- Associated Press - Friday, September 9, 2016

NATIONAL ANTHEM PROTESTS

DENVER (AP) - Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall, a college teammate of Colin Kaepernick, took to a knee during the playing of the national anthem before Denver’s season opener against Carolina.

Kaepernick refused to stand for the anthem during San Francisco’s preseason games , explaining it was to protest racial oppression and police brutality in the United States.

Marshall sounded a similar theme after Denver’s 21-20 win.

“I’m not against the military, I’m not against America,” he said. “I’m against social injustice.”

Kaepernick’s gesture opened a wide debate and put the microscope on a pregame tradition that has, for decades, been routine.

Marshall was standing with his hand over his heart during the anthem before a preseason game on Aug. 20.

He made no mention of his plans for Thursday’s opener but shortly after the large American flag was unfurled, the fifth-year linebacker out of Nevada went to the end of a long row of Broncos and took a knee.

Broncos Super Bowl MVP Von Miller said he supported Kaepernick, too. “I’m not going to kneel for the national anthem but I feel it should be a change. His actions really brought the topic, brought it into the conversation. I’m with Colin all the way.”

SWIMMING

Ryan Lochte is banned from swimming through next June and will forfeit $100,000 in bonus money that went with his gold medal at the Olympics, part of the penalty for his drunken encounter at a gas station in Brazil during last month’s games.

The U.S. Olympic Committee and USA Swimming announced the penalties Thursday. Lochte agreed to a ban that includes next year’s world championships.

He’ll get no monthly funding from either organization, can’t access USOC training centers, must perform 20 hours of community service and will miss Team USA’s post-Olympics trip to the White House.

Agreeing to four-month suspensions were Gunnar Bentz, Jack Conger and Jimmy Feigen, who were with Lochte at the gas station. Those sanctions, which end Dec. 31, also strip funding and training access and preclude them from the White House visit.

Bentz, 20, will also serve 10 hours of community service for violating a curfew rule for athletes under 21.

BASEBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Having flopped with the New York Jets, Tim Tebow will try to revive his career as an outfielder with the Mets.

Four years removed from his last regular-season snap as an NFL quarterback, the 29-year-old agreed Thursday to a minor league contract with the Mets that includes a $100,000 signing bonus.

He will report Sept. 18 to the Instructional League in Port St. Lucie, Florida, and test his baseball skills for three weeks against players just months removed from high school and college.

The Mets then will decide whether he goes to the Arizona Fall League, a winter league or gets personal tutoring to prepare for spring training.

Bo Jackson, Deion Sanders and Brian Jordan are the only significant players to have extensive careers in both Major League Baseball and the NFL during the past three decades.

PRO FOOTBALL

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) - Minnesota Vikings quarterback Teddy Bridgewater has had surgery on his severely injured left knee, the first step toward what will undoubtedly be a long, arduous recovery.

Vikings coach Mike Zimmer confirmed the operation took place Thursday, nine days after Bridgewater went down in practice while dropping back to pass during a routine non-contact drill that drastically altered the team’s highly anticipated season.

Zimmer said he spoke by phone to Bridgewater’s doctor after the procedure and was told no major problems were encountered beyond the initial diagnosis of a knee dislocation and complete tear of the anterior cruciate ligament. The Vikings said after the injury that Bridgewater also suffered other significant damage.

“Thanks for the thoughts (and) prayers,” Bridgewater said on Twitter . “I’ll be back!”

The 23-year-old will miss the 2016 season, and the nature and timing of the injury will make it difficult for Bridgewater to be at full strength for 2017, too.

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