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  • Goodell: 'Same mistakes can never be repeated'

    NEW YORK (AP) More defiant than contrite, Roger Goodell announced no sweeping changes in his first public statements in more than a week of turmoil surrounding the NFL's handling of players accused of crimes.

    The commissioner was definitive about one thing: He has not considered resigning.

    Goodell was short on specifics Friday as he discussed how he would address the rash of domestic violence incidents in the league. He said the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl.

    "Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong," he said in his opening statement. "That starts with me."

    The league has faced increasing criticism that it has not acted quickly or emphatically enough. The commissioner reiterated that he botched the handling of the Ray Rice case.

    "The same mistakes can never be repeated," he said.

    Goodell said he would meet with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith next week, and they would work with outside experts to evaluate the league's policies.

    Among the areas that will be examined is Goodell's role in discipline. The commissioner now oversees all personal conduct cases, deciding guilt and penalties.

    He will establish a committee to review NFL personal conduct, seeking experts in the area of domestic abuse and violence to serve on it. Goodell's role with such a committee was not directly addressed.

    "Nothing is off the table," he said.

    One of the key questions is how to balance the league's desire to take a stance against violent acts with the due process requirements - and the sometimes slow pace - of the legal system. Goodell indicated the league is considering becoming "engaged" in the investigation process while law enforcement is still handling its probes.

    Goodell said he believes he has the support of the NFL's owners, his bosses.

    "That has been clear to me," he said.

    The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines.

    Vikings star running back Peterson and Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy are on a special commissioner's exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. Arizona running back Jonathan Dwyer was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list, meaning he can't play for the team again this season. Ray McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence.

    Groups such as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts.

    NOW President Terry O'Neill reiterated her calls for Goodell to resign.

    "NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell today did nothing to increase confidence in his ability to lead the NFL out of its morass," O'Neill said in a statement. "What Mr. Goodell doesn't seem to understand is that he should be aiming to make fundamental changes in the organization."

    Rice was initially suspended for two games. Goodell admitted more than a month later that he "didn't get it right" and announced tougher penalties for future domestic violent incidents.

    After video emerged of the assault, the Baltimore Ravens cut the star running back and the league banned him indefinitely.

    Goodell reiterated Friday that he didn't believe anybody at the NFL had seen the video before it was published by TMZ. The Associated Press reported last week that a law enforcement official says he sent the video to a league executive five months ago.

    Citing Rice's appeal of his suspension, Goodell declined to specify Friday how the player's description of what happened was "inconsistent" with what the video showed - the commissioner's reason for changing his punishment.

    The NFL asked former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct an investigation into the league's handling of the Rice case. The law firm where Mueller is now a partner, WilmerHale, has connections to the NFL. Goodell insisted Friday that it wasn't a conflict of interest because Mueller himself has not previously worked with the league.

    Goodell acknowledged he has learned that interviewing Rice and his now-wife together is an inappropriate way to handle a domestic violence case.

    The commissioner declined to address whether any women were involved in the decision to suspend Rice for two games, but conceded that's "exactly what we're concerned about."

    "We didn't have the right voices at the table," he added.

    The NFL has since added domestic violence experts as consultants. It also announced it is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center.

    In a memo to the clubs late Thursday, Goodell said that within the next 30 days, all NFL and team personnel will participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault.

    The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

    ---

    AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this report.

    ---

    AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL



  • Procter & Gamble cancels on-field NFL promotion

    NEW YORK (AP) Procter & Gamble is canceling an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the National Football League, the latest sponsor to respond to the NFL's growing problems.

    The consumer products maker is the latest major sponsor, following PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch, to show concern over the NFL's handling of domestic abuse allegations against several players. The move came as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference to say that the NFL needs to change its policies and will implement new personal conduct policies sometime before the Super Bowl early next year.

    "I made a mistake. I'm not satisfied by the process that we went through. I'm not satisfied with the conclusions," he said during the conference.

    Women make up 35 percent of the average audience of 17.4 million during a regular season NFL game, and the NFL has made it a point to reach out to women in recent years.

    The league has made Breast Cancer Awareness month in October a particular focus. Part of its NFL Pink "Crucial Catch" campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, features players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins.

    P&G's Crest brand had been working on a program with players from each of the NFL's 32 teams to wear pink mouthguards and participate in other activities.

    But on Friday the Cincinnati-based company said Crest would no longer be part of on-field activities and joined the chorus of sponsors voicing disapproval of the NFL's actions. It remains a sponsor but said it will "determine future actions as needed."

    "The brand has decided to cancel on-field activation with NFL teams," said spokesman Paul Fox in a statement. "Domestic violence is completely unacceptable and we have strongly urged the NFL to take swift and decisive action to address this issue... Our decision to cancel this on field activity was related to this ongoing issue."

    The company will still donate $100,000 to the American Cancer society as planned and said breast-cancer awareness is a "critically important program to support women and their health."

    The NFL said that the sixth year of the "Crucial Catch" program will proceed.

    "We understand the ways the last week have impacted our partners, including Crest," the NFL said in a statement. "Players will still have the option to wear pink gear, including mouthguards, as planned, this year."

    The league and its teams are under fire over their handling of several players with domestic violence allegations against them. An investigation has been launched into whether commissioner Roger Goodell knew about or saw a video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee earlier than he said.

    Most major sponsors have voiced disapproval, with Budweiser beer maker Anheuser-Busch saying it is "increasingly concerned" about the situation.

    On Thursday PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi made a double-edged statement on the NFL's problems handling domestic violence, calling some players' behavior "repugnant" while also noting that she believes Commissioner Roger Goodell is "a man of integrity."

    During Friday's conference Goodell added that the company has been in contact with its sponsors and understands their recent criticism.

    "They're not looking for talk. They want to see action," he said.

    Manish Tripathi, assistant marketing professor at Emory University, said it's not yet clear whether P&G's move will be an isolated incident or open the floodgates for others.

    "You're talking now about a specific promotion or campaign geared toward women," he said. "Anything that is negatively associated with NFL right now gets exacerbated with a campaign like that."

    ---

    AP Writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to report.



  • Petition filed seeking to block Peterson from son

    MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Authorities in Minnesota filed a petition Friday seeking a protective order for the 4-year-old son of Vikings running back Adrian Peterson.

