- Associated Press - Wednesday, April 26, 2017

AUTO RACING

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Dale Earnhardt Jr. abruptly announced his retirement at the end of the season, a decision that will cost NASCAR its most popular driver as the series scrambles to rebuild its fan base.

At a news conference, Earnhardt said he “wanted the opportunity to go out on his own terms.” After missing much of the 2016 season due to concussion-like symptoms, he acknowledged that time off played a role in his decision. He wanted retirement to be his choice rather than something that was decided for him.

He informed Hendrick Motorsports owner Rick Hendrick on March 29 of his plan to retire. Earnhardt said telling his boss of nearly 10 years was the toughest part of his decision.

Colorful, candid and talented, Earnhardt has been plagued by concussions the last several years and he missed half of last season recovering from a head injury. He had delayed contract talks on an extension to drive the No. 88 Chevrolet, and the two-time Daytona 500 winner will now call it quits when the season ends in November.

BASEBALL

MIAMI (AP) - Derek Jeter and Jeb Bush still haven’t touched all the bases in their bid to buy the Miami Marlins. Far from it.

Multiple groups have submitted bids to buy the team, and none has yet been accepted, baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred said. His comments came after Bloomberg reported a group led by former New York Yankees captain Jeter and former Florida Gov. Bush won an auction for the team with a $1.3 billion bid.

“There are multiple groups interested in acquiring the Marlins,” Manfred said in Pittsburgh while attending the Pirates-Cubs game. “One of those groups is the Bush-Jeter group. When we have a resolution as to which bid is going to be accepted, we will announce that.”

Completion of any sale by Marlins owner Jeffrey Loria could take months and would require approval by at least 75 percent of the major league teams. More than half of the winning bid could involve cash because of MLB’s debt service rule, meaning the Bush-Jeter group would need to raise a lot of money.

GOLF

In a swift response to increasing debates over television reviews, golf’s ruling bodies issued a new decision on the Rules of Golf that limits the use of video evidence and could spare players from being penalized even if they violated a rule.

The decision issued - and effective immediately on all tours around the world - has two standards.

Players can avoid a penalty if the violation could not be noticed with the naked eye. That would have spared Anna Nordqvist a two-shot penalty during a playoff in the U.S. Women’s Open last year when her club nicked the sand while she was playing from a fairway bunker.

Rules officials also can eliminate penalties if they feel players made a “reasonable judgment” in taking a drop or replacing their golf balls on the putting green.

AARON HERNANDEZ

BOSTON (AP) - Lawyers for former NFL star Aaron Hernandez formally asked a court to dismiss his first-degree murder conviction now that he has died.

Under a long-standing Massachusetts legal principle, courts customarily vacate the convictions of defendants who die before their appeals are heard.

Legal experts say the doctrine holds that it is unfair to defendants or their survivors if a conviction is allowed to stand before they had an opportunity to clear their names on appeal in case some kind of error or other injustice was determined to have occurred at trial.

Hernandez hanged himself at a maximum-security state prison last week, just days after he was acquitted of fatally shooting two Boston men in 2012. He was serving life without parole in the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd, a semi-pro football player.

PRO FOOTBALL

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Adrian Peterson, the NFL’s most productive running back for much of the past decade, has decided to head into the twilight of his career as a potential backup in New Orleans’ pass-happy offense.

The Saints came to terms on a two-year contract with Peterson, a 10-year veteran who has posted seven 1,000-yard seasons with Minnesota and once eclipsed 2,000 yards.

Saints coach Sean Payton said he envisions a productive role for Peterson, who is coming back from a 2016 meniscal tear that required season-ending knee surgery after only three games.

CLEVELAND (AP) - An attorney for former Ohio State football star Gareon Conley says the player denies an accusation made in a police report that he sexually assaulted a woman. No charges have been filed.

Spokeswoman Kathleen Caffrey of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office says the April 9 encounter is still being investigated by police.

A Cleveland police report says the 23-year-old woman told officers that Conley sexually assaulted her in the bathroom of a hotel room.

Police spokeswoman Jennifer Ciaccia says investigators are making arrangements to interview Conley, one of the top defensive prospects in the upcoming NFL draft.

Conley’s attorney, Kevin Spellacy, told Cleveland.com that the accusations are “ridiculous and ludicrous.” He says the woman who made the claims is “an opportunist.” He did not immediately return messages left by The Associated Press.

SOCCER

SAO PAULO (AP) - A Brazilian goalkeeper convicted in the killing of a former girlfriend was ordered back to prison, the latest chapter of a seven-year saga that human rights groups say underscores violence toward women in Latin America’s largest nation.

Three out of four judges in a panel of Brazil’s Supreme Court denied an appeal to Boa Esporte goalkeeper Bruno Fernandes de Souza, who was released in February while appealing a 22-year sentence in the 2010 killing of Eliza Samudio. At the time of the slaying, the player was a star of local giants Flamengo and seen as a potential future member of Brazil’s squad for the 2014 World Cup on home soil.

Souza’s brief return to football at a small club in March was marked by widespread criticism among fans and players, with Boa Esporte losing five sponsors after the announcement. But others supported the player, chanting his name during training and games, and also taking pictures with him.


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