The Rockmart Yellow Jackets basketball teams are getting an early start to their season with their first matchup against the Gordon Central Warriors Tuesday.
MIAMI — Miami Marlins slugger Giancarlo Stanton has agreed to terms with the team on a $325 million, 13-year contract. Team owner Jeffrey Loria has confirmed the deal, the most lucrative for an American athlete.
Federal drug enforcement agents showed up unannounced Sunday to check at least three visiting NFL teams' medical staffs as part of an investigation into former players' claims that teams mishandled prescription drugs.
There were no arrests, Drug Enforcement Administration spokesman Rusty Payne said Sunday. The San Francisco 49ers' staff was checked at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, New Jersey, after they played the New York Giants. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers' staff was checked at Baltimore-Washington International airport after playing the Redskins. The Seattle Seahawks, who played at Kansas City, confirmed via the team's Twitter account that they were spot-checked as well.
The operation was still ongoing, and other teams may be checked later Sunday, Payne said.
"DEA agents are currently interviewing NFL team doctors in several locations as part of an ongoing investigation into potential violations of the (Controlled Substances Act)," Payne said.
The spot checks were done by investigators from the federal DEA. They did not target specific teams, but were done to measure whether visiting NFL clubs were generally in compliance with federal law. Agents requested documentation from visiting teams' medical staffs for any controlled substances in their possession, and for proof that doctors could practice medicine in the home team's state.
"Our teams cooperated with the DEA today and we have no information to indicate that irregularities were found," NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy said in an email.
The nationwide probe is being directed by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Southern District of New York — where the NFL is headquartered — but involves several U.S. attorney's offices.
The investigation was sparked by a lawsuit filed in May on behalf of former NFL players going back to 1968. The number of plaintiffs has grown to more than 1,200, including dozens who played as recently as 2012. Any violations of federal drug laws from 2009 forward could also become the subject of a criminal investigation because they would not be subject to the five-year statute of limitations.
"This is an unprecedented raid on a professional sports league," said Steve Silverman, one of the attorneys for the former players. "I trust the evidence reviewed and validated leading up to this action was substantial and compelling."
Federal prosecutors have conducted interviews in at least three cities over the past three weeks, spending two days in Los Angeles in late October meeting with a half-dozen former players — including at least two who were named plaintiffs in the painkillers lawsuit, according to multiple people with direct knowledge of the meetings who spoke on the condition of anonymity because prosecutors told them not to comment on the meetings.
The lawsuit alleges the NFL and its teams, physicians and trainers acted without regard for players' health, withholding information about injuries while at the same time handing out prescription painkillers such as Vicodin and Percocet, and anti-inflammatories such as Toradol, to mask pain and minimize lost playing time. The players contend some teams filled out prescriptions in players' names without their knowledge or consent, then dispensed those drugs — according to one plaintiff's lawyer — "like candy at Halloween," along with combining them in "cocktails."
Several former players interviewed by The Associated Press described the line of teammates waiting to get injections on game day often spilling out from the training room. Others recounted flights home from games where trainers walked down the aisle and players held up a number of fingers to indicate how many pills they wanted.
The controlled substance act says only doctors and nurse practitioners can dispense prescription drugs, and only in states where they are licensed. The act also lays out stringent requirements for acquiring, labeling, storing and transporting drugs. Trainers who are not licensed would be in violation of the law simply by carrying a controlled substance.
The former players have reported a range of debilitating effects, from chronic muscle and bone ailments to permanent nerve and organ damage to addiction. They contend those health problems came from drug use, but many of the conditions haven't been definitively linked to painkillers.
The lawsuit is currently being heard in the northern district of California, where presiding judge William Alsup said he wants to hear the NFL Players Association's position on the case before deciding on the league's motion to dismiss. The NFL maintained that it's not responsible for the medical decisions of its 32 teams. League attorneys also argued the issue should be addressed by the union, which negotiated a collective bargaining agreement that covers player health.
The DEA investigation comes during a turbulent time for the NFL.
The league is still weathering criticism over its treatment of several players accused of domestic violence and just wrapped up an arbitration hearing involving Ravens running back Ray Rice, who is contesting the length of his suspension. The league has hired former FBI director Robert Mueller III to investigate its handling of the Rice case.
