National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Astros fail to sign first pick in MLB draft

The Houston Astros failed to sign the first pick in this year's draft, San Diego high school left-hander Brady Aiken, before Friday's deadline.

The head of the players' association says the union is working with the pitcher and his advisers to explore "all legal options."

Aiken originally was offered a deal with a $6.5 million signing bonus by the Astros, a person familiar with the negotiations said earlier this week, speaking on condition of anonymity because no statements were authorized. But the club expressed a concern over Aiken's elbow ligament and lowered the offer, the person said.

The union is also concerned with Houston's handling of the negotiations with fifth-round pick Jacob Nix. The right-hander from Los Alamitos, California, didn't sign either.

"Today, two young men should be one step closer to realizing their dreams of becoming Major League ballplayers," union head Tony Clark said in a statement. "Because of the actions of the Houston Astros, they are not. The MLBPA, the players and their advisers are exploring all legal options."

The Astros insisted in a statement that their offer to Aiken "was extremely fair considering all the factors involved in this case."

"As always, we approached these negotiations in good faith and with the best interests of the Astros organization in mind, both short-term and long-term," the team said. "Throughout this entire process, we have absolutely acted within Major League Baseball's rules and guidelines, which MLB has confirmed on numerous occasions."

MLB Executive Vice President Dan Halem defended the team Tuesday and said "we fully support the Astros."

"We believe that they have conducted themselves appropriately," Halem added.

Aiken was just the third high school pitcher to be selected first overall when he was taken last month, joining fellow lefties Brien Taylor (1991, Yankees) and David Clyde (1973, Rangers). He was also the first high school lefty to be drafted in the first five picks since Adam Loewen went fourth overall to Baltimore in 2002. Both Aiken and Nix have committed to UCLA and are being advised by Casey Close.

The Astros were the first team to select first in three consecutive drafts, picking shortstop Carlos Correa in 2012 and right-hander Mark Appel last year.

Aiken has terrific control of a fastball that hits 96-97 mph, a knee-buckling curve and a tough changeup that sits in the low- to mid-80s. On draft day, Astros general manager Jeff Luhnow raved: "It's the most advanced high school pitcher I've ever seen in my entire career."

"He has command like I've never seen before of his stuff," the GM said.

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AP Sports Writer Dennis Waszak Jr. contributed to this report.

Woods shows his rust on rough day at Hoylake

HOYLAKE, England (AP) As his tee shot curled farther and farther away from the 17th fairway, heading toward all sorts of trouble, Tiger Woods simply stuffed his club in the bag.

He appeared to mumble something to himself, but that was about it.

No fiery outburst. No course language. No complaints about someone talking too loud, or being on the phone, or snapping a picture.

Shoulders slumping, Woods looked as though he had accepted his fate.

There won't be a 15th major championship.

Not at this British Open.

Woods needed a birdie at the final hole - his only one of the day - just to make the cut. He walked off the 18th with a 5-over 77, his worst Open round since that stormy day at Muirfield in 2002, and headed to the weekend a staggering 14 shots behind the leader, Rory McIlroy.

"Not very good," Woods said.

Indeed, it wasn't.

Woods made double-bogey at the first hole, a bogey at the second. Just like that, all the good vibes from a 69 in the opening round were wiped away, his score tumbling to even par. From there, it was a grind - 14 pars in a row as McIlroy pulled away.

Then came the 17th, where Woods made such a mess of things, he nearly missed the cut at a major for only the fourth time in his professional career. That aforementioned tee shot sailed out of bounds right of the fairway, though Woods didn't realize it until he had walked some 150 yards toward his ball.

Back to the tee box he trudged, to hit another after taking a one-stroke penalty. This time, Woods yanked it off in the tall grass to the left, between the 16th and 17th fairways. Four more shots were required to finish off a triple-bogey 7 that nearly finished off his hopes of getting in two more much-needed rounds.

Clearly, Woods is rusty after undergoing back surgery on March 31. He missed the Masters and the U.S. Open, finally returning to action at Congressional three weeks ago. He missed the cut in that event, and his opening round at Hoylake - five birdies in six holes on the back side - was merely an aberration.

There's a lot of work to do.

"I had some opportunities to make a few birdies along the way to get back to even par for the day, and I just never did," Woods said. "I just never made anything. I had myself in good positions to make birdies, and I just didn't do it."

More distressing for those in the Woods camp, his body language looked more and more defeated as McIlroy kept adding to what was a mere three-shot lead over Woods at the start of the round.

Woods sounded downright delusional when he brought up Paul Lawrie's comeback from a 10-shot deficit on the final day at Carnoustie in 1999.

That, of course, required Jean Van de Velde to essentially give the tournament away on the 72nd hole.

Hard to see McIlroy making such a blunder - and, even if he did, Woods' game being in any sort of shape to take advantage of it.

"I'm pretty far back," Woods conceded. "Luckily I've got two rounds to go. And hopefully I can do something like Paul did in `99. He made up, I think, 10 in one day. Hopefully I can play well on the weekend and at least give myself a shot at it going to the back nine on Sunday."

Actually, Woods' rehabilitation would seem to be a longer-term project.

He showed flashes of his once-dominant form - that stretch of birdies on Thursday, a testy chip over a pot bunker to set up a 6-footer for birdie at the 18th on Friday - but the consistency just isn't there. Too many errant drives. Too many iron shots that just weren't quite close enough to the flag. Too many putts that came up short or slid by the cup.

What made it all the more striking was the performance by McIlroy, usually considered the most likely player to succeed Woods as the face of the game.

The Boy Wonder from Northern Ireland made his second straight 66 look downright easy, barely breaking a sweat on the sticky day.

"He plays pretty aggressively to begin with," Woods said. "And when he's going, he can get it going pretty good."

That's what they used to say about Woods, who was only 32 when he won his 14th major championship.

Now he's 38, and still waiting to add another.

Hard to see that changing at Royal Liverpool.

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

LeBron James undecided on jersey No. 6 or 23

CLEVELAND (AP) LeBron James has to make another big decision.

The NBA superstar turned to social media Friday to help him choose which number he'll wear next season with the Cavaliers. James wrote "6 or 23...." on his Twitter account and posted photos on Instagram of him wearing No. 6 and No. 23 wine and gold Cavs jerseys.

James wore No. 6 during his four seasons with Miami and also on the U.S. Olympic team. He used No. 23 in high school and during seven seasons in Cleveland.

James has had the top-selling jersey in the NBA six times during his career.