    In the petition, Hennepin County Human Services asked a judge to block Peterson from using corporal punishment or physical discipline on the boy. It also would block unauthorized or unsupervised contact, and require Peterson to complete a parenting assessment.

    Peterson faces a child abuse charge in Texas for using a wooden switch to spank the boy in May. He has said he meant only to discipline the boy and not hurt him. The order says Peterson told investigators in Texas that he also used a belt to spank his son.

    Peterson has been dropped from the Vikings' active roster while the criminal case against him is pending in Texas, where he has an Oct. 8 arraignment.

    "This petition reflects that a conscientious government agency wants to work with the parent to protect a child and to ensure that alternative methods of discipline are adopted," Rusty Hardin, Peterson's attorney, said in a statement.

    "Adrian is very willing to continue cooperating with authorities in every way in order for them to conclude he is a good parent. The facts stated in the petition have been known to investigators from the beginning. They will be carefully considered in a courtroom by a judge and jury. We look forward to that day."

    According to the petition:

    The child visited Peterson in Montgomery County, Texas, from about May 6-22. His mother reported possible abuse to Hennepin County Child Protection services on May 22. Separate exams by a doctor May 22 and a nurse practitioner May 23 documented injuries "clinically diagnostic of child physical abuse."

    A follow-up exam May 29 found the boy still had traces of the injuries "10 days after the last known time he was physically abused."

    "His injuries are significant and may cause some scarring," a summary of the exam said.

    The petition also described Peterson's interviews with Texas child protection investigators, including: "Respondent Peterson admitted that Child No. 1 received two spankings as a form of physical discipline, one with a belt and one with a switch."

    Hennepin County juvenile court staff attorney Maggie Skelton said prosecutors have asked that the order be suspended until the Texas case is resolved. County Attorney Mike Freeman said in a statement that the petition was required by law once criminal charges were filed.

    It was first reported by the Minneapolis Star Tribune.



  • Florida State suspends Winston for entire game

    TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (AP) Florida State has suspended Jameis Winston for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday, extending its initial punishment of one half after the quarterback made "offensive and vulgar" comments about female anatomy earlier this week.

    Interim President Garnett S. Stokes and athletic director Stan Wilcox announced the decision late Friday night. There had been criticism that the original punishment for Winston's latest embarrassing off-field incident was too light.

    The statement released by the university Friday read, "Based upon the results of our continuing investigation of Tuesday's incident involving Jameis Winston, we have decided to not play him for the entire game against Clemson on Saturday night."

    Several students tweeted Winston stood on campus and shouted a lascivious comment that may have derived from an internet meme.

    A university spokeswoman told The Associated Press Friday night Stokes was not available for comment; Wilcox could not be reached.

    The university also had initially announced that Winston would face internal discipline. Officials did not say why Winston was only benched for just a half and they did not provide details of the internal punishment.

    Coach Jimbo Fisher was asked about the half-game suspension after practice Thursday and said, "We're in charge. It's our team. That's what we thought. We went with the consequences and we're ready to move on."

    Fisher also said after that practice that the president and athletic director are always involved in university policy, but declined to answer when asked if it's normal for them to be involved in team discipline.

    "It was wrong and he made a mistake," Fisher said Thursday. "He made a bad error in judgment. But that's water under the bridge. We have to move on and get ready for this game. We're 48 hours out and I'm going to focus on this football game."

    The 20-year-old Winston addressed his inappropriate comments before Wednesday's practice: "I have to tone it down."

    The Heisman Trophy winner has made similar comments after previous incidents.

    While playing for the Florida State baseball team, he was suspended for three games and completed 20 hours of community service after acknowledging he stole $32 worth of crab legs from a local grocery store in April. Before the football season, he said he had matured, learned what it takes to be a leader and understood that he needed to be more careful in his personal life.

    The school president and AD are admonishing him for doing just the opposite.

    "You know you have to overcome adversity, and that's one thing at Florida State that we do," Winston said Wednesday. "We work on overcoming adversity. When I do get my opportunity to play, I'm going to do everything I can because I have to accept it.

    "That's going to eat me up because I want to be out there on the field. I want to be out on the field with my team, but I did something so I have to accept the consequences."

    Little known redshirt sophomore Sean Maguire will make his first college start for the top-ranked Seminoles in Saturday's nationally televised game against No. 22 Clemson. He has only thrown 26 career passes and was the No. 3 quarterback before Jacob Coker was injured in 2013 then transferred to Alabama.

    "I wouldn't say it's a distraction, maybe at the time," Maguire said Thursday about the incident. "Maybe for the first little bit, but once the news came out, practiced happened yesterday.

    "It makes me more confident knowing I get to go out there and play quarterback like we do in practice, like we do every day. I'm just looking forward to it, that's all I can say."

    Florida State is trying to repeat as national champions and the winner of the Clemson-Florida State matchup has played in the Atlantic Coast Conference title game the last five years. Saturday will be the first game Florida State has played without Winston since the start of 2013 and they are 16-0 during that stretch.



  • Kershaw gets 20th win as Dodgers pound Cubs 14-5

    CHICAGO (AP) Clayton Kershaw became the majors' first 20-game winner and A.J. Ellis hit a pair of two-run homers, leading the Los Angeles Dodgers to a 14-5 victory over the Chicago Cubs on Friday.

    Kershaw (20-3) pitched five shaky innings in his shortest start in 3 1/2 months, but the NL West-leading Dodgers roughed up Edwin Jackson on their way to a 13-hit attack that included four homers. Matt Kemp hit a three-run shot in Los Angeles' six-run first, and Yasiel Puig added another three-run homer in the sixth.

    The Dodgers improved baseball's best road record to 48-31 and will clinch a postseason berth if Milwaukee loses in Pittsburgh on Friday night. They began the day with a 2 1/2-game lead over San Francisco in the division.

    Jackson (6-15) recorded just two outs in his first appearance since he was placed on the disabled list last month with a right lat strain. He was charged with four hits and five runs in his fourth consecutive loss.



  • Browns' Gordon has suspension reduced to 10 games

    BEREA, Ohio (AP) Josh Gordon's tangled ordeal, full of legal twists and turns, has finally been straightened out.

    He can run a route back to the Browns this season.

