National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Dodgers ace Kershaw to miss upcoming start

LOS ANGELES (AP) Clayton Kershaw will miss his scheduled start for the Los Angeles Dodgers against the San Diego Padres this weekend because of an inflamed muscle in his back.

The two-time Cy Young Award winner had an MRI on Wednesday that showed the swollen muscle in his left upper back. Kershaw had complained of tightness while throwing at a workout on Tuesday.

The team said Kershaw's next start will be decided by his progress while throwing in the next week.

The Dodgers open the North American portion of their schedule at San Diego on Sunday. They began the season with two victories over Arizona in Australia last week. Kershaw started the first game Down Under, winning 3-1.

College athletes can unionize, federal agency says

CHICAGO (AP) In a stunning ruling that could revolutionize a college sports industry worth billions of dollars and have dramatic repercussion at schools coast to coast, a federal agency said Wednesday that football players at Northwestern University can create the nation's first union of college athletes.

The decision by a regional director of the National Labor Relations Board answered the question at the heart of the debate over the unionization bid: Do football players who receive full scholarships to the Big Ten school qualify as employees under federal law and therefore can legally unionize?

Peter Sung Ohr, the NLRB regional director, said in a 24-page decision that the players "fall squarely" within the broad definition of employee.

Pro-union activists cheered as they learned of the ruling.

"It's like preparing so long for a big game and then when you win - it is pure joy," said former UCLA linebacker Ramogi Huma, the designated president of Northwestern's would-be football players' union.

An employee is regarded by law as someone who, among other things, receives compensation for a service and is under the strict, direct control of managers. In the case of the Northwestern players, coaches are the managers and scholarships are a form of compensation, Ohr concluded.

The Evanston, Ill., university argued that college athletes, as students, do not fit in the same category as factory workers, truck drivers and other unionized workers. The school announced plans to appeal to labor authorities in Washington, D.C.

Supporters of the union bid argued that the university ultimately treats football as more important than academics for scholarship players. Ohr sided with the players.

"The record makes clear that the employer's scholarship players are identified and recruited in the first instance because of their football prowess and not because of their academic achievement in high school," Ohr wrote. He also noted that among the evidence presented by Northwestern, "no examples were provided of scholarship players being permitted to miss entire practices and/or games to attend their studies."

The ruling described how the life of a football player at Northwestern is far more regimented than that of a typical student, down to requirements about what they can eat and whether they can live off campus or purchase a car. At times, players put 50 or 60 hours a week into football, Ohr added.

Alan Cubbage, Northwestern's vice president for university relations, said in a statement that while the school respects "the NLRB process and the regional director's opinion, we disagree with it."

Huma said scholarship players would vote within 30 days on whether to formally authorize the College Athletes Players Association, or CAPA, to represent them.

The specific goals of CAPA include guaranteeing coverage of sports-related medical expenses for current and former players, reducing head injuries and potentially letting players pursue commercial sponsorships.

Critics have argued that giving college athletes employee status and allowing them to unionize could hurt college sports in numerous ways, including raising the prospect of strikes by disgruntled players or lockouts by athletic departments.

For now, the push is to unionize athletes at private schools, such as Northwestern, because the federal labor agency does not have jurisdiction over public universities. But Huma said Wednesday's decision is the "first domino to fall" and that teams at schools - both public and private - could eventually follow the Wildcats' lead.

Outgoing Wildcats quarterback Kain Colter took a leading role in establishing CAPA. The United Steelworkers union has been footing the legal bills.

Colter, who has entered the NFL draft, said nearly all of the 85 scholarship players on the Wildcats roster backed the union bid, though only he expressed his support publicly.

He said the No. 1 reason to unionize was to ensure injured players have their medical needs met.

"With the sacrifices we make athletically, medically and with our bodies, we need to be taken care of," Colter told ESPN.

The NCAA has been under increasing scrutiny over its amateurism rules and is fighting a class-action federal lawsuit by former players seeking a cut of the billions of dollars earned from live broadcasts, memorabilia sales and video games. Other lawsuits allege the NCAA failed to protect players from debilitating head injuries.

NCAA President Mark Emmert has pushed for a $2,000-per-player stipend to help athletes defray some expenses. Critics say that is not nearly enough, considering players help bring in millions of dollars to their schools and conferences.

In a written statement, the NCAA said it disagreed with the notion that student-athletes are employees.

"We frequently hear from student-athletes, across all sports, that they participate to enhance their overall college experience and for the love of their sport, not to be paid," the NCAA said.

All of the big NCAA conferences, including the SEC, also disagreed with the decision.

"Notwithstanding today's decision, the SEC does not believe that full time students participating in intercollegiate athletics are employees of the universities they attend," the SEC said in a written statement.

The developments are coming to a head at a time when major college programs are awash in cash generated by new television deals that include separate networks for the big conferences. The NCAA tournament generates an average of $771 million a year in television rights itself, much of which is distributed back to member schools by the NCAA.

Attorneys for CAPA argued that college football is, for all practical purposes, a commercial enterprise that relies on players' labor to generate billions of dollars in profits. The NLRB ruling noted that from 2003 to 2013 the Northwestern program generated $235 million in revenue - profits the university says went to subsidize other sports.

During the NLRB's five days of hearings in February, Wildcats coach Pat Fitzgerald took the stand for union opponents, and his testimony sometimes was at odds with Colter's.

Colter told the hearing that players' performance on the field was more important to Northwestern than their in-class performance, saying, "You fulfill the football requirement and, if you can, you fit in academics." Asked why Northwestern gave him a scholarship of $75,000 a year, he responded: "To play football. To perform an athletic service."

But Fitzgerald said he tells players academics come first, saying, "We want them to be the best they can be ... to be a champion in life."

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Follow Michael Tarm at https://twitter.com/mtarm .

No surgery for former Bills QB Kelly for cancer

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Doctors treating Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly said Wednesday he will not immediately undergo surgery for a recurrence of cancer.

Instead, the longtime Buffalo Bills star will likely first be treated with chemotherapy and radiation, according to a statement from Lenox Hill Hospital in New York City.