His return to Cleveland has given the city a boost, and the Cavs quickly sold out their seasons tickets in the hours after his announcement. James signed a two-year, $42.1 million contract last week.

The 29-year-old will be welcomed back to his hometown of Akron on Aug. 8, his family's foundation announced Friday. The "Welcome Home LeBron Community Rally" will be held at InfoCision Stadium on the University of Akron's campus. The rally, following James' annual "Wheels for Education" event, will be James' first public appearance since he chose to re-sign with the Cavaliers over the Heat.

James recently returned from Brazil, where he watched the World Cup final between Germany and Argentina. He's scheduled to take a Nike-sponsored trip to China in the next few weeks.

Jerry Sandusky son alleges even worse abuse

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) Jerry Sandusky's adopted son Matthew said in a television interview Thursday that his sexual abuse at the former Penn State coach's hands consisted of oral sex, a more serious allegation than he made to detectives two years ago.

Matthew Sandusky spoke on "Oprah Prime" about abuse he says occurred when Jerry Sandusky would tuck him in during overnight stays at the Sandusky home in central Pennsylvania, after being instructed to wear only underwear or blue mesh shorts.

Jerry Sandusky would tickle, blow on his belly and wrestle on the floor, he said, and the encounters would gradually become more sexual.

"Then it's, then as I now know, it's oral sex," he told Oprah Winfrey. "He's doing that to you and it's very confusing, it's very confusing for you because you have a reaction, you know. It's something that you at that time you definitely don't know what's happening."

The claim of oral sex was specifically denied in an audiotape of his 29-minute interview with police detectives that NBC obtained at the time of Jerry Sandusky's 2012 trial.

Matt Sandusky told investigators two years ago that Jerry Sandusky had rubbed along or against his genitals but that he did not recall any penetration or oral sex. He said then that he was getting therapy and memories were coming back to him.

He told police he came forward to correct the record from his own grand jury testimony.

"So that they can really have closure and see what the truth actually is. And just to right the wrong, honestly, of going to the grand jury and lying," Matt Sandusky said two years ago. He was not called to testify, and Jerry Sandusky has not been charged with any crime in relation to his adopted son.

At bedtime in the Sandusky's home in State College, he told Winfrey, Jerry Sandusky's "ritual began."

"The overnight visits were - they were good. I mean, except for that one part, bedtime. Bedtime was the bad part. But any other time that we were in the home, that we were doing anything in the home with the family, it was fine," he said, but at bedtime, the older man's "ritual" began.

Matthew Sandusky said he recognized elements of his own abuse when he sat through courtroom testimony by a young man described in court as Victim 4, someone he knew better than any of the other seven who testified at the trial. Sandusky was convicted of various types of abuse of 10 boys, including all eight who testified.

"But his story isn't his story - it's my story," Matthew Sandusky told Winfrey. "At this point, that's where the door really opened up and it kind of just hit me from every single detail that this man is talking about."

He said he wonders if it wouldn't have been easier to simply keep quiet and not turn against his adopted father, knowing it would alienate family members who helped him in many ways over the years.

Matthew Sandusky said he believes that Jerry Sandusky does not think he harmed him or any of the other boys.

"I think that he believes, the things that he was doing to us, that was love to him," he told Winfrey. "That was him taking care of us. That was him being there for us when no other person would have been. So in his own - to me - warped way, I truly believe that he believed that he cared and that he was loving us."

Winfrey asked him how people can know that what he's saying is the truth and not an adaptation of Victim 4's experience.

"I would say my story has been well-documented," he said. "And if you really want to find out what my story is and you really can objectively look at it, it's in the record."

Jerry Sandusky, once Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno's assistant and heir apparent at Penn State University, is currently serving a 30- to 60-year sentence. He has lost an appeal to the state Supreme Court but maintains he is innocent.

Matt Sandusky is among those who have shared $60 million worth of civil settlements by Penn State.

Sabres re-sign C Ennis to 5-year $23 million deal

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) The Sabres re-signed center Tyler Ennis on Thursday to a five-year contract worth $23 million, addressing one of the final pieces of their offseason rebuilding plan.

Two people familiar with the agreement revealed the terms to The Associated Press. They spoke on the condition of anonymity because the Sabres referred to the contract only as a multiyear deal.

Ennis will make $7.3 million this season, $4.75 million in 2015-16, and $3.65 million in each of the final three seasons of the contract, one of the people said.

Ennis was a restricted free agent after the Sabres retained his rights by tendering him an offer last month. Buffalo has re-signed four of its five restricted free agents. Only forward Luke Adam remains unsigned.

Ennis is a speedy, playmaking forward who led the Sabres with a career-best 21 goals and added 22 assists in 80 games last season.

Last month, general manager Tim Murray spoke highly of Ennis and how he might help revive the team. Last season, the Sabres (21-51-10) finished last, set a franchise record for losses, and established a post-NHL-expansion-era low by scoring just 150 goals.

"I like his approach to the game. I like his compete level. I like his speed," Murray said. "There's a lot of things I like about him, and if we can do a long-term deal with him, then obviously the decision we've made is we'd go forward with him."

Ennis was the second of Buffalo's two 2008 first-round draft picks. He is a two-time 20-goal scorer and has 69 goals and 97 assists in 267 games over four-plus seasons with the Sabres.

Murray has already been busy restocking the Sabres this summer.

Buffalo made a splash in free agency by signing forwards Matt Moulson and Brian Gionta and defensemen Josh Gorges and Andrej Meszaros. Center Sam Reinhart, selected with the No. 2 pick in the draft last month, will also have a shot at making the team.

49ers open posh, high-tech stadium in Santa Clara

SANTA CLARA, Calif. (AP) San Francisco 49ers CEO Jed York got a little teary on his drive to Levi's Stadium on Thursday. His voice cracked while talking about taking his young son to games at the stadium for years to come.

Others had a different reaction upon walking into the building: Wow!

With confetti streaming down under a blue sky, the 49ers officially opened the $1.2 billion stadium in Santa Clara with a ribbon-cutting ceremony complete with all the opulence of their new home.

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh, linebacker Patrick Willis and left tackle Joe Staley joined York and others on stage to cut the ribbons.

They used oversized red scissors with gold-colored blades in keeping with team colors. Hard-hat wearing construction workers lined the steps in fluorescent yellow jackets as team employees cheered and a fog horn blared.

"This is a long time in the making," York said.

The stadium's opening put one of the NFL's flagship franchises on firm footing and planted the country's most popular sports league in technology-rich Silicon Valley for the first time.