    Cleveland's star wide receiver was reinstated into the NFL and had his one-year suspension reduced to 10 games Friday after the league announced changes to its drug policy. The decision ends months of personal torment for the Pro Bowler, who had been banned for repeated drug violations.

    Gordon will be eligible to play in Cleveland's final six games after the league and NFL Players Association agreed on revisions to the substance abuse program two days after announcing changes on performance enhancing drugs.

    "I'm happy that the NFLPA and NFL worked hard to agree on a new substances of abuse policy," Gordon said in a statement. "I'm very thankful to my union for fighting for a significant reduction in my suspension. I'm glad I can go to the facility during my suspension. I look forward to going to meetings, working out individually, and learning from my coaches and teammates. I can't wait until game 11 to get back on the field!"

    Because he has already served two games of the suspension, Gordon will be eligible to play Nov. 23 when the Browns visit Atlanta. Gordon's 10-game suspension will cost him more than $800,000. He'll be paid over $300,000 if he plays in those last six games.

    Gordon's complicated saga has hung over the Browns for months. He spent training camp with the team and played in some exhibition games as his case remained in limbo while he and the Browns waited for the league to rule. Gordon didn't speak to reporters for months, and only recently disclosed in an interview that he was depressed.

    Now, there's some closure and it may have saved Gordon's career.

    Along with Gordon, free agent LaVon Brazill also had his suspension lessened to 10 games.

    Gordon was suspended by the league earlier this year for one season for another failed marijuana test. Gordon appealed the ban, his lawyers arguing he tested positive for secondhand smoke. The appeal was denied on Aug. 22 by an arbitrator and it appeared Gordon would not be able to play until 2015. And even that wasn't for certain.

    But thanks to the revised policy, Gordon is coming back, assuming he'll stay clean during the suspension.

    Under the new provisions, Gordon will be allowed to work out and attend team meetings at the Browns' facility. Before the changes, Gordon was only permitted to meet with his clinician at team's headquarters.

    During his suspension, Gordon has been working for a local car dealership. But his locker remained filled with his personal belongings.

    On Tuesday, Gordon pleaded guilty to a DWI charge in Raleigh, North Carolina, allowing him to avoid an additional two-game suspension under the new policies.

    The NFL's new policy on substance abuse includes two additional disciplinary stages for marijuana positives. A first violation will result in referral to the substance abuse program, which has always been the case.

    Subsequent violations will result in a two-game fine, a four-game fine, a four-game suspension, a 10-game suspension, and one-year banishment.

    In addition, the threshold for a positive marijuana test will be raised from 15 nanograms to 35 nanograms, reflecting recent actions taken by other testing organizations.

    Once Gordon returns, Browns coach Mike Pettine said he and general manager Ray Farmer plan to meet with the talented 23-year-old.

    "We'll sit down with him and just kind of lay the plan out for him," Pettine said.

    Farmer said the team remains focused on Sunday's game against AFC North rival Baltimore.

    "We are aware of the new NFL policy related to the reduction of Josh Gordon's suspension to 10 games," Farmer said in a statement.

    "We will continue to support and work with him under the NFL guidelines throughout this process. Our team's focus right now remains on preparing for Sunday's game against the Baltimore Ravens."

    Despite being suspended for two games - he blamed a prescription codeine cough syrup - last season, Gordon led the league with 1,646 yards receiving and scored nine touchdowns. He became the first player in league history to have consecutive 200-yard receiving games.

    While the Browns could have him back for the home stretch, his teammates were more excited about having Gordon the person around.

    "That's great for him," safety Donte Whitner said. "That's great for anybody that's suspended and can't be around their second family, and you can't go to your second home. He'll be able to lift here. He'll be able to eat here. He'll be able to watch film, so that when he's ready to step back on the field, he doesn't miss a step."

    NOTES: Browns backup QB Johnny Manziel was glad to make his regular-season debut last Sunday, even if it was for only three plays. "It was good to shake a little rust off and just get out and run around," he said. Manziel handed off twice and threw an incompletion against the Saints. Manziel was happy for starter Brian Hoyer, who drove the Browns 85 yards to set up the winning field goal " I'm ... proud of him," Manziel said. "It was really emotional for us."

    ---

    AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL



  • Police visited 49er McDonald's home before arrest

    SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) Police say they responded to an argument at 49ers lineman Ray McDonald's home in San Jose three months before his arrest there on suspicion of domestic violence.

    According to a police report released Thursday, an engaged couple got into an argument at the home on May 25 during which the woman grabbed the man's gun and held it at her side.

    Police do not identify the couple by name. McDonald is known to live at the address with his fiancee.

    The report says the woman did not make any threats or point the firearm at the man.

    San Jose police officer Albert Morales tells the San Jose Mercury News (http://bit.ly/1yjr8hc) the May case was closed, and no charges were filed.

    McDonald was arrested in August. He has not been charged.

    ---

    Information from: San Jose (Calif.) Mercury News, http://www.mercurynews.com



  • 2-time Grand Slam winner Li Na retires from tour

    BEIJING (AP) Relying on fitness and a strong baseline game, Li Na reached the pinnacle of tennis and lifted the level of the sport in Asia to unprecedented heights.

    A sense of humor along the way certainly helped.

    The legs that carried Li to two Grand Slam titles ultimately couldn't get her through another season, with the 32-year-old Chinese tennis star citing recurring knee injuries as the reason she needed to quit when she announced her retirement in an open letter posted to social networks on Friday.

    It ended weeks of speculation and hype on the Chinese social networking sites about Li's career coming to an end.

    The WTA, which governs women's tennis, has described Li as a trailblazer after becoming the first player from Asia to win a major title - the 2011 French Open, beating four top 10 players in succession to wrap up the title - a few months after becoming the first from the region to reach a Grand Slam final, at the 2011 Australian Open.

    In her third trip to the final at Melbourne Park, Li won the Australian Open title in January to reach a career-high No. 2 ranking, another continental milestone.

    "Winning a Grand Slam title this year and achieving a ranking of World No. 2 is the way I would like to leave competitive tennis," she said in a letter that thanked fans, supporters, sponsors and fellow players. "As hard as it's been to come to this decision, I am at peace with it. I have no regrets.

    "I've succeeded on the global stage in a sport that a few years ago was in its infancy in China."