The NFL is also trying to finalize a $765 million class-action settlement reached in August 2013 over complaints by thousands of former players that the NFL concealed the risk of concussions.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia's Mark Richt is doing his best to downplay the return of Todd Gurley.
Good luck with that.
Richt cut back on the number of players allowed to address the media, limiting it to four seniors who spoke Tuesday after the coach's weekly news conference.
Of course, the end of Gurley's four-game suspension is the big storyline as the 16th-ranked Bulldogs (7-2, 5-2 Southeastern Conference) host ninth-ranked Auburn (7-2, 4-2) on Saturday.
A month ago, the running back was a leading contender for the Heisman Trophy when the school got word he had accepted money for autographs. Gurley acknowledged taking more than $3,000, and the NCAA ordered him to sit out the next four games.
Richt says he doesn't want Gurley's return to be a distraction to the Bulldogs.
LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) — Kentucky and No. 17 Georgia are both looking to bounce back from difficult losses and keep their postseason hopes on track.
The visiting Bulldogs (6-2, 4-2 Southeastern Conference, No. 20 CFP) aim for their fifth straight win over the Wildcats (5-4, 2-4) Saturday as they try to stay within reach of first-place Missouri in the Eastern Division.
Kentucky wants to end a three-game losing streak that has stalled the rebuilding Wildcats' quest for becoming bowl eligible for the first time since 2010.
That mutual urgency could set the stage for another tense meeting between the schools.
Georgia owns this series 53-12-2, but beating the Wildcats in Lexington has been tough with seven points or fewer deciding three of the past four games at Commonwealth Stadium.
Georgia coach Mark Richt is certainly wary of Kentucky.
"We just know we've got our hands full," he said. "It's the seventh time I've gone to this stadium and I can't think of one game that we had there that didn't have a lot of drama, didn't have a lot of questions who's going to win it until the very end."
The Bulldogs certainly need something in their favor after last week's stunning 38-20 loss to the Gators essentially took them out of the national championship playoff picture. Georgia's upside is being just a half-game behind Missouri (4-1) in the East and holding a tiebreaker over the Tigers with last month's shutout win in Columbia.
Kentucky and its 21 departing seniors meanwhile would love to dash Georgia's dream and enter the bowl picture by winning their home finale. The Wildcats' last win over the Bulldogs was 2009 in Athens, Georgia, (34-27) and they haven't beaten them at Commonwealth since 2006 (24-20).
After losses to LSU, top-ranked Mississippi State and Missouri, they definitely need one.
Said Kentucky defensive end and Georgia native Bud Dupree, "it would mean a lot to me and the fellow seniors to go out and win and give the program the boost that we've been working so hard for. It would just put us in the (position) to get a bowl."
Here are other things to look for when Kentucky hosts Georgia on Saturday:
STOPPING NICK CHUBB: Georgia freshman tailback Nick Chubb has been rolling in the absence of suspended Todd Gurley, who returns next week. He has rushed 89 times for 501 yards and four touchdowns in starting the past three games and has 725 yards and 6 TDs. His fast, hard-charging style poses a big challenge for Kentucky's run defense that ranks next to last in the SEC at 188.6 yards allowed per contest.
FASTER START: Sluggish beginnings explain Kentucky's recent skid that has forced the Wildcats to play catch-up. They can't do that against the SEC's top scoring offense (40.5 points per game), which means they're going to have to be awake and alert with the noon start and produce.
HUTSON MASON: Kentucky's priority is slowing Georgia's formidable ground game, but the secondary must also be ready for the Bulldogs' senior QB. Mason has completed nearly 68 percent of his passes for 1,341 yards and 11 TDs with just three interceptions.
TAKEAWAY EXPERTS: Both teams protect the ball, which will be necessary in a game matching opportunistic defenses. Georgia enters as the nation's second-ranked team in turnover margin at plus-13 and averaging 1.63 per game. Kentucky is among a bunch of schools at plus-8 and tied for 17th at .89 per contest.
OVER SO SOON? Saturday's game marks an unusually early home finale for Kentucky, which travels to Tennessee next week and has a bye before closing the season at Louisville on Thanksgiving weekend. Renovation of Commonwealth Stadium will ramp up immediately afterward with the $120 million project expected to be completed by next season, when the Wildcats have eight home games scheduled.
AP Sports Writer Paul Newberry in Athens contributed to this story.
