Sports Shorts

Kansas City Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (25) is tackled by San Diego Chargers free safety Eric Weddle (32) defensive tackle Cam Thomas (93) and linebacker Donald Butler (56) during an NFL football game against the San Diego Chargers, Sunday, Sept. 30, 2012, in Kansas City, Mo. (AP Photo/Colin E Braley)

English town to burn Lance Armstrong in effigy


LONDON — His career is in ruins and now an effigy of Lance Armstrong is about to go up in smoke.

The disgraced American cyclist has been chosen as the latest celebrity to be burned in effigy during an English town’s nationally famous Bonfire Night celebrations.

Edenbridge in southeast England has built a 30-foot (9-meter) model of Armstrong, who was stripped recently of his seven Tour de France titles for doping offenses.

The effigy, to be burnt Saturday, sports a sign saying “For sale, racing bike, no longer required.”

Towns across Britain light bonfires and set off fireworks on Nov. 5 to commemorate Guy Fawkes’ failed plot in 1605 to blow up Parliament.

The bonfires are traditionally topped with an effigy of Fawkes but have been decorated with contemporary figures over recent years.

Previous Edenbridge effigies include comedian Russell Brand and soccer star Wayne Rooney.

QB Vick still starter for struggling Eagles

PHILADELPHIA — Michael Vick will remain the starting quarterback for the Philadelphia Eagles.

Coach Andy Reid announced the decision on Wednesday. The Eagles are off and Reid and Vick are not scheduled to address the media again until Thursday.

Vick, the four-time Pro Bowl quarterback, has struggled this season and Philadelphia (3-4) has lost three straight games.

Reid didn’t endorse Vick after Sunday’s 30-17 loss to Atlanta, saying he’s going to evaluate all his starters. Vick then said he would support whatever decision Reid makes.

That led to speculation Vick’s days were numbered. But Reid is sticking with Vick over unproven rookie Nick Foles as of now.

The New Orleans Saints host the Eagles Sunday night in the Superdome.Ex-players reply to NFL’s motion to dismiss cases

Ex-players reply to NFL’s motion to dismiss cases

Arguing that “football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports,” lawyers for thousands of former NFL players asked a judge to reject the league’s bid to dismiss their lawsuits about concussions.

In a brief filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Philadelphia, the players dispute the league’s framing of the cases as a labor issue that should be governed by the sport’s collective bargaining agreements instead of the legal system.

Among the players’ arguments: Relevant CBAs did not address long-term brain injuries, the NFL committed fraud by concealing risks of repeated head trauma, and the league has a common-law duty to protect players.

“The NFL knew that players were exposed to risks of severe neurological injuries, yet did nothing to prevent them,” the brief says, adding that the league “failed to warn players about the dangers of concussive and sub-concussive impacts,” did not advocate preventative rule changes and did not “implement equipment standards adapted for head trauma.”

The league filed its motion to dismiss the lawsuits in August and now will have the chance to respond to the players’ reply. The NFL repeatedly has stated publicly it did not intentionally mislead players and has tried to better protect their health. More than 100 concussion lawsuits against the NFL have been brought together before U.S. District Judge Anita B. Brody. Unless Brody agrees to dismiss them, or an umbrella settlement is reached, she probably would decide what evidence can be used at trial, whether a class can be certified for medical monitoring and other pretrial issues. The cases might then return to their home districts for trial. In its motion two months ago, the NFL argued that the CBAs cover safety and health rules — while delegating to individual teams and their doctors the decisions about players’ conditions and when they should return to play. The league also said the former players’ suits lack specific proof that medical links between concussions and brain disease were concealed.

The players’ response Wednesday says “a party cannot shirk its own duty by pointing to the duties of others” and that the “NFL deceived club doctors (as well as players) by insisting repeatedly that head trauma carried little long-term risk for football players.”

Wednesday’s brief argues that the NFL “orchestrated a disinformation campaign” and says: “On the NFL’s watch, football has become the site of perhaps the gravest health crisis in the history of sports.”

