Review Category : National Sports

Soccer Star Brandi Chastain to Donate Brain to CTE Research

iStock/Thinkstock(WALTHAM, Mass.) — U.S. Women’s Soccer star Brandi Chastain has announced she will donate her brain to researchers studying chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE, to protect future players, according to statement from the Concussion Legacy Foundation.

Chastain made headlines after making a penalty kick in the 1999 World Games that clinched victory for the U.S. Women’s Team. She said she wants to protect athletes by taking part in the study on CTE, which aims to shed light on how the disease develops.

“With more information, the greater public can make better choices,” she said in a statement released by the Concussion Legacy Foundation, which promotes the study, treatment and prevention of the effects of brain trauma at-risk groups. “I won’t be witness to the results when I donate my brain, and I hope that day is a long way from today, but I’m hoping that my donation helps change things for the positive.”

Chastain has already started an initiative to reduce heading for young soccer players. She has been involved in the “Safer Soccer” campaign since 2014 that aims to eliminate heading for players under the age of 14.

“Ultimately I’m thinking about the players,” she said in her statement. “How do we evaluate what happened in my brain — when I started doing things like repetitive heading — and then take those results to improve the way we coach our young players? Can what we learn help change rules even more?”

The degenerative disease involves a buildup of the abnormal protein called tau, which is also found in Alzheimer’s patients and is associated with a breakdown of brain tissue. It’s believed to be caused by repetitive trauma to the brain, according to the CTE Center at Boston University, and symptoms include memory loss, confusion, impulse control problems, aggression, depression, anxiety and progressive dementia. The disease can only be diagnosed after death when tissue samples can be examined for the tau protein.

Most of the attention has focused on athletes who developed the disease after contact sports like football. However, athletes who played soccer or baseball have also all been diagnosed with the disease. This week former WWE-wrestler Kevin Nash said he will also donate his brain for CTE research, according to ESPN.

“For so long, players with concussions have in many ways had to be in the dark on their own, dealing with symptoms, diminished capacity, or eventually experiencing the pain of having to step away from their sport,” Chastain said. “By knowing that we’re not alone, and by working together and getting more people to follow suit, maybe in the future, we have less reason to worry about concussions.”

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Oklahoma City Thunder Part-Owner Aubrey McClendon Killed in Car Crash

Brett Deering/Getty Images(OKLAHOMA CITY) — Police have confirmed Oklahoma City Thunder part-owner, Aubrey McClendon, died in a car crash Wednesday night, ESPN reports.

The fatal single-vehicle crash occurred just 24 hours after the Justice Department had announced a conspiracy charge against the 56-year-old founder and former CEO at Chesapeake Energy. McClendon had been accused of conspiring to rig bids on leases for oil and natural gas in Oklahoma, according to ESPN.

In a news conference Wednesday, police said McClendon was killed instantly when his 2013 Chevy Tahoe hit a concrete bridge pillar and caught fire. McClendon, who was not wearing a seatbelt, had been driving well over the posted speed limit, police said.

McClendon owned about 20 percent of the Thunder, and Chesapeake Energy holds naming rights on the team’s arena, according to ESPN.

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Martin Truex Jr.’s Crew Chief Suspended, Fined for Infraction

Jared C. Tilton/Getty Images(ATLANTA) — Martin Truex Jr.’s crew chief has been suspended for one Sprint Cup Series race in connection with a rules violation that occurred last weekend at Atlanta Motor Speedway.

Cole Pearn was also fined $50,000. In addition, Truex was docked 15 driver points and Furniture Row Racing owner Barney Visser was penalized 15 owner points.

The violation, involving the roof flap of Truex’s car, was discovered during a pre-race inspection for last Sunday’s Sprint Cup event at Atlanta.

Furniture Row Racing has informed NASCAR it will appeal the decision. The organization’s president, Joe Garone, said in a statement, “The infraction, which was immediately corrected following technical inspection at Atlanta Motor Speedway last week, was safety related and not competition related.”

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Scoreboard Roundup — 3/2/16

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — Here are the latest scores and winners:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION

Charlotte 119, Philadelphia 99
Orlando 102, Chicago 89
Boston 116, Portland 93
Toronto 104, Utah 94
San Antonio 97, Detroit 81
Indiana 104, Milwaukee 99
Houston 100, New Orleans 95
Memphis 104, Sacramento 98
Washington 104, Minnesota 98
Denver 117, L-A Lakers 107
L-A Clippers 103, Oklahoma City 98

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE

Washington 3, Toronto 2
Chicago 5, Detroit 2
2OT Anaheim 3, Montreal 2 (SO Anaheim 1-0)

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Obama Honors Alabama Crimson Tide at White House

Olivier Douliery/Getty Images(WASHINGTON) — President Obama huddled with the NCAA Playoff Champion Alabama Crimson Tide football team at the White House, the fourth time he’s honored one of Coach Nick Saban’s squads.

“My first question is, Coach, what took you so long?” Obama quipped, drawing laughter. “It’s been three whole years since I last saw you.”

The team presented the president with a No. 16 Alabama white road jersey, as well as a commemorative football and helmet.

“This is the fourth time I’ve hosted Alabama here at the White House,” Obama remarked. “So, clearly, I’ve brought you some good luck. In fact, you could call me O‘Bama.”

Obama praised the players for their contributions to society off the field, revealing that the team spent time with Wounded Warriors from Walter Reed and Fort Belvoir earlier today.

