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Beijing district orders mass virus testing ahead of Olympics

Beijing district orders mass virus testing ahead of OlympicsBy The Associated Press BEIJING -- People in a Beijing district with some 2 million residents were ordered Sunday to undergo mass coronavirus testing following a series of infections as China tightened anti-disease controls ahead of the Winter Olympics. The government told people in areas of the Chinese capital deemed at high risk for infection not to leave the city after 25 cases were found in the Fengtai district and 14 elsewhere. The ruling Communist Party is stepping up enforcement of its “zero tolerance” strategy aimed at isolating every infected person as Beijing prepares to open the Winter Games on Feb. 4 under intensive anti-virus controls. On Sunday, Fengtai residents lined up on snow-covered sidewalks in freezing weather for testing.   ... Read More

49ers past Green Bay Packers, into NFC Championship Game 13-10

By NICK WAGONER GREEN BAY, Wis. -- The San Francisco 49ers simply will not go away. The same Niners that were once 3-5 and headed for a long offseason full of questions are now headed to the NFC Championship Game for the second time in three seasons. To get there, San Francisco had to pull out the type of late-game magic that has been a hallmark of its late-season surge to the playoffs. The result was a wild 13-10 win over the Green Bay Packers on Saturday night at Lambeau Field. The 49ers await the winner of Sunday's NFC divisional game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Los Angeles Rams. After a disappointing offensive performance, the Niners pieced together the   ... Read More

Bengals into AFC championship game after beating Titans 19-16

By BEN BABY NASHVILLE, Tenn. -- For 31 years, the Cincinnati Bengals had no playoff victory. Now, they are one game away from playing in a Super Bowl. Cincinnati defeated the Tennessee Titans 19-16 in Saturday's divisional round of the playoffs to advance to its first AFC Championship Game since 1988. Bengals rookie place-kicker Evan McPherson hit a 52-yard winning field goal as time expired, his fourth successful kick of the game and his eighth this postseason. With at least one game left to play, McPherson has already matched Stephen Gostkowski (2006) for the most field goals by a rookie kicker in NFL postseason history. The Bengals intercepted Titans quarterback Ryan Tannehill three times, setting up two of McPherson's field   ... Read More

Chiefs’ Tyreek Hill fined $12,875 for celebrating touchdown with pompoms

By ESPN.com Do a little dance ... pay a little fine. Welcome to the world of Kansas City Chiefs wide receiver Tyreek Hill. The NFL has fined Hill $12,875 for unsportsmanlike conduct, according to Spotrac, following his impromptu celebration during last week's wild-card playoff victory against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Hill, after grabbing a 31-yard touchdown pass from Patrick Mahomes to give the Chiefs a 35-7 lead with 9 minutes, 14 seconds remaining in the third quarter, found himself on the sideline next to a group of Chiefs cheerleaders. So he grabbed some pompoms from one and did a little dance for fans -- and national television cameras -- until Mahomes came to pull him away. Hill was not penalized after   ... Read More

Butler retiring after seven seasons as Pittsburgh Steelers’ defensive coordinator

By BROOKE PRYOR PITTSBURGH -- Pittsburgh Steelers defensive coordinator Keith Butler has informed the team he is retiring, the Steelers announced Saturday evening. "It is an emotional day as I announce I am retiring from my football coaching career," Butler said in a statement. "I have spent every year since 1990 as a coach in the NFL and the NCAA, but the time is right for me to walk away after a successful career both playing and coaching the game I love." Butler, 65, has been with the Steelers organization for 19 years and took over for Dick LeBeau as defensive coordinator in 2015 after 12 seasons as the linebackers coach. Butler also spent four seasons as the Cleveland Browns'   ... Read More

