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NCAA hopes sports science center helps with safety

NCAA hopes sports science center helps with safety

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) The NCAA says it is committed to ensuring the safety of all college athletes and plans to open a national sports science institute to make playing sports safer.

The comments came in a statement emailed to The Associated Press on Monday night, the day after President Barack Obama acknowledged that if he had a son, he would have to think about letting him play football. The NCAA did not specifically address Obama's comments about football, choosing instead to address the broader issue.

``Student-athlete safety is one of our foundational principles,'' the statement read. ``Throughout its history, the association and its member institutions and conferences have specifically addressed the prevention of student-athlete injuries through a combination of playing rules, equipment requirements, medical best practices and policies.''

But now the governing body is taking a bold new step - starting the NCAA's Sports Science Institute, which will be run by Dr. Brian Hainline, a neurologist with extensive sports medicine expertise. He was hired as the NCAA's first chief medical officer in October so he could lead the center.

``In an effort to identify solutions and opportunities to ensure student-athlete health and safety, the NCAA will continue to lead extensive outreach and collaboration with the medical, scientific and athletics communities,'' the NCAA said. ``This Institute will function as a national resource to provide safety, health and medical expertise and research for coaches, medical staff, and athletics administrators, including a national task force for collegiate football safety.''

This isn't the first time college football has come under fire from an American president.

In 1905, with violence on the rise, President Theodore Roosevelt asked football coaches from Harvard, Princeton and Yale to visit the White House. There, he encouraged them to reform the game, and that winter, they created the organization that became the NCAA and legalized the forward pass.

The change worked.

Within two decades, the popularity of college football was so great it led to the formation of a pro league that would be renamed the National Football League in 1922.

Now, Obama is weighing in.

``I think that those of us who love the sport are going to have to wrestle with the fact that it will probably change gradually to try to reduce some of the violence,'' Obama told The New Republic.

``In some cases, that may make it a little bit less exciting, but it will be a whole lot better for the players, and those of us who are fans maybe won't have to examine our consciences quite as much.''

College football, however, drew some of Obama's greatest criticism.

``The NFL players have a union, they're grown men, they can make some of these decisions on their own, and most of them are well-compensated for the violence they do to their bodies,'' Obama said. ``You read some of these stories about college players who undergo some of these same problems with concussions and so forth and then have nothing to fall back on. That's something that I'd like to see the NCAA think about.''

The recent emphasis has been on concussion awareness.

Some schools, such as Indiana and Virginia Tech, have used sensors inside players' helmets to measure the impact of hits to a player's head. Both the NFL and the NCAA have instituted stricter policies about allowing players to return from concussions, and both the NFL and NCAA have been named in concussion-related lawsuits.

The movement has even trickled down to youth football.

USA Football, an organization backed by the NFL, has introduced the Heads Up program - an online educational program for parents, youth coaches and commissioners that teaches proper tackling techniques they hope will lead to fewer concussions. In March, USA Football, which is based in Indianapolis, plans to bring more than 20 current and former coaches to Indy to help train a group of ``master trainers'' that will help more than 100 youth leagues across the nation.

Some players at the Super Bowl said they had no problem letting their sons play football. Count former NFL offensive lineman Tony Boselli among that group. He responded to Obama's comments on Twitter, by writing: ``Interesting, I do have boys and I am thinking long & hard about them getting near politics. No problem them playing football.''

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After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

After viral 2018 scuffle, Taylor Lewan offers to make peace with Josh Norman

Redskins cornerback Josh Norman and Titans tackle Taylor Lewan got into a widely-discussed altercation after Washington's Week 16 loss to Tennesse last season.

But on Thursday, Lewan said he's finally ready to let bygones be bygones. 

Lewan tweeted he wants Norman to come on the "Bussin' With The Boys" podcast he co-hosts with former Redskins linebacker Will Compton to "settle our differences."