“I know that the people of Alabama are extraordinarily proud of this team. Maybe the Auburn fans don’t want to admit it, but everybody recognizes excellence when they see it, and nobody has had more sustained excellence as a football program at the collegiate level than the Alabama Crimson Tide,” Obama said. “Congratulations. And I’d like to say I’ll see you next year, but we’ve got this thing called term limits. You can keep on going.”

Saban praised Obama for the personal sacrifice he’s made serving as president, and thanked the president for welcoming his team to the White House again.

“I think everybody here appreciates anybody who gives their life for the service of others and the quality of our life and our great country — so we certainly appreciate that,” Saban told Obama. “This is one of the last times it will together, but it’s certainly one of the most special times that we’ve had, to come here and share this with you. And it’s something that we certainly thank you for.”

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Atlanta Falcons Release Receiver Roddy White

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(ATLANTA) — The Atlanta Falcons announced that the team released the franchise’s all-time leading receiver Roddy White with two years left on his contract, according to ESPN.

White hasn’t said much about the decision, but he did say this to Falcons fans: “I love them. I enjoyed. And it was fun.”

ESPN reports White, 34, was going to make $4.25 million in 2016 with a salary cap figure of $6,137, 500. But his release provides a cap savings of only $2,362,500 in 2016.

“Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement Wednesday.

White’s future with the Falcons became uncertain when his role was weakened by the new defensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan last season.

Shanahan’s frosty attitude toward White prompted talks with head coach Dan Quinn and Shanahan.

ESPN reports that White’s future with other teams in the NFL is bright if he chooses not to retire. He is still close with his former offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Dirk Koetter, who is now Tampa Bay’s head coach. His former wide receivers coach, Terry Robiskie, is now Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.

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Altanta Falcons Release Receiver Roddy White

Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(ATLANTA) — The Atlanta Falcons announced that the team released the franchise’s all-time leading receiver Roddy White with two years left on his contract, according to ESPN.

White hasn’t said much about the decision, but he did say this to Falcons fans: “I love them. I enjoyed. And it was fun.”

ESPN reports White, 34, was going to make $4.25 million in 2016 with a salary cap figure of $6,137, 500. But his release provides a cap savings of only $2,362,500 in 2016.

“Roddy is one of the greatest players to ever put on a Falcons uniform, and even more importantly he is a man of tremendous character that I and my entire family have profound personal affection and respect for,” Falcons owner Arthur Blank said in a statement Wednesday.

White’s future with the Falcons became uncertain when his role was weakened by the new defensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan last season.

Shanahan’s frosty attitude toward White prompted talks with head coach Dan Quinn and Shanahan.

ESPN reports that White’s future with other teams in the NFL is bright if he chooses not to retire. He is still close with his former offensive coordinator in Atlanta, Dirk Koetter, who is now Tampa Bay’s head coach. His former wide receivers coach, Terry Robiskie, is now Tennessee’s offensive coordinator.

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Tom Coughlin Still Has ‘Hard Feelings’ About Leaving the Giants

Allen Kee / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) — Former New York Giants head coach Tom Coughlin is clearly not settled with his decision to step down from his coaching position.

“Don’t think that there aren’t some hard feelings there. There are,” Coughlin told ESPN Tuesday. “That’s just natural. I try to control them when the moment is right.”

Coughlin officially resigned as Giants coach in January after the team’s third straight losing season, despite the fact that he had one year left on his contract, according to ESPN. But at the news conference the day after he announced his resignation, he clearly implied that this wasn’t his choice when he said, “If this was 7-9, I would have been in Mr. Mara’s office, Mr. Tisch’s office, fighting.”

Since his resignation, Coughlin spoke about possible coaching positions with the San Francisco 49ers and the Philadelphia Eagles, but neither of them worked out.

Coughlin attended the NFL combine last week as a member of the NFL’s “Madden Committee,” which according to ESPN makes recommendations about rules changes to the larger competition committee.

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Cleveland Browns Alex Mack Voids Last Three Years of Deal

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(CLEVELAND) — Cleveland Browns center Alex Mack is set to become a free agent, according to ESPN.

This comes after Mack voided the three years that remained on his contract Wednesday.

ESPN reports that Mack can still return to the Browns and could once again be the highest-paid center in the NFL. The center secured a five year, $42 million deal with the Browns in 2014.

“Alex is definitely leaving open the possibility of returning,” Mack’s agent, Tim Younger, said via email. “He enjoyed his visit last week, but this is the first opportunity he has had to truly choose where he will play next season.”

According to ESPN, when Mack visited the Browns in February, they talked about Mack’s role the team’s new leadership’s “vision for winning.”

ESPN reports that Mack had to make a decision about the opt-out by this Friday, with unrestricted free agency beginning March 9.

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Ravens QB Joe Flacco Signs Three-Year Extension

Rob Carr/Getty Images(BALTIMORE) — Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco officially extended his contract through 2021, the team announced on Twitter Wednesday.

Joe Flacco has officially signed a three-year contract extension.

— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) March 2, 2016

Terms weren’t announced, but a source told ESPN that the three-year extension, signed Wednesday, is worth $66.4 million with $44 million fully guaranteed – $40 million is a signing bonus.

At $28.55 million, Flacco’s cap is the third highest in the NFL, and the Ravens were looking to lower it before free agency begins on March 9. The extension gives the team a greater chance to create more cap space.

With the extra space, the Ravens are now in a better position to try and re-sign two of its key starters who are set to enter free agency.

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