CORAL GABLES, Fla. (AP) — After 33 years, Mark Richt is home.
Miami announced Richt as its football coach Friday, two days after striking a deal in principle with the former Georgia coach.
"Returning to 'The U' is truly an honor and I am humbled by the responsibility of leading our storied program," said Richt, who played under Howard Schnellenberger at Miami in the early 1980s.
Richt's first official order of business Friday was meeting his team, with players summoned to the football facility for an 8 a.m. introduction. The Hurricanes held a news conference to announce Richt's hiring that morning, and the hope was that the 24th coach in Miami history could start recruiting later in the day.
"This is home," Richt said. "Just very thankful."
Richt went 19-3 against Atlantic Coast Conference opponents when he was at Georgia, and Miami can only hope that trend continues. The Hurricanes moved into the ACC 12 seasons ago, and still are looking for their first league title.
"Football is not part of what we do here," Miami President Julio Frenk said. "It is part of who we are."
Miami spent more than five weeks searching for a new permanent coach, and reached out to Richt — "to gauge interest," he said — shortly after Al Golden was fired in October. When Richt and Georgia parted ways earlier this week by mutual agreement, a term that Richt used somewhat mockingly Friday, the Hurricanes tried again and wasted no time in making him their top choice.
Richt was considering taking a year off. He reconsidered, in part, because "I knew this job wouldn't be open again next year," he said.
"Coach Richt embodies the competitiveness, the integrity, the passion, the abilities and the experience to lead our young men to ACC and national championships and help them become men of character and success long after," Miami athletic director Blake James said.
For Richt, whose .740 career winning percentage is the fifth best among active FBS coaches, it is a homecoming.
He was a teammate of fellow quarterbacks Jim Kelly, Vinny Testaverde and Bernie Kosar with the Hurricanes from 1980 through 1982, just before Miami would win the first of what became five national championships in a 19-season span. He's also a native of nearby Boca Raton, and now returns to lead a program desperately seeking a return to national prominence.
Miami has gone since 2001 without a national title, since 2003 without a 10-win season and since 2006 without a bowl win. Richt's mandate is simple: Change all that.
"I can't wait to get started," Richt said.
Richt replaces Golden, who was fired midway through his fifth season. Golden inherited an absolute mess when he was hired, never being told Miami was under an NCAA investigation that was largely centered on the actions of a former booster and convicted Ponzi scheme architect who said he provided dozens of Hurricane athletes with benefits not permitted under college rules.
The scandal broke not long before Golden's first game, with some effects still lingering today. Miami remains on NCAA probation, and will likely have to limit itself to 81 or 82 scholarships next season instead of the maximum allotment of 85.
But for the most part, the worst is over on that front for Miami.
Richt inherits a team that went 8-4 in this regular season, has an elite quarterback in Brad Kaaya, had 91 percent of its points this season come from players who could be back with the Hurricanes in 2016 if they so choose, and finished with four wins in five games under interim coach Larry Scott.
Richt said he hasn't made any decisions yet on who will be on his staff.
"There's a massive amount of people who can come here right now," Richt said. "I can tell you that."
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Mark Richt remains interested in another coaching job and said Monday he will listen "to anybody who has interest in me" as he prepares for his final game as Georgia's coach.
Georgia announced Sunday Richt will not return as coach in 2016. In making the announcement, athletic director Greg McGarity and University of Georgia President Jere Morehead said Richt had been offered another position at the school.
Richt said at a news conference Monday he appreciated that option but would consider other options. He said he expects to have other opportunities to coach, especially since he will not be on the road recruiting as he had planned during the break before bowl practice.
"I'll have the opportunity to look at a lot of options," Richt said. "I think there will be a lot of options to weigh, so I'm blessed in that way.
"I'm not ready to say what I'm going to do yet, but it is very attractive to have the option to stay in Athens ... and have the opportunity to help young people."
McGarity met with Richt on Sunday morning. Soon after, Georgia announced the news that Richt was out as coach.
McGarity said he has had negative and positive feedback from fans.
"I expected it," McGarity said. "I think decisions of this nature are very difficult. Our fans are passionate. Mark has tremendous support."
McGarity said he made the decision following Georgia's 13-7 win over Georgia Tech on Saturday to end a 9-3 regular season.
"It was a very quiet ride home for me to dig down deep and make sure that was what my heart told me to do," McGarity said.
