Redskins

Friday's Sports In Brief

Friday's Sports In Brief

CYCLING

LOS ANGELES (AP) Paramount Pictures and J.J. Abrams' production company, Bad Robot, are planning a biopic about disgraced cyclist Lance Armstrong.

They've secured the rights to New York Times reporter Juliet Macur's upcoming book ``Cycle of Lies: The Fall of Lance Armstrong,'' due out in June. Macur covered the seven-time Tour de France winner for over a decade.

No director, writer, star or start date have been set.

During a two-part interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong admits to using performance-enhancing drugs to reach his historic victories, something he'd defiantly denied for years. The International Olympic Committee stripped him of his 2000 bronze medal this week.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LUBBOCK, Texas (AP) - Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel recently got a speeding ticket near Dallas and a local judge thought it newsworthy enough to post something on Facebook.

Ennis City Manager Steve Howerton issued a news release saying Judge W. Lee Johnson's Facebook post was ``insensitive and inappropriate.'' He said Johnson could face disciplinary action.

Manziel, the Davey O'Brien winner and the AP player of the year, got the ticket in Ennis, a small city about 35 miles south of Dallas.

Manziel has drawn attention recently for Twitter photos that have shown him drinking champagne at a Dallas club and flashing cash at an Oklahoma casino. Last summer, Manziel was also arrested after police say he was involved in a fight and produced a fake ID.

FLORENCE, Ky. (AP) - The Kentucky-based Florence Freedom minor league baseball team is jumping on the Manti Te'o girlfriend hoax story, offering a bobblehead giveaway of the girlfriend - only the boxes will be empty.

And the New York Mets' Class A Brooklyn Cyclones will hold a ``Fictitious Friday'' on June 21. Sid Finch will make his professional debut against Roy Hobbs and the New York Knights - all fictional.

The Cyclones said they will have a petting zoo ``featuring a unicorn, a mermaid and a Minotaur,'' adding they ``are also in discussions with the Loch Ness Monster and Big Foot to throw out a ceremonial first pitch.''

The Freedom, a member of the Frontier League, said the boxes will go to the first 1,000 fans on May 23. They also will rope off a special section just for people to bring imaginary friends.

NFL

Alicia Keys is adding her voice to the Super Bowl show for the third time.

The Grammy-winning R&B singer will perform the national anthem before the NFL championship game on Feb. 3 in New Orleans.

The league said Keys' three performances at the Super Bowl will be the most in the event's history. She sang ``America the Beautiful'' in 2005 and was part of the 2008 pregame show.

The Super Bowl teams will be determined Sunday, when the San Francisco 49ers play the Atlanta Falcons in the NFC championship game, and the Baltimore Ravens face the New England Patriots in the AFC championship game.

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) - Police are investigating a sexual assault allegation involving 49ers wide receiver Michael Crabtree.

The alleged assault occurred in a San Francisco hotel room early Sunday, after the 49ers' playoff victory over the Green Bay Packers, police said in a written statement.

Crabtree has been interviewed with his attorney present and has cooperated with the probe, the statement said. The receiver hasn't been detained or arrested, and he agreed to be available for more questions in the future.

The probe is being handled by the department's special victims unit. When the investigation is done, the findings will be forwarded to the district attorney's office, which decides if charges should be filed. Authorities didn't release any further details.

BOXING

Muhammad Ali had a knockout of a 71st birthday, celebrating with friends and family and watching a video of his ``Rumble in the Jungle'' win over George Foreman in Africa.

Ali's former business manager, Gene Kilroy, said the fighter - who has long suffered from Parkinson's - particularly enjoyed a big birthday cake in the celebration Thursday at his home in a gated community just outside Phoenix.

Kilroy said Ali's eyes lit up as he watched the video of himself knocking out Foreman in the 1974 fight in what was then Zaire. Foreman had been a big favorite in the fight, but Ali stopped him in the eighth round in one of the great upsets in heavyweight history.

COLLEGE SPORTS

BALTIMORE (AP) - The Maryland Attorney General filed a lawsuit against the Atlantic Coast Conference, saying its approximately $53 million exit fee for the University of Maryland's departure to the Big Ten is invalid and unenforceable.

Attorney General Douglas F. Gansler filed the suit on behalf of the school and its board of regents in Prince George's County Circuit Court.

The ACC sued Maryland in November in a North Carolina court to make the school pay the exit fee. Gansler also filed a motion to dismiss that lawsuit, saying a court in that state has no jurisdiction over Maryland.

The attorney general's lawsuit seeks, among other remedies, nearly $157 million in damages.

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Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Three ways the Redskins helped Dwayne Haskins truly shine for the first time

Dwayne Haskins played really well Sunday against the Eagles, and it wasn't just on certain drives or in specific situations. Haskins put together a complete and encouraging performance in Week 15, and for that, he deserves a lot of credit.

But the Redskins' coaching staff, and most notably Kevin O'Connell, should be praised as well for setting Haskins up to shine versus Philly.