"Jim Kelly's condition remains very treatable and potentially curable," Dr. Peter Costantino said in the statement. "Our immediate focus is on controlling his pain and beginning the process of eradicating the cancer."

Kelly underwent surgery in Buffalo last June to remove a squamous cell carcinoma from his upper jaw. He had been expected to undergo additional surgery this week or next week after the cancer was found to have returned, his brother, Dan Kelly, said Tuesday.

Costantino said surgery remains a potential part of the treatment strategy for the cancer that he said is present in Kelly's maxillary sinus and adjacent tissues.

"His cancer returned in a location that requires specialized expertise in the treatment of skull-based tumors," the hospital statement said.

Kelly's wife, Jill, in an online posting said the plan had changed because of "the complexity and aggressive nature of this cancer and after more scans and tests."

"The cancer is in areas that surgery cannot successfully eradicate," Jill Kelly wrote.

Kelly spent 11 seasons with the Bills and led them to four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, only to lose them all. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Well wishes have poured in by the thousands on Twitter under the hashtag "prayersforjk," including from numerous NFL franchises and players.

Masiello's lack of degree costs him USF hoop job

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) Steve Masiello's promising coaching career is in limbo after his deal with South Florida fell apart because he doesn't have a college diploma.

Manhattan College said Wednesday that it had placed him on leave while Masiello is "reviewing his degree status."

South Florida confirmed earlier Wednesday that the school had an agreement in principle to lure Masiello away from Manhattan, but that the contract was contingent on "a verification of credentials."

USF requires its basketball coach to have at least a bachelor's degree. The 39-year-old Masiello did not graduate after attending Kentucky, where he played for Rick Pitino and Tubby Smith from 1996-2000.

"Through the verification process it was determined the candidate's credentials could not be substantiated and therefore he did not meet the requirements for the position," the school said in a brief statement. "The national search continues and USF looks forward to introducing a new coach at the appropriate time."

Masiello has a 61-39 record in three seasons at Manhattan. The Jaspers went 28-5 this season, which ended with a close loss to Louisville in the NCAA tournament.

Kentucky spokesman Jay Blanton verified Masiello was a student there from 1996-2000 in the college of communication, but did not graduate. Masiello's bio on Manhattan's web site says the coach graduated from Kentucky in 2000 with a degree in communications.

Manhattan said in a statement that it "learned there is a question of the validity" of Masiello's degree after South Florida commissioned a background check.

"Masiello is currently in the process of reviewing his degree status with the University of Kentucky," the statement said. "Manhattan College has placed Masiello on leave while he completes this process with the university."

Masiello, a former assistant under Pitino at Louisville, was going to replace former USF coach Stan Heath, who was fired this month.

A one-time ball boy for Pitino when his mentor was coach of the New York Knicks, Masiello was a walk-on at Kentucky and part of a team that made two trips to the Final Four and won one national championship. He was an assistant at Manhattan and Tulane before spending six seasons on Pitino's staff at Louisville.

USF fired Heath on March 14 after the Bulls finished 12-20, including 3-15 in their first season in the American Athletic Conference. The Bulls appeared to be on the rise two years ago, when they tied a school record with 22 wins and made their first appearance in the NCAA tournament in two decades.

But Heath won just 24 games over his final two seasons.

Notre Dame defense looks to be more aggressive

SOUTH BEND, Ind. (AP) Notre Dame's defense has a different mindset.

Under former defensive coordinator Bob Diaco, now the head coach at Connecticut, the Fighting Irish focused on keeping the play in front of them and not giving up big plays. Irish players say new defensive coordinator Brian VanGorder wants to be more aggressive.

"Coach Diaco's defense was bend-but-don't break, play a little soft, let them catch the curl-ins that aren't going to beat you, prevent big plays," cornerback KeiVarae Russell said. "This year we're going to change that bend-don't-break to attack. A lot more man-to-man, a lot more aggressive mindset. I'm excited."

Defense was a key for the Irish in 2012 when they posted their first undefeated regular season since winning the national championship in 1988, losing 42-14 to Alabama in the title game. The Irish finished second in the nation in points allowed at 12.8 points a game, and seventh in total defense, giving up 305 yards a game. The Irish defense was not nearly as strong this past season, allowing 22.4 points a game, finishing 27th in the nation, and was 31st in total defense at 366.2 yards a game.

VanGorder said he believes the key to defense is trying to take control by being aggressive, saying it starts with the play of the cornerbacks.

"That's where you start your decisions as a coach. Can we hold up out there? If you have a corner that can press and take a guy out of a game, that's huge," he said.

That's quite a change from the past few years, when the Irish depended on the front seven to make the big plays and the secondary was seen as the weak link. Russell said he can see that VanGorder is counting on the secondary, saying it the Irish have only been in zone defense a handful of times this spring. He said the Irish also are blitzing more.

"That's how you create turnovers, break up a lot of passes and you have a lot of opportunities to be around the ball and pick it off," he said.

VanGorder said it's still early to speculate about who will be playing where or exactly what the defense will look like when the Irish open the season against Rice on Aug. 30. The Irish are moving some players around, switching John Turner from safety to linebacker, Matthias Farley from safety to cornberback and playing the nickel and moving outside linebacker Jaylon Smith to different positions to keep opponents guessing.

"We're trying to get speed on the field," VanGorder said.

Safety Austin Collinsworth said it's been difficult trying to take in all the changes.

"It's kind of like being in final exams for three weeks straight, that's how this spring has been," Collinsworth said. "It's new terminology, new hand signals, new this, new that. Everything's different."

Collinsworth isn't the only one struggling to take it all in.

"It's just a new system," said defensive end Ishaq Williams, who played linebacker last season. "It's a whole different thinking process from the 3-4 so I'm trying to get used to it."

While Williams alluded to the Irish switching away from a 3-4 defense, coach Brian Kelly and VanGorder say Notre Dame will continue to switch between the 3-4 and 4-3 base defenses as it did under Diaco. So far during the sessions open to the media, the Irish have been running almost all 4-3.

"We want to be multiple, so we want to keep building that way," VanGorder said. "It just so happens that as you see the early install, you're seeing a lot of a 4-3 look. But there's 3-4 look out there, too. We're mixing that in and trying to evaluate and see what works best for us."