    Li, who hasn't played since a third-round loss at Wimbledon, will face a news conference on Sunday in Beijing. Until then, her open letter laid out her reasons for a seemingly premature retirement.

    "Most people in the tennis world know that my career has been marked by my troubled right knee," Li said. "After four knee surgeries and hundreds of shots injected into my knee weekly to alleviate swelling and pain, my body is begging me to stop the pounding."

    After three operations on her right knee, dating back to March 2008, Li said her most recent surgery in July was on her left knee.

    "After a few weeks of post-surgery recovery, I tried to go through all the necessary steps to get back on the court," she said. "While I've come back from surgery in the past, this time it felt different.

    "One of my goals was to recover as fast as I could in order to be ready for the first WTA tournament in my hometown. As hard as I tried to get back to being 100 percent, my body kept telling me that, at 32, I will not be able to compete at the top level ever again. The sport is just too competitive, too good, to not be 100 percent."

    Li started out as a badminton player, adept at the national sport, but was identified as a tennis prospect at age 9. She later entered the national system.

    Her sense of individuality meant she bucked the system at times during her career - giving up tennis for two years to do media studies at a university earlier in her career - and later insisting on selecting her own coaching staff. She also has won support from the public for her courage to defy China's rigid state-run sports system aimed at training world-class athletes.

    The announcement that she had parted ways with coach Carlos Rodriguez, ending an almost two-year working relationship with the former long-time mentor for Justin Henin, followed her Wimbledon defeat in July.

    Li won millions of admirers with her tough-as-nails approach on court, and her warmth and charm outside the arena. Her frequent jokes about life with Jiang Shan, her former coach and husband since 2006, in courtside interviews helped Li become an instant hit at the Australian Open.

    Among her other milestones, Li was the first Chinese player to win a WTA tour title (Guangzhou in 2004), the first to reach a Grand Slam singles quarterfinal (Wimbledon in 2006), and the first to break into the top 20.

    "What I've accomplished for myself is beyond my wildest dreams," Li said. "What I accomplished for my country is one of my most proud achievements."

    Tennis has made great inroads in China during Li's era, to the point where Wuhan is hosting a new tournament next week and millions more people have taken up the sport.

    "In 2008, there were two professional women's tennis tournaments in China. Today, there are 10, one of them in Wuhan, my hometown. That to me is extraordinary!" Li said. "Serena Williams, Maria Sharapova and Venus Williams - with 30 Grand Slam singles titles among them - are coming to my hometown to play tennis for the fans of China!"

    She rose to No. 2 in the rankings after her win in Australia in January, but dropped to No. 6 this month due to her injury-enforced inactivity.

    In the immediate future is the establishment of a Li Na Tennis Academy. In the not-too-distant future, she's hoping to start a family.

    "My philanthropic work will expand in scope as I continue to dedicate myself to helping those in need. What was once just a dream in China today is a reality," she said. "On a personal side, I look forward to starting a new chapter of my life, hopefully having a family and reconnecting with those I did not have the luxury of spending a lot of time with while playing."

    In a statement celebrating her 15-year professional career, WTA chief executive Stacey Allaster said Li "has been a fun, powerful, and wonderful player on the WTA tour and, along with her fans, I am sad to hear that she has retired."

    "In addition to her amazing tennis abilities and her warm and humorous personality, she is a pioneer who opened doors to tennis for hundreds of millions of people throughout China and Asia. Her legacy is immense and I have no doubt that her contributions to the WTA will be seen for decades to come," Allaster said. "It's hard to be a household name in a nation with 1.4 billion people, but that's what Li Na is."

    ---

    AP Sports Writer John Pye in Brisbane, Australia, contributed to this report.



  • Cardinals' Dwyer arrested on assault charges

    PHOENIX (AP) Arizona Cardinals running back Jonathan Dwyer was arrested Wednesday on aggravated assault charges in connection with two altercations at his home in July involving a woman and their 18-month-old child, the latest in a string of such cases involving NFL players.

    The Cardinals said they became aware of the situation Wednesday and are cooperating with the investigation.

    "Given the serious nature of these allegations we have taken the immediate step to deactivate Jonathan from all team activities," the team said in a statement.

    The NFL said the case will be reviewed under the league's personal-conduct policy.

    One of the counts was "aggravated assault causing a fracture" involving the 27-year-old victim, whom they did not identify. Police said they were carrying out a search warrant of Dwyer's residence in pursuit of more evidence.

    Police said that in interviews with detectives, the 25-year-old player denied committing any assault.

    There was no reply to telephone message left for Dwyer's agent, Adisa Bakari, seeking comment Wednesday.

    Authorities depicted a stormy relationship between Dwyer and the woman that escalated into violence on July 21, four days before the Cardinals reported to training camp.

    Neighbors heard a fight and called police, who showed up at the residence but left without making an arrest because Dwyer hid in the bathroom and the woman said no one else was at the home, Sgt. Trent Crump said.

    "She said she was in an argument on the phone only," Crump said.

    The next day, Crump said, Dwyer snatched the woman's cellphone and threw it from the second floor of their residence to prevent her from calling police about another dispute.

    Crump confirmed there was an allegation that Dwyer threw a shoe at or toward his son. Crump said he couldn't elaborate on it.

    Crump said the woman moved out of state with the child, but came forward last week and provided police with information about her injuries and text messages indicating Dwyer "was going to harm himself because of what had been going on."

    The NFL has been rocked by domestic violence issues ever since a videotape surfaced that showed former Baltimore Ravens running back Ray Rice knocking out his then-fiancee in an Atlantic City, New Jersey, elevator. Then Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was indicted on felony child-abuse charges. On Wednesday, the Carolina Panthers decided that star defensive end Greg Hardy will not play any more games for the team until his domestic violence case is resolved.

    Hardy was convicted of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling.

    Critics have been calling for NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell's resignation for his handling of Rice's case. Rice was originally suspended for two games, then banned indefinitely after the video surfaced of his attack in the casino elevator.

    This is the second domestic violence case involving a Cardinals player. Inside linebacker Daryl Washington pleaded guilty to assaulting his ex-girlfriend and is serving a year of supervised probation. Washington has not yet been penalized by the NFL for the offense but is suspended for this season for violating the league's substance abuse policy.

    Dwyer was led into the jail in handcuffs to be booked on counts that include aggravated assault causing a fracture and involving a minor, criminal damage and preventing the use of a phone in an emergency.

