef `O' Brady's Bowl.

Bortles threw first-half TD passes of 7 and 5 yards to Latavius Murray, who also scored on a 2-yard run to help the Knights (10-4) build a 21-point halftime lead and coast to victory in their final game as a member of Conference USA.

NORTH CANTON, Ohio (AP) - Ted Karras Jr., fresh from winning the NAIA championship at Marian, is the new head coach at Walsh.

The Northwestern graduate and nephew of the late former NFL star Alex Karras takes over for Jim Dennison, who started the program and then returned to guide it before resigning at the end of the 2011 season.

Ted Karras spent the last seven seasons at Marian, going 48-23 including a 12-1 record this year. He led the Knights past Morningside College 30-27 in overtime to win the NAIA title.

BASEBALL

Free agent catcher A.J. Pierzynski passed a physical, clearing the way for a one-year deal with the Texas Rangers.

A person familiar with the deal said Pierzynski had a physical and everything was OK. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Rangers had not added Pierzynski to their 40-man roster.

With the Major League Baseball office closed for Christmas, the roster move won't be made until at least next week.

SOCCER

ALKMAAR, Netherlands (AP) - U.S. soccer player Jozy Altidore paid tribute to the 26 victims of the school shooting in Connecticut by wearing their names on his cleats during a game for the Dutch team AZ Alkmaar.

Altidore scrawled the names in black ink across his yellow cleats, plus wore a black band across one of his arms to represent mourning. The 20 students and six teachers at a school in Newtown, Conn. were killed Dec. 14.

TENNIS

MADRID (AP) - Rafael Nadal is nervous about his return to tennis after a seven-month layoff and believes it may be some time before his injured knee is completely healed.

Nadal told Canal Plus television that ``I'm prepared to accept that my knee may not respond well at the beginning.'' He has considered playing off and on during the first three months of 2013.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - A tennis referee whose career was almost ended by a charge that she murdered her husband with a coffee cup was reinstated after the charge was dismissed for lack of evidence.

Lois Goodman's attorneys said in Los Angeles that the U.S. Tennis Association approved her to resume judging matches in 2013. The organization confirmed her reinstatement.

SKIING

INNSBRUCK, Austria (AP) - Marlies Schild of Austria will be out three months following knee surgery and won't be able to defend her world slalom title in her home country in February.

SPEEDSKATING

KEARNS, Utah (AP) - Lana Gehring and JR Celski dominated the competition at the U.S. short track speedskating championships, sweeping the women's and men's gold, respectively, in the 1,500 and 500 meters at the Utah Olympic Oval.

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Breaking down the Jalen Ramsey question and what it could mean for the Ravens secondary

Breaking down the Jalen Ramsey question and what it could mean for the Ravens secondary

If there’s one thing that’s obvious about the Jalen Ramsey situation in Jacksonville, it’s that there are 31 other teams that would like to have him on the team. 

Yes, that includes the Ravens. It’s not breaking news to think every team in the NFL is looking for a former All-Pro cornerback any way they can get him.

Two Ravens players, Matthew Judon and Marquise Brown, already tweeted their desire to bring Ramsey to Baltimore.

The logistics of adding him, however, are a completely separate issue. 

Ramsey, a 2016 first-round pick of the Jaguars, recently requested a trade. He’s reportedly unhappy with his usage in the Jaguars defense and had a spat with his head coach, Doug Marrone, on the sideline last Sunday against the Texans. 

According to ESPN’s Dianna Russini, two offers have already been made for Ramsey’s services.

From the Ravens perspective, there’s both pros and cons to what this deal could mean. 

Starting with the positives, it’s clear: Ramsey is one of, if not the game’s best cornerbacks. Adding him to a secondary already with Marlon Humphrey on the opposite side of the field, and Earl Thomas and Tony Jefferson at safety, would clearly give the Ravens the best secondary in the NFL — if they didn’t have it already. 

Without slot cornerback Tavon Young for the season and Jimmy Smith for a few weeks, the Ravens have been pressed deeper than they thought they might have to go with those two absent. Ramsey would come in and immediately fill a hole left behind from injuries. 

Ramsey is still under his rookie contract for this and next season, where he’ll carry a cap hit of 7.429 million dollars this season according to Spotrac. Next year, his final year, he’ll have a cap hit of 13.7 million dollars.