VanGorder said it is challenge trying to install a new defense in 15 spring practices.

"All of a sudden you're getting out there and you're behind in some things you're getting from the offense and you're coaching on the run and then you try to repair it through film and you hope it solves that issue," he said. "It's going to come up at times because I can't cover everything we're going to get from our offense."

The key for the Irish is being able to cover everything they get from opposing offenses this fall.

76ers on brink tying NBA record for futility

PHILADELPHIA (AP) They are a loss away from becoming the Philadelphia 26ers.

As in, losers of 26 in a row.

A skid that would match the longest losing streak in NBA history and leave the 76ers one loss of holding the record for the four major professional sports.

"It's tough we lose them consecutively, but it's the NBA," guard Tony Wroten said. "You play another day."

With a another loss Thursday at Houston, the Sixers (15-56) will tie the NBA record of 26 straight losses set by the 2010-11 Cleveland Cavaliers. The potential record setter is Saturday at home against Detroit.

But the 76ers say this seemingly infinite skid comes with a purpose: Finishing first.

Philadelphia is losing to win the No. 1 overall pick in the 2014 draft.

Former Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy is among the critics that call Philly's style of lottery-bound losing, tanking. Sixers management simply says it's old-fashioned rebuilding. Whatever the label, the team with the worst record in the NBA has a 25 percent chance of winning the No. 1 overall pick.

But there's a flaw in the Sixers' plan: Even with the avalanche of defeats, they still don't have the worst record in the NBA, Milwaukee does. Entering Thursday, the Bucks are 13-58 and that puts them in the driver's seat as they plummet toward the top spot.

The Bucks may be serving as motivation for the Sixers; there's no suspense these days in the outcome of Philadelphia games. The Sixers been outscored by 16.9 points during the losing streak; Cleveland was outscored by 13.7 while setting the record.

Philadelphia coach Brett Brown said the Sixers will be better off as a result of the losing.

"It's those short-term, real pains for what we hope will be a bunch of long-term gains," Brown said. "This period of time is not pleasant for any of us. But it's necessary."

But it's a hefty price to pay.

"Nobody wants to have that record," said Cavs forward Anderson Varejao, a member of the Cleveland squad that lost 26 straight. "It is what it is. If they get it, it's too bad for them. It's a tough time and it's not easy. I don't even think they think about how many games they've lost.

"It's just one of those things where you go out to win and you end up losing."

The Sixers last won on Jan. 29 on former guard Evan Turner's buzzer-beater at Boston. They've been crushed (123-78 by the Clippers and 123-80 by Golden State in consecutive games) and had a few close calls (losing 93-92 to the Knicks). And this week they were called out by NBA Commissioner Adam Silver, who said the losing streak was "bad for everyone."

"It's potentially damaging to the players involved and the culture they're trying to create," Silver said, "but those decisions are left to management."

Mired in mediocrity for most of the last decade, first-year general manager Sam Hinkie decided to start from scratch, trading assets for draft picks all in the hope that the Sixers can build a winner from within. Hinkie started on draft night, when he traded All-Star guard Jrue Holiday to New Orleans for No. 6 overall pick Nerlens Noel. In February, he dealt starters Turner and Spencer Hawes, and Lavoy Allen at the trade deadline.

The 76ers went 0 for February. They are three losses away from 0 for March.

These aren't the `62 Mets. The Sixers are more laughable losers, than lovable.

Team owners Joshua Harris and Dave Blitzer, who also own the New Jersey Devils, have sold hope to the disenfranchised fanbase with the "Together We Build" slogan. Fed-up fans, though, have had more fun with the Twitter feed (at)didthesixerswin.

"There's not a person in this organization that doesn't have a will to win, that isn't competitive, that doesn't feel sick to their stomach after a loss," team CEO Scott O'Neil said. "That goes for me, and Sam and Coach, Josh, David. Everyone involved with the organization.

"We signed up for this, we can get through this together. But it doesn't make it any easier. It doesn't."

The Sixers are closing in on setting the longest losing streak in sports history. According to STATS LLC, the longest streaks in the four major sports are held by:

- In the NBA, the Cavaliers, 26 losses in row, from Dec. 20, 2010-Feb. 9, 2011.

- In the NFL, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 26 losses in row, from Sept. 12, 1976-Dec. 4 1977.

- In MLB, the Philadelphia Phillies, 23 losses in a row, from Jan. 29, 1961-Aug. 20, 1961.

- In the NHL, the Pittsburgh Penguins, 18 losses in a row, from Jan. 13, 2004-Feb. 22, 2004.

The 76ers' skid is the latest example of Philadelphia's sports futility.

The Phillies hold the longest losing streak in major league history and were the first team to lose 10,000 games. The Eagles have never won a Super Bowl and haven't won an NFL championship since 1960. The Flyers are closing in on four decades without a Stanley Cup.

Though it's hard to remember now, but the Sixers started the season 3-0, featuring wins over Miami and Chicago. Now, with a gutted roster made up of mostly D-League castoffs and 10-day contract hopefuls, the 76ers face the bleak reality they might not win again this season.

The Sixers, however, will be remembered if they notch their 26th loss in a row.

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AP Sports Writer Tom Withers in Cleveland contributed to this report

ACC tournament moving to Brooklyn for 2017-18

NEW YORK (AP) With banners celebrating the history of the Nets and Jay-Z's concert sellout streak over his shoulder, ACC Commissioner John Swofford announced that the league's men's basketball tournament is coming to Brooklyn.

There isn't an Atlantic Coast Conference school within 200 miles, but New York is home to several large alumni bases and, perhaps more importantly, is a "media capital," Swofford said at Barclays Center on Wednesday.

"I firmly believe that the experience for our players, our coaches and our fans will be second to none when we come to Barclays," Swofford said. "It's the media capital of the world, and we want our brand in this city, in this facility, in Brooklyn. So we're really excited about this and what it can do for the Atlantic Coast Conference."

The league will crown its champion at the arena in 2017 and '18, after holding the tournament in Greensboro, N.C., in 2015 and in Washington in 2016.