    The Maricopa County Sheriff's Office, which runs the jail, said Dwyer has refused all media interviews.

    Dwyer signed with the Cardinals this year and was their second-string running back after spending the last four seasons with the Pittsburgh Steelers. He scored a touchdown last week in Arizona's victory over the New York Giants.

    His best year for Pittsburgh was 2012 when injuries depleted the team's backfield in the middle of the season and Dwyer filled in and had 100-yard-plus games in consecutive weeks.

    Dwyer, from Marietta, Georgia, was a sixth-round draft pick of the Steelers out of Georgia Tech in 2010.



  • Panthers remove DE Hardy from active roster

    CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers finally made a decision on Greg Hardy: the Pro Bowl defensive end will not play anymore games for Carolina until his domestic violence case is resolved.

    The team removed Hardy from its active roster Wednesday, ending three weeks of indecision regarding his playing status. He played Week 1, sat out Week 2 and there was uncertainty about this week.

    So the Panthers placed Hardy on the exempt-commissioner's permission list just hours after the Vikings took a similar disciplinary approach with Adrian Peterson. The Minnesota running back is addressing child abuse charges in Texas.

    Hardy was convicted July 15 of assault on a female and communicating threats after the victim said the 6-foot-4, 275-pound player threw her in the bathtub and onto a sofa covered with guns before threatening to kill her. Hardy is appealing the ruling and a jury trial is set for Nov. 17.

    He will continue to be paid his weekly salary of $770,588.23. Hardy also is allowed to be at the team facility, but will not practice.

    Panthers general manager Dave Gettleman said it was a tough decision given the changing climate in the NFL.

    "Our overriding goal has always been to do the right thing," Gettleman said.

    The GM said he expects Hardy to be out at least through November.

    Hardy said he understands he needs to step away from football and take care of his legal problems.

    "I am entitled to due process and my day in court, and that's where my focus should be," Hardy said in a statement. "I appreciate the Panthers for giving me this opportunity and look forward to being back with my teammates. I am disappointed to leave my teammates and the Carolina Panthers during our season. My decision to take a leave of absence allows me to focus on my family until the legal process has run its course."

    Had Hardy not taken a the leave of absence with pay, he likely would have faced an unpaid suspension from the league.

    The NFL Players Association released a statement Wednesday saying, "Today, Greg Hardy made a decision to take a voluntary leave of absence to resolve his pending legal issue. The NFLPA and NFL worked with Greg, his representatives and the Carolina Panthers on this matter. We support this decision and hope the best for him and his family."

    Earlier Wednesday, with security around the stadium amped up, Hardy and his agent Drew Rosenhaus emerged from the team's facility, stepped into the player's Bentley and drove away. Earlier, two police officers on motorcycles guarded the entrance to the team's practice facility.

    Panthers coach Ron Rivera was 20 minutes late arriving to Wednesday's practice and said that Hardy would not participate in workouts as he walked past reporters.

    The coach later said he had a 90-minute conversation with the defensive end to make sure Hardy was in a good place.

    "Greg's hurt, he really is," Rivera said. "It's a tough situation and he knows he put himself in it. He was apologetic."

    Rivera said he expects Hardy to take a few days away and return to the team "in due time."

    "He's still a part of this football team," Rivera said.

    Hardy, who was tagged as the team's franchise player this offseason and signed a one-year, $13.1 million deal, is Carolina's top pass rusher.

    He tied a franchise record with 15 sacks last season and has 26 in in his last 32 games.

    Rivera activated Hardy for the season opener against Tampa Bay, but then abruptly deactivated him before Sunday's game against Detroit - a move Gettleman supported.

    "At that time we felt it was at the right thing to do," Gettleman said. "It's constantly changing. There is no rule book for this. There's no magic list we can hit checkboxes that bring us to the right answer."

    Rivera said he informed the team at a meeting Wednesday afternoon.

    Veteran safety Roman Harper said Wednesday during open locker room that every team has to battle adversity at some point, but said losing Hardy will hurt.

    Harper said unbeaten Panthers will miss Hardy's pass rush skills and energy. "You take a player of his caliber off the field and it is going to affect us," Harper said. "But at the end of the day you can't use that as an excuses or a crutch. You have to fly around and make plays as a defense. We understand what we will be missing, but at the end of the day we still have a job to do."

    Tight end Greg Olsen said the Panthers are doing their best to focus on the Steelers.

    "You learn very fast in this league that there are going to be a lot of outside factors," Olsen said. "You have to do the best you can not to let those things impact your preparations and really focus on what you can control. The most successful teams just worry about the here and now and what they can control."

    Rivera said he believes the team handled the situation in the best way possible.

    "The biggest thing we have to do is get this right," Rivera said. "In all honesty we're worried about the wrong types of things. We're trying to figure out who we need to blame. We don't need to blame people, we need to find answers and corrections and make things right... We have to come up with solutions to make sure this doesn't happen again."



  • To 'get it right,' Vikings put Peterson on leave

    EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. (AP) Minnesota Vikings star running back Adrian Peterson was declared out, back in, then out again as he faces a felony child-abuse charge in Texas.

    This time, he could be gone for the season.

    "We made a mistake," Vikings owner Zygi Wilf said, "and we needed to get this right."

    Vikings executives emerged Wednesday from a late-night deliberation to voice regret of their initial decision to let Peterson play this week after sitting him for a game once he was charged with injuring his 4-year-old son by spanking him with a wooden switch. Now Peterson is back on paid leave through a special roster exemption granted by the NFL, the same protocol cited by the Carolina Panthers as they sat defensive end Greg Hardy a few hours later while he deals with his own domestic violence case.

    "We will support Adrian during this legal and personal process, but we firmly believe this is the right decision," said Wilf, the team's co-owner with younger brother Mark Wilf.

    During a 17-minute news conference at Vikings headquarters, the word "right" was used a total of 34 times by the Wilfs, vice president Kevin Warren and general manager Rick Spielman. They expressed concern about child welfare, recognized their role as public figures and reminded the audience of the community service work done regularly by players.

    The most emphatic responses, though, came to questions from reporters about external pressure.

    Did the NFL strong-arm the decision? Did the loss of sponsorships drive it?

