- Associated Press - Thursday, May 7, 2015

NFL

NEW YORK (AP) - An NFL investigation released Wednesday said that New England Patriots employees likely deflated footballs used in the AFC Championship and that quarterback Tom Brady was probably “at least generally aware” of the rules violations.

The NFL began investigating after the Patriots defeated the Colts 45-7 on January 18. The Colts complained that several footballs were under inflated and the NFL confirmed that 11 of the 12 footballs were under the limit. The investigation started as the Patriots were preparing for the Super Bowl - which they won two weeks later.

Footballs with less pressure can be easier to grip and catch. Some quarterbacks prefer footballs that have less air.

The NFL requires balls to be inflated between 12.5 and 13.5 pounds per square inch, and each team is responsible for the balls it uses on offense.

Brady said he prefers footballs inflated to 12.5 pounds per square inch. On many occasions, Brady said he never asked for balls to be deflated outside of the rules.

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) - Buffalo Bills coach Rex Ryan has no intention of putting “a muzzle” on his players. And that includes running back LeSean McCoy for questioning the motivations of his former coach, Chip Kelly.

Ryan responded Wednesday after McCoy created a stir for telling ESPN The Magazine that “there’s a reason (Kelly) got rid of all the black players” in Philadelphia.

McCoy’s comments were included in a question-and-answer portion of an article published online earlier in the day. McCoy did not explain what he believed to be Kelly’s reasoning behind certain moves, though it was unclear whether he was asked.

The Bills did not make McCoy available for comment to reporters following the team’s voluntary workout session.

McCoy spent six seasons with the Eagles before being traded to Buffalo in March.

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NBA

CLEVELAND (AP) - King James placed his crown back on for Game 2.

LeBron James returned to the floor Wednesday night against Chicago wearing his signature headband, which the Cavaliers’ star had ditched since a March 7 game against Phoenix. Since his high school days in Akron, James had always worn a headband before surprisingly putting it away for nearly two months.

After an “off” game by his standards in Cleveland’s Game 1 loss to the Bulls, James promised to come out more aggressive in Game 2. He drove to the basket right away and scored 14 points in the first quarter as the Cavs bolted to a 38-18 lead. They won 106-91.

James recently said he put away the headband to look more like his teammates.

Apparently in a crucial game, James, who arrived at the arena three hours before tip-off, wanted to look more like his old self.

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BOXING

LOS ANGELES (AP) - The mother of three of Floyd Mayweather Jr.’s children sued the undefeated boxing champion for defamation over his recent comments about her and a 2010 domestic violence attack in Las Vegas.

Josie Harris filed the lawsuit Tuesday in Los Angeles Superior Court, days after her ex-boyfriend defeated Manny Pacquiao in a highly anticipated bout.

Mayweather’s attorney Shane Emerick said he hasn’t been served the case and declined to comment Wednesday.

The lawsuit focuses on comments Mayweather made during an April interview with Yahoo News anchor Katie Couric in which he said he was restraining his ex-girlfriend and that she was on drugs at the time of the incident. The lawsuit calls Mayweather’s comments “utterly false.”

Mayweather was arrested and charged with domestic violence after a hair-pulling, arm-twisting attack on Harris in September 2010. Two of their children witnessed the attack.

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BASEBALL

CHICAGO (AP) - Tigers pitcher Justin Verlander has been given the go-ahead to resume throwing.

Verlander has been sidelined since the start of the season due to a strained right triceps.

Detroit said Wednesday that Verlander was examined by Dr. Tony Romeo, who reviewed an MRI. The 2011 AL MVP and Cy Young Award winner “was given the clearance to resume a throwing progression designed to return him to full competition.”

Verlander threw in the outfield at U.S. Cellular Field on Wednesday before Detroit’s game against the Chicago White Sox.

DENVER (AP) - The young son of Colorado Rockies closer John Axford will finally get to see his dad pitch in person after spending the last two months in and out of hospitals for treatment of rattlesnake bites.

Two-year-old Jameson Axford will be the guest of honor as he throws out the ceremonial first pitch Friday at Coors Field before a game against the Los Angeles Dodgers.

The catcher? His father, of course.

Jameson Axford was bitten twice on the right foot two months ago in the yard of the house the family rented in Scottsdale, Arizona, for spring training. Since then, he’s gone through one procedure after another to fix the foot.

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SOCCER

BARCELONA, Spain (AP) - Lionel Messi had two goals and set up Neymar for another as Barcelona scored three late goals on to overwhelm Bayern Munich and former coach Pep Guardiola 3-0 Wednesday night in the first leg of their Champions League semifinal.

Messi put Barcelona ahead in the 77th minute with a 19-yard left-footed shot that beat goalkeeper Manuel Neuer following a giveaway by Jerome Boateng.

Messi doubled the lead three minutes later when he took a pass from Ivan Rakitic at the 18-yard box, dribbled in, turned around the falling Boateng and chipped Neuer with his right foot from 6 yards.

Messi has 53 goals in 51 games this season, including 10 in 11 Champs League matches. With 77 career Champions League goals, he moved one ahead of Real Madrid’s Cristiano Ronaldo for the record. Messi then feed Neymar from midfield for a breakaway in the fourth minute of injury time, and Neymar slotted past Neuer from 14 yards.

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GOLF

PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Rory McIlroy remembers a 19-year-old Texan who had secured a spot on the PGA Tour and seemed very polished for his age. That was the first time he played with Jordan Spieth two years ago in the Texas Open.

They play again in The Players Championship under new circumstances.

McIlroy is No. 1 in the world. Spieth went up to No. 2 with his Masters victory. The stage is set for a rivalry, though McIlroy was quick to point out how quickly the outlook can change. A year ago, McIlroy was struggling and not all that much in the conversation - and Tiger Woods was No. 1 in the world. Now he’s No. 125.

McIlroy borrowed a line that Jack Nicklaus once told Woods. He just wants to make sure any rivalry includes him.


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