The move to New York represents a shift from the ACC tournament's Southern roots after years of conference realignment. The state of North Carolina has hosted 50 of the 61 events in league history.

But Louisville's arrival in July will make it the seventh former Big East school to join the 15-team ACC since 2004, so those program were accustomed to playing their conference tournament in Madison Square Garden.

"Times change, and almost half of our league are former Big East schools, so we should pay attention to what everyone likes," Duke coach Mike Krzyzewski said. "Louisville, Syracuse, Pitt, Notre Dame - they're not in North Carolina."

The Atlantic 10 was scheduled to play its tournament at Barclays Center through 2017, but it will move in exchange for playing an ACC/A-10 doubleheader at Barclays during the 2015-16, 2016-17 and 2017-18 seasons. The A-10 tournament will return to Barclays for three years starting in 2019.

Atlantic 10 Commissioner Bernadette McGlade said the league would be seeking a new location "within the footprint" of its geography for 2017 and '18, possibly in Washington or Pittsburgh.

Meanwhile, the ACC, which now reaches from Boston to Tallahassee, Fla., will be coming to New York, where throngs of hollering, orange-clad Syracuse fans once packed the Garden for the Big East tournament. The new Big East formed by the conference's non-football schools still plays its tourney at the Garden.

But in three years, the biggest tournament in town will be at the newer arena, in the borough that seems to vacuum up all the cultural cachet lately.

"Obviously, we would encourage the ACC to put us in what potentially might be a rotation of venues," Barclays Center CEO Brett Yormark said. "We've got to earn our stripes. We've got to provide an extraordinary experience to get them to come back, and that would certainly be the goal."

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Follow Rick Freeman at https://twitter.com/RWFreeman

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AP Sports Writer Joedy McCreary in Durham, N.C., contributed to this report.

Goodell: Davis' gay message 'important'

ORLANDO, Fla. (AP) Former NFL player Wade Davis' speech to the owners, coaches and general managers delivered a significant message about sexual orientation in sports, Commissioner Roger Goodell said Wednesday.

Goodell had previously met with Davis, who is gay, "and I found his message to be very important for all of us to hear."

"He was talking about (how) he's professional, he's part of the family that we all are in the NFL and he just wants to make sure that he provides that kind of workplace where people can go and play football, and be comfortable playing football," Goodell said. "He wants to work to help us do that. He recognizes everyone's not an advocate or someone who's going to carry the flag, but these young men who want to play in the NFL, they want an opportunity. Our job is to make sure we provide the opportunity."

Missouri defensive end Michael Sam could become the first openly gay player in the NFL if he is drafted next month. He is expected to be a mid-round choice.

What knowledge did Goodell want NFL teams to take from Smith's appearance at the owners meetings?

"Just a better understanding of what these young men are thinking about, going through," he said, "and what they can do to provide them the right opportunity and the right environment. That's the key."

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GOODELL ON VICK: New York Jets owner Woody Johnson spoke with Goodell before the team signed quarterback Michael Vick as a free agent. Goodell wouldn't discuss specifics of his conversation with Johnson, but he gave Vick a ringing endorsement at a news conference Wednesday.

"I think Michael is a young man who made a tragic mistake. He paid a very high price for it," Goodell said of Vick's involvement in a dog fighting ring that led to Vick spending 18 months in a federal prison before returning to the NFL in 2009. "But I've seen him, in everything he's done, exceed expectations. He's worked very hard to be a positive force in a lot different areas. That's something I admire about him.

"When we went through the process of reviewing whether he would enter back into the league, he demonstrated he was someone committed to `I'm going to do this the right way. I'm going to be a positive force.' And he has. I'm proud of what he's done."

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STAYING ON TOP: Winning a Super Bowl was great. Doing it again would be even better to Pete Carroll.

The Seahawks coach, who won two national championships at Southern California, sees plenty of similarities in trying to defend a title.

"I hope it is," he said with a smile about getting to experience a repeat championship in the NFL. "This is the challenge I cherish most, to stay up there.

"It's the same language, same intent, how you focus and what you can maintain. Develop that mentality it takes to get back. I take it seriously and I'm eager to see how we do it."

Asked if a coach's philosophy remains the same after reaching the pinnacle, Carroll related a story about when he asked John Wooden that question.

"I looked at coach Wooden and immediately said to myself, `Why did I ask that question?' `' Carroll said, chuckling at the memory. "You stay with what you believe and keep the message as much the same as you can. Hopefully the philosophy we have in place is one we ride next year and the next and the next."

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HALL OF FAME COACH COUGHLIN?: Two-time Super Bowl winner Tom Coughlin was asked if he ever thinks about being elected to the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Several coaches, including George Allen, Marv Levy and Bud Grant, never won an NFL title, but are in the Canton, Ohio shrine.

"If the highest point of recognition is the Hall of Fame, why not think about it," said Coughlin, who has a 158-130 record in 18 pro seasons as a head coach: eight with the Jaguars, an expansion team he helped build, and the last 10 with the Giants.

Coughlin helped engineer one of the biggest upsets in sports history when New York beat the undefeated New England Patriots for the 2007 championship. He led the Giants past the Patriots in for the 2011 title, too.

"I think it merits consideration," Coughlin added while making it clear he was not campaigning, simply answering a question whether a double Super Bowl winner is worthy of the hall. "That's as far as I am going.

"I don't think about it every day. I'd rather think about putting a group of players together to win games."

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NO DUNKS: Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith appreciated the timing of the NFL's ban on goal-post dunks. Had it come one year sooner, with recently retired tight end Tony Gonzalez still in the league, it would have created an uncomfortable issue for Smith.

Gonzalez gets credit for popularizing the goal-post dunk during his days with the Kansas City and Atlanta.

"I know the guy that we had the last five years, Tony Gonzalez, he was the pioneer of many things," Smith said Wednesday. "I'm glad that Tony's not here, because that's a conversation that you wouldn't want to have, but you'd have to have."

Atlanta was playing New Orleans last year when Saints tight end Jimmy Graham dunked the goal post, knocked it out of alignment and caused a 20-minute delay.