Goodell called it a milestone for the league. He also added a twist to the ceremony by addressing the looming stadium issue just up the road in Oakland, where the Raiders have long been searching for a replacement to the outdated Coliseum.

Goodell said it's up to the Raiders to decide whether they want to try to build a stadium in Oakland or share the facility at Levi's Stadium with the 49ers - an idea York has never dismissed.

Raiders owner Mark Davis has said he doesn't want to be a renter in the 49ers' facility, which is now fitted with red seats and posters of past and present San Francisco greats.

The 49ers' new home, which is the first LEED Gold Certified stadium in the NFL for its environmentally friendly design, will hold about 68,500 fans and has the ability to expand to 75,000 for Super Bowl 50 in February 2016. The facility features 165 luxury suites, 9,000 club seats and even a green roof-top deck that includes solar panels and harvested herbs for on-site food preparation.

Free Wi-Fi will be available at the stadium, and a smartphone application will allow fans to have food delivered to any seat and check waiting lines at concession stands and bathrooms.

"The stadium reflects the greatness of the region, the technology and the innovation," Goodell said.

The seats in the lower bowl will hold some 45,000, or two-thirds of stadium capacity, and will be the largest first level in the NFL. All club levels look out to the field in one direction and the surrounding valley and mountains in another. It's 35 rows up to the first club seating area, while Row 1 of the stadium is about 10 feet off the field.

The only lingering stadium concerns from most 49ers fans involve the traffic in an already congested area and rising ticket prices.

And, of course, some are still bitter about the team leaving San Francisco, where the team tried and failed for decades to get a new stadium.

Levi's Stadium, steps away from the 49ers' practice facility, is about 45 miles south of downtown San Francisco - the longest distance any team in the league has to the city that bears its name. The 49ers had played in San Francisco since their establishment in 1946, including the past 43 years at Candlestick Park, as the team won all five of its Super Bowl titles.

The whipping wind and cold air from the city's famous fog made conditions constantly change at Candlestick, which is set to be demolished. That's far from the near year-round sunshine - and temperatures that can be 20-25 degrees warmer - in Santa Clara, where most players and coaches already live.

The 49ers will host Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos in the first preseason game at Levi's Stadium on Aug. 17. The first regular-season game will be against Chicago on Sept. 14, a Sunday night.

The first event at Levi's Stadium will be a Major League Soccer game between the San Jose Earthquakes and the Seattle Sounders on Aug. 2.

Other major events include the Pac-12 championship game, the upgraded San Francisco bowl game - formerly known as the Fight Hunger Bowl - and a regular-season college football game between California and Oregon.

York said the only promise he has not delivered on with the stadium is a Super Bowl title, and he joked with players and coaches in attendance that there's "no pressure, guys."

He also said the 49ers will hold a parade on Market Street in San Francisco when - not if - they win another Super Bowl title.

"Now," he said, "it's time to make some new memories in our new home."

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Online:

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

NBA's Bill Russell collapses during Tahoe speech

INCLINE VILLAGE, Nev. (AP) Celtics officials say NBA Hall of Famer Bill Russell is doing OK after collapsing during a speaking engagement near Lake Tahoe.

Team spokesman Brian Olive says the 80-year-old Russell felt faint after the Thursday morning fall at the Hyatt Regency resort in Incline Village, Nevada, but was planning on returning home to Seattle this evening.

Witness Michael Rooney tells The Associated Press that Russell was telling a story about Wilt Chamberlain to a roomful of Konica Minolta employees when he started to sway at the podium and then fell backward.

Rooney says Russell seemed to be conscious as hotel personnel and first responders came to his aid. The meeting was cut short and attendees left.

Russell, a five-time NBA MVP, is considered one of the best players in basketball history.

He won 11 championships in 13 years as a center with the Celtics. As a player-coach for the last two, he was the first black head coach in a major U.S. pro sport.

He was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 1975, was awarded the Presidential Medal of Freedom in 2010 and was honored last year with a statue outside Boston's City Hall.

Great stretch gives Tiger Woods good start

HOYLAKE, England (AP) The warm ovation Tiger Woods heard walking up the 18th fairway at Royal Liverpool sounded familiar, even if the circumstances were not.

Eight years ago it was because he was about to win the British Open.

Thursday was because he played.

Woods returned to the majors for the first time in 11 months on Thursday and gave thousands of fans perched along the hillocks what they wanted to see - a three-time Open champion looking as if he has the game to win another one.

He atoned for a bogey-bogey start with five birdies in a six-hole stretch at the end for a 3-under 69. Woods was three shots behind Rory McIlroy after a gorgeous day of sunshine and mild wind along the Irish Sea.

He was neither surprised nor satisfied. It felt like the other 250 rounds he has played in the majors as a pro.

"I knew I could do it," Woods said. "That's why I was telling you guys it was so important for me to play at Congressional. The fact that I was able to recover every day, and the fact that I was strong, more explosive the more days I played. ... I'm only going to get better from that point."

Woods had back surgery March 31 that caused him to miss the Masters for the first time, and then the U.S. Open. He returned earlier than he expected at Congressional three weeks ago and missed the cut by four shots. His short game was shabby and he made more mental mistakes than birdies.

The start of this round didn't look much different.

He missed the green with a 7-iron and drew such a tough lie on the downslope of the pot bunker that he had no chance stopping it anywhere near the pin. The shot went across and off the green, and Woods had to get up-and-down for bogey. Then, he badly misjudged the speed of a long birdie try and three-putted for bogey.

Two holes, 2 over.

Even more disturbing was his shot from behind the fourth green after going long with a wedge. Woods used his putter from 30 feet away and came up 8 feet short.

"I hit that putt in practice rounds and I know it's slower," Woods said. "It's more lush over there. There's more grain. It's thicker. I took that into account and still left it 8 feet short. But I buried that one, which was nice."

Two putts seemed to make a difference in his round. That par putt on No. 4 kept him from going 3 over, and a 30-foot putt for birdie from just off the 11th green appeared to make him swing more freely. The next tee shot with a 3-wood was as good as any swing all day, and it set up a 6-iron into 6 feet for a second straight birdie. It also marked the first time Woods was under par at a tournament since March 9 at Doral, the last one he played before back surgery.

He followed that with a 6-iron that left him 7 feet away for birdie on the par-3 13th. After a bogey set up by a 3-wood into the left rough, Woods answered with a 7-iron on an aggressive line to 15 feet for birdie on the par-3 15th, and then a simple birdie on the par-5 16th.

The 16th hole was the first - and only time - he used driver all day.

