- Associated Press - Friday, September 11, 2015


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Whether sprinting out of the tunnel for warmups, watching former teammates and the Patriots owner carrying Lombardi Trophies, or tearing apart the Steelers, Tom Brady relished every moment of this NFL season opener.

Brady threw for four touchdowns, three to favorite target Rob Gronkowski, in a 28-21 victory Thursday night over undermanned and generally ineffective Pittsburgh.

With “Deflategate” behind him, the star quarterback was back to his unstoppable self, going 25 of 32 for 288 yards. Brady set a team-record with 19 straight completions, and he had his 23rd game with four or more touchdown passes - third all-time along with Brett Favre.

His four-game league suspension overturned by a federal judge one week ago, the three-time Super Bowl MVP was in midseason - or postseason - form. He led drives of 90 and 64 yards for scores on passes to Gronkowski.

IRVING, Texas (AP) - Suspended Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy won’t challenge the NFL in federal court over his four-game ban for his role in a domestic violence case.

Hardy said in a statement released through the NFL Players Association that he is “absolutely determined that my issue is not going to be a distraction for the Cowboys.”

The former Carolina player was suspended 10 games by Commissioner Roger Goodell after the league concluded through evidence obtained from his trial in North Carolina that he roughed up his former girlfriend, Nicole Holder, in May 2014. An arbitrator reduced the suspension on appeal.

The 27-year-old Hardy’s decision comes after a federal judge threw out New England quarterback Tom Brady’s four-game suspension in the “Deflategate” scandal. Hardy will be eligible to return when the Super Bowl champion Patriots visit the Cowboys on Oct. 11.

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin isn’t saying the Patriots messed around with the Steeler coaches’ headsets in the first half.

He’s just saying, you know, it does seem to happen a lot when he plays in New England.

Responding to a report on the TV broadcast that the Pittsburgh coaches lost the ability to talk over their headsets during a 28-21 loss to the Patriots, Tomlin said, “That’s always the case.”

A league spokesman said Thursday night that the interference in the Steelers’ headsets was “caused by a stadium power infrastructure issue, which was exacerbated by the inclement weather.

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Indianapolis Colts left tackle Anthony Castonzo has agreed to a contract extension.

While the Colts didn’t announce the terms, a person with knowledge of the deal confirmed that it was for four years and $43.6 million. The person said Castonzo is expected to sign the contract Friday.

Castonzo has started 60 career games, 56 in a row and all 48 in which Andrew Luck has been the Colts quarterback. Luck has not missed a start during his three-year career.

Team owner Jim Irsay and general manager Ryan Grigson had repeatedly said that getting a deal completed with Castonzo before the start of this season was a priority. Indy opens the season Sunday at Buffalo.


PHILADELPHIA (AP) - Losing consistently leads to plenty of change.

The Philadelphia Phillies fired general manager Ruben Amaro Jr., completing a cycle of turnover for a team going through its worst season in 43 years.

Manager Ryne Sandberg already resigned in June and Andy MacPhail was hired to replace outgoing president Pat Gillick after the season.

Assistant general manager Scott Proefrock replaces Amaro as interim general manager. MacPhail hopes to hire a new GM before the end of October. He hasn’t made a decision on interim manager Pete Mackanin.


Little League is getting younger.

The organization announced it is changing its age requirement, phasing 13-year-olds out of the division that plays in the annual Little League World Series in South Williamsport, Pennsylvania.

They are doing that by changing the league’s “age determination date” to Aug. 31. That will prevent anyone who turns 13 during the baseball season from playing in the major division of Little League baseball.

The change, which affects all divisions from tee-ball up, fully takes effect beginning in 2018. The current birthdate cutoff of April 30 will remain in effect in 2016 and 2017 for players born on or before Aug. 31, 2005.


LAS VEGAS (AP) - Japanese wrestler Kaori Icho made it look as though winning her 10th world title was a breeze.

Americans Helen Maroulis and Adeline Gray were nearly as dominant in giving the U.S. its first two gold medals of the world championships.

Icho cruised to her 10th world title, joining teammate Saori Yoshida (13) as the only women with double-digit titles. Icho beat Finland’s Petra Olli 10-0 in the 58-kilogram (128-pound) final for her 158th consecutive win in major international competition.

Maroulis won her first world title at 55 kilograms (121 pounds), and Gray won for the third time in four years by defeating Qian Zhou of China 13-2 at 75 kilos (158.5 pounds).

LAS VEGAS (AP) - The president of the international wrestling federation says there’s a possibility that women’s Greco-Roman could be added as an Olympic sport.

United World Wrestling head Nenad Lalovic said at the world championships that increasing gender equity is a must for the sport. But Lalovic added that any move toward women’s Greco-Roman likely wouldn’t happen until after the 2020 Tokyo Games at the earliest.

Lalovic says other solutions to increased participation for women have also been discussed, including beach wrestling.


LAS VEGAS (AP) - Imprisoned former football star O.J. Simpson lost his latest appeal of his 2008 kidnapping and armed robbery conviction in Las Vegas.

A three-member Nevada Supreme Court panel rejected Simpson’s request for a new trial, ruling in a 16-page order that there was no reason to overturn a lower court judge’s decisions in the case.

Simpson lawyers filed the appeal last October, arguing that Clark County District Court Judge Linda Marie Bell was wrong to deny Simpson a new trial on charges that got Simpson sentenced to 9 to 33 years in a botched hotel room heist.

Simpson lawyers Patricia Palm, Ozzie Fumo and Tom Pitaro argued that his trial attorney mishandled his case and had conflicts of interests. The three attorneys didn’t immediately respond to messages late Thursday, and it wasn’t immediately known if Simpson was aware of the ruling.

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