Some students at Northside Elementary have another reason to cheer for local Georgia Bulldogs freshman running back Nick Chubb – now he helps them understand how weather works.
MARIETTA, Ga. (AP) — The attorney for a metro Atlanta official accused of secretly negotiating a deal to build a new Atlanta Braves stadium is asking the county's ethics board not to have a full hearing on a complaint filed against him.
The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports David Cole, attorney for Cobb County Commission Chairman Tim Lee, filed a motion Tuesday saying the appearance of impropriety in the stadium negotiations isn't enough for disciplinary action.
Lee has been accused of improperly hiring a private attorney to negotiate with the Braves and using a private email account to avoid open records laws. The commission voted to have a hearing because Lee didn't avoid the appearance of impropriety.
Cole says county code asks officials to avoid the appearance of impropriety, but doesn't say that they must.
Information from: The Atlanta Journal-Constitution, http://www.ajc.com
STELLENBOSCH, South Africa (AP) — Chicago Marathon champion Rita Jeptoo failed a doping test in September, the Kenyan runner's agent said Friday.
Federico Rosa told The Associated Press that Jeptoo tested positive for a banned substance in an out-of-competition test in Kenya weeks before she won a second straight Chicago Marathon title on Oct. 12.
"This is true," Rosa said in a telephone interview.
Rosa said Jeptoo's "A'' sample had tested positive and they were waiting for her backup "B'' sample to be tested. Rosa declined to name the substance.
Rosa said he had learned of the positive test "a few days ago."
"We will legally go after the person or the people that convinced Rita to do this," Rosa said, adding Jeptoo's management had "nothing to do with" any doping. "I am sorry for Rita."
The 33-year-old Jeptoo has won back-to-back titles at the both the Chicago and Boston Marathons and leads the World Marathon Majors series.
The series said earlier Friday that it had postponed Sunday's awards ceremony because of the positive test.
"No athlete can win the World Marathon Majors Series title who has been in breach of IAAF anti-doping rules," the series said.
The IAAF said in a statement that it was "not in position where it can confirm or deny" Jeptoo's positive doping test.
"The case remains in the confidentiality phase," the IAAF said, "although that should be lifted within the next week."
Jeptoo's failed doping test comes as Kenya is under close scrutiny for a recent spike in doping cases.
A report into doping in Kenya was released this month. The investigation found that the East African country has problems with athletes from a number of sports using banned substances.
COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) — It's the time of year when SEC teams seem to start flexing their defensive muscle.
Offenses have deservingly garnered headlines in an age of spread offenses and run-it-up attacks, but the league that built its national championship run on defense has taken another step forward this season: 10 Southeastern Conference teams have allowed fewer yards this year than last and half of the 14 league members are among the country's 30 stingiest in points given up.
"There's no question that defense is most important at this time of the year," said LSU coach Les Miles, who won the 2007 national title and played for a second crown in 2011.
The sentiment is shared throughout the SEC.
It also may be one reason there were six SEC teams in the initial College Football Playoff rankings, four in the top six.
No. 3 Alabama (No. 6 CFP) is the country's fifth best defense, giving up about 10 fewer yards a game than in 2013. Seventh-ranked Mississippi (No. 4 CFP) is yielding 305 yards, 65 fewer a game than last season. No. 4 Auburn (No. 3 CFP), No. 9 Georgia (No. 11 CFP) and No. 16 LSU (No. 19 CFP) are all allowing less yards than last season.
Ole Miss leads the country with just 10.5 points a game, a decrease of nearly two touchdowns from the 23.7 yielded a year ago. Alabama, LSU, Georgia, Missouri, Auburn and top-ranked Mississippi State (No. 1 CFP) are all in the top 30 of the FBS in that category.
"That's just the culture in the SEC," former Texas coach and ESPN analyst Mack Brown said. "That hasn't changed."
While TCU's 82-point outburst against Texas Tech gained headlines last week, the SEC answered with a 10-7 defensive struggle with LSU topping Ole Miss.
The SEC's defensive push comes during a year after some of its marquee stars on that side of the ball left for the NFL — including South Carolina defensive end Jadeveon Clowney, Alabama's C.J. Mosley and Missouri's Michael Sam left for the pros.
Now, others have filled the void.
— Tennessee linebacker A.J. Johnson leads the SEC with 86 tackles for the Vols, who are holding opponents to almost 80 yards less this season than last.