By pure numbers, Woods went 71 holes over eight years without using a driver in competition at Hoylake. The only driver he hit in 2006 when he won was on the 16th hole of the opening round. He put that in the adjacent 17th fairway. Royal Liverpool is greener and longer this year, and most players were using a few more drivers.

The one driver he hit made Woods curse. He tugged it left and figured it was headed for a pot bunker.

"I wanted to start it in that first bunker and hit a hard pull-cut," he said. "And I hit more a pulled straight ball. I didn't think it was going to miss that bunker."

He did, and then put his second shot just short of the green and in an easy spot to chip close for birdie.

Woods was tempted to try to squeeze one more birdie out of his round. His second shot went into a pot bunker just left of the green on the par-5 18th. The lie was good, but the back lip of the bunker slightly restricted his swing. He blasted out to 15 feet and took two putts for par.

"I could have gotten a little more greedy," Woods said. "But there's really no point."

It was Thursday. As long as he's been away, Woods knows as well as anyone there's still a long way to go.

Rosberg changes World Cup helmet on FIFA complaint

HOCKENHEIM, Germany (AP) Formula One leader Nico Rosberg ditched plans to put an image of the World Cup trophy on his helmet for the upcoming German Grand Prix following a complaint from FIFA.

The German driver wanted to commemorate his country's World Cup win with a specially designed helmet that also featured the German colors.

But FIFA complained that featuring the trophy on the helmet would breach its "intellectual property" rights.

"We appreciate Nico Rosberg's desire to congratulate the German team and have therefore been in discussions with the Rosberg team, who have now found a solution whereby he will still be able to show his support for Germany without using FIFA's intellectual property in a commercial context," FIFA said in a statement on Thursday.

"FIFA brands cannot be allowed to be shown on a commercially branded helmet."

Rosberg will race instead with a modified helmet featuring four golden stars, one for each of Germany's World Cup wins.

"It's amazing that even a trophy has a trademark," Rosberg said. "I was surprised, but of course I understand. It's a pity because the helmet looked really cool with the trophy on top. It's been replaced by a big star. No one can take that away. The star belongs to us!"

Earlier, the driver tweeted: "a shame,i would have loved to carry the trophy as a tribute to the guys.but of course I respect the legal situation."

Rosberg's team, Mercedes, was also showing its appreciation for Germany's football triumph at its home grand prix.

"The best" was written in large letters on the side of the team's motorhome, and "We congratulate our national team on winning the title."

Rosberg leads the championship by four points from teammate Lewis Hamilton.

DE Hardy faces uncertain future with Panthers

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) The Panthers must decide how Pro Bowl defensive end Greg Hardy's conviction on charges of assault on a female and communicating threats will impact his long-term future in Carolina.

Carolina made Hardy its franchise player in March, signing him to a one-year, $13.1 million deal after a 15-sack season. But talks of a long-term deal fizzled after Hardy was first arrested May 13 for assaulting his ex-girlfriend and threatening to kill her after she said he "snapped" in his apartment following a night of partying.

The Panthers could release Hardy for conduct detrimental to the team, but there's no guarantee they'd recoup his hefty salary.

The Panthers issued a statement after Tuesday night's guilty verdict saying they respect the legal process and don't have a comment right now. Hardy, sentenced to a suspended 60-day jail sentence and given 18 months of probation, has appealed the conviction and will have a jury trial at a later date.

Panthers owner Jerry Richardson declined comment to The Associated Press regarding Hardy's future.

But some former Panthers said the guilty verdict won't sit well with Richardson, who has shied away from signing players who might shed a negative light on the organization.

Former defensive end Mike Rucker said the team is naturally sensitive to the topic of domestic violence since the Rae Carruth ordeal. Carruth, a former Panthers wide receiver, was found guilty in 2001 of conspiring to murder his girlfriend, Cherica Adams, who was carrying his child. Carruth was sentenced to 18 to 24 years and remains in prison.

"This subject hits home for everybody that has been around the organization or followed the organization from the beginning," Rucker said. "If you were around during that (Carruth) period of time it might be in the back of your mind, but it's definitely still there."

The Panthers can't sign Hardy to an extension until after the season. That deadline passed Tuesday, about the same time the accuser in the domestic abuse bench trial talked on the stand. She said Hardy beat her up and threatened to kill her following a disagreement about her brief relationship with rapper Nelly.

"He looked me in my eyes and he told me he was going to kill me," said the 24-year-old accuser, who is a cocktail waitress in Charlotte. "I was so scared I wanted to die. When he loosened his grip slightly, I said just, `Do it. Kill me."'

Bill Polian, who served as Carolina's general manager from 1994-97, said if he were making the calls the conviction would "absolutely" have an impact on whether Hardy would get a long-term contract.

"It's a very serious issue and one they have to deal with," Polian said.

Center Frank Garcia, who played with the Panthers in the late `90s, said he believes Tuesday's guilty verdict could keep the team from signing Hardy to a long-term deal.

In fact, Garcia isn't entirely convinced Hardy makes it to this season.

"I think Jerry Richardson is turning in his bed deciding what decision to make right now," Garcia said. "And I think it's a 50-50 proposition. ... It has to be a disturbing thing for him and a disturbing thing for the Carolina Panthers."

Garcia said the Panthers have been trying to clean up their image ever since the Carruth ordeal.

Another concern with Hardy is the accuser's statement she used cocaine the night Hardy assaulted her, leaving the team to wonder about the people he associates with off the field.

"Jerry Richardson doesn't mess around," Garcia said. "He wants a clean image. And we've seen it time and time again where they've bypassed quality free agents - guys who might have been able to come in and make an impact - just because of their image or something in their background."

Coincidentally, Hardy's first court appearance in May came on the same day the Panthers hosted a breakfast at their stadium for "Men For Change," a group that serves victims of domestic violence.

Polian said he isn't sure if the Panthers would be more sensitive to domestic violence issues than other NFL teams.

"The bottom line is it's an awful situation," Polian said. "A person with incredible strength that is assaulting woman. That's just unacceptable."

Floyd Mayweather on Ronda Rousey: 'I don't know who he is'

Ronda Rousey is keenly aware of boxing pound-for-pound king Floyd Mayweather's credentials. It seems that Mayweather is not as familiar with hers -- or her gender, for that matter.

Asked in an interview with BoxingScene.com for his thoughts on Rousey, the bombshell mixed-martial arts star and the first and current UFC women's bantamweight champion, a confused Mayweather came up empty.

"I actually ... I don't even know who he is," Mayweather said.