"It did take a significant amount of time to get the goal post level," Smith said. "But they have clarified that now. The goal posts are considered props. So not only is the dunk illegal, but you won't be allowed to use it as a punching bag, either."

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AP Sports Writers Fred Goodall and Mark Long and Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner contributed to this story.

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

R&A asks members to allow women to join

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club, exclusively for men since it was founded 260 years ago at St. Andrews, will vote in September on whether women can join the club.

"It's an exciting day for the club," R&A club secretary Peter Dawson said Wednesday. "There will be quite a bit of internal discussion between now and the September vote. It's a matter for the members to determine. All indications are very supportive."

A statement from club said that all committees were "strongly in favor of the rule change" and asked members to go along.

The move was hailed by British sports minister Helen Grant, who was hopeful a favorable vote would encourage other single-sex golf clubs to follow suit.

Dawson, however, said the vote would have no bearing on whether the British Open is played on links courses that exclude women as members - Royal St. George's, Royal Troon and Muirfield, where Phil Mickelson won last year. The Open returns to Troon in 2016.

"I don't want you to think there's any connection between this vote and these issues," Dawson said. "What other clubs choose to do in the UK is not connected to this. ... To be entirely honest, we're not here to put pressure on other clubs that have supported The Open Championship and other R&A championships."

The Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews has about 2,400 members from around the world and dates to 1754. The clubhouse is among the most famous buildings in golf, overlooking the Old Course at St. Andrews.

Augusta National for years was the symbol of men-only golf clubs because it hosts The Masters every April. The club announced in August 2012 that it had invited women to join for the first time - former Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice and South Carolina financier Darla Moore.

Even though Augusta National went 80 years without a female member, it had no policy that barred women from joining. The R&A had such a policy, and that's what will be voted on in September.

Dawson said he did not think Augusta National's decision had any bearing on the R&A Golf Club.

"We noted what happened at Augusta," he said. "They have their own procedure of doing things. We are doing this because of our governance role."

He also said the R&A did not feel pressure from any of its corporate sponsors, who were subjected to the debate at the British Open.

"You can always ask that question: `Why now? Why not 10 years ago?' The R&A have been considering this. It's been on our agenda, on our radar, for quite some time," Dawson said. "The feeling is as society changes, as sport changes, as golf changes, it's something the R&A needs to do, and is doing now as being forward-looking as we can."

The 2,400-member club and the group that runs The Open are separate entities.

For years, the men-only Royal & Ancient was in charge of the Rules of Golf for every country in the world except for the United States and Mexico, which are governed by the USGA. And it operated the British Open, the oldest championship in golf.

Ten years ago, the administrative duties were split off into a corporate structure that is called "The R&A," of which Dawson is the chief executive. That's the group in charge of the Rules of Golf and organizing The Open and other R&A championships.

And while "The R&A" has female employees, its committee and board roles are populated by members of the Royal & Ancient Golf Club. So there are no women in leadership roles when it comes to rules and championship golf.

That likely will change with a favorable vote in September for female members.

"This is welcome news from the Royal & Ancient Golf Club of St. Andrews, and I urge its members to follow their committees' recommendations and vote `yes' for women members," Grant said in a statement. "It would mark a step in the right direction for the sport and I would hope encourage the remaining golf clubs that still have anachronistic single-sex member policies to follow suit."

While the members have access to the R&A clubhouse behind the first tee at the Old Course, R&A members belong to a club, not a golf course. The seven golf courses at St. Andrews are open to the public.

AP Source: Jared Allen gets $15.5M from Bears

CHICAGO (AP) The Chicago Bears were looking to jolt their struggling defense. How does adding Jared Allen sound?

The Bears agreed to a four-year contract with the five-time Pro Bowl defensive end Wednesday, replacing one accomplished pass rusher with another as they rebuild a defense that ranked among the league's worst last season.

A person with knowledge of the agreement told The Associated Press that Allen will get $15.5 million guaranteed on a deal that could be worth as much as $32 million. The person requested anonymity because the terms have not been announced.

Allen's deal can be voided down to three years and $24 million, but the first two years of his salary and a roster bonus next March are fully guaranteed.

The 31-year-old Allen spent the previous six years with the NFC North rival Minnesota Vikings. He will take over for Julius Peppers, who signed with Green Bay as a free agent after being released by the Bears. Chicago's defense ranked 30th in the NFL last season and was 32nd and last against the run.

"This is another important step in our continued efforts to build our team towards a championship level," general manager Phil Emery told the team's website.

In a statement, Allen thanked his teammates and coaches in Minnesota along with the fans.

"I can only hope that I have left with you all, with even a fraction of the positive support and impact you have had on my life, my foundation and my family," he said. "I am very excited about this next chapter in my career with the Chicago Bears and can't wait to see what the future holds for us."

He had 11 1/2 sacks last season, reaching double digits in sacks for seven straight years, and is considered a solid run defender.

Allen also had talks with the Seahawks and Cowboys. His move to the Bears adds plenty of intrigue to the NFC North picture.

The Vikings acquired Allen from Kansas City in 2007 and signed him to a six-year, $73 million contract that at the time made him the highest-paid defensive player in the league. Allen was one of the most-feared pass rushers in the NFL over the life of that deal. In 2011, he had 22 sacks.

He made $17 million last season, and the Vikings, who were coming off a disappointing 5-10-1 record, were looking to get younger at the position.

"We wish Jared the best as he turns to the next chapter of his NFL career," general manager Rick Spielman said in a statement. "Not only was he an outstanding player on the field for the Vikings over his six seasons, but he also helped change lives in our community through his charitable work. Jared will always be a fan favorite, and we hope he stays involved with the Vikings franchise in years to come."

Minnesota signed Everson Griffen to a big contract to take Allen's place and also said goodbye to stalwart defensive tackle Kevin Williams in a revamped front four under new coach Mike Zimmer. The Vikings did express some interest in having Allen return, but it became clear early in the process that the numbers wouldn't match up.

Allen said he wasn't looking to simply chase Super Bowl rings or become a situational pass rusher at this stage of his career, so he took his time trying to find the right fit. When Allen hit the market with Peppers and the Cowboys' DeMarcus Ware, three of the most accomplished defensive ends of their generation were available. Ware signed with Denver, and Peppers got a three-year, $26.5 million deal with $7.5 million guaranteed from the Packers earlier in free agency.

