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NFL's Goodell aims to share blame on player safety

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NFL's Goodell aims to share blame on player safety

NEW ORLEANS (AP) NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell wants to share the blame.

``Safety,'' he said at his annual Super Bowl news conference, ``is all of our responsibilities.''

Not surprisingly, given that thousands of former players are suing the league about its handling of concussions, the topics of player health and improved safety dominated Goodell's 45-minute session Friday. And he often sounded like someone seeking to point out that players or others are at fault for some of the sport's problems - and need to help fix them.

``I'll stand up. I'll be accountable. It's part of my responsibility. I'll do everything,'' Goodell said. ``But the players have to do it. The coaches have to do it. Our officials have to do it. Our medical professionals have to do it.''

Injuries from hits to the head or to the knees, Goodell noted, can result from improper tackling techniques used by players and taught by coaches. The NFL Players Association needs to allow testing for human growth hormone to go forward so it can finally start next season, which Goodell hopes will happen. He said prices for Super Bowl tickets have soared in part because fans re-sell them above face value.

And asked what he most rues about the New Orleans Saints bounty investigation - a particularly sensitive issue around these parts, of course - Goodell replied: ``My biggest regret is that we aren't all recognizing that this is a collective responsibility to get (bounties) out of the game, to make the game safer. Clearly the team, the NFL, the coaching staffs, executives and players, we all share that responsibility. That's what I regret, that I wasn't able to make that point clearly enough with the union.''

He addressed other subjects, such as a ``new generation of the Rooney Rule'' after none of 15 recently open coach or general manager jobs went to a minority candidate, meaning ``we didn't have the outcomes we wanted''; using next year's Super Bowl in New Jersey as a test for future cold-weather, outdoor championship games; and saying he welcomed President Barack Obama's recent comments expressing concern about football's violence because ``we want to make sure that people understand what we're doing to make our game safer.''

Also:

- New Orleans will not get back the second-round draft pick Goodell stripped in his bounty ruling;

- Goodell would not give a time frame for when the NFL could hold a game in Mexico;

- next season's games in London - 49ers-Jaguars and Steelers-Vikings - are sellouts.

Goodell mentioned some upcoming changes, including the plan to add independent neurologists to sidelines to help with concussion care during games - something players have asked for and the league opposed until now.

``The No. 1 issue is: Take the head out of the game,'' Goodell said. ``I think we've seen in the last several decades that players are using their head more than they had when you go back several decades.''

He said one tool the league can use to cut down on helmet-to-helmet hits is suspending players who keep doing it.

``We're going to have to continue to see discipline escalate, particularly on repeat offenders,'' Goodell said. ``We're going to have to take them off the field. Suspension gets through to them.''

The league will add ``expanded physicals at the end of each season ... to review players from a physical, mental and life skills standpoint so that we can support them in a more comprehensive fashion,'' Goodell said.

With question after question about less-than-light matters, one reporter drew a chuckle from Goodell by asking how he's been treated this week in a city filled with supporters of the Saints who are angry about the way the club was punished for the bounty system the NFL said existed from 2009-11.

``My picture, as you point out, is in every restaurant. I had a float in the Mardi Gras parade. We got a voodoo doll,'' Goodell said.

But he added that he can ``appreciate the passion'' of the fans and, actually, ``couldn't feel more welcome here.''

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Follow Howard Fendrich on Twitter athttp://twitter.com/HowardFendrich

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John Wall and Bradley Beal sport Elena Delle Donne’s face mask in WNBA Playoffs

John Wall and Bradley Beal sport Elena Delle Donne’s face mask in WNBA Playoffs

The newest celebrity fashion statement in Washington D.C. is sporting Elena Delle Donne face mask.

Just ask Washington Wizards John Wall and Bradley Beal.

The two Wizards superstars made it out to the Entertainment and Sports Arena supporting their fellow D.C. athletes Thursday evening. The Mystics were playing Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces.

Wall attended Game 1 as well with the Wizards first-round draft pick Rui Hachimura. Several other Wizards were spotted throughout the first two games of the series. 

Since mid-July, Delle Donne has worn a face mask after suffering a nasal fracture in a game. The injury forced the 2019 WNBA MVP to miss two contests until being cleared for play. Even though she no longer is required to wear the mask, medically, Delle Donne continues to wear it for the remainder of the year.

Earlier in the regular season, Redskins running back Derrius Guice also took in a Mystics game in a Delle Donne mask.

Just next time, someone give John a hand. He’s recovering from an injury after all.

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Elena Delle Donne celebrates second WNBA MVP award by crediting others

Elena Delle Donne celebrates second WNBA MVP award by crediting others

WASHINGTON -- A lot can change in four years, and for Elena Delle Donne, that has certainly been the case. As she stood at the podium on Thursday at St. Elizabeth's Arena to accept the 2019 NBA MVP award, she reminisced on her journey since 2015, the first time she got the honors.

Back then she was 26 years old, playing for the Chicago Sky and "wide-eyed," as she put it. A blockbuster trade, several injuries and a wedding later, she is MVP again.

"I've definitely grown so much," Delle Donne said. "It's a different vibe now. I just have a different feel being so settled and happy where I am." 

Delle Donne is quick to deflect compliments and spent much of her press conference tipping her cap to others. She thanked her teammates and coaches and said she wouldn't be able to win MVP without them.

She also thanked the Mystics front office and ownership group as they were getting set for Game 2 of the WNBA Semifinals against the Las Vegas Aces.

"Thank you to the organization. This is a first-class organization that really makes coming to work nice," she said. 

"You get to show up and we have a chef cooking for us. It's just a phenomenal place to be a part of. It feels like a family and I absolutely love D.C."

Delle Donne's most effusive praise was reserved for her wife, Amanda. Delle Donne went into detail about how her support makes the success she has on the court possible.

"She's the one I get to go home to and she keeps my head straight. She has to deal with all my craziness. She makes my pregame meals and basically gets everything in order for me," Delle Donne said.

Though Delle Donne talked mostly about others, the occasion was to celebrate her. Whether she is comfortable talking about herself or not, her accomplishments speak for themselves. She is now one of six players in WNBA history to win multiple MVP trophies and the first to do so with two different teams.

She got 41 of 43 first-place votes this time around after placing second in the league in scoring (19.5 ppg), fifth in rebounding (8.3 rpg) and 11th in blocks (1.29 bpg). She was the first player in WNBA history to shoot at least 50 percent from the field, 40 percent from three and 90 percent from the free throw line.

Delle Donne is in the midst of a historic career. And now at 30 years old, she understands her place in the sport has context that goes way beyond trophies at stats.

"It's always incredible to know that something you've done will go down in history. It's even more inspiring to know that there are little girls looking up to me that maybe can do the same or do more. That's what I did when I was younger because I had them to look up to," she said.

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