Rousey made headlines recently with her assertion that she could beat Mayweather in an MMA-style street fight. She was backed up by UFC president and promoter Dana White, who told USA Today, "you take a street fight, Ronda wins that fight and hurts him badly."

Rousey began her career as a judoka, competing at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games and becoming the first-ever American woman to win an Olympic judo medal when she captured bronze in Beijing. She's since parlayed that into a successful MMA career that's seen her go undefeated en route to capturing the aforementioned championship, as well as a successful media career, including appearances in ESPN The Magazine's 2012 body issue, Maxim's 2013 hot 100 and appearances in the upcoming films Fast & Furious 7 and The Expendables 3.

Mayweather won a bronze medal in boxing at the 1996 Atlanta Games and has compiled a perfect 46-0 career mark while capturing world titles across five different weight classes over the course of his 18-year professional career. He'll next get in the ring on Sept. 13 in a rematch with Marcos Maidana, whom Mayweather defeated via majority decision in a highly contested bout in May.

Alabama-USC set to play in 2016 Cowboys Classic

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) Alabama and Southern California are set for their first regular-season matchup since some storied games in the 1970s.

The Crimson Tide and the Trojans will play in the 2016 Cowboys Classic in Arlington, Texas. The Labor Day weekend season opener at the Dallas Cowboys' stadium will be held Sept. 3, 2016.

The last time Alabama and USC met in the regular season was 1978, when the Crimson Tide were the AP national champions and the Trojans finished No. 1 in the UPI poll. Alabama's only loss that season was 24-14 to USC.

Defending national champion Florida State plays Oklahoma State in this year's Cowboys Classic on Aug. 30.

Alabama is also playing in the 2015 kickoff game, against Wisconsin. The Crimson Tide beat Michigan 41-14 in the 2012 game.

Report: Hornets land SG Stephenson

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) Lance Stephenson is bringing his swag to Charlotte.

The controversial shooting guard has agreed to a $27 million, three-year deal with the Hornets, according to a person familiar with the contract. The deal includes a team option for the third season.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on Wednesday on condition of anonymity because the deal has not yet been made public. The person says Stephenson is expected to be introduced at a press conference Friday.

Stephenson wrote on Twitter: "Indy, I had a great 4 years. Thank you Larry Bird, the fans, my coaches and teammates for the incredible experience. I will never forget any of you! I now have to look to the next phase of my career and the wonderful opportunity to continue to grow as a player and as a person in Charlotte! I'm excited to play for this franchise and the fans!! (hash)buzzcity."

Stephenson met with Hornets owner Michael Jordan and other members of the organization Tuesday night in Las Vegas to make sure he was a good fit before agreeing to the deal.

The Pacers had offered Stephenson a five-year, $44 million contract but he chose to sign for fewer years.

"While we tried our best to come to the best possible terms for both sides, there was not sufficient flexibility in the terms of the contract, particularly the length of the contract," his agent Alberto Ebanks said in a statement. "Lance will miss the city, the team and the mentor who helped transform him into the dynamic player he has become. He looks forward to making a strong contribution and beginning a new chapter with the Charlotte Hornets.

"Lance is forever grateful for all the love he's received from Pacers fans. He is especially grateful to his teammates, Frank Vogel, Herb Simon, the Pacers management and most of all, Larry Bird."

The 6-foot-5 Stephenson is coming off his best NBA season, averaging 13.8 points, 7.2 rebounds and 4.6 assists per game. He led the league with five triple-doubles.

Just as important, Stephenson brings some needed playoff experience and toughness to a team an organization that failed to win a postseason game during the past 10 seasons. Stephenson averaged 13.4 points and 6.4 rebounds in 40.2 minutes per game during the Eastern Conference finals.

Stephenson was not Charlotte's first choice.

The Hornets turned their attention to Stephenson after Utah matched its offer to restricted free agent Gordon Hayward.

Stephenson certainly comes with his share of issues.

Outspoken and emotional, Stephenson had 17 technical fouls last season - third-most in the NBA. He plays the game with confidence, intensity and toughness.

During the Eastern Conference playoffs he challenged LeBron James and the Miami Heat with his words and later whispered in James' ear during Game 5. Miami won the series. He was also involved in a scuffle after practice with teammate Evan Turner during the playoffs.

Still, the Hornets couldn't ignore Stephenson's shooting, upgrading a team that finished in the bottom third of the league in 3-pointers made and 3-point field goal percentage.

The 23-year-old Stephenson shot 49 percent from the field last season and 35 percent from 3-point range. He is a 32.5 percent shooter from 3-point land for his career.

Gerald Henderson was last year's starting shooting guard. But with the addition of Stephenson and first-round draft pick P.J. Hairston it's unclear if the team will try to move Henderson this offseason.

Stephenson, who has averaged 9.1 points per game for his career, will leave a big hole on the Pacers roster.

DA cites evidence of Hernandez fiancee perjury

FALL RIVER, Mass. (AP) Prosecutors have spelled out what they say is evidence that the fiancee of former New England Patriot Aaron Hernandez lied to the grand jury that indicted him on a murder charge, including comments she made about a box she discarded at Hernandez's direction.

In a filing Tuesday in Fall River Superior Court, the prosecution listed more than a dozen instances in which it says it has evidence contradicting Shayanna Jenkins' testimony to the grand jury investigating the 2013 shooting death of Odin Lloyd.

Jenkins has pleaded not guilty to perjury. Defense attorney Janice Bassil has moved to dismiss the charge. A message left Wednesday for Bassil seeking comment wasn't immediately returned.

A judge had ordered the additional information turned over following defense complaints.

Hernandez, 24, has pleaded not guilty in the shooting death of Lloyd, a semi-professional football player from Boston who was dating Jenkins' sister.

Prosecutors have said that most of Jenkins' testimony wasn't credible, including about getting rid of a box from the basement of her and Hernandez's North Attleborough, Massachusetts, home. Jenkins told grand jurors she couldn't remember where she threw out the box, which she put in a trash bag, covered with baby clothes, they have said.

Prosecutors haven't disclosed what they think the box contained. Jenkins was granted immunity before she testified.

In Tuesday's filing, prosecutors claim they have direct evidence that contradicts Jenkins' testimony "concerning how, why and the manner in which she removed the items from the home." It says the same of her claim that she didn't attempt to hide the box when taking it from the house and that she hadn't spoken to Ernest Wallace after Lloyd's killing.

Wallace, described by prosecutors as Hernandez's right-hand man, has also been charged with murder. He has pleaded not guilty.

Jenkins is free on personal recognizance.

