June 07, 2012
By BARRY WILNER | Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — An arbitrator ruled Monday that NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has the authority to discipline New Orleans Saints players for their role in a bounty system.
The NFL Players Association challenged Goodell's power to impose penalties for what the league says was a three-year bounty program that targeted specific players. Stephen Burbank, a University of Pennsylvania law professor, took only five days to determine that Goodell has the power to punish the players under the collective bargaining agreement reached last August to end the lockout.
Goodell suspended Saints linebacker Jonathan Vilma for the entire 2012 season and teammate Will Smith for four games. Former Saints defensive end Anthony Hargrove, now with Green Bay, was suspended for eight games, while linebacker Scott Fujita, now with Cleveland, was docked three games.
Those players have appealed the suspensions. And the players' union later Monday said it will appeal Burbank's decision because it believes salary cap violations are involved in the payment. That would give Burbank the authority to rule on penalizing any players involved.
Burbank did, however, retain temporary jurisdiction on Hargrove's role and asked Goodell for more information on Hargrove's "alleged participation."
Burbank "invited the commissioner to clarify the precise basis for his discipline of Mr. Hargrove who, among other things, was found to have lied to the league's investigators and obstructed their investigation," the NFL said in a statement.
The union said in a statement it "believes that the players are entitled to neutral arbitration of these issues under the CBA and will continue to fight for that principle and to protect the fair due process rights of all players." The NFLPA noted Burbank wrote that "nothing in this opinion is intended to convey a view about the underlying facts or the appropriateness of the discipline imposed."
The union filed another grievance with a different arbitrator, Shyam Das, contending the new CBA prohibits Goodell from punishing players for any conduct before the CBA was signed. The league's investigation showed the bounty program ran from 2009-11.
Das has yet to rule on that grievance, which also seeks to have player appeals heard by Art Shell and Ted Cottrell, who are jointly appointed by the league and union to review discipline handed out for on-field conduct.
The league and union have spent plenty of time before arbitrators and judges this offseason, with two other major cases pending.
Vilma has sued Goodell for defamation in a U.S. District Court in New Orleans, and Goodell has been given until July 5 to respond to the action.
The players also have sued the league in U.S. District Court in Minnesota, saying the owners colluded in the uncapped 2010 season to have a secret salary cap. NFLPA executive director DeMaurice Smith has said such collusion could have cost players $1 billion in wages.
That lawsuit stems, in part, from the NFL stripping the Washington Redskins and Dallas Cowboys of salary cap room in 2012 and '13. The Redskins had their cap reduced $36 million over the two years and the Cowboys lost $10 million in cap space.
Both teams filed a grievance and lost.
June 07, 2012
By The Associated Press
Boxer “Sugar” Shane Mosley is retiring, ending a career in which he won titles in three different weight classes, beat Oscar De La Hoya twice and never was knocked out.
The 40-year-old announced on Twitter that he was hanging up his gloves, saying he “loved every moment of it. Win, lose or draw.”
Mosley lost three of his last four fights, including a dreary bout against Manny Pacquiao in May 2011 in which he mostly seemed to be avoiding the Filipino superstar in the ring.
His last fight was May 5 on the undercard of the fight between Floyd Mayweather and Miguel Cotto. Mosley lost a lopsided decision to rising Mexican star Canelo Alvarez.
The loss dropped his record to 46-8-1.
May 31, 2012
By HOWARD FENDRICH | Associated Press
PARIS (AP) — Used to be that Venus Williams was the one who was highly ranked, the one considered a title contender, the one who would dominate foes so thoroughly that matches would be tidily wrapped up in an hour.
Now 31, and figuring out from day to day how to handle an illness that saps her strength, Williams was on the wrong end of a lopsided 60-minute defeat in the second round of the French Open on Wednesday.
Looking glum and lacking the verve that carried her to seven Grand Slam titles, Williams barely put up any resistance and lost 6-2, 6-3 to No. 3-seeded Agnieszka Radwanska of Poland at Roland Garros. Coming a day after her younger sister Serena was stunned in the first round by 111th-ranked Virginie Razzano of France, the early exit marked the first time in 43 major tournaments with both in the field that neither Williams got to the third round.