Richt's status had been questioned following a disappointing showing against some of the Bulldogs' top Southeastern Conference rivals. Losses to Tennessee, Alabama and Florida ended Georgia's hopes for a SEC championship. Georgia had been favored to win the SEC East.
Georgia closed the regular season with four straight wins, but that was not enough to save Richt's job.
Richt is 145-51 with two SEC championships. Only Vince Dooley (201) won more games at Georgia. Richt won 74 percent of his games, the fifth-best mark among active coaches, behind Urban Meyer, Bob Stoops, Nick Saban and Gary Patterson.
Former Georgia coach and athletic director Vince Dooley, who hired Richt, attended the news conference.
Bulldogs and Yellow Jacket fans who are planning on attending the annual rivalry game should plan to head to Memorial Stadium at Cedartown High tonight as the two get together early in hopes of avoiding wet weather.
After being postponed due to weather over the weekend, the Cedartown Lady Bulldogs and Rockmart Lady Jackets were ready to get on the ball field and play, but only one of Polk County's teams came away with a win Monday afternoon in Carrollton.
Gabe and Wyatt Tant, of Rockmart, recently competed in the Georgia State BMX Championships in Powder Springs. Gabe finished second in state in the 11-year-old intermediate class and Wyatt finished number 1 in state for 7-year-old expert. Gabe also runs cross country for Rockmart Middle School. He is in the 6th grade. Wyatt attends Eastside Elementary in Rockmart. Wyatt is in second grade and is a 2 time State Champion.
The Youth Summerfest Olympics marked its 17th year Saturday as more than 500 kids showed up at the Bert Wood Athletic Complex in Cedartown to compete in races, play games, eat good food, and even get a free, back-to-school hair cut from a local beautician.
The annual lead-up to the Peachtree Road Race for wheelchair athletes saw one world record broken and another just seconds away from a new time as racers crossed the finish line in Cedartown on Tuesday night.
The fun is set to get underway this evening in Cedartown, and local drivers and residents should take note of road closures coming in the College Street area starting around 6:15 p.m. for the Cedartown International Wheelchair 5K.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Georgia Supreme Court has upheld the authorization of up to $397 million in bonds to build a new baseball stadium for the Braves in Cobb County.
Three Cobb County residents opposed the authorization and appealed a Cobb County Superior Court ruling approving the bond issuance to the high court.
In the unanimous opinion published Monday, Justice David Nahmias wrote that an intergovernmental contract used to authorize the bonds is valid. He also wrote that the issuance of the bonds does not violate the state's Constitution or revenue bond laws and that the process used to validate the bonds was not improper.
The Braves announced in November 2013 that they would be leaving Turner Field near downtown Atlanta for a new stadium to be built in Cobb County near the interchange of interstates 285 and 75. The team plans to begin playing at the stadium, called SunTrust Park, for the 2017 season.
The three Cobb residents who challenged the bonds — Larry Savage, Richard Pellegrino and attorney T. Tucker Hobgood — argued the lower court judge's ruling validating the bonds was incorrect. They argued that the agreement between the county and the Cobb-Marietta Coliseum and Exhibit Hall Authority is not a valid intergovernmental agreement; that the project improperly uses public tax revenue for a private facility; and that the bonds can't be approved without a referendum.
Monday's opinion says it's clear that those who sought the bonds "relied on the prior decisions of this Court interpreting Georgia's Constitution and revenue bond law when structuring the financing for the new Braves stadium project." While "aspects of the deal structure at issue may push the law about as far as it can go, it does not cross the line into illegality," the opinion says.
The opinion also says it does not discount the concerns that the three Cobb residents raised "about the wisdom of the stadium project and the commitments Cobb County has made to entice the Braves to move there." But it says those concerns have to do with public policy controlled by elected officials.
Mark those calendars and make sure to get out of the way of College Street on the evening of June 30, because the annual Cedartown Wheelchair Athlete Training Camp and 5K is nearly upon Polk County once again.
BOSTON (AP) — Lelisa Desisa of Ethiopia won his second Boston Marathon on Monday, two years after he donated the medal from his first title to the city in the memory of bombing victims.
Kenya's Carolina Rotich won the women's race in an unofficial 2 hours, 24 minutes, 55 seconds, outsprinting Mare Dibaba down Boylston Street to win by 4 seconds.