According to an Associated Press analysis, a total of more than 3,500 former players — including at least 26 members of the Pro Football Hall of Fame — have sued the NFL, saying not enough was done to inform them about the dangers of concussions in the past, and not enough is being done today to take care of them. The complete number of plaintiffs in those cases tops 5,000, counting spouses and other relatives or representatives.

The lead plaintiff in one of the earliest concussion lawsuits filed against the NFL last year, former Atlanta Falcons safety Ray Easterling, committed suicide in April at age 62. An autopsy found he had the degenerative brain disease CTE, or chronic traumatic encephalopathy. His widow remains a plaintiff.

Other players have told the AP they returned to play after hits that left them with concussions and regularly were given painkillers by team doctors before games.

Titans add veteran G/C Kyle DeVan to roster

NASHVILLE, Tenn. — The Tennessee Titans have signed veteran guard and center Kyle DeVan to boost the numbers at offensive line.

The Titans announced the roster move Wednesday.

The 6-foot-2, 306-pound DeVan signed with the Titans in June and was waived in the final roster cuts. He has played 36 games with 25 starts at guard over three seasons at Indianapolis and Philadelphia. He was a four-year starter at Oregon State.

The Titans waived safety Tracy Wilson.

Williams sisters inspire local kids in Nigeria

LAGOS, Nigeria — On their first visit to Nigeria, Serena and Venus Williams want to inspire local kids to set their goals high.

“We were really able to break the mold and win a lot of Grand Slams and a lot of tournaments and not only that, but kind of change the face of tennis,” Serena said Wednesday before an exhibition match against her sister in Lagos on Friday.

“We were able to break the mold in a sport that was really dominated by white people ... it doesn’t matter what your background is and where you come from. If you have dreams, if you have goals, that’s all that really matters.”

The sisters, accompanied by their mother Oracene Price, are in Nigeria’s largest city for the week. The sisters swatted tennis balls with local children at a private club on Ikoyi Island, home to diplomats and many of the nation’s wealthy. If they have their way, the sisters will be hitting tennis balls for at least another four years, all the way to the 2016 Rio Olympics. Venus and Serena have teamed to win 13 Grand Slam doubles titles and won Olympic gold in doubles in 2000, 2008 and 2012. Serena also won the singles gold this year, while Venus won it in 2000. Serena, who beat Maria Sharapova 6-4, 6-3 to win the WTA Championships final in Istanbul last week, is ranked No. 3 in the world. Venus, diagnosed last year with an autoimmune disease that causes fatigue, has struggled with illnesses and injuries in recent months and is ranked No. 24.

Steelers WR Sanders to meet with NFL officials

PITTSBURGH — Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Emmanuel Sanders says he’s going to meet with NFL officials to discuss his fourth-quarter leg cramp in a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals earlier this month.

Sanders maintains he did nothing wrong when he suddenly dropped to the ground with the Steelers nursing a seven-point lead. Officials stopped play after Sanders laid down on the turf and television announcers suggested the third-year receiver was faking it so Pittsburgh could avoid using a timeout. Sanders sat out one play, taking in a small amount of fluids while team doctors massaged his calf, before returning. He says the cramp was sudden but disappeared quickly after receiving medical attention. He says he’s not sure when he’ll meet with officials, but the Steelers will be in New York this weekend to face the Giants.

Horse racing Hall of Fame to add new category

SARATOGA SPRINGS, N.Y. — Thoroughbred racing’s Hall of Fame is getting a new category to honor humans. The National Museum of Racing said Wednesday that it’s adding a new category called Pillars of the Turf starting in 2013. It will honor individuals who have made extraordinary contributions to the sport in a leadership or pioneering category on a national level. The hall’s other three categories are for horses, jockeys and trainers.

Candidates for the new honor must have represented the sport with integrity and commitment through innovation, philanthropy, promotion and education, breeding and ownership. A minimum of 25 years active participation in the sport is required to be considered. A historic and contemporary finalist will be chosen each year. To be elected to the hall, an individual must receive 75 percent of the committee’s vote.

Suggs still looking for a win in return to Ravens

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — Terrell Suggs didn’t rush his return from a torn right Achilles tendon just to prove he has remarkable recuperative powers.