“I felt like I played,” Williams said after making a hard-to-fathom 33 unforced errors, 27 more than Radwanska. “That pretty much sums it up.”
This one was not exactly an out-of-nowhere upset, considering that Williams is ranked 53rd now, never has been as good on clay as on other surfaces, lost to Radwanska 6-4, 6-1 two months ago, and is learning how to be a professional athlete with Sjogren’s syndrome, an autoimmune disease that can cause fatigue and joint pain.
Still, the meek way Williams departed was striking, considering that she has been ranked No. 1, has appeared in 14 major finals to Radwanska's zero, and from 2008-10 won 10 of the 11 sets the two played against each other.
“I don’t know if I ever asked myself, ‘Why me?’ I mean, obviously it’s frustrating at times. I don’t know if there’s anything mental more I can do at this point, but there’s a lot of stages to go through with this kind of thing,” said Williams, whose fastest-in-the-game serve was broken five times Wednesday. “There’s a lot of people who have it a lot worse than I do. I'm still playing a professional sport, so I have to be very positive. And I’m going to have ups and downs. I haven’t gotten to the ‘Why me?’ yet. I hope I never get to the ‘Why me?’ I’m not allowed to feel sorry for myself.”
It’s hard to know, however, how much energy she’ll have from one day to the next.
Whenever the alarm goes off, Williams starts to find out what the next 24 hours will be like.
“Every morning is different. Some mornings, I don’t feel great, then it’s a better day than I thought it was going to be. I can’t automatically be discouraged. When I wake up, I just have to see how it goes. Sometimes I get a second wind,” she explained. “It’s just so hard to know.”
Williams revealed her diagnosis in late August at the U.S. Open, when she withdrew before her second-round match. She skipped the Australian Open in January, before returning to the tour in March in a bid to earn a berth on the U.S Olympic team. Spots are awarded based on rankings — the top 56 get in automatically, with a maximum of four per country, so Williams should be OK.
“This tournament, for me, was all about getting to the Olympics, as I have said a couple million times,” she said. “If that happens for me, and I think the chances are good, then I come out a victor. So that’s why I was here.”
At changeovers, Williams would slink to the sideline, then sit on her green bench with hands clasped, staring straight ahead, expressionless and motionless.
She was far more animated afterward, laughing often while discussing her condition and graciously complimenting the play of Radwanska, a 23-year-old who is coming into her own this season.
“Of course, when I saw the draw, I wasn’t very happy, because Venus as a second-round opponent, it’s not easy,” Radwanska said. “Maybe she just had a bad day here.”
While never advancing past the quarterfinals at a Grand Slam tournament, Radwanska has shown signs of being ready for a major breakthrough, with three lesser titles and a tour-high 38 victories in 2012. Of her seven losses, six were against No. 1-ranked Victoria Azarenka.
On an easy day for the top-seeded players, Azarenka breezed into the third round with a 6-1, 6-1 victory over Dinah Pfizenmaier of Germany 6-1, 6-1, while the No. 1 man, Novak Djokovic, extended his Grand Slam winning streak to 23 matches by beating Blaz Kavcic of Slovenia 6-0, 6-4, 6-4.
“Being No. 1 is a difficult job, because everybody want to catch you, everybody want to move you from the spot,” said Azarenka, pushed to three sets in the first round. “Nothing is going to come easy just because you’re No. 1.”
For years, Roger Federer managed to make things look easy at the top. Now No. 3, he went through a bit of a glitch and dropped a set Wednesday before earning his record-breaking 234th Grand Slam match victory, 6-3, 6-2, 6-7 (6), 6-3 against 92nd-ranked Adrian Ungur of Romania.
“I have been around for so long that, even though I expect myself to win, I can still manage to do that,” said Federer, on course for a semifinal showdown with Djokovic. “Whereas in the beginning, when you think you’re good but you’re maybe not that good yet, you get many more surprise losses.”
Before rain cut play short in the evening, all 10 seeded men whose matches ended won, including No. 9 Juan Martin del Potro, the 2009 U.S. Open champion, who acknowledged his bandaged left knee is a “constant bother.”