When Desisa won the 2013 race, there wasn't much time to celebrate. Hours after he crossed the finish line, two bombs exploded on Boylston Street and turned his victory into an afterthought. As the city mourned the three killed and 260 wounded in the explosions, he returned to Boston to donate the medal.
Now Desisa has a Boston title he can enjoy.
He won in an unofficial time of 2:09:17.
Yemane Adhane Tsegay was 31 seconds back, followed by Kenya's Wilson Chebet. Dathan Ritzenhein of Rockford, Michigan, was the first American, in seventh.
Defending champion Meb Keflezighi of San Diego was one spot behind him a year after he became the first American men's champion since 1983, galvanizing the city behind him as a symbol of patriotism and resilience.
Two years after the explosions, the race took a tentative step back toward normal.
Rotich pulled away from Ethiopians Dibaba and Buzunesh Deba for her first Boston victory. She finished fourth here in 2011.
KISSIMMEE, Fla. (AP) — The Atlanta Braves acquired pitcher Trevor Cahill from Arizona on Thursday night, hoping to boost a staff that's been hurt by injuries.
The Diamondbacks sent Cahill and for minor league outfielder Josh Elander and agreed to send Atlanta $6.8 million to cover the majority of Cahill's $12 million salary this year.
The 27-year-old right-hander, an All-Star with Oakland in 2010, was 3-12 with a 5.61 ERA for Arizona last season. He is 64-69 with a 4.07 ERA in six seasons.
Only opening day starter Julio Teheran, newcomer Shelby Miller and Alex Wood are guaranteed spots in the Braves' rotation. Mike Minor, who went 6-12 with a 4.77 ERA in 25 starts last season, is out indefinitely with a sore shoulder.
Braves assistant general manager John Coppolella said the Braves had their eyes on Cahill all spring.
"We thought he was a young pitcher with good stuff," Coppolella said. "We saw him four different times this spring and liked what we saw."
Cahill has suffered from shoulder stiffness but Coppolella said it was "just minor wear and tear."
"There are no red flags," Coppolella said. "He's going to give us a good shot to get us where we want to be."
To help cover Cahill's salary, Arizona will pay Atlanta seven installments of $812,500 by the first of each month from May 1 through Nov. 1 and then $1,112,500 by Dec. 1.
Cahill's contract includes a $13 million team option for 2016 with a $300,000 buyout and a $13.5 million option for 2017 with a $500,000 buyout.
The 24-year-old Elander is a .275 hitter in three seasons in the minors. He batted .219 with two homers last year at Class A Lynchburg.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL has fined the Atlanta Falcons, stripped the organization of a draft pick and suspended team president Rich McKay from the league's Competition Committee beginning April 1 following the team's use of fake noise at home games.
In statement released Monday, the league announced that the Falcons have been fined $350,000 and will forfeit their fifth-round selection in the 2016 draft. If the Falcons have multiple picks in that round, the highest selection will be forfeited.
The NFL noted throughout the 2013 season and into the 2014 season the Falcons violated league rules that state "at no point during the game can artificial crowd noise or amplified crowd noise be played in the stadium."
The league also said Roddy White, the team's former director of event marketing, was directly responsible for the violation and would have been suspended without pay for the first eight weeks of the 2015 regular season had he still been with the club. The Falcons fired him.
The league determined that Falcons ownership and senior executives, including McKay, were unaware of the use of an audio file with artificial crowd noise. But as the senior club executive overseeing game operations, McKay bears some responsibility for ensuring that team employees comply with league rules. McKay can petition Commissioner Roger Goodell for reinstatement to the committee no sooner than June 30.
Falcons owner Arthur Blank told The Associated Press in early February that he had seen enough of the NFL's investigation to acknowledge wrongdoing by his club.
"It's not really a fine line," Blank told the AP. "I think what we've done in 2013 and 2014 was wrong. Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field, we're opposed to, as a league, as a club and as an owner. It's obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing it doesn't represent our culture and what we're about."
The Falcons say 101 of 103 games have been sellouts since Blank bought the team in 2002. Actual turnouts declined during losing seasons the last two years.
Atlanta ranked 10th among the 32 NFL teams with its average home attendance of 72,130 in 2014. Construction is underway for a new $1.4 billion stadium that will replace the Georgia Dome in 2017. The new stadium will have a similar seating capacity.
AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
ATLANTA (AP) — John Buck, an 11-year major league veteran who was attempting to land a job with the Atlanta Braves as a backup catcher, has retired.