No, the Baltimore Ravens linebacker pushed himself through the rehabilitative process because he wanted to help the team win. And in that regard, Suggs emerged from his first game back with a feeling of disappointment.

Only 5½ months removed from surgery, Suggs returned on Oct. 21 to face the Houston Texans. He registered four tackles, a sack and batted away a pass in a 43-13 defeat.

He says, “The only disappointing thing was I didn’t come back in a winning effort.”

Now, after a bye week, Suggs hopes to help the Ravens snag a victory in Cleveland on Sunday. Baltimore (5-2) will be seeking its 11th straight division win.

Tannehill practices with Dolphins on limited basis

DAVIE, Fla. — Miami Dolphins quarterback Ryan Tannehill is practicing on a limited basis after leaving Sunday’s victory over the New York Jets in the first quarter with left knee and thigh injuries. Tannehill wore a brace and thigh-to-ankle sleeve on his left leg for Wednesday’s workout. He participated in passing drills, but backup Matt Moore took the snaps with the starters at the beginning of team drills, while Pat Devlin worked with the second team. Tannehill was cleared to return to practice after undergoing an MRI exam, but the injuries may prevent him from taking part in an all-rookie showdown against the Colts’ Andrew Luck in Indianapolis on Sunday. Moore went 11 for 19 against the Jets for 131 yards and a score.

Indianapolis rules out 2 starters for Miami game

INDIANAPOLIS — Colts interim coach Bruce Arians says rookie tight end Coby Fleener and cornerback Vontae Davis will not play Sunday against Miami. Both were injured last weekend at Tennessee. Davis left less than three minutes into the game with a left knee injury. Fleener left just before halftime after hurting his left shoulder. Arians says he hopes both starters will return to Indy’s lineup in a couple of weeks. Fleener was a second-round draft pick and one of Andrew Luck’s college teammates at Stanford before coming to Indy. He is third on the team with 21 receptions. Indy traded two draft picks to Miami to acquire Davis late in the preseason. He has 19 tackles in five games and missed two games with an ankle injury.

Tonight’s NFL Capsule: Chiefs at Chargers

KANSAS CITY (1-6) At SAN DIEGO (3-4), Thursday, 4:20 p.m., NFL Network. SERIES RECORD — Tied 52-52-1; AP PRO32 RANKING — Chiefs No. 32; Chargers No. 22; LAST MEETING — Chargers beat Chiefs 37-20, Sept. 30; LAST WEEK — Kansas City lost to Oakland 26-16; San Diego lost to Cleveland 7-6; CHIEFS OFFENSE — OVERALL (12), RUSH (3), PASS (22); CHIEFS DEFENSE — OVERALL (18), RUSH (23), PASS (11); CHARGERS OFFENSE — OVERALL (25), RUSH (20), PASS (21); CHARGERS DEFENSE — OVERALL (10), RUSH (2), PASS (21).

NOTES — Several corporate sponsors stepped up to save Chargers embarrassment of having game blacked out on local TV. NFL Network began showing Thursday night games in 2006 and has never had one blacked out. / Chiefs have lost four straight. / Chargers have lost three straight. / San Diego hasn’t scored touchdown in six quarters. / Embattled San Diego coach Norv Turner is 110-117-1 overall in head coaching stops with Washington, Oakland and San Diego. / Kansas City first team since at least 1940 to go through first seven games without holding lead in regulation, according to STATS LLC. Its only win came when Ryan Succop kicked winning field goal against Saints in overtime. / Chiefs last in NFL with minus-18 turnover differential, with 25 turnovers and only seven takeaways. / Chargers’ three wins have come against teams with combined record of 7-15, including Chiefs. / Matt Cassel will start at quarterback for Chiefs because Brady Quinn has not been cleared to practice due to concussion. ... Chiefs WR Dwayne Bowe needs seven receptions to become fourth player in franchise annals to reach 400 for career. ... Chargers trying for fifth straight win against Chiefs at home / San Diego QB Philip Rivers 5-1 at home vs. Chiefs. / TE Antonio Gates (78) trails only Hall of Famer Lance Alworth (81) for most receiving TDs in team history.


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