Four seeded women lost, including No. 8 Marion Bartoli of France, the runner-up to Williams in the 2007 Wimbledon final, when the American was near the height of her powers.
June 07, 2012
By Kenneth Miller
LA Watts Times Correspondent
I have been covering the sport of boxing for more than two decades. It’s probably my favorite sport — for a number of reasons. The number of African American fighters, the raw unscripted rags-to-riches stories of Mike Tyson, Floyd Mayweather and the Peterson brothers make it a natural fit for minority media coverage.
Last week I attended the show at the Home Depot Center in Carson that was headlined by Antonio Tarver and Winky Wright.
The venue was a perfect mesh with the combatants who fought from sun up till sun down. A crowd of roughly 2500 attended and half the crowd was Hispanic and the other half Black.
However, the promoters — Golden Boy, Gary Shaw and Tarver — did nothing at all to reach out to African Americans beyond the usual email press blast from the bevy of publicists working the event on behalf of them, cable networks and Showtime.
There are few businesses that are thriving during this troubling economy. This very newspaper and its legendary brother publication, the Sentinel, are among the enormous family of African American or minority publications that are hurting.
For decades, when there wasn’t pay-per-view or tailor-made advertising partnerships, minority newspapers such as these were the foundation of media support and marketing outreach for the sport of boxing.
It was during these times that it was the one sport that granted us the same open access as our White contemporaries.
Legendary boxing promoter Don King was a pioneer in this effort; he recognized the power and influence of Blacks and their economic spending might by sharing the advertising revenue among the Black-owned newspapers as owner of which now Mr. King is one of us as owner of Cleveland’s Call and Post Newspaper.
For far too long in recent years, traditional team sports and leagues, such as the NBA, NFL and MLB, have ignored the Black press altogether.
While boxing is not regulated and promoters have their own individual agendas to pad their pockets and expand their relationships, they too have fallen short of sharing their revenues with the Black press.
Because our advertising revenue is not what the daily majors are, and because our circulation numbers are not what the daily majors are, is not an excuse. It costs a publication such as this one and others to send out a reporter and have that individual expense his own parking. Let it be a Mayweather mega fight in Las Vegas, and the expenses are 100 times that.
The recent event at the Home Depot Center made money, most of it coming from the Showtime network and some from paid sponsors, but none of that calculated profit was spent to enhance the event with Blacks that would have increased their profit sharing.
There’s plenty of blame to go around for this short sightedness. It starts with promoters such as Bob Arum, Golden Boy, Goosen Tutor and, yes Mayweather, and, in last week’s fight, Tarver.
Then there’s also an underlying responsibility of the Black press: If these sports are not helping us, then why should we help them — even if some of our own are involved?
This week is another huge example in which unheralded Timothy Bradley is fighting Manny Pacquaio in Las Vegas on pay-per-view.
Bradley is an undefeated Black fighter. There is a major advertising budget spinning its marketing wheels during the NBA finals on ESPN and TNT. For a fraction of that cost, they could have included a buy with the Black press.
If these folks don’t think we are important and the dollars of Blacks are insignificant, then let’s show them. Encourage Blacks top not buy their fights on pay-per-view.
It’s time to pull off the damn gloves on the sport of boxing and fight back.
May 31, 2012
By | Associated Press
NEWARK, N.J. - EA Sports predicts the Los Angeles Kings will defeat the New Jersey Devils in six games to win the Stanley Cup.
That’s the word from the NHL 12 simulation engine, the video game developer said.
In the simulation, Kings goalie Jonathan Quick continued his stellar post-season play. The 26-year-old records a shutout and does not allow more than two goals in a game against the Devils en route to collecting the Conn Smythe Trophy as playoff MVP.
The simulation has Los Angeles winning Game 1 by a 4-2 score before losing the next two 2-0 and 2-1. The Kings close it out with 2-0, 3-2 and 3-1 wins.
Kings defenseman Drew Doughty scores the winning goal in the final game.
The EA hockey game is developed in Burnaby, B.C.