    "Absolutely not," Mark Wilf, the team president, said on both subjects.

    He added: "We appreciate our fans, men and women alike, our sponsors and the community. We hear their input."

    Backlash was swift to the announcement Monday that Peterson would rejoin the Vikings after being held out Sunday. The Radisson hotel chain suspended its team sponsorship. Prominent NFL advertisers, including Anheuser-Busch, raised concern about recent off-the-field problems. Minnesota Gov. Mark Dayton called for Peterson's suspension.

    Picked for six Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons, Peterson's popularity took a huge hit. He was dropped this week from several of his endorsement deals. Shoe giant Nike suspended its sponsorship deal, saying it "in no way condones child abuse or domestic violence of any kind and has shared our concerns with the NFL."

    "It is important to always listen to our fans and the community and our sponsors," Zygi Wilf said, at least vaguely contradicting his brother's denial that revenue had an impact on the decision to reverse course.

    US Bank spokesman Dana Ripley said the company, a strong candidate for naming rights on the Vikings new stadium set to open in 2016, agreed with the decision to put Peterson on hiatus.

    "We have been in close communication with the Vikings organization for the past couple of days firmly expressing our perspective," Ripley said.

    Peterson's case remains under review per the league's personal conduct policy, spokesman Greg Aiello said, so a suspension could still be possible once resolution in court is reached. That's not expected until 2015. Peterson has an Oct. 8 court appearance scheduled in Montgomery County, outside of Houston.

    His attorney, Rusty Hardin, said the case "will be up to a judge and jury to decide, which is the way it should be," indicating a plea deal was not in the works.

    The 29-year-old Peterson said he was administering the same type of discipline he experienced growing up and didn't meant to hurt his son. Peterson also said he's met with a psychologist and acknowledged alternatives "that may be more appropriate" than corporal punishment.

    His mother, Bonita Jackson, told the Houston Chronicle that she and his father used switches and belts to occasionally spank all of their children.

    "Most of us disciplined our kids a little more than we meant sometimes," said Jackson, who has not returned messages from The Associated Press. "But we were only trying to prepare them for the real world. When you whip those you love, it's not about abuse, but love."

    The exempt list, which allows the Vikings to fill Peterson's spot on the 53-man roster while retaining his rights, is available "only in unusual circumstances," according to NFL policy. Commissioner Roger Goodell has the sole authority to grant the exemption - or lift it.

    The NFL Players Association characterized Peterson's status as "voluntary leave," in issuing a statement of support. His agent, Ben Dogra, told The Associated Press the decision was "the best possible outcome given the circumstances."

    But the team wanted to make clear it made the call.

    "The Minnesota Vikings are the ones that initiated this process," Warren said.

    Montgomery County prosecutor Phil Grant said an NFL official asked Monday for any investigative documents in the Peterson case. Grant said he offered the grand jury indictment that was made public Saturday but did not share any other items such as photos, interviews or police reports. Warren, the team's chief administrative officer, said he personally reviewed evidence in the case and that the Vikings are "in a perpetual state of gathering as much information" as possible.

    Spielman didn't directly answer questions about whether releasing Peterson was considered or if he would play for the Vikings again. Peterson's salary for 2014 is $11.75 million. His contract doesn't expire until after the 2017 season, but the Vikings could cut him for a minimal salary-cap hit or at least restructure the deal.

    "We are going to let the legal process and his personal matters take care of themselves, and he will remain on this exempt list until that is accomplished," said Spielman, who spent time with Peterson on Tuesday.

    "Adrian is an unselfish person and saw all of the light that was coming on this, and he felt ... that by him stepping back it would give our football team and opportunity to focus on football," Spielman said.

    Peterson's teammates and coaches tried to focus on preparations for Sunday's game at New Orleans, though one player called the decision unfair.

    "I think he should be able to play. He hasn't been convicted of anything," cornerback Captain Munnerlyn said.

    The Vikings will have to put those feelings aside for now.

    "I love Adrian Peterson. I feel for him that he's going through this because I think that he's one of my guys," coach Mike Zimmer said. "I believe in this situation where everything is, this is the right way to go."



  • Union appeals Rice's indefinite suspension by NFL

    BALTIMORE (AP) The NFL players' union appealed Ray Rice's indefinite suspension Tuesday night, saying that he shouldn't be punished twice for punching his fiancee in a casino elevator.

    Rice was originally handed a two-game suspension in July under the NFL's personal conduct policy after he was charged with assault for the Feb. 15 attack.

    The Baltimore running back had already served the first game of that suspension when, on Sept. 8, a video surfaced showing Rice punching Janay Palmer, now his wife, in that elevator.

    Within hours, the Ravens released Rice and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell extended the suspension to indefinite based on the "new evidence."

    Goodell and the Ravens say they never saw the video before Sept. 8. A law enforcement official told The Associated Press that he had sent the video to a league executive.

    "This action taken by our union is to protect the due process rights of all NFL players," the NFL Players Association said in a statement. "The NFLPA appeal is based on supporting facts that reveal a lack of a fair and impartial process, including the role of the office of the commissioner of the NFL. We have asked that a neutral and jointly selected arbitrator hear this case as the commissioner and his staff will be essential witnesses in the proceeding and thus cannot serve as impartial arbitrators."

    The NFLPA said that the collective bargaining agreement requires a hearing date be set within 10 days of the appeal notice. It also said the hearing will require a neutral arbitrator to determine what information was available to the NFL and when it was available.

    The union, which had until 11:59 p.m. Tuesday to file the appeal, added that under governing labor law, an employee can't be punished twice for the same action when all of the relevant facts were available to the employer at the time of the first punishment.

    "The erratic and illogical system of ad hoc punishments is a paltry substitute for the leadership the NFL desperately needs right now," National Organization for Women President Terry O'Neill said in a statement. "Roger Goodell must resign, and his successor must be fully committed to real and lasting change."

    Rice can apply for reinstatement when he convinces Goodell that he is "addressing this issue." Rice has been accepted into a diversion program, which upon completion could lead to the assault charge being dropped.

    The NFL said that Goodell never intended to personally hear Rice's appeal.

    The NFL has come under heavy scrutiny for its handling of the Rice situation - and other domestic violence cases - as the league tries to attract female fans to the game. It is an effort that has been scarred by the original two-game suspension, a punishment many women's organizations deemed too light.