— Missouri defensive end Shane Ray picked up where Sam left off, on top in the SEC — and third nationally — with 10 sacks.
— Mississippi's Senquez Golson has eight interceptions to tie for most in the country.
Not everything's rosy for all SEC defenses.
One the league's leading groups the past few years could be found in South Carolina. But the Gamecocks have allowed 38 points a game in its six SEC contests, an increase of 18 points from a year ago and a major reason the Gamecocks went from preseason SEC East favorites to 2-4 in the conference.
And then there's Mississippi State. The Bulldogs have managed to win though statistically they are not as strong defensively as they were last year: Mississippi State is last in SEC defense, giving up 90 yards more a game than in 2013.
Brian Jones, a former Texas linebacker and current CBS Sports analyst, said the numbers are misleading. He said the Bulldogs offense, led by Heisman Trophy contender Dak Prescott, builds big leads and forces opponents to throw the ball to get back in games, and that skews the numbers.
"The key," Jones said, "is what they do in the red zone and the turnovers they get."
Tennessee coach Butch Jones thinks improved defense as the season moves on is as much a product of more opponent game film as work on the field.
"So, the more video you have out there, the more games you play, the more things you have to game plan," he said.
Injuries also can affect teams on top defensively.
Ole Miss lost starting linebacker Denzel Nkemdiche to a broken ankle against LSU this past week and won't have him for critical games against Auburn this week and Mississippi State down the road.
"You look at the teams that win consistently in November, late October, that go on championship stretch runs," Jones said, "they have great depth."
There's also a competition in the league to be considered the SEC's top defense.
"I know our defense enjoys playing and wants to be the best," said Vols linebacker-defensive end Curt Maggitt, whose four sacks rank 10th in the SEC. "We play to be the best, and I'm sure other teams could say the same."
AP Sports Writers Brett Martel in Baton Rouge, Louisiana; Gary B. Graves in Lexington, Kentucky; David Brandt in Oxford, Mississippi; Steve Megargee in Knoxville, Tennessee; and John Zenor in Auburn, Alabama, contributed to this report.
The NCAA said Wednesday that Georgia star running back Todd Gurley must sit out until Nov. 15 for accepting more than $3,000 for autographing memorabilia and other items over a two-year period.
The United States Basketball Association has signed a deal with the LakePoint Sporting Community to bring its national championships to courts in Cobb and Bartow counties in 2015 and then to the LakePoint development in 2016.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have hired Kevin Seitzer from the Toronto Blue Jays to replace Greg Walker as hitting coach.
Walker was assisted by Scott Fletcher this season as the Braves finished 79-83.
The 52-year-old Seitzer was the hitting coach for Arizona during part of the 2007 season, for Kansas City from 2009-12 and for the Blue Jays this past season. The former All-Star third baseman hit .295 in 12 major league seasons with the Royals, Milwaukee, Oakland and Cleveland.
Walker resigned after the Braves finished 14th among National League teams, ahead of only San Diego, in runs scored. Fletcher and third base coach Doug Dascenzo also are not returning.
The Braves announced Thursday that John Hart has agreed to a three-year deal as president of baseball operations.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Braves have named John Hart as president of baseball operations.
Hart was hired as interim general manager on Sept. 22 and will also continue to serve in that role. It's unclear if Hart's new title means the team no longer will seek a full-time replacement for Frank Wren, the former general manager. Wren was fired last month following a disappointing finish this season.
Team president John Schuerholz announced Thursday the 66-year-old Hart has agreed to a three-year contract that will continue through the team's first season at its new stadium in Cobb County.
Hart, the former general manager for the Rangers and Indians, joined the Braves last year as a senior adviser.
The LakePoint Sporting Community in Bartow County will partner with the Macon-based Atlantic Sun Conference to have a shot at hosting conference championships in lacrosse, baseball and sand volleyball.
DENVER (AP) — Peyton Manning broke Brett Favre's NFL record for touchdown passes with No. 509. He didn't stop there, either.
Manning threw four TD passes in Denver's 42-17 victory over the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday night, two to Demaryius Thomas, one to Wes Welker and another to Emmanuel Sanders.
That gives him 510.
The record-breaker was an 8-yarder to Thomas with 3:09 left in the first half.
Manning's receivers played keep-away with the milestone memento before Manning got the ball and congratulations from his teammates.