Ex-athlete vows to maintain U. of Michigan sex abuse protest

Ex-athlete vows to maintain U. of Michigan sex abuse protestBy COREY WILLIAMS and MIKE HOUSEHOLDER Associated Press Jon Vaughn's small blue-and-white camper has been parked outside the home of the University of Michigan's president since early October, and he says it won't be moving anytime soon. The former star running back for the university’s Wolverines football team says a $490 million settlement the school recently announced is not enough by itself to remedy the sexual abuse he and more than 1,000 other students say they suffered at the hands of the university's late sports doctor Robert Anderson. “We’ve only really scratched the surface and touched the tip of the iceberg on how insidious this atrocity is," Vaughn told The Associated Press on Friday. "That’s why I’m staying. The entire   ... Read More

June Jones turns down offer to return as head coach of Hawai’i football team

By ADAM RITTENBERG AND PETE THAMEL June Jones turned down an opportunity to return as Hawai'i's head football coach after meeting with school officials Friday. Jones, 68, expressed interest in the job shortly after coach Todd Graham resigned under pressure Jan. 14. Although Jones hasn't coached in college since 2014, he lives in Hawai'i and remains the school's all-time winningest coach with a 76-41 record and a Sugar Bowl appearance following the 2007 season. "I understand that there has been a lot of support for Coach Jones this past week, but he has declined our offer," athletic director David Matlin said in a statement Friday night. "I respect his decision and we need to move forward in our search. At   ... Read More

Panthers to hire Ben McAdoo as offensive coordinator

By ESPN.com CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Carolina Panthers coach Matt Rhule was looking for an offensive coordinator with NFL experience, and he is getting that with former New York Giants head coach Ben McAdoo. McAdoo will be named to his new position once contract details are worked out, a league source told ESPN on Friday. He will replace Joe Brady, who was fired with five games left in the season. Running backs coach Jeff Nixon finished the season as Carolina's playcaller, but he never was under serious consideration after the Panthers averaged 13.6 points per game under him. Rhule reportedly talked to eight or nine candidates, some from the college ranks, before settling on McAdoo. Rhule actually considered adding McAdoo to   ... Read More

49ers DE Nick Bosa clears concussion protocol, will play Saturday

By NICK WAGGONER GREEN BAY, Wis. -- For most of the week, San Francisco 49ers defensive end Nick Bosa was seemingly on the right track to be able to play in Saturday's NFC divisional-round matchup against the Green Bay Packers. On Friday, the Niners removed all doubt when they announced that Bosa has officially cleared concussion protocol and no longer has an injury designation heading into the showdown with Green Bay. Put simply: Bosa will play against the Packers, which is no small thing given his importance to San Francisco's defense. Bosa led the 49ers in sacks this season with 15.5, adding an NFL-high 21 tackles for loss and 52 tackles. Bosa's clearance comes after a week during which multiple   ... Read More

Ravens fire defensive coordinator Don ‘Wink’ Martindale, source says

By ESPN.com news OWINGS MILLS, Md. -- The Baltimore Ravens have fired defensive coordinator Don "Wink" Martindale with one year remaining on his contract, a source told ESPN's Adam Schefter on Friday. This surprising shakeup represents the first move made by the Ravens since they lost six straight games to end the season and failed to make the playoffs for the first time since 2017. Ravens coach John Harbaugh issued a statement Friday saying he and Martindale "agreed to move forward in separate directions." "We have had a great run on defense, and I am very proud of what has been accomplished and the work he has done," Harbaugh said in his statement. "Don has been a major contributor to   ... Read More

NFL halts daily COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated players, memo says

By KEVIN SEIFERT The NFL and NFL Players Association have agreed to halt daily COVID-19 testing for unvaccinated players, aligning them with protocols developed last month for vaccinated players and coaches. In a memo sent Friday afternoon to teams, the league said it would add unvaccinated players to its existing symptom screening and testing surveillance programs. Anyone who reports symptoms will be tested. The NFL's most recent COVID-19 data release reported that 95% of players and nearly 100% of staff members are vaccinated. The change will apply to a small group of people. With only eight teams left in the playoffs, there are roughly 12 unvaccinated players remaining, a source told ESPN. Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers, whose 90-day   ... Read More