Jeter, Trout lead AL over NL 5-3 in All-Star game

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Derek Jeter soaked in the adulation from fans and players during one more night on baseball's national stage, set the tone for the American League with a pregame speech and then delivered two final All-Star hits.

Mike Trout, perhaps the top candidate to succeed the 40-year-old Yankees captain as the face of the game, seemed ready to assume the role with a tiebreaking triple and later a go-ahead double that earned the 22-year-old MVP honors.

On a summer evening filled with reminders of generational change, the AL kept up nearly two decades of dominance by beating the National League 5-3 Tuesday for its 13th win in 17 years.

"I think let Mike be Mike. I don't think people have to necessarily appoint someone to a particular position," Jeter said. "He's got a bright future ahead of him. I don't know how much better he can get, but if he consistently does what he's doing, then he will be here for a long time."

Miguel Cabrera hit a two-run homer to help give the AL champion home-field advantage for the World Series.

No matter what else happened, from the start it seemed destined to be another special event for Jeter.

He made a diving stop on Andrew McCutchen's grounder to shortstop leading off the game and nearly threw him out at first, then received a 63-second standing ovation when he walked to the plate before his opposite-field double to right leading off the bottom half. He was given another rousing cheer before his single to right starting the third and 2 1-2 minutes more applause after AL manager John Farrell sent Alexei Ramirez to shortstop to replace him at the start of the fourth.

As Frank Sinatra's recording of "New York, New York" boomed over the Target Field speakers and his parents watched from the stands, Jeter repeatedly waved to the crowd, exchanged handshakes and hugs with just about every person in the AL dugout and then came back onto the field for a curtain call.

"It was a special moment and it was unscripted," Jeter said. "I was unaware of it."

NL manager Mike Matheny of the Cardinals didn't want it to stop.

"The guys on our side have the utmost respect for him and would like to have been standing out there for a little while longer," he said. "I think Derek was the one that was uncomfortable with it."

While not as flashy as Mariano Rivera's All-Star farewell at Citi Field last year, when all the other players left the great reliever alone on the field for an eighth-inning solo bow, Jeter tried not to make a fuss and to deflect the attention.

Even during his clubhouse speech.

"He just wanted to thank us," Trout said. "You know, we should be thanking him."

A 14-time All-Star who was MVP of the 2000 game in Atlanta, Jeter announced in February this will be his final season. His hits left him with a .481 All-Star average (13 for 27), just behind Charlie Gehringer's .500 record (10 for 20) for players with 20 or more at-bats.

While the Yankees are .500 at the break and in danger of missing the postseason in consecutive years for the first time in two decades, Jeter and the Angels' Trout gave a boost to whichever AL team reaches the World Series.

The AL improved to 9-3 since the All-Star game started deciding which league gets Series home-field advantage; 23 of the last 28 titles were won by teams scheduled to host four of a possible seven games.

Detroit's Max Scherzer, in line to be the most-prized free agent pitcher after the season, pitched a scoreless fifth for the win, and Glen Perkins got the save in his home ballpark.

Target Field, a $545 million, limestone-encased jewel that opened in 2010, produced an All-Star cycle just eight batters in, with hitters showing off flashy neon-bright spikes and fielders wearing All-Star caps with special designs for the first time.

With the late sunset - the sky didn't darken until the fifth inning, well after 9 o'clock - there was bright sunshine when Jeter was cheered before his first at-bat. He was introduced by a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard's deep monotone. St. Louis pitcher Adam Wainwright left his glove on the mound and backed up toward second, clapping along with the crowd of 41,048.

"I tried to tell him to pick it up - let's go," Jeter said. "But he took a moment and let the fans give me an ovation which I will always remember."

When Jeter finally stepped into the batter's box, he took a ball and lined a 90 mph cutter down the right-field line for a double.

"I was going to give him a couple pipe shots just to - he deserved it," Wainwright said. "I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better."

After those in-game remarks created a stir on the Internet, Wainwright amended himself: "It was mis-said. I hope people realize I'm not intentionally giving up hits out there."

Trout, who finished second to Cabrera in AL MVP voting in each of the last two seasons, became the youngest All-Star MVP, about 3 1-2 months older than Ken Griffey Jr. was in 1992.

Playing in his third All-Star game, Trout followed Jeter in the first by tripling off the right-field wall. Cabrera's homer - just the fourth in the last six All-Star games - made it 3-0, but the NL tied it on consecutive RBI doubles by Chase Utley and Jonathan Lucroy off Jon Lester in the second and Lucroy's run-scoring double against Chris Sale in the fourth.

Trout put the AL ahead for good with an RBI double in the fifth - a bouncer over third base against Pat Neshek, the St. Louis reliever who grew up in the Minneapolis suburbs and started his career with the Twins. Jose Altuve followed with a sacrifice fly off Tyler Clippard.

Raised in New Jersey, Trout saw a lot of Jeter and said all week he felt honored to play alongside him.

"Growing up I was setting goals to myself that when I get - if I ever get the chance to get - to the big leagues, that's how I want to play," Trout said. "And the way he carries himself on and off the field, how he respects the game - always hustling, it doesn't matter what the score is. If they are down 10 runs, he is always running the ball out. That's how I want to play."

NOTES: The NL holds a 43-40 advantage, with ties in 1961 and 2002. ... Neshek's brother works on the grounds crew at Target Field.

All-Star farewell: Jeter takes bow, hits double

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Derek Jeter was a huge hit from the very start in his final All-Star game.

Batting leadoff for the American League, the 40-year-old shortstop for the New York Yankees soaked in an ovation that lasted more than a minute at Target Field, then seized the moment Tuesday night by hitting a double.

Jeter soon crossed the plate for the game's first run. After three innings of action, he was ceremonially removed from his familiar position in the field to one more round of revering cheers as his mom, dad, sister and nephew watched from the stands.

"It's been fun family time for us," Jeter said during the American League's 5-3 win.

The double was one of Jeter's classic, opposite-field line drives to right. He singled to right field in his next at-bat, too, raising his All-Star batting average to a robust .481 - 13 hits in 27 at-bats. That's the second-best of all time for players with 20 or more at-bats, behind Hall of Famer Charlie Gehringer.

OK, so maybe NL starter Adam Wainwright admitted he threw something juicy for Jeter to hit.

"I was going to give him a couple pipe shots," the right-hander said. "He deserved it."

After the remarks caused much commentary on the Internet, Wainwright said he mis-spoke.