    Goodell, in a letter sent to all 32 NFL owners in August, acknowledged that he "didn't get it right."

    He then announced a new policy, stating that first-time domestic violence offenders would face a six-game suspension, and repeat offenders would be suspended indefinitely.

    The policy didn't apply to Rice, who had already received his penalty.

    There is apparently no precedent for the indefinite suspension Rice received after the video surfaced.

    With all questions about who knew what and when - The Associated Press has reported the video was sent to NFL offices in April - the league has hired former FBI director Robert Mueller to look into how the NFL sought and handled evidence in the domestic violence case.

    Soon after receiving the original suspension, Rice called his actions in the elevator "inexcusable" and apologized publicly to Janay, his mother, his teammates and the Ravens organization.

    He also addressed the length of the suspension, which came with a fine of three paychecks totaling more than $500,000.

    "I never planned to appeal any kind of punishment," Rice said on July 31. "So whether it was two games, four games, six games, eight games, I was going to own my actions and be a man about it and take whatever was given to me."

    At that time, he spoke about the damage his reputation received.

    "In some people's eyes, Ray can do no wrong. That's something I take pride in," he said. "I know a lot of people out there have lost respect, maybe not like me anymore. But that's my fault. I have to own that. That's my battle each day."

    It is a battle he has waged recently out of the public eye. Although he attended a football game at his former high school with his wife last weekend, he has not spoken to the media since his release from the Ravens.

    ---

    AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL



  • Anheuser-Busch, McDonald's voice NFL disapproval

    Major sponsors including Anheuser-Busch are adding to the chorus of disapproval over the National Football League's recent scandals, but the companies are stopping short of pulling advertising.

    Anheuser-Busch said Tuesday that it has spoken with the NFL about concerns related to recent incidents that are sparking outcry from fans, including an investigation into how long the NFL and its commissioner Roger Goodell knew about a video that shows Baltimore Raven Ray Rice beating his then-fiancee; as well as the Minnesota Vikings' decision to let Adrian Peterson play while he faces an abuse charge for spanking his 4-year-old son with a wooden switch.

    McDonald's, Visa and Campbell Soup Co. say they have also voiced similar concerns to the league.

    The statements come after Radisson hotels said Monday that it was pulling its sponsorship of the Minnesota Vikings. No other brands have pulled sponsorships from teams or the NFL.

    But the statements from sponsors are becoming increasingly strongly worded.

    Only last week, several big sponsors like GM and FedEx said they were monitoring the situation or watching it closely. Others like Anheuser-Busch and Procter & Gamble stayed silent.

    This week, sponsors are making it clear they have made the NFL aware of their concerns. A-B used the harshest language, saying it was "disappointed and increasingly concerned."

    The NFL responded to the sponsors' statements late Tuesday with a short statement of its own:

    "We understand. We are taking action and there will be much more to come," the organization said.

    As the NFL and various team executives navigate scandal, much is at stake: The money companies pay each year to be official sponsors -not including advertising and promotions- is worth about $1.07 billion for the league and all of its teams, according to sponsorship consultancy IEG. The NFL is a coveted partner for brands since an average of 17.4 million people tune in during a regular season NFL game, about 65 percent men and 35 percent women, according to Nielsen.

    Experts say that brands are taking their cues by how upset consumers seem.

    "It takes something pretty dramatic before those league sponsors who have invested in some cases hundreds of millions in their relationship with NFL seek to end their partnership or do something like that," said Jim Andrews, senior vice president of content strategy at IEG. "They follow the fans. They will be constantly monitoring and testing the waters to see what the fan reaction to this is."

    For Anheuser-Busch, those sponsorship fees alone are worth an estimated $50 million. The beer maker said Tuesday that it is "disappointed and increasingly concerned" by the recent incident.

    "We are not yet satisfied with the league's handling of behaviors that so clearly go against our own company culture and moral code," the company said in a statement. "We have shared our concerns and expectations with the league."

    Also on Tuesday, McDonald's issued a similar statement, saying "we have questions surrounding these evolving situations and are closely monitoring as the appropriate parties investigate these matters," The company added it has "communicated our concerns to the league, and we expect it to take strong and necessary actions to address these issues."

    On Monday, Visa said domestic violence in any form is unacceptable and has no place in the NFL and society.

    "As a long-standing sponsor we have spoken with the NFL about our concerns regarding recent events, and reinforced the critical importance that they address these issues with great seriousness."

    Campbell Soup said it had also spoken to the NFL about the Ray Rice video investigation.

    "Upon completion of the investigation, we expect the NFL to take appropriate action," Campbell Soup Co. said in a statement. "We have shared our views with the NFL."

    Also on Tuesday, Procter & Gamble responded to a fake Covergirl NFL ad that went viral on social media. The ad depicted a woman with a black eye. The company posted a statement on its Covergirl Facebook page saying "domestic violence is completely unacceptable". The company went further, saying that it has "encouraged the NFL to take swift action on their path forward to address the issue of domestic violence."



  • Grand jury to weigh case of NASCAR's Tony Stewart

    The decision whether to charge three-time NASCAR champion Tony Stewart in the August death of a fellow driver at a sprint car race in upstate New York will be up to a grand jury.

    Ontario County District Attorney Michael Tantillo said Tuesday he made the decision to present the case to a grand jury after reviewing evidence collected by sheriff's investigators. Tantillo could have determined there was not enough evidence to support charges and dropped the case, but instead announced his decision more than a month after Stewart's car struck and killed Kevin Ward Jr. at a dirt-track race on Aug. 9.

    In a statement, Stewart said he respects the time and effort authorities have spent "investigating this tragic accident."

    "I look forward to this process being completed, and I will continue to provide my full cooperation," he said.

    Stewart-Haas Racing said Stewart will race in Sunday's NASCAR event at New Hampshire Motor Speedway. Stewart spent three weeks in seclusion before returning for the final two races of the Sprint Cup season. He did not make the Chase for the Sprint Cup championship field, and finished 18th in the first Chase race Sunday at Chicagoland.

    County Sheriff Philip Povero spent weeks investigating the accident at the small track in Canandaigua, several times saying investigators did not have any evidence to support criminal intent by Stewart. Ward had spun while racing alongside Stewart and then the 20-year-old climbed out of his car and walked down the track, waving his arms in an apparent attempt to confront the 43-year-old NASCAR veteran.