The 34-year-old, an All-Star in 2010 with Toronto, hit 134 home runs with seven big league teams. He hit .225 in 32 games with Seattle and the Los Angeles Angels last year after playing for the New York Mets and Pittsburgh in 2013.
He says he wants to spend more time with his family. He hit .320 with one homer in 25 at-bats for the Braves in spring training.
Buck set career highs with 20 homers and 66 RBIs with Toronto in 2010. He played his first six seasons with Kansas City.
He would have gotten a $1 million contract if added to Atlanta's 40-man roster.
ATLANTA (AP) — Georgia's highest court has rejected a challenge to the city of Atlanta using taxpayer revenue to help finance a new stadium for the Atlanta Falcons.
The unanimous opinion published Monday by the Georgia Supreme Court says the financing structure does not violate the state Constitution. Construction of the stadium for the Atlanta Falcons is already well underway.
A group of Atlanta residents was challenging the city's plan to issue $200 million in bonds for the stadium. They argued the issuance of the bonds was unconstitutional because of an amendment to a 2010 state law governing the use of the city's hotel-motel taxes.
At a hearing in May, a judge issued an order rejecting their objections and confirming and validating the bonds for the stadium. The high court upheld that ruling.
TAMPA, Fla. (AP) — Alex Rodriguez will not play in the New York Yankees' exhibition opener against Philadelphia in Clearwater on Tuesday.
Back from a season-long suspension for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract, Rodriguez was not on the travel roster posted Monday. He could make his spring training debut Wednesday, when the Yankees host the Phillies.
Rodriguez went 0 for 2 as the designated hitter in an intrasquad game Monday. Hitting off a pitching machine, he grounded to third on the second pitch and flied out to short right on the first pitch.
The game was played before about 100 fans in mostly empty Steinbrenner Field. Rodriguez spent most the game in a chair next the first-base dugout wearing a helmet and occasionally swinging a bat as he awaited his next plate appearance. He received cheers walking to the plate from the small gathering.
Yankees manager Joe Girardi and general manager Brian Cashman say Chase Headley will be their starting third baseman and Rodriguez will compete for at-bats at designated hitter.
Rodriguez has been working out at third and first base, and could see limited time at both.
The three-time AL MVP has not played a full season since 2007 because of the suspension, operations on both hips and other injuries.
Adam Warren will start for the Yankees Tuesday. Position players making the trip to Clearwater include outfielders Jacoby Ellsbury, Brett Gardner and Chris Young.
Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.
NEW YORK (AP) — Michael Jordan and two other NBA owners have reached new heights, making Forbes world list of billionaires.
Forbes released its list on Monday and noted that Jordan's net worth is estimated at $1 billion, thanks to his well-timed investment in the Charlotte Hornets.
Houston Rockets owner Leslie Alexander, with a net worth of $1.6 billion, and the Chicago Bulls owner Jerry Reinsdorf, worth $1.3 billion are also on the list. Jordan and Reinsdorf are newcomers to the list while Alexander returns for the first time since 2007.
The net worth of NBA franchise values increased this past year after the sale of Los Angeles Clippers to Steve Ballmer for $2 billion.
The 52-year-old Jordan, a Hall of Fame player who won six NBA championships with the Bulls, reached billionaire status last June, according to the magazine. This is his first year on Forbes' annual list which typically is released in March.
Jordan acquired the majority stake in the Hornets in 2010 for $175 million. Forbes last June listed Jordan's equity as owner of the Hornets is $416 million and his net worth outside of the team to be $600 million.
Topping the list of sports-related billionaires was Stanley Kroenke, who owns the NFL's St. Louis Rams. His net worth of $6.3 billion, which ranks him as the 225th richest person in the world.
He is one of 11 NFL owners on a list that include 20 billionaire sports figures.
Other NFL owners to make the list include Robert Kraft (Patriots, $4.3 billion), Jerry Jones, (Cowboys, $4.2 billion), Stephen Bisciotti (Ravens, $2.7 billion), Arthur Blank (Falcons, $2.5 billion), Robert McNair (Texans, $2.4 billion), Tom Benson (Saints, $1.9 billion), James Irsay (Colts, $1.75 billion), Daniel Snyder (Redskins, $1.7 billion), Alex Spanos (Chargers, $1.25 billion) and Jeffrey Lurie (Eagles, $1.1 billion).