"What I meant to say was I'm intentionally trying to throw a strike to get him out. It's what I do most of the time, almost all the time," he said. "`Piping one' is the wrong window for that. It really is. If I'm going to get taken to the slaughterhouse for saying a stupid phrase, then I deserve it. What can you do?"

Jeter didn't think he was being given a gift and thought Wainwright was throwing hard.

"He grooved them?" he asked. "I don't know, man. ... If he grooved it, thank you. You still have to hit it."

Jeter showed off in the field, too.

In the top of the first, he made a slick, diving stop on Andrew McCutchen's sharp groundball up the middle. Jeter got to his feet and fired an on-target throw to first base, but the fleet-footed McCutchen was too fast, just beating it out for a leadoff single.

McCutchen smiled and pointed at Jeter, who grinned back at the reigning NL MVP.

The Yankees captain also had a few words for his teammates. AL manager John Farrell of Boston asked Jeter to speak to the players in the clubhouse before the game.

"Just said a couple things," Jeter said.

This was the 14th time Jeter was picked as an All-Star. He's set to retire after this season. When Jeter stepped to the plate, the crowd gave him a 63-second ovation, prompting him to wave, nod and tip his helmet several times.

Wainwright, who spoke the day before about how proud he would be to pitch to Jeter on this memorable occasion, backed up toward second base and left his glove on the mound so he could clap along with everyone else at the ballpark.

"For him to do that meant a lot to me," Jeter said.

With a wide smile, Jeter shouted a few words toward the St. Louis ace, good-naturedly encouraging him to get the inning going.

"Just saying, `Dude, I'm not going anywhere until this ovation is starting to die down,"' Wainwright said. "So he was telling me to go, and I just thought he deserved it."

Fittingly, a recording of late Yankees public address announcer Bob Sheppard's famous monotone introduction was played as he walked up for his at-bat with thousands of smartphones snapping away in the seats: "Now batting, for the American League, from the New York Yankees, the shortstop, No. 2, Derek Jeter, No. 2."

The tribute came right after a national television audience tuned to Fox saw a Nike commercial that featured the likes of Michael Jordan, Jay-Z and Rudolph Giuliani paying their respects to the captain. Right after that, he connected on the second pitch from Wainwright.

"I didn't know he was going to hit a double, or I would have changed my mind on that," Wainwright said. "I thought he was going to hit something hard to the right side for a single or an out. I probably should have pitched him a little bit better."

In the third, Jeter took Cincinnati ace Alfredo Simon to a full count before his single.

Then, right before the fourth inning began, Jeter was taken out for Alexei Ramirez and the captain jogged off. With Frank Sinatra's "New York, New York" playing on the stadium speakers, he waved to the crowd and exchanged hugs and handshakes in the AL dugout and then took a curtain call before the game resumed.

Earlier in the day, Jeter was the first player to ride down the red carpet that was rolled out for downtown parade of the game's greats, from their hotel to the ballpark about 10 blocks away. The hearty ovations started there, while Jeter rode with his parents and other family members, who came to Minneapolis for the event.

"I think everyone WANTS it to sink in that this is my last," Jeter said in the clubhouse before batting practice, "but I'm just trying to enjoy it while I'm here and stop thinking about this is the last one."

Commissioner Bud Selig said Major League Baseball has been discussing ways to formally honor Jeter as he enters the final few months of his career.

"If you were sitting two decades ago and you said, `Boy, this is a guy I want to be the face of baseball and be what this generation will remember,' you couldn't have written a script like this," Selig said. "He is just remarkable."

Silver: No guarantee Sterling out by season start

LAS VEGAS (AP) Eyebrow-raising testimony, abrupt changes of plans, courtroom delays. If there is one thing NBA Commissioner Adam Silver has learned during the Donald Sterling saga, it's that there are no guarantees.

So when Silver was asked Tuesday if he could say Sterling would not own the Los Angeles Clippers by the time next season comes around, he said he could not.

"It's very difficult to say anything with certainty in a situation like this," Sterling said after the Board of Governors' meeting. "I can say with certainty we are doing everything in our power to move Donald out as an owner in the NBA."

Sterling, who was banned by the NBA for life for making racist remarks, is challenging his wife Shelly's planned sale of the Clippers for $2 billion to Microsoft CEO Steve Ballmer in court. A judge recently delayed the next hearing until July 21, and closing arguments are scheduled for July 28.

When Ballmer originally reached an agreement with Shelly Sterling to buy the team, the planned timeline included an approval vote by the board on Tuesday. But the court case has pushed everything back well past the expiration of Ballmer's offer. The deadline can be extended, and Silver said the league is waiting for the process to play out.

"We're in essence on hold since that sale is being challenged by her husband as to whether she has the right," Silver said. "If the court finds in her favor, the sale will move forward. If not, we will move forward with our own proceedings."

Before Shelly Sterling agreed to sell the team to Ballmer, the NBA was moving forward with a plan to terminate Sterling's ownership of the team. During the trial, Shelly Sterling testified that she discussed with Silver the possibility of his lifetime ban being reduced to help facilitate a sale of the team.

"It's accurate that we had the conversation," Silver said. "Shelly and I had several conversations over the course of the last few months in which Shelly proposed all kinds of things to me. And frankly it's never been quite clear if she's able to speak for Donald."

Silver said he asked for a proposal in writing from Donald Sterling, but never received one.

Donald Sterling, who at one point in the proceedings called his wife "a pig" in the courtroom, contends she has no right under a family trust that owns the Clippers to single-handedly sell the team. Shelly Sterling contends she has the authority and two doctors hired by her testified that her 80-year-old husband has Alzheimer's disease and is mentally incapable to act as administrator of the trust.

Rather than holding a vote for approval of Ballmer as an owner, the advisory/finance committee met with him.

"We had an excellent session with him and he talked to us about his passion for NBA basketball and his desire and interest in owning the team," Silver said.

In other news from the meetings:

-Silver said the league's new replay center will open in September and be used on an experimental basis in the WNBA and NBA preseason games. Officials at the center will be able to review calls in question, but the final decision will still be made by the officials in the arena.

-The Competition Committee broached the subject of a midseason tournament similar to the FA Cup in English soccer. "We're looking at other opportunities in the league to create excitement," Silver said.

-The board heard a review of officiating and Silver said they are "satisfied" with the state of refereeing in the game. "I'm very focused on the public perception of our officiating," he said, "and we want to make sure that the public has complete confidence in the integrity of our game and the integrity of our officiating, and that's something we continue to talk about and look for ways frankly to improve that."