Here are three things O'Connell and the offense did at FedEx Field that contributed to the rookie's best effort as a pro.

They were more aggressive on early downs

The following two things are true: 1) Bill Callahan loves Adrian Peterson, and 2) Adrian Peterson has a legitimate shot at rushing for more than 1,000 yards this season. Because of those two facts, it felt like Sunday was setting up to be the Peterson Show, especially on first down.

It wasn't, though, and that greatly benefitted Haskins.

No. 7 found Terry McLaurin for a nine-yarder to start the contest, a throw that allowed the QB to settle into a nice rhythm from the start. The 75-yard touchdown pass from Haskins to McLaurin was also a first down toss, one that featured play-action:

A first down pass in the second quarter, meanwhile, led to a defensive pass interference that advanced the ball 14 yards. On that possession, Haskins would eventually find Steven Sims for a score. 

Throughout the matchup, the Burgundy and Gold seemed more comfortable with trusting Haskins to attack the Eagles, and that's something he very much enjoyed.

"I hope to continue to do it," he told reporters postgame.

They targeted Steven Sims a bunch

Want another example of O'Connell's influence over the gameplan? Look no further than how much Sims was involved.

Overall, Sims was targeted 11 times, and while he only hauled in five of those passes, he's a guy worth looking to often. O'Connell has talked for weeks now about how much he wants to use Sims, and while it may sound odd to say that an undrafted receiver from Kansas deserves lots of chances on a unit that includes McLaurin and Peterson, it's true.

He's really difficult for defensive backs to stay in front of and he's shown a penchant for making some tremendous grabs, including his toe-tapper for his first career receiving TD on Sunday.  

"I'm seeing everything and I'm playing faster," Sims said in the locker room. 

O'Connell and Haskins are seeing him, too, and his larger role is giving Haskins another weapon to rely on.

They introduced a creative option play

In addition to the uptick in aggressiveness, the Redskins also were more creative against the Eagles than they had been lately. The best example of that is the option they introduced and executed perfectly on two separate snaps.

On the first option, Haskins fake-tossed it to Peterson before lateraling it to him a second later. The fake from Haskins was a nifty way to buy more time for the play to develop and it set Peterson up to pick up a first down:

They went back to it again in the third quarter, but this time, Haskins kept the ball and cut upfield for a 23-yard gain:

Watch any NFL game on any weekend, and you'll see offenses trying new concepts and surprising defenses with those concepts. In Week 15, the Redskins were finally one of those offenses, and the group as a whole was the most effective its been under Haskins. And for that, both the player and the staff should be recognized.

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Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

Mark Lerner reflects on Bryce Harper’s departure in free agency

For seven seasons, the Nationals and Bryce Harper enjoyed a happy marriage that included four NL East division titles, an MVP award and the respect from the rest of the league as legitimate playoff contenders year in and year out.

But principal owner Mark Lerner knew their relationship might not last forever. In an exclusive interview with NBC Sports Washington’s Donald Dell, Lerner talked about how the team balanced making a business decision with the personal side of hoping to extend Harper when he hit free agency last offseason.

“We all like Bryce but at the end of the day, there’s the economic factor, there’s other factors that come into it: clubhouse, interaction with teammates, everything you could imagine in a decision about a free agent,” Lerner said.

Harper signed a 13-year, $330 million deal with the Philadelphia Phillies, which at the time was the record for the most expensive contract in MLB history. The Nationals reportedly made him an offer for 10 years and $300 million that included $100 million in deferrals at the end of the 2018 season.

“He [was] a free agent for a reason, he earned that right,” Lerner said. “It’s his decision and his family’s decision where they play. And he chose to move on. He obviously got an incredible offer.

“Everybody seems to forget it’s not just a bidding war to get the players, the player has to want to play here and sometimes that happens, sometimes it doesn’t.”

By the time Harper signed with Philadelphia in early March, the Nationals had already reported to Spring Training with starter Patrick Corbin signed to a six-year, $140 million deal as well as a slew of new faces on the roster that had joined the club through free agency. Lerner said Washington never heard back from Harper and didn’t want to wait for him to make a decision.

“We were moving down a different path at that point anyhow,” Lerner said. “Because, as you may recall, Bryce had not given us a response through his agent Scott Boras and we had decisions we had to make so we didn’t get caught waiting too long for him to find out we can’t get other players to replace him.

“And our choice at that point in time was either wait for him or we had the opportunity to sign Patrick Corbin. And we chose to sign Patrick Corbin and get another great starter, which has worked out great, and it was really more us at that point to say, ‘We have to move on.’”

The Nationals went on to win the World Series in 2019 while Harper posted an .882 OPS with 35 home runs in 157 games for the 81-81 Phillies. But as division rivals, Harper and the Nationals will see each other plenty over the next 12 years he’s locked into Philadelphia.

Only time will tell which side ends up wondering what could’ve been.

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