"We believe he's going to come in hungry and excited to be part of our football team, and we believe he'll fit right in with the other new players that we've added and the guys that are already on the defensive side of the ball," coach Marc Trestman told the team's site.

Allen is by far the signature addition in a busy offseason.

Besides letting Peppers go, the Bears brought back two-time Pro Bowl cornerback Charles Tillman on a one-year deal.

They also have new defensive ends in Willie Young and Lamarr Houston. They added Ryan Mundy and M.D. Jennings to the mix at safety and signed lineman Israel Idonije, hoping to boost a defense that got shredded last season.

The Bears went 8-8 while missing the playoffs for the sixth time in seven years. Now, maybe, they will have the defense to go with an offense that flourished in Trestman's first season as coach.

If nothing else, they created a big stir by adding Allen.

"A changing of the guard in the (hash)NFCNorth. (hash)69 a Bear! It's looking up for this bunch! Welcome (at)JaredAllen69," star linebacker Lance Briggs wrote on Twitter.

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AP Sports Writer Jon Krawczynski in Minneapolis contributed to this report.

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

19-year-old Navy RB McKamey dies in coma

ANNAPOLIS, Md. (AP) Navy football player Will McKamey, who has been hospitalized since collapsing at practice three days ago, has died while in a coma. He was 19.

The academy says the freshman running back from Knoxville, Tenn., died at the University of Maryland Shock Trauma Center in Baltimore on Tuesday with his family by his side.

"We are all so very heartbroken by the death of Midshipman Will McKamey," Naval Academy Superintendent VADM Mike Miller said in a statement. "This is devastating news for his family, his classmates, his teammates and the entire Naval Academy family. We offer our deepest condolences to Will's family, friends and shipmates in the wake of this tragedy."

He collapsed during spring practice Saturday and was airlifted to the Shock Trauma Center.

Earlier this week, McKamey's family said in a statement released through the school that their son did not sustain "a bad hit or unusual or extreme contact" in that practice.

"The Navy coaches have poured through the films of practice and seen nothing more than Will carrying the football normally, doing what he truly loves," the family said.

McKamey's father, Randy, a high school football coach at Grace Christian Academy in Knoxville, posted on Twitter that his son underwent surgery Saturday to relieve pressure on the brain.

Will McKamey played for his father and ran for more than 2,000 yards as a senior at Grace Christian in 2012. He suffered a head injury during a game late in the season that caused him to be hospitalized.

His family said he had been cleared to resume playing football after seeing four neurosurgeons and undergoing several CAT scans and MRI exams.

The 5-foot-9, 170-pound McKamey did not play in a game last season. He was an oceanography major in 3rd Company at the Naval Academy.

"During this most difficult of times, first and foremost, our prayers and thoughts turn to Randy, Kara and their beautiful family," Navy coach Ken Niumatalolo said. "Our deepest and most sincere condolences go out to their entire family and friends. As our Navy football family mourns the loss of one of our brothers, we also celebrate and honor his life. He loved his family, his friends and his teammates. The Brotherhood loves you! Keep the ball `high and tight' in Heaven."

Navy said funeral arrangements are pending.

Manchester City top Manchester United in derby; Bayern Munich clinch Bundesliga

MANCHESTER, England -- Manchester City's title run gained momentum with a 3-0 win at rival Manchester United on Tuesday night, and Arsenal's hopes of winning the Premier League dimmed with a 2-2 tie against Swansea.

Edin Dzeko scored inside 43 seconds, added a goal in the 56th minute and Yayo Toure scored in the 90th at Old Trafford as City (21-5-3) closed within three points of first-place Chelsea (21-4-6), which has played two more games.

Defending champion United (15-10-6) is seventh, 12 points back of fourth-place Arsenal (19-6-6) for England's final Champions League berth. With seven games left, United is assured of its fewest points since the Premier League era began in 1992-93.

"I thought it would be a tough year for us, no doubt about that," said manager David Moyes, who took over when Alex Ferguson retired at the end of last season, "but I hoped it would be much more competitive and closer to the top of the league than we are at the present time."

Arsenal wasted a late lead against visiting Swansea, giving up a 90th-minute own goal in a 2-2 draw when Per Mertesacker's clearance richocheted off goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny and Mathieu Flamini and went into the net.

Wilfred Bony put Swansea ahead in the 11th minute, but Lukas Podolski tied the score in the 73rd and Olivier Giroud put the Gunners ahead 70 seconds later.

"This result tonight hurts us a lot," Arsenal manager Arsene Wenger said.

Everton beat Newcastle 3-0 on goals by Ross Barkley, Romelu Lukaku and Leon Osman and a shutout by American goalkeeper Tim Howard. The Toffees (16-5-9) moved into fifth, one point ahead of Tottenham (17-9-5).

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BERLIN -- Bayern Munich capped one of the best seasons in German soccer history -- almost two months before the final games.

Bayern clinched its record 24th German title with seven games to spare e more by winning 3-1 at Hertha Berlin.

Toni Kroos scored in the sixth minute, Mario Goetze in the 14th and Franck Ribery in the 79th as Bayern won its second straight championship and extended its record league unbeaten streak to 52 games since Oct. 28, 2012. Bayern (25-0-2) broke the record for earliest clinch, set last year when it wrapped up the title with six games remaining, and stretched its league winning streak to 19 matches since a 1-1 tie at Bayer Leverkusen last Oct. 5.

Bayern also won the Champions League and German Cup last year under coach Jupp Heynckes and has reached the Champions League quarterfinals and German Cup semifinals under his successor, Pep Guardiola.

"We worked very hard for this title. When you win by 25 points people can think it's easy. But it's not easy, especially after the last season with three titles," Guardiola said. "When you win 19 games one after the other, it speaks for the mentality of the team."

Celebrations were reserved, perhaps an indicator of how predictable the title race had become.

Players donned T-shirts with the number 24 on their backs, while Guardiola remained on the bench speaking on his mobile phone.

