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Texas A&M celebrates Manziel's Heisman win

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Texas A&M celebrates Manziel's Heisman win

COLLEGE STATION, Texas (AP) Texas A&M had one last party in it - at least for now - to celebrate freshman quarterback Johnny Manziel's Heisman Trophy.

A few thousand Aggies, primarily current students, gathered around the steps at Memorial Student Center on Wednesday night to mainly welcome back Manziel, although his teammates were recognized as well during the ``Celebrating the 12th Man'' event.

``What an honor it is to represent you guys throughout the country this past week,'' Manziel said to roars from the crowd on a clear, cool evening in Aggieland. ``We were in the Big Apple on some of the biggest stages in the entire world and really let people know what the 12th Man is all about.''

Manziel, who redshirted last season under a different coaching staff, became the first freshman to win the Heisman, which celebrated its 78th year Saturday night in New York.

``Thank you guys for all of the support you've given us this year,'' said Manziel, who flourished under first-year coach Kevin Sumlin. ``You've really pushed us hard and we couldn't have done this without you. You're the best student body in the country and I love each and every one of y'all.''

Manziel hoisted the trophy in the air following a short speech. A&M junior offensive tackle Luke Joeckel, the first Aggie to win the Outland Award, given to the nation's top interior offensive lineman, also addressed the gathering.

``These are the best fans in the entire country, whether it's college football, the NFL, basketball ... whatever it is, y'all are the best fans,'' Joeckel said. ``What an honor it is to represent y'all in Kyle Field every Saturday.''

A&M President R. Bowen Loftin, the primary catalyst behind the university's move from the Big 12 to the Southeastern Conference this season, said Manziel's leadership has been a joy to watch during the Aggies' 10-2 season.

``Leadership is a tough thing,'' Loftin said. ``It takes two things in place to make it work. First of all, the team you lead has to believe in you, and you also have to believe in them. That sums it up for Johnny Manziel.

``Johnny led this team, but they also respected him and followed him, and that combination did what no one thought we could do.''

The Aggies, winners of five straight to close out the regular season, toppled then-top-ranked Alabama 29-24 on Nov. 10 in Tuscaloosa, Ala., and also won all four of their SEC road games in their first season in the powerful league. Their two losses were by a combined eight points to Florida and LSU at Kyle Field.

``What a great week this has been, and what a great season this has been for Aggieland,'' said Richard Box, A&M's board of regents chairman. ``How sweet it is. We heard a lot of trash talk around the country saying A&M wasn't going to be able to compete, and it may take three or four years before we get there. Well, we're there.''

A&M will play 10-2 Oklahoma, a former Big 12 opponent, on Jan. 4 in the Cotton Bowl at Cowboys Stadium in Arlington.

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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

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NFL revamping players' pain management and prevention programs

NEW YORK -- The NFL and the players' union have two new agreements to address player health in the areas of pain management/prescription medications, and behavior well-being.

The joint agreements, announced Monday, are designed to lead to advancement and understanding of dealing with pain and to improve potential treatments. The league and union also will add to programs already established in education, prevention, and overall behavioral health throughout the league.

"I was hired two years ago and when I was hired I was asked about areas of concern," said Dr. Allen Sills, the NFL's medical chief. "And I said these were two areas I saw from my knowledge of someone taking care of athletes for over two decades. I felt a real need there."

"We've been working together with the players' union to come up with something that would work proactively for both. We have the same goal, to take care of the whole player and in a holistic way, and to focus on prevention."

Among the stipulations in the pain management area will be formation of a committee of medical experts appointed by the league and union that will establish uniform standards for club practices and policies in pain management and the use of prescription medication by players. The committee also will conduct research concerning pain management and alternative therapies.

That committee will receive periodic reports from a newly developed prescription drug monitoring program that will monitor all prescriptions issued to NFL players by club physicians and unaffiliated physicians.

Each NFL club must appoint and pay for a pain management specialist before next season.

All this builds on the programs in place.

"We've had an electronically submitted health record for each club in place for a number of years," Sills said. "Medical providers enter the prescriptions they have given to the players. Periodically, our medical advisory committee and the NFL Physicians Society would issue white paper guidelines around strategies. The important change here is obviously it creates a committee tasked with overseeing our educational efforts -- the best practices around pain management."

All 32 teams now must retain by the start of training camp a behavioral health team clinician focused on supporting players' emotional and mental health and well-being. The old bromide of "toughing it out" when someone has such issues has long been discarded, Sills said.

"This is not novel to the NFL or to sports," Sills added. "It applies across all levels of society at all age groups and walks of life, and we know these are issues we need to address."

While the NFL and NFLPA have had previous joint programs in these health areas, Sills and NFLPA President Eric Winston note these initiatives are a major step forward in medical care.

"These agreements are positive developments for our membership as they will provide new and important resources to help players and their families," Winston said. "Our union has always advocated for advancements in health and safety and we think this work with the NFL is another important step to improve care for NFL players."

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

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Baltimore Ravens Roundup: OTAs Day 1

Kick off your Tuesday with the latest Baltimore Ravens news including a recap of the first day of OTAs.

Player/Team Notes: 

1. Yesterday, (Monday) was the first day of the Ravens' OTAs. OTAs continue today (Tuesday) as the Ravens work on developing a new offense. Check out some of the highlights here. 

2. The Baltimore Ravens have officially announced the full 90-man roster that will be competing for an official team roster spot in OTAs this summer. 

Looking Ahead:

July 15: 4 p.m. deadline to get a long-term deal done with designated franchise tag players.

The 2019 NFL schedule is set! See the Baltimore Ravens defend the AFC North at M&T Bank Stadium this season. Get your tickets now at www.BaltimoreRavens.com/tickets.

Credit: Baltimore Ravens for news points.

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