NFL: HGH testing being held up
NEW YORK (AP) — The head of the NFL players’ union said testing for human growth hormone is being held up by a disagreement with the league over whether the commissioner or a neutral arbitrator will handle certain types of appeals.
NFL Players Association Executive Director DeMaurice Smith said Thursday that otherwise, “The drug policy overall is 98 percent done.”
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy says another outstanding issue is whether a second offense will draw a suspension of eight or 10 games.
The league and the union originally paved the way for HGH testing in the 10-year collective bargaining agreement signed in August 2011. But when the Super Bowl is played Sunday, three complete seasons will have come and gone without testing for HGH.
NEW YORK (AP) — The number of concussions in the NFL dropped 13 percent from 2012 to 2013, according to data the league released and touted as a result of its efforts to better protect players’ heads.
Using information collected from team doctors during preseason and regular-season practices and games, the NFL also said there was a 23 percent decrease over the past two seasons in the number of concussions caused by helmet-to-helmet contact.
Speaking at a pre-Super Bowl news conference, Jeff Miller, the NFL’s senior VP of health and safety policy, called the data “positive numbers from our perspective; positive trends.”
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A Utah ape that has correctly picked the Super Bowl winner for six straight years predicted that the Seattle Seahawks will be the next NFL champion.
Eli the ape ran into an enclosure Thursday morning and swiftly knocked down a papier-mache helmet bearing the Seahawks logo, signaling his pick, said Erica Hansen of Hogle Zoo in Salt Lake City.
NEW YORK (AP) — The Portland Trail Blazers and Houston Rockets each had two players picked as reserves for the NBA All-Star game, while the Indiana Pacers had to settle for just Roy Hibbert despite the league’s best record.
LaMarcus Aldridge and Damian Lillard made it from the Trail Blazers, who have been among the Western Conference leaders all season.
Dwight Howard, who was passed late in fan voting for a starting spot, was chosen along with Houston teammate James Harden.
Old reliables Chris Paul, Tony Parker and Dirk Nowitzki round out the West reserves for the Feb. 16 game in New Orleans.
• NEW YORK (AP) — Mark Tatum will become the NBA’s new deputy commissioner when Adam Silver succeeds David Stern on Saturday. NBA owners unanimously approved the appointment of Tatum, a 15-year veteran of the league office. He will also have the title of chief operations officer.
ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — Infielder Michael Young is retiring after a 13-year major league career, nearly all of it with the Texas Rangers.
The Rangers have scheduled a Friday afternoon news conference where the 37-year-old Young is to formally announce his retirement.
The seven-time All-Star retires with a .300 career average and as Texas’ hits leader with 2,230. He was the 2008 AL Gold Glove at shortstop.
DUBAI, United Arab Emirates (AP) — Rory McIlroy took another step toward regaining his form Thursday with his lowest score in more than three years, a 9-under 63 while playing with Tiger Woods to take a two-shot lead in the Dubai Desert Classic.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Phil Mickelson’s back was better than his game in the Phoenix Open.
Returning to play after withdrawing from Torrey Pines last Friday night because of back pain, Mickelson opened his title defense with an even-par 71 at TPC Scottsdale. That left him seven strokes behind leaders Bubba Watson and Y.E. Yang.
DENVER (AP) — The Colorado Avalanche signed goaltender Semyon Varlamov to a five-year extension that goes through the 2018-19 season.
The 25-year-old Varlamov is thriving under first-year coach and Hall of Fame goaltender Patrick Roy, posting a 26-9-5 record with a 2.43 goals-against average. He’s second in the league in saves (1,199) this season and his 26 wins already match a career high.