"We're all very surprised as we expected it in February," Schalke general manager Horst Heldt joked. "But seriously, it was a magnificent season from Bayern."

American defender John Brooks played the entire match for Hertha.

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ROME -- Alessandro Florenzi scored in second-half stoppage time winner to keep Roma's faint Serie A title hopes alive with a 2-1 win over visiting Torino.

Second-place Roma (20-7-2) closed within 11 points of two-time defending champion Juventus (25-1-3), which hosts Parma on Wednesday.

Roma captain Francesco Totti made his 700th appearance for the club, where he has spent his entire career.

Bills owner Ralph Wilson dies at 95

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) During his 95 years, Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson went from fan to "Foolish Club" member to the Pro Football Hall of Fame, enjoying every step along the way.

The NFL lost the person regarded as the league's "conscience" on Tuesday, when Wilson died at his home around 1:40 p.m. Bills president Russ Brandon announced Wilson's death at the NFL owners meetings in Orlando, Fla.

His death resonated among the owners - from old to new. Wilson played an integral role in establishing the modern game, and was inducted into the Hall of Fame in 2009.

In 1959, Wilson founded the Bills in helping establish the upstart American Football League, whose owners were dubbed "The Foolish Club" for having the chutzpah to challenge the NFL. Some five years later, Wilson played an influential role in the framework for the merger of the leagues.

"Ralph Wilson was a driving force in developing pro football into America's most popular sport," NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said. "Ralph always brought a principled and common-sense approach to issues."

Patriots owner Robert Kraft released a statement saying how grateful he was for how Wilson welcomed him to the NFL, adding: "I will miss him."

So will Bills Hall of Fame coach Marv Levy, whom Wilson lured out of retirement to serve as the team's general manager from 2005-06.

"He wasn't my boss, he was my friend," Levy said. "Deeply saddened to hear about his passing. He meant so much to the game that both of us revered, and to the community of Buffalo and beyond. It's quite a loss, and he's going to be remembered so fondly by everyone who knew him."

The last surviving member of the original AFL owners, Wilson died at his home in Grosse Pointe Shores, Mich., said Mary Mazur, a spokeswoman for the Wayne County medical examiner's office. He had been receiving home hospice care.

Wilson had been in failing health since having hip surgery in 2011. Though he spent much of his time at his home in suburban Detroit, he attended Hall of Fame induction weekends. He was a regular at Bills home games since founding the franchise, but had not been there since going to one game in 2010.

Wilson gave up daily oversight of the club on Jan. 1, 2013, when he relinquished the president's title to Brandon.

"No one loves this game more than Ralph Wilson," Brandon said. "It's very tough. What he's' meant to the entire organization. He's our leader, our mentor our friend. How he loves his players and loved our community. Special guy. They just don't make them like Ralph Wilson."

Wilson earned a well-established reputation for loyalty to fans and the stands he took against franchise relocation.

Though he butted heads several times with late Oakland Raiders owner Al Davis, it did not affect their friendship.

As Davis said in 2009: "There were a lot of guys saying (Steelers owner Dan) Rooney was the conscience. But certainly, Mr. Wilson was more of a conscience of the league."

Wilson also earned the respect of his players.

Bills Hall of Fame running back Thurman Thomas struggled with his emotions when discussing Wilson.

"With Mr. Wilson's passing today, it hurts," Thomas said. "So I'm going to miss him, without a doubt. He used to call me his favorite son."

Wilson's Bills have never won a Super Bowl. They came close in the early 1990s, when the Levy-coached and Jim Kelly-quarterbacked teams won four consecutive AFC championships, but lost each time.

The Bills have not made the playoffs since 1999 and their 14-year postseason drought ranks as the NFL's longest active streak.

Running back Fred Jackson said Wilson's death provides the team new focus to end that drought.

"We want to continue to cement his legacy," Jackson said. "We want to honor him, and a great way to honor him is going out and winning a lot of football games."

Wilson never lost his sense of humor.

In 2010, with the Bills 0-5, Wilson began an interview with The Associated Press with an apology. "I want to apologize for this phone system," Wilson said, with a familiar chuckle. "It's almost as bad as my team."

The future of the team is now in the hands of Brandon and Wilson's second-in-command, Bills treasurer Jeffrey Littmann. For the meantime, the Bills are expected to be placed in a trust before eventually being sold.

Wilson expressed no interest of leaving the team to his family. He is survived by wife Mary, daughters Christy Wilson-Hofmann, who serves as a Bills consultant, and Edith Wilson. There's also niece Mary Owen, who serves on several NFL committees while working as the team's executive vice president of strategic planning.

Kelly has expressed interest in buying the franchise and has previously said he's assembled a group of investors.

Kelly's health, however, has become an issue this week. He is expected to have surgery for a second time in a year following the recurrence of cancer that his wife described as aggressive and "starting to spread."

Buffalo Sabres owner Terry Pegula is also considered a candidate to purchase the Bills and keep them in Buffalo.

That doesn't remove the possibility of outside interests making offers and relocating the team to larger markets such as Los Angeles or nearby Toronto.

The Bills' future in Orchard Park is secure for the short term. The team negotiated a 10-year lease in December 2012 with the state and county to continue playing at Ralph Wilson Stadium.

The agreement includes a provision that essentially locks in the Bills through the first seven seasons. The franchise would have to pay $400 million if it decides to leave before 2019. The team then has an option of buying out the remaining three years of the lease for $28 million.

Under Wilson, the Bills produced 10 Hall of Famers, including himself and Smith. The others were Kelly, Levy, Thomas, O.J. Simpson, offensive linemen Billy Shaw and Joe DeLamielleure, receiver James Lofton and receiver Andre Reed, who will be inducted this year.

Born in Columbus, Ohio, in 1918, Wilson moved to Detroit three years later when his father, Ralph Wilson Sr., took a sales job at an auto dealership. The father turned to insurance and in the mid-1930s landed a deal with Chrysler Corp.

Among Wilson's first moves upon taking over his father's insurance business in 1959 was selling his minor share in the Lions and joining up with Lamar Hunt and Bud Adams to help found the AFL.