See Forbes.com/billionaires for more complete list of sports-related billionaires
PALM BEACH GARDENS, Fla. (AP) — Padraig Harrington captured his first PGA Tour title in more than six years Monday when he won the Honda Classic by making a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th hole in regulation and beating 21-year-old rookie Daniel Berger on the second playoff hole.
Leave it to Harrington to emerge the winner of the craziest final round on the PGA Tour this season.
It took two days to complete the final round. Four of the five players who had a share of the lead hit shots into the water down the stretch. That included Harrington, who appeared to throw it away when he hit into the water on the par-3 17th and made double bogey to fall one shot behind.
Harrington, a three-time major champion and resilient as ever, followed with the birdie for an even-par 70 to get into a playoff with Berger, the hometown rookie who closed birdie-birdie for a 64. They finished at 6-under 274.
Both missed birdie putts on the par-5 18th in the playoff. And on the 17th hole, the roles were reversed. Harrington got his redemption, hitting his tee shot to 3 feet. Berger, whose 7-iron into 8 feet in regulation was key in getting into the playoff, followed Harrington with a shot into the water.
Berger took double bogey. Harrington missed from 3 feet, but it didn't matter. He was a winner again on the PGA Tour for the first time since his second straight major at the 2008 PGA Championship at Oakland Hills. And he's going back to the Masters.
"Believe it or not, when I get in contention I can still hit the shots," Harrington said.
The final hour was calamitous at PGA National.
Ian Poulter, who had a three-shot lead at the start of the rain-delayed final round, appeared to have recovered from water balls on consecutive holes at the end of play Sunday. He had a two-shot lead until hitting one in the water on the 11th for double bogey to lose his lead, and two in the water on the 14th for a triple bogey. Poulter hit five balls in the water in his final round for a 75.
"The good is good enough to win. I know that," Poulter said. "It's just bitterly disappointing to put myself in the position I have, to play as well as I've played ... and a couple of loose shots has cost me this tournament. It's a shame to hand tournaments away. I've handed one away this week."
Patrick Reed, tied with Harrington at 7 under, came up short on the par-3 15th and into the water for double bogey, and he never recovered. He bogeyed the next two holes and closed with a 73.
Paul Casey also had a share of the lead until a bogey on the 14th hole, and he never got it back. He missed a 20-foot birdie chance on the 18th that would have put him in a playoff and closed with a 68 to tie for third with Poulter and Russell Knox, who shot a 68.
Phil Mickelson was four shots behind when he returned Monday morning to face a 10-foot par putt on the ninth hole. He missed and didn't make a birdie. Mickelson shot a 73 and tied for 17th, six shots behind.
Harrington's last victory was at the Indonesian Open on the Asian Tour at the end of last year, and while it wasn't against a strong field, it did a world of good for his confidence. He talked earlier in the week about the royal treatment a three-time major champion gets in Asia, and that was easy to get lost on the PGA Tour.
He found himself again by playing like the Harrington of old.
Lost in all the collapses down the stretch was that the 43-year-old Harrington was five shots behind with eight holes to play when he hooked his tee shot and dropped his head walking off the 11th hole. It was enough left of the fairway to find a patch of muddied grass that had been trampled by the gallery, and he played a bold shot to a right flag over the water to 15 feet for birdie. That's where Poulter went into the water, and the three-shot swing meant Harrington was back in the game.
He followed with a 35-foot birdie on the 12th, a 7-foot birdie on the 13th and a 15-foot putt on the 14th for his fourth straight birdie and a share of the lead when Reed holed from 18 feet right before him.
Berger was not even part of the picture and only took the lead when he was done with his round. He chipped in for birdie on the 11th hole at the end of Sunday when darkness stopped the final round. And then he made two birdies at the end, including a two-putt from 40 feet on the 18th.
Berger had a 15-foot birdie putt on the 18th to win and just missed left of the cup. That was his last chance.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL's salary cap is going up $10 million to $143.28 million for the 2015 season.
All 32 teams and the players' union were notified Monday of the increase, the second straight season the cap went up by at least $10 million. Adding in benefits, the league says the projected player costs will be $180.775 million per team.
The NFL's business year starts March 10, when free agency begins.
The salary cap is determined by a series of NFL revenue streams, with the players receiving 46 percent to 48 percent of those revenues, depending on the year.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Kurt Busch has agreed to follow NASCAR's recommended guidelines to be eligible for eventual reinstatement.