Favre sent along his congratulations via a scoreboard video he taped from his home in Hattiesburg, Mississippi.
Manning went into the game with 506 and needed just four drives to break Favre's record.
He threw a 3-yard TD pass to Sanders on Denver's first drive and tied the record when Welker took a pass over the middle for 39 yards. Sanders' score was his first in Denver, and he became the 47th player to catch a TD pass from Manning.
Manning added a 40-yard TD throw to Thomas in the second half.
Manning reached the milestone in his 246th regular-season game. Favre needed 302.
As Manning approached the milestone, Favre told The Associated Press he was thrilled "it's Peyton that's doing it. I think a lot of Peyton. I know him well. I know his family well. His dad was one of my idols."
Favre, who grew up in the Gulf Coast watching Archie Manning and the New Orleans Saints, sent along his well wishes last week to Manning, the only player in NFL history with more MVP awards (five) than his three.
The veneration is mutual.
Saying he appreciated Favre's words of encouragement, Manning suggested that of all the men who have ever taken a snap in the 94-year history of the NFL, "nobody's defined longevity and career toughness more than him."
Favre played in a QB-record 297 straight regular-season games during his 20-year NFL career, plus another two dozen in the playoffs.
"He always answered the bell every single Sunday and was always producing," Manning said. "And growing up in the South, both of us, Brett has always said he was a big fan of my dad's, so there's been kind of a mutual respect there from my family to him, as well. And I always enjoyed watching him play. Nobody played the game quite like he did. He's truly a one-of-a-kind quarterback."
Favre said that were it not for Manning's neck problems at the tail end of his tenure in Indianapolis, Manning might very well have gone on to eclipse his most hallowed mark, the consecutive games streak, and certainly would have obliterated his career touchdowns mark by now.
"I know Peyton missed a year. Aside from that year, he's played just like I did. I mean, he's been out there over and over and over again," Favre said.
Manning's 208-game starting streak ended when he sat out the 2011 season following neck fusion surgery.
With the top pick and Andrew Luck there for the taking, the Colts and Manning had a tearful goodbye. And Manning landed in Denver, where he rejuvenated both his stellar career and a foundering franchise.
In Indy, Manning averaged 1.92 touchdown throws per game. Since joining the Broncos in 2012, he's averaged almost three TD throws a game.
Favre said he enjoys pulling up a chair at his home and watching Manning go to work.
"He's a throwback, a pocket passer, in a mobile quarterback league," Favre said. "Peyton's one of the last guys to play the way he does. And at 38, he's still the best at what he does."
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Nobody expected Julio Jones and Roddy White to be a weak link in the Atlanta Falcons' offense.
The former Pro Bowl receivers are having unforeseen problems holding onto the football and running crisp routes.
When the Falcons (2-4) visit Baltimore (4-2) this weekend, they will bring a running game that's struggling for the second straight year and a once-dependable passing attack that can't make basic plays.
Jones and White, both seemingly healthy after an injury-filled 2013, blame themselves for multiple drops.
They each had two in last week's home loss to Chicago. Levine Toilolo, a second-year tight end who replaced legendary Tony Gonzalez, had three.
The offense is also without No. 3 receiver Harry Douglas, who's likely to miss his fourth straight game with an injured foot.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Georgia coach Mark Richt expects star tailback Todd Gurley's indefinite suspension to stay in place this week.
No. 10 Georgia plays a Southeastern Conference game at Arkansas on Saturday. The school is investigating allegations of rules violations by Gurley, whose suspension began for last week's 34-0 win at Missouri.
Richt said on his Twitter account early Thursday that he will "try to clear up Todd's status" and "will let you know if his status changes." He added that he's "not anticipating it to change this week."
The school has not released details of the investigation. Richt has said it involves autographs and memorabilia.
Gurley is considered a leading Heisman Trophy candidate and continues to practice with the team.
GADSDEN, Alabama -- As many as 150 cyclists are expected in Gadsden this weekend for Bamacross, a series of Cyclocross races, at Gadsden Sports Complex of West Meighan Boulevard.
The Lady Bulldogs host the first round of the playoffs while the Lady Jackets head to Ringgold to play as state softball kicks off
The Rockmart Lady Jackets volleyball team are hosting North Clayton High School Wednesday to kick off the first round of the state playoffs.
A Cedartown man has retained a lawyer after Georgia’s compliance