The Ravens have 9.625 million dollars in cap space this season, also according to Spotrac. Meaning, they’d be able to fit him in, should they so desire. Next season, they’re projected to have the ninth-most cap space available in the NFL at 68.127 million dollars. 

With 10 projected draft picks next year, including two-third round picks and three-fourth round picks, the Ravens will have the ammunition necessary to acquire a player like Ramsey. And in a conference with the Chiefs, Patriots and Browns, all of whom boast outstanding offensive weapons, building out the defensive side of the ball could push the Ravens over the edge. 

Baltimore has free agents to take care of at season’s end, like Michael Pierce, Willie Snead, Patrick Onwuasor, Matthew Judon, Patrick Ricard and Jimmy Smith. 

None of those names, however, will command top-dollar in the open market. And with Lamar Jackson still on his rookie deal for this season and potentially three more after this, the time to strike for the Ravens could be now. 

But, like all trade scenarios, there’s another side to Ramsey’s potential acquisition. 

Ramsey has stated his desire to be a lockdown, No. 1 cornerback responsible for shutting down opposing team’s top receivers. The Ravens already have a bonafide top corner in Humphrey, and if the team uses its fifth-year option on him, he won’t have to be re-signed until 2021.

Ronnie Stanley is the biggest fish that the Ravens have to sign, and he’s due after the 2020 season — the same season as Ramsey. Locking up Stanley and Ramsey could prove to be tough, especially considering the fact that both would be at or near the top of the pay-grade for their respective position groups. 

And, for better or worse, Ramsey has been known to be vocal about what he sees on the field and in the organization. 

That could mean a proclamation about how well the defense is playing as a way of being a leader, or it could mean lashing out when things go poorly. Like he showed last week against the Texans, he’s not shy about telling the man in charge about how he feels. Could that be pent up frustration boiling over? Absolutely. But the Ravens will have to be careful with what they decide, considering that past.

They’ve had boisterous personalities before in Ray Lewis and Terrell Suggs, so the franchise isn’t foreign to what those players bring. 

Even if the Ravens view Ramsey as their top option and would like to make a deal, the Jaguars need to be pleased with the compensation they receive. The Ravens might not be willing to go that far. 

Jacksonville has reportedly been asking for a first-round pick, plus more. The Ravens do have a 2020 first-round pick, but might not be willing to sell off what could end up being another second or third-round pick, or even their 2021 first-round pick. 

Even if the Ravens offer their 2020 first-round pick, at 2-0 already, there’s a decent shot the Ravens pick 20th or higher in the first round. The Jaguars could accept a trade from another team, who they view as having a better chance of picking towards the top of the first round in the next few years. 

So what does all that mean? It means to remain level-headed, whether or not the move gets done. 

Should the Ravens pull the trigger on one of the biggest moves of the 2019 season, or should they sit on the sidelines and keep their picks, there are pros and cons to each decision. The trade, or lack thereof, doesn’t mean the Ravens will win the AFC or mean they’re doomed.

It just means they’ll either have Jalen Ramsey, or they won’t.

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Hollywood Brown tweets at Jalen Ramsey in support of Jaguars CB joining Ravens

Hollywood Brown tweets at Jalen Ramsey in support of Jaguars CB joining Ravens

Marquise Brown has made it clear what he thinks of Jalen Ramsey's reported trade request out of Jacksonville. 

On Tuesday morning, Brown tweeted at Ramsey in support of the All-Pro cornerback joining the Ravens.

Ramsey, a 2016 first-round in Jacksonville, quickly established himself as one of the best cornerbacks in the league and was named All-Pro in just his second season. 

Reportedly, the Jaguars are looking for at least one first round pick in return for Ramsey. And after the Steelers traded a first round pick for Minkah Fitzpatrick, there's good reason to think the Jaguars wouldn't settle for less than that. 

Things are ramping up so quickly, as he had an incident on the sideline last Sunday while the team was in Houston. Video caught Ramsey and Jaguars coach Doug Marrone exchanging words on the sideline, and both had to be separated. 

Whether or not the trade would fit for the Ravens and their organization remains to be seen, as does if the compensation required for Ramsey is worth it. 

On the Ravens side, the need is there. Slot cornerback Tavon Young is out for the season with a neck injury and Jimmy Smith is out for a few weeks with an MCL sprain.

Either way, there's already at least one Ravens player with bringing Ramsey along.

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