Nets’ Kyrie Irving fined $25,000 for directing obscene language toward fan

By ESPN.com Brooklyn Nets guard Kyrie Irving has been fined $25,000 for directing obscene language toward a fan, the NBA announced Thursday. The incident occurred with 4:19 remaining in the second quarter of the Nets' 114-107 loss to the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday. A fan courtside could be heard heckling Irving, who responded with obscene language. Irving has appeared in five games for the Nets this season, averaging 22 points and 5.4 assists. He scored 30 points in 38 minutes during a 119-118 win over the Washington Wizards on Wednesday night. Irving is unvaccinated against COVID-19, meaning he can't play in home games due to a mandate in New York City. After Irving was away from the team for almost   ... Read More

Bengals DE Trey Hendrickson clears concussion protocol, OK to play Saturday

By ESPN.com news CINCINNATI -- The Bengals will have their top pass-rusher available for Saturday's playoff game. Defensive end Trey Hendrickson successfully cleared the concussion protocol and will play against the Tennessee Titans in the teams' AFC divisional-round playoff game, Bengals coach Zac Taylor said on Thursday. "He's been in these moments before," Taylor said in a teleconference with local reporters. "He's one of our premier players. It's good to have him." Hendrickson left the team's 26-19 wild-card-round win over the Las Vegas Raiders on Jan. 15 and entered the league's concussion protocol. He made progress toward returning throughout the week, starting with limited participation at Tuesday's practice and then practicing in full on Wednesday. Since signing with the Bengals   ... Read More

Bulls’ Lonzo Ball to have surgery on knee, out 6-8 weeks

By ADRIAN WOJNAROWSKI Chicago Bulls guard Lonzo Ball has opted to have arthroscopic surgery on his left knee and is expected to miss six to eight weeks, the team announced Thursday. Ball is expected to travel to California in the coming days to have the arthroscopic procedure to repair a meniscus tear, a source told ESPN. The Bulls and Ball's agent -- Klutch Sports CEO Rich Paul -- had discussed options with doctors, but the procedure was deemed necessary after a recent change in nonsurgical treatment didn't allow Ball to play through what's described as a slight meniscus tear, sources said. Ball has missed the past three games with what the Bulls initially deemed was a bone bruise. The team   ... Read More

Arbitrator rules UConn improperly fired Huskies men’s basketball coach

By ESPN.com STORRS, Conn. -- An independent arbitrator has ruled that UConn improperly fired former men's basketball coach Kevin Ollie and must pay him more than $11 million, Ollie's lawyer said Thursday. Attorney Jacques Parenteau called Thursday's ruling from arbitrator Mark Irvings a "total vindication" for Ollie, who was fired in the spring of 2018 after the school reported numerous NCAA violations in his program. Irvings ruled that Ollie is due $11,157,032.95 within the next 10 business days, Parenteau said. UConn said in a statement that it "vigorously disagrees" with the arbitrator's decision. The Huskies were placed on probation for two years and Ollie was sanctioned individually for those violations, which occurred between 2013 and 2018. Parenteau said the arbitrator's   ... Read More

Tampa Bay Rays say split-season plan with Montreal rejected by MLB

By ALDEN GONZALEZ The Tampa Bay Rays' inventive, controversial plan to split their home schedule with the city of Montreal was scrapped by Major League Baseball officials earlier this week, a decision that Rays owner Stuart Sternberg called "flat-out deflating." Rays officials had spent 2½ years hyperfocused on what was called a "sister city" proposal, believing it to be the best path toward increasing revenue without permanently relocating the franchise. Now they must pivot, either by revisiting Tampa Bay-area-stadium talks that had previously stalled or by exploring a new city altogether. Sternberg, who took questions in a video conference for more than half an hour on Thursday afternoon, was noncommittal. "We're certainly gonna be exploring things in the Tampa Bay   ... Read More