-Of course, Silver couldn't resist putting his personal take on gambling on the record in Sin City: "I personally enjoy being here, although I don't gamble as the Commissioner of the NBA for the record. Not because there's anything wrong with it, I just don't think I should be gambling as the Commissioner."

Dwyane Wade re-signs with Miami Heat

Dwyane Wade is staying with the Miami Heat, and his latest deal is designed to give both the player and the only franchise he's ever known some flexibility in the coming years.

Wade signed a new contract with the Heat on Tuesday. It's a two-year deal, the second of those seasons a player option, said a person familiar with the situation. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because neither side announced terms.

"I am proud to have spent every single day of my career as a member of the Miami Heat and to have brought three championship titles to this great city," Wade said in a statement. "I've been here through the good times and the hard times. I have confidence in the Miami Heat organization and the team they are building."

Earlier Tuesday, Wade tweeted "Home Is Where The Heart Is... My Home,My City,My House" and attached a photo of himself standing below the three NBA championship banners that hang at Miami's home arena.

Financial terms were not announced, though it's expected Wade's salary for next season will not reach the $20.2 million he would have made under his previous contract.

Heat President Pat Riley confirmed that Wade again bought into the Heat mantra of sacrifice. The contract he signed four years ago left millions on the bargaining-room table, in part to make the deals with LeBron James, Chris Bosh and Udonis Haslem happen.

"Dwyane has been the franchise cornerstone for this team since the day he arrived 11 years ago," Riley said. "He has shown his commitment to the Heat many times over the course of his career and has always been willing to sacrifice in order to help build this team into a champion. This time is no different."

Wade's return was expected, yet still represents a huge win for Miami during free agency - especially since it comes less than a week after James left the Heat after four seasons and returned to the Cleveland Cavaliers.

So now, what was the "Big 3" is a "Big 2." Bosh is in the process of finishing a $118 million, five-year contract with Miami.

Also Tuesday, the Heat signed Luol Deng to a two-year, $20 million deal, which was agreed to over the weekend.

"Luol Deng is one of the most important free agent signings that we have ever had in the history of the franchise," Riley said. "He is a proven All-Star and quintessential team player, both as a scorer, as well as an All-NBA defender. He brings the attitude of a warrior and competes every single night against the very, very best."

Miami also announced the signing of small forward James Ennis, who has been one of the team's summer-league standouts this year. Ennis was the 50th pick in the 2013 draft and spent last season playing in Australia.

Wade is entering his 12th Heat season and is the franchise's all-time leader in games, points, assists and steals. He and Haslem, who is also expected to complete a new two-year contract with Miami in the coming days, are the only players to appear on all three of the Heat teams that won NBA championships in 2006, 2012 and 2013.

He was limited to 54 games last season, in large part because of a maintenance program designed to limit wear and tear on his knees. But when he was on the floor, he was effective - shooting a career best 54.5 percent and averaging 19.0 points.

With James gone, Wade likely won't have the luxury of resting as much this season.

He's averaged 24.3 points for his career, 16th-best in NBA history and fifth-best among active players with at least seven seasons. And only seven other players in league history have as many points (17,481), rebounds (3,605), assists (4,301), steals (1,262) and blocked shots (696) as Wade has posted so far in his career.

Wade could have lobbied for more money or insisted on more years. But the Heat are positioning themselves to have as much flexibility as possible in 2016, a similar approach to what brought the "Big 3" together in 2010, and Wade's deal helps them greatly in that regard.

Wade still has a hectic summer ahead. There's an upcoming marriage to actress Gabrielle Union, the ongoing building projects at the home he's been remodeling for some time, and the annual fantasy camp that he hosts.

His biggest order of business, however, is now complete.

Kluwe's lawyer threatens to sue Vikings over report

MINNEAPOLIS (AP) Former Minnesota Vikings punter Chris Kluwe intends to sue the team over allegations of anti-gay conduct by a coach, his lawyer said Tuesday.

Lawyer Clayton Halunen said they'll seek a copy of the Vikings' internal investigation and make it public if they can. They accused the Vikings of reneging on a pledge to release the report, which they believe corroborates Kluwe's claims.

The Vikings hired two outside lawyers to examine Kluwe's claims that special teams coordinator Mike Priefer used slurs and taunts to try to quash Kluwe's outspoken support for gay marriage. Priefer denied the allegations. Kluwe was cut in May 2013 after eight seasons with the Vikings.

Kluwe said keeping the report private won't help prevent workplace discrimination. The investigation was conducted by former Minnesota Supreme Court Chief Justice Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Justice Department trial attorney Chris Madel.

"I think it's just important that everyone is able to see what's there," he said. "Yeah, it'll probably hurt. These things always do. But the only way we're ever going to fix it is if we acknowledge that."

The Vikings issued a statement denying they told Halunen during a meeting Monday that they won't release the report. The team said both sides will meet again Thursday to discuss "issues relating to the investigation."

Halunen said they'd still like to resolve the dispute out of court.

Saints confirm multiyear deal with Jimmy Graham

NEW ORLEANS (AP) The New Orleans Saints on Tuesday confirmed a multiyear contract with Jimmy Graham, ending a protracted holdout for the star tight end.

Graham skipped all of the Saints' voluntary and mandatory practices and workouts - and challenged the NFL's franchise tag process through arbitration.

The odds of Graham leaving the Saints were slim since the club in late February placed its franchise tag on the player.

The NFL Players Association filed a grievance, contending Graham was used as a wide receiver often enough to qualify for the more lucrative receiver tag, worth about $5 million a year more than the $7 million tag for a tight end.

A hearing was held in June and earlier this month. Arbitrator Stephen Burbank sided with the NFL, ruling Graham was capable of continuing to perform specific tight end duties while lined up in the slot or within 4 yards of an offensive tackle.

Once the ruling was in place, Graham had a choice of appealing or trying to reach a long-term contract by a July 15 deadline - after which he would have to play next season for his franchise tag number. A favorable ruling from Burbank would have further enhanced negotiating leverage for Graham, who last season led the Saints with 86 catches for 1,215 yards and 16 touchdowns.

Graham, a former college basketball player who played one year of football at Miami, was the Saints' third-round draft choice in 2010. In his second season, Graham caught 99 passes for 1,310 yards. That total stood briefly as a yards receiving record for tight ends. That same day the mark was broken on the final day of that season by New England's Rob Gronkowski, who finished with 1,327.

Graham has led the Saints in catches the past three seasons and led them in yards receiving and touchdowns in two of the last three seasons. For the past three regular seasons, he has 270 catches for 3,507 yards and 36 touchdowns.

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