Judging by what happened last December, there are plenty of differences: Norman threw his helmet at Lewan after the latter approached him, Lewan later accusing Norman of trying to hurt Titans running back Derrick Henry.

"I'm not worried about Josh Norman, man," Lewan told reporters after the incident. "I'm an offensive lineman, he's a [defensive back]. I don't know who that is."

"I was pissed. He was trying to hurt Derrick [Henry]. That's BS. That’s not the way football’s supposed to be played, man. It’s not our fault you’re not relevant anymore."

"Why would you come to another man's sideline?" Norman said of the dust-up. "And then after you won a game, you pick fun at the player that is relevant. You go out of your way to come to his bench, his sideline, to go at him in that kind of way."

"We're not having it. We will not tolerate disrespect. That's zero tolerance for that. That was the ultimate disrespect. You just don't do that."

The incident happened months ago, so it's about time the pair made peace. And as an ex-Redskin and ex-Titan, perhaps Compton can help mend the fences. But if Norman does accept Lewan's invitation to come on the podcast, we might be in for even more verbal fireworks. 

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

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2019 NBA Draft prospect profile: Keldon Johnson

The Washington Wizards will have the ninth overall pick in the 2019 NBA Draft. Here is the latest in our series on draft prospects who could fall around where the Wizards will select...

2019 NBA Draft Wizards Prospect Preview: Keldon Johnson

School: Kentucky
Position: Guard
Age: 19 (turns 21 in October)
Height: 6-6
Weight: 216
Wingspan: 6-9
Max vertical: N/A

2018/19 stats: 13.5 ppg, 5.9 rpg, 1.6 apg, 0.8 spg, 0.2 bpg, 46.1 FG% (4.6/10.1), 38.1 3PT% (1.2/3.2), 70.3 FT%

Player comparison: Gary Harris, Jerome Robinson

Projections: NBC Sports Washington 19th, NBADraft.net 15th, Bleacher Report 8th, Sports Illustrated 23rd, Ringer 21st

5 things to know:

*Johnson is considered the best NBA prospect in this year's class from the University of Kentucky. Though the Wildcats usually churn out top-10 picks, he is projected to go somewhere in the back end of the lottery or in the 20s. His teammates Tyler Herro and P.J. Washington are expected to go late in the first round.

*Johnson is an athletic, slashing wing who is quick up and down the floor. His highlights are filled with fastbreak dunks and agile plays around the basket. Johnson, though, didn't participate in the vertical leap measurement at the combine, so there is some mystery there.

*He has a solid outside shot. Johnson made 38.2 percent of his threes on 3.2 attempts per game, which is impressive especially for a freshman. He appears to have smooth mechanics on his jumper and a quick release. Johnson, though, like most young players has to develop his ability to shoot off the dribble.

*Johnson plays with a lot of passion and is known for wearing his emotions on his sleeve. He brings tons of energy to both ends of the floor and that is a good sign for his potential at the next level.

*Johnson has a few local connections. He is from Chesterfield, VA, just south of Richmond. He went to high school at Oak Hill Academy in southwestern Virginia. His brother, Kaleb, plays basketball for Georgetown University. And his other brother, Kyle, played at Old Dominion.

Fit with Wizards: Johnson happens to play the one position the Wizards have solidified, at least in their starting lineup with Bradley Beal. However, they could use more guard depth in general and Beal needs some help behind him.

The Wizards thought they had solved that with Austin Rivers this past season and that didn't work out. The result was Beal leading the NBA in minutes played in the second straight year he appeared in all 82 games.

Iron Man streaks are great, but not ideal for a guy who has a history of leg injuries and a long career ahead of him. Johnson is the type of player who could take some pressure off of Beal and possibly play with him at the three-spot. He would also add shooting, which the Wizards need.

The question would be if he is good enough to pick ninth overall and if that need is enough to justify at that spot. The answer is probably not, but Johnson seems like a guy who could soar up draft boards once workouts begin.

Best highlight video:

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