- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 24, 2014

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and chief assistant Troy Vincent were told by 11 former players that the league must act immediately when someone is accused of domestic violence.

At a 3 1/2-hour meeting to discuss ways to improve the league’s personal conduct policy, the former players also said teams must be held accountable when players misbehave.

At the meeting were Hall of Famer Mike Singletary, plus Matt Birk, Eddie Mason, Patrick Kerney, Willie McGinest, Roman Oben, Marty Lyons, Charles Way, Tony Paige, Scott Turner and Robert Porcher. More weekly meetings are planned among league officials and former players, current players and team owners.

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The wife and sons of former San Diego Chargers defensive back Paul Oliver sued the NFL for wrongful death, blaming sports-related concussions for his suicide last year.

The suit was filed Monday in Los Angeles County Superior Court against the league, the Chargers, the New Orleans Saints and the corporations that own several helmet manufacturers. It also alleges fraud and negligence.

It says that Oliver, 29, shot himself to death in front of his wife, Chelsea, and two sons last September at his home in Marietta, Georgia, about 20 miles northwest of Atlanta. The suit alleges that his death was a “direct result of the injuries, depression and emotional suffering caused by repetitive head trauma and concussions suffered as a result of playing football, not properly appreciating football’s risks with respect to head trauma” and using defective helmets.

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) - A college student told a 911 dispatcher that a man he later identified as Rob Bironas chased him and his friends, then tried to hit their pickup truck minutes before the former Titans kicker’s fatal crash.

Metro Nashville Police Department released copies of two 911 calls. One call was made by Bironas’ wife reporting him missing at 11:40 p.m. on Sept. 20. The second was from Belmont University student Connor Fraley at 10:45 p.m. while being chased by Bironas, who was driving a white SUV.

Bironas, 36, crashed his white 2009 GMC Yukon Denali just after 11 p.m. Sept. 20. Police said he was speeding as he lost control in a curve, ran off the road into a line of trees and overturned in a culvert near his Nashville home. The investigation is ongoing, and autopsy results aren’t expected for weeks. Police said there was no evidence of alcohol or drugs at the scene.

PITTSBURGH (AP) - Pittsburgh Steelers coach Mike Tomlin called the decision to sign James Harrison “simple and easy.” Figuring out how - and just as important when - to use the five-time Pro Bowl linebacker, well, that part is a little trickier.

The Steelers brought the 36-year-old Harrison out of retirement to give an injury depleted group some needed depth and a locker room in need of some intensity an added jolt.

Harrison, who seemed to end his 12-year NFL career during an impromptu news conference Sept. 5, will provide plenty of both. How quickly he sees the field, however, remains uncertain.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball Commissioner Bud Selig hopes for incremental progress from his new committee that will try to take steps to shorten game times.

Atlanta Braves President John Schuerholz chairs the committee, which includes Commissioner-elect Rob Manfred, players’ association head Tony Clark, Boston Red Sox Chairman Tom Werner and partner Michael Gordon, New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson and Major League Baseball Executive Vice President Joe Torre.

The average time of a nine-inning game has increased from 2 hours, 33 minutes, in 1981 to a record 3:03 this year. When Manfred was elected commissioner last month, many owners said speeding up the pace of play and decreasing game times was a top priority.

NEW YORK (AP) - Baseball officials have started meeting with groups as the sport starts a process that could lead to revising its domestic violence policy.

Commissioner Bud Selig didn’t specify which groups when he spoke at a news conference but did say “we’re doing a lot of work ourself now” and “it’s a subject very much under scrutiny.”

Esta Soler, president of Futures Without Violence, said last week that MLB reached out to her group, which works to prevent domestic and sexual violence and child abuse.

Baseball’s collective bargaining agreement with players includes a voluntary treatment program for certain alcohol-related and off-field violent conduct. It also allows the commissioner or a team to impose discipline, but doesn’t say of what sort, if a player is charged with a crime “involving the use of physical force or violence, including but not limited to, sexual assault, domestic violence, resisting arrest, battery, and assault.”

The meetings followed a series of high-profile domestic violence cases involving NFL players.

NCAA

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) - NCAA president Mark Emmert believes it’s the responsibility of individual schools to handle issues of domestic violence and sexual assault, and that a spate of recent cases reflect greater societal problems.

“If a student-athlete engages in bad behavior, they have to be subject to the same standards of conduct as everyone else,” Emmert told reporters before delivering a lecture at Kansas City’s Rockhurst University about the future of college sports.

HOCKEY

WASHINGTON (AP) - Washington Capitals owner Ted Leonsis’ lobbying for a Winter Classic in his NHL team’s home city began with an email sent to Commissioner Gary Bettman the moment the league’s first New Year’s Day game was played in 2008.

The Capitals unveiled uniforms they’ll wear at Nationals Park when they host the Chicago Blackhawks on Jan. 1.

On a sunny, start-of-autumn day with the temperature at about 70, Alex Ovechkin wore flip-flops and a borrowed pair of baseball pants, Nicklas Backstrom donned shorts, and Braden Holtby sported sunglasses while modeling the deep red jerseys with a blue “W,” three white stars and the word “Capitals” across the chest.

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