The 2004 champion was indefinitely suspended Feb. 20 after a Delaware judge said he believed Busch likely committed an act of domestic violence against a former girlfriend and there was a "substantial likelihood" of him doing it again.
Busch lost two rounds of appeals for reinstatement before the season-opening Daytona 500 and has missed the first two races of the season. Regan Smith has replaced him in the No. 41 Chevrolet.
On Monday, NASCAR spokesman David Higdon said Busch has "agreed to our terms and conditions that must be met before he is eligible for consideration for reinstatement of his NASCAR license."
Stewart-Haas Racing, which on Monday said Smith would again drive the No. 41 this weekend at Las Vegas, said there is no timetable for Busch to meet NASCAR's guidelines.
"Kurt's willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support," SHR said in a statement.
The specific guidelines have not been disclosed, but Higdon said an unidentified NASCAR consultant helped create them. Higdon added that Busch would need to meet the requirements "to the satisfaction of both NASCAR and the expert.
"The expert administering the reinstatement can come back with a recommendation of return, but Kurt still must satisfy NASCAR's expectations, as well," he said.
NASCAR tailors its reinstatement programs to each individual and the offense. AJ Allmendinger, for example, had to complete a program overseen by Dr. David Black, who runs NASCAR's drug-testing unit. Alllmendinger was suspended for failing a random drug test and eventually reinstated.
Jeremy Clements, who was suspended in 2013 for an inappropriate comment, was reinstated after completing a NASCAR-authorized sensitivity training program. The program was administered by sports sociologist Richard Lapchick and his staff at the University of Central Florida's Institute for Diversity and Ethics in Sport.
Higdon said a domestic violence expert will oversee Busch's program, and NASCAR will not be part of the process.
Unrelated to the guidelines for NASCAR reinstatement are conditions placed on Busch by Family Court Commissioner David Jones, who granted a no-contact order for ex-girlfriend Patricia Driscoll. Jones wrote in his opinion that he believe believes there's real possibility Busch will lash out again and has a propensity to lose control in response to disappointing or frustrating situations involving racing.
Jones ordered Busch to be evaluated to see if there is a "treatable mental health condition." He also said Busch must follow any suggested treatment plans.
ATLANTA (AP) — The Atlanta Falcons have released wide receiver Harry Douglas, who was third on the team with 51 catches in 2014, and starting offensive guard Justin Blalock.
The moves follow Thursday's release of running back Steven Jackson.
Douglas, a third-round pick in 2008, had career-high totals of 85 receptions for 1,067 yards in 2013, when he started in 11 of 16 games. Douglas, a third-round draft pick from Louisville in 2008, usually was the No. 3 receiver behind Julio Jones and Roddy White.
Blalock, a second-round pick from Texas in 2007, started all 125 games in which he played, including 15 in 2014.
On his Twitter feed on Friday, Douglas said "Thanking @AtlantaFalcons for my 7 years in ATL & the opportunity to play in the city I grew up. First class organization. Much luv 2 fans."
ATLANTA (AP) — It was probably the world's only "pay-as-you-go statue," Bob Hope — a local marketing guru, not the famous comedian — likes to joke. Eight years after Braves right-fielder Hank Aaron shattered Babe Ruth's home-run record in 1974, Hope decided to form a nonprofit group dedicated to erecting a monument to the baseball legend. As a symbolic gesture of gratitude, the nonprofit deemed, it should be paid for by Aaron's fans.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Prosecutors have dismissed domestic violence charges against Panthers defensive end and soon-to-be free agent Greg Hardy after they said the accuser in the case couldn't be found.
FLOWERY BRANCH, Ga. (AP) — Falcons owner Arthur Blank said Tuesday he has seen enough of the NFL's investigation of fake crowd noise at Atlanta's home games to acknowledge wrongdoing.
The NFL is trying to determine if the Falcons pumped artificial crowd noise into the Georgia Dome for home games the last two years. Apparently, the answer is yes.
Blank had a quick response when asked if there was a fine line for crowd noise not allowed by the league.
"It's not really a fine line," Blank told The Associated Press. "I think what we've done in 2013 and 2014 was wrong. Anything that affects the competitive balance and fairness on the field, we're opposed to, as a league, as a club and as an owner. It's obviously embarrassing but beyond embarrassing it doesn't represent our culture and what we're about."