    "Upon my review of all of the information contained in the entire investigation," Tantillo said, "I have made the determination that it would be appropriate to submit the evidence to the grand jury for their determination as to what action should be taken in this matter."

    He said the law prevented him from saying when the case would be scheduled or who would be called as witnesses.

    Experts have said Stewart could be charged with second-degree manslaughter under New York law if prosecutors believe he "recklessly caused the death of another person," with negligent homicide another possibility.

    The sheriff asked in the days after Ward's death for spectators to turn over photos and videos of the crash as investigators worked to reconstruct the accident. Among the things being looked at were the dim lighting, how muddy it was and whether Ward's dark firesuit played a role in his death, given the conditions.

    In submitting his findings to the district attorney last week, Povero said they included a "forensic video enhancement" from state police.

    After Ward's death, NASCAR announced a rule that prohibits drivers from climbing out of a crashed or disabled vehicle - unless it is on fire - until safety personnel arrive.

    Stewart, who has 48 career Cup wins in 542 starts, is one of the biggest stars in the garage. From the small town of Columbus, Indiana, he has long been one of the most proficient drivers in racing, winning in every kind of series, from sprint cars to the elite Sprint Cup Series. He has for years taken part in little races in nondescript towns because he loves the thrill of the high horsepower, lightweight cars skidding around the dirt.

    He rarely made his schedule public, popping up when he pleased, and he was welcome at the clay track at Canandaigua Motorsports Park the night before the NASCAR race in nearby Watkins Glen.

    NASCAR spokesman Brett Jewkes said the series was closely following the case.

    "We are aware of the completed investigation and the announced next steps," he said. "We will monitor this process and stay in close contact with Stewart-Haas Racing. It would be inappropriate for NASCAR to comment on this case so we will continue to respect the process and authorities involved."

    Over the weekend, the No. 13 car belonging to Ward returned to racing at the Canadian Sprint Car Nationals at Ohsweken Speedway in Ontario. The car was driven by Ward's best friend, Dylan Swiernik, who finished 14th out of 30. Afterward, Ward's father said he would sell the sprint car that his son drove.

    "Life," Kevin Ward Sr. told Canadian Press, "just isn't the same without him."



  • Atlanta mayor: Talked to 6 possible Hawks owners

    ATLANTA (AP) Mayor Kasim Reed said Tuesday he has already talked with six potential buyers of the Atlanta Hawks and expects a sale of the team to move quickly after racially charged comments by owner Bruce Levenson and general manager Danny Ferry.

    Flanked by Hall of Famer Dominique Wilkins and other city leaders, Reed said the crisis engulfing the NBA team would be solved "the Atlanta way" and predicted the franchise would come out stronger in the end.

    The Hawks have been under fire since it was revealed Levenson sent an email two years ago theorizing that many suburban whites would not attend NBA games because of the team's African-American fans. He agreed to sale his share of the team, but it also emerged that Ferry had disparaged then-free agent Luol Deng on a conference call with team owners this past summer, saying he "has a little African in him."

    Reed, who did not identify the prospective buyers, said whoever buys the team would have majority ownership. While Levenson owns 24 percent of the team, his Washington partner Ed Peskowitz has also agreed to sale his share, meaning that 50.1 percent of the team is available, according to the mayor.

    For now, the Atlanta-based owners - including Michael Gearon Jr. and Rutherford Seydel (the son-in-law of former owner Ted Turner) - want to keep their shares of the team.

    "I have had conversations with no less than six prospective buyers," Reed said. "All six of those prospective buyers will have to go through a process to be vetted by the NBA. That process is going to occur very quickly."

    He said NBA Commissioner Adam Silver was lining up an investment bank look into the finances of any potential buyer.

    In addition, Reed said the city will likely be willing to offer concessions to any new owner to ensure the Hawks commit to remaining in Atlanta for another 30 years. He said there could be as much as $150 million available after the city sells Turner Field, the current home of the Braves, though the mayor said that process has been held up by the baseball team's refusal to negotiate terms for its departure.

    The Braves are planning to move to a new stadium in suburban Cobb County in 2017; in fact, they held a groundbreaking ceremony at the site a few hours before the mayor's news conference. But if there are any delays in completing the stadium, the team has an option in its lease to spend another year at Turner Field.

    Reed criticized the Braves and said they are holding up a potential $250 million offer that could transform Turner Field into a 30,000-seat football stadium for Georgia State University, as well as fill in the area around the ballpark with student housing and commercial development.

    Braves spokeswoman Beth Marshall said the team is not required to notify the stadium authority of its plans until Dec. 31, 2015, but added, "It is our hope to be able to work with them, the city of Atlanta and Fulton County, on negotiating an exit so they can best prepare for the future of the Turner Field site."

    With Levenson selling and Ferry on an indefinite leave of absence, Reed said the city would be heavily involved in efforts to find new ownership for the Hawks, since it is responsible for the debt on 15-year-old Philips Arena.

    Wilkins, a former Hawks star who now serves as a team vice president and television commentator, said he would "absolutely" be interested in taking on a greater role with the franchise. The city already plans to honor him with a statue outside Philips Arena before March 6 game against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers.

    Hawks CEO Steve Koonin has refused calls to fire Ferry, saying he believes the general manager can learn from the experience. Ferry met privately Monday with civil rights leaders, hoping to mend fences within the city, and has said he will undergo sensitivity training during his leave.

    But Ferry's future is still very much in doubt, with the start of training camp only two weeks away.

    Wilkins would neither endorse Ferry nor call for him to be ousted, knowing that any decision about the general manager will likely rest with the new owner.

    "That's not a choice I can make," Wilkins said. "The only thing I can say is whatever pieces are put in place are going to be the right pieces to help our franchise heal from what we've been through."

    Reed said city leaders would look favorably on Wilkins' involvement with any new ownership group, especially if it gives the team more diversity in the front office.

    The mayor said he plans to meet with Silver on Sept. 26 in New York to discuss the sale.

    "I think we're going to end up in a superior position, based on everything we know today, than we were before (Levenson's) memo," the mayor said. "That's all anyone can ask for."

    ---

    Follow Paul Newberry on Twitter at www.twitter.com/pnewberry1963




 
 
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