- Associated Press - Thursday, September 17, 2015


FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) - The NFL said the New England Patriots can reinstate the two employees at the center of what a league investigation found was a scheme to use improperly inflated footballs in the AFC championship game.

Equipment assistant John Jastremski and officials locker room attendant Jim McNally were reinstated after the team requested they be allowed to return.

The NFL launched a months-long, multimillion dollar investigation after finding the footballs supplied by the Patriots for the AFC title game against Indianapolis were inflated below the league minimum. In its report, the league said it was more probable than not that McNally and Jastremski “participated in a deliberate effort to release air from Patriots game balls after the balls were examined by the referee.”

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell fined the Patriots $1 million and took away two draft picks, including a first-rounder. Quarterback Tom Brady was suspended four games, but had the suspension vacated by a federal judge.

CANTON, Ohio (AP) - Brett Favre is back in the news - no, he’s not attempting another comeback.

Favre was among the 108 modern-day nominees for the Pro Football Hall of Fame class of 2016. The NFL’s career leader in nearly every passing category when he retired after the 2010 season and winner of the 1997 Super Bowl with Green Bay, Favre leads a strong list of first-time nominees.

That group includes Terrell Owens, one of the league’s most prolific and dynamic receivers for most of his 15 pro seasons, and Alan Faneca, an elite blocker who made six All-Pro teams at guard in his 13 seasons.

Other first-year-eligible nominees are safety Lawyer Milloy; running backs Brian Westbrook and Clinton Portis; place-kicker John Carney; and linebackers Keith Bulluck and Mike Vrabel.

Already nominated by the seniors committee are Ken Stabler and Dick Stanfel. The 2016 contributor candidate is former 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo, Jr.

ASHBURN, Va. (AP) - Redskins wide receiver DeSean Jackson says missing most of the preseason could have contributed to the hamstring injury he suffered in the first quarter of a season-opening loss.

Jackson, who sustained a sprained joint in his right shoulder during an Aug. 6 practice, missed all four of Washington’s preseason games. He returned to the practice field the week before the Dolphins game, but lasted just two offensive series last Sunday before sustaining a partial hamstring tear discovered in an MRI exam Monday. He is expected to miss three to four weeks.

Jackson was attempting to break free from Miami cornerback Brent Grimes on a deep pattern when he felt the muscle pop. He hobbled to the sideline and didn’t return.


NEW BRUNSWICK, N.J. (AP) - Rutgers has suspended football coach Kyle Flood for three games and fined him $50,000 for contacting a faculty member over a player’s grade - an issue separate from a string of recent player arrests.

Rutgers President Robert Barchi announced the punishment a day after he said he received an internal investigative report that found a professor felt pressured by Flood into allowing a player to complete an additional assignment in an attempt to improve his grade.

The report found that Flood emailed and met in person with a faculty member even though he knew or should have known of the university’s policies prohibiting coach-initiated contact with faculty members regarding students’ academic standing.

In a statement Wednesday, Flood accepted responsibility but defended looking out for the academic interest of players.


MOSCOW (AP) - The international swimming federation has strongly criticized the organizers of next year’s Olympics in Rio de Janeiro over what it says are substandard facilities and “disrespect” for aquatic events.

FINA, which oversees some of the Olympics’ most-watched events, attacked the organizers and Rio mayor Eduardo Paes on various grounds including slashing the seating capacity at the main pool, according to a FINA letter obtained by The Associated Press.

Athletes’ health and safety could be at risk over viruses in the area of sea used for open water swimming events and organizers’ decision to use an open-air venue for diving, water polo and synchronized swimming, FINA warns.

The letter, dated Monday and addressed by FINA president Julio Maglione to Paes and the 2016 organizing committee, was circulated among leading swimming figures.


LOS ANGELES (AP) - Defenseman Slava Voynov announced he will return home to Russia with his family, leaving the Los Angeles Kings in the wake of his legal troubles resulting from domestic violence charges.

In a statement through his agent, Rolland Hedges, Voynov apologized to “those in and around the game of hockey who have been affected by my situation.”

Voynov was suspended for the final 76 games of last season, and he pleaded no contest in July to a misdemeanor charge of domestic violence against his wife, Marta Varlamova.

The Kings announced Wednesday that they had planned to terminate the final four seasons of Voynov’s contract Thursday when they open training camp, saying Voynov will never play for them again. The club says the termination is no longer necessary because Voynov’s departure for Russia should eliminate their obligation to pay the $19.25 million left on his deal.


NEW YORK (AP) - Elena Delle Donne has to make more room in her ever-growing trophy case.

The Chicago Sky star was announced as the WNBA’s Most Valuable Player for the first time in her young career.

Delle Donne averaged 23.4 points per game to lead the league this season and help Chicago secure the second seed in the Eastern Conference. The 26-year-old forward grabbed 8.4 rebounds - more than double her total from the previous year. She also blocked two shots a game. The 2013 Rookie of the Year had a career-best 45 points early in the season and shot 95 percent from the free throw line.

She received 38 of the 39 first-place votes from a national media panel of sportswriters and broadcasters. Minnesota’s Maya Moore, who won the award last year, received the other first-place vote.

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