Blank said he expects the league to report its findings in two to three weeks.
The Falcons could be fined or penalized with the loss of a draft pick if found to have added fake crowd noise during the opposing team's huddles when they were trying to call a play.
"We've got some information internally," Blank said of the investigation. "Not all, clearly, until we see the full report. But we've dealt with it internally the best we can, which was limited because we haven't seen the report.
"We've gotten some information from the league but until we read the full report and until they publish their findings, we can't be totally clear. We've talked to a lot of people and we've cooperated and we'll be anxious to read the report."
The Falcons say 101 of 103 games have been sellouts since Blank bought the team in 2002. Actual turnouts declined during losing seasons the last two years.
Atlanta ranked 10th among the 32 NFL teams with its average home attendance of 72,130 in 2014. Construction is underway for a new $1.4 billion stadium which will replace the Georgia Dome in 2017. The new stadium will have a similar seating capacity.
NFL spokesman Greg Aiello on Monday said the league had no comment on the investigation.
COOPERSTOWN, N.Y. — When John Smoltz plopped down in a director’s chair inside the Baseball Hall of Fame and stared at all the bronze plaques on the walls, the moment was both magical and a bit overwhelming.
PHOENIX (AP) — Tom Brady knows what's next: more Super Bowl wins.
At least he hopes so.
The most successful quarterback of his era was still riding the high of his fourth NFL championship on the morning after New England's 28-24 victory over Seattle. Brady had every right to look back at his four touchdown passes against the NFL's top-ranked defense and beam. Instead, he was looking ahead.
"I am still kind of in the midst of my career," Brady said Monday before being presented with a car and his third Super Bowl MVP trophy, tying him with his boyhood idol, Joe Montana. "I just love the game. I love playing. I love representing our team."
That team — or previous versions of the Patriots he has quarterbacked — won three Super Bowls in four years, then lost in its next two trips to the big game. Brady knows how close the Patriots came to a third straight flop against the NFC champion, needing an interception with 20 seconds to go to clinch the crown.
"We've been on the other end of this two times in the last seven years, being ahead late in the game with the chance to win it, and not closing it out," Brady said of losses in 2008 and 2012 to the New York Giants. "I'm glad we had the opportunity to do it. Coach talked all week about how it was going to take all 60 minutes and it certainly did.
"It never broke our will. We were down 10 in the fourth quarter and (Seattle) being on the 1-yard line with 20 seconds left, but the guys never gave up. And you fight until the end and great things happen."
Brady knows all about great things, obviously. A two-time league MVP, he threw for four touchdowns against the NFL's stingiest defense, and led a comeback from a 10-point deficit through three quarters. He connected on all eight of his throws on the decisive drive that ended with a 3-yard TD pass to Julian Edelman.
Brady is 37 and has said he hopes to play well into his 40s, and he works hard to stay in top physical shape. So he doesn't see his winning toss to Edelman as his final Super Bowl moment.
But he certainly recognizes how difficult the journey is.
"Yeah, absolutely," he said. "I was a young kid when we won those first three. I know in '04 after we beat the Eagles, I was like, 'I'm just ready for this to be over, get the offseason started,' just because we had experienced it. Obviously, with some perspective of that game, it's a hard thing to get here and then it's a hard thing to win the game.
"Playing against the other best team, obviously, one play here, one play there, all things change, and we've been on the other end of that, too. So I'm just proud that we really got a chance to finish it out."
His coach, Bill Belichick, recognizes the value of a likely first-ballot Hall of Fame quarterback running his offense. When the Patriots were being dominated by the Seahawks in the third quarter Sunday, Belichick understood that if they could keep it close, they had the closer.
"He's a great player," Belichick said. "It's been a great privilege to coach Tom for the last 15 years, 14 years as starting quarterback. We have a great relationship. We meet on a regular basis weekly several times.
"I can't think of a more deserving player than Tom to be the recipient of the accolades that he has this week, and particularly last night and today here. He's our leader. He competes as well as any player I've ever coached. He's well-prepared. He has great poise and great presence. He may not always be perfect, as it is for any of us. We all have our moments, but Tom, like many other players on our team, is the guy that fights to the end and competes until the end.
"There's no player I respect more for that than Tom. That's been a great pillar of strength for our football team for the past decade and a half."
And, according to Brady, for a while into the future.