Chiefs’ Willie Gay arrested on misdemeanor charge of criminal property damage

By ADAM TEICHER OVERLAND PARK, Kan. -- Kansas City Chiefs linebacker Willie Gay on Thursday afternoon pleaded not guilty to a misdemeanor charge of criminal property damage of less than $1,000 after he was arrested Wednesday night by police. As of Thursday morning, Gay, 23, remained in the detention center in Johnson County, Kansas. He is expected to be released Thursday afternoon. Gay's agents, Maxx Lepsettler and Ryan Rubin, said in a statement that Gay was visiting his son when he got into an argument with the child's mother, who called police. A police report estimated the total property damage at $225 for a vacuum cleaner, cellphone screen protector, humidifier and damage to a wall and door frame. The mother   ... Read More

Buccaneers WR Antonio Brown says ‘there’s nothing wrong with my mental health’

By JENNA LAINE TAMPA, Fla. -- Former Buccaneers wide receiver Antonio Brown said his recent sideline outburst against the New York Jets that resulted in his dismissal from the Buccaneers, and previous incidents he's been involved in, have been miscategorized as "mental health issues." In a preview of an episode of "I Am Athlete" that will be posted in full on Jan. 24, Brown tells former NFL wide receiver Brandon Marshall that he's not suffering from mental health issues. "Everyone in the world got a different form of reactions of what happened to me. And it's all based upon where you from, how you feel, and no one really gonna know that regardless of who you is," Brown said. "The   ... Read More

Willie O’Ree, 1st Black NHL player, reflects on his time in the league

Bruce Bennett/Getty Images(BOSTON) -- The Boston Bruins retired the jersey of Willie O’Ree, the first Black NHL player, on Tuesday night -- 64 years to the day of his professional hockey debut. Inducted into the Hockey Hall of Fame in 2018 and currently in line to be the first hockey player to receive a Congressional Gold Medal, the ceremony, which was held at TD Garden, marked another historic moment for O'Ree's ever-growing, decades-long legacy. An avid ice hockey player from the age of 5, O’Ree knew he’d wanted to play professional hockey since he was 14 years old. "I made two goals for myself: to play professional hockey and hopefully one day to play in the National Hockey League," he   ... Read More

Novak Djokovic could be barred from playing in French Open

iStock/Pornpak Khunatorn(PARIS) -- Serbian tennis star Novak Djokovic could be barred from competing in the French Open following the French Parliament’s adoption of a vaccine pass on Sunday. Professional athletes, regardless of nationality, will now have to show their credentials and present a vaccine pass to access sports venues, France’s Minister of Sports Roxana Maracineanu told reporters on Monday. Maracineanu had told French radio station France Info differently earlier this month, saying that athletes like Djokovic could benefit from exemptions "because the protocol, the health bubble of these major sporting events will allow it." However, she said on Monday that the recent law to curb the spread of the new coronavirus passed by the French Parliament had changed the situation.   ... Read More

Tennis legend Chris Evert reveals ovarian cancer diagnosis

Mehdi Taamallah/NurPhoto via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Former world No. 1 tennis player Chris Evert revealed she is battling Stage 1 ovarian cancer. Evert shared the news in a Tweet on Friday. "I wanted to share my stage 1 ovarian cancer diagnosis," she said. "Thanks to all of you for respecting my need to focus on my health and treatment plan." The tennis legend, who made her debut at age 16 at the 1971 U.S. Open and is an 18-time Grand Slam winner who took home 157 singles titles and 32 doubles titles during her career, opened up in depth about her diagnosis in an ESPN article she co-wrote with friend and ESPN journalist Chris McKendry. In the article, McKendry   ... Read More

High school sports feel impact of omicron surge, from paused games to mask mandates

Ben Hasty/MediaNews Group/Reading Eagle via Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- High school athletics are feeling the impact of the omicron surge, from paused games to restricted fans, amid a winter season that coaches and administrators already anticipated would pose challenges for indoor, close-contact sports. Amid record COVID-19 cases in the U.S., schools are revisiting coronavirus protocols and guidelines to safely keep students playing in person. Teams have had to limit out-of-state travel due to transmission risks, or postpone in-league games due to cases. The Los Angeles school district, the second largest in the country, returned from winter break in person this week with a pause on all sports competitions due to surging cases. Despite omicron, school officials are optimistic districts won't   ... Read More

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