In 1964, Wilson traveled to the Winter Games at Innsbruck, Austria - where he slept on the floor of a reporter's room because all the hotels were booked - to help broker the AFL's landmark TV deal with NBC.

Wilson still carried influence with Goodell, who leaned on the Bills owner for advice, and among current NFL owners.

Shahid Khan reached out to Wilson for advice before completing his purchase of the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2012.

"Given his legacy as a builder and visionary, I imagine Ralph was able to relate to my dream to one day join him as a team owner," Khan said. "I'll never forget his kindness and will always treasure the letter he wrote welcoming my family to the NFL."

Wilson wore the "Foolish Club" badge with honor.

"What a damn fool I was," he told the AP in 2009. "But I didn't care. I just wanted to own a team."

In 1998, Wilson received the "Order of the Leather Helmet" from the NFL Alumni Association for his contributions to professional football.

Wilson always maintained a healthy perspective in regards to what mattered when it came to football, including his place in the game.

When asked about the fragmented state of football in the mid-1990s, Wilson joked: "It's such a great game, it'll survive us."

Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.

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AP Pro Football Writer Barry Wilner in Orlando, Fla., Associated Press writers Mike Householder in Detroit and Carolyn Thompson in Buffalo, AP Sports Writers Mark Long in Jacksonville, Fla., Paul Newberry in Atlanta, Larry Lage in Detroit, Dave Skretta in Kansas City, Tom Withers in Cleveland, Teresa Walker in Nashville and AP freelance writer Mark Ludwiczak contributed to this report.

Dodgers top spender, ending Yanks' 15-year streak

NEW YORK (AP) Zack Greinke and the Los Angeles Dodgers have knocked Alex Rodriguez and the New York Yankees off baseball's payroll perch, part of an offseason spending spree that has the average salary approaching $4 million for the first time.

The Dodgers are ending the Yankees' 15-year streak as baseball's biggest spenders and as of Tuesday had a projected payroll of $235 million, according to study of all major league contracts by The Associated Press.

New York, which last failed to top the payroll rankings in 1998, was a distant second at $204 million. After that, it was another huge gap to Philadelphia at $180 million, followed by Boston at $163 million and Detroit at $162 million.

Houston is last at $45 million, up from $27 million at the start of last year, and Miami at $48 million remains 29th.

Some large-market teams are among the smaller spenders, with the New York Mets and Chicago Cubs projected at $89 million, ranked 22nd and 23rd.

Rodriguez, who holds the record for the largest deal in baseball history at $275 million over 10 years, is suspended for the season for violations of baseball's drug agreement and labor contract. Because of the ban, he will earn only $3,868,852 of his $25 million salary - 21 days pay for the 183-day season.

Greinke would have become the highest-paid player, even if Rodriguez was getting all his cash. The pitcher has a $24 million salary in the second season of his $147 million, six-year contract, and because he can opt out of the deal after the 2015 season, baseball's accounting rules call for his $12 million signing bonus to be prorated over the first three seasons.

"We've got great ownership and a great fan base, and we need to do what we can to win games," Dodgers general manager Ned Colletti said last week in Sydney, where Los Angeles swept its opening, two-game series against Arizona.

"I don't think the guys worry about it. I know we don't worry about it," Colletti said. "We're expected to win, and that's how we go about it. Money doesn't mean you win. Money just means you have a chance to get the best players."

As of Tuesday, the average salary projected to be between $3.95 million and $4 million, with the final figure depending on how many players are put on the disabled list by the time opening-day rosters are finalized at 3 p.m. Sunday. That translates to a rise of 8 to 10 percent from last year's opening average of $3.65 million and would be the largest increase since 2006 or possibly even 2001.

"I'm not surprised. With the type of revenues clubs are enjoying these days, the average salaries are going to go up," New York Mets general manager Sandy Alderson said.

Illustrating the rate of escalation, the opening-day average was $1.07 million when Derek Jeter first reached the major leagues in 1995, broke the $2 million mark in 2001 and spurted past $3 million in 2008.

"I think it's great. I think it just shows the game is growing, fan interest is there," said Jeter, the Yankees captain who is retiring at the end of this season. "The business of baseball seems like it's booming pretty good right now."

The average U.S. wage in 2012 was $42,498, according to the Social Security Administration, the latest figure available and an annual increase of 3.12 percent.

Following Greinke on the highest-paid list are Philadelphia's Ryan Howard and Cliff Lee at $25 million, the Yankees' CC Sabathia at $24.3 million, and Seattle's Robinson Cano and Texas' Prince Fielder at $24 million each.

The AP's figures include salaries and prorated shares of signing bonuses and other guaranteed income for players on active rosters, disabled lists and the restricted list. For some players, parts of deferred money are discounted to reflect current values.

Payroll figures factor in adjustments for cash transactions in trades, signing bonuses that are the responsibility of the club agreeing to the contract, option buyouts, and termination pay for released players.

For instance, the Yankees are receiving $18.6 million from the Los Angeles Angels to cover most of the $21 million due to outfielder Vernon Wells, who has been released, and $13 million from the Chicago Cubs to pay most of the $18 million owed outfielder Alfonso Soriano. The Mets' payroll include buyouts to Johan Santana ($4.9 million present value) and Jason Bay ($2.7 million present value).

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AP Sports Writer Dennis Passa and AP freelance writers Mark Didtler and Jon Santucci contributed to this report.

Bills great Jim Kelly expects more cancer surgery

BUFFALO, N.Y. (AP) Hall of Fame quarterback Jim Kelly is expected to have surgery again following the recurrence of cancer that his wife described as aggressive and "starting to spread."

Doctors for the 54-year-old former Buffalo Bills star are leaning toward surgery Thursday or perhaps April 1 at a New York City hospital, brother Dan Kelly told The Associated Press on Tuesday.

Kelly's doctors in Buffalo said March 14 the cancer was found to have returned when Kelly had follow-up tests after surgery last June to remove cancerous cells from his upper jaw.

Since then, wife Jill Kelly has been providing updates on social media. In a March 21 blog post she described the hospital rooms "where we `huddle-up' as a family to call the next play and plan the next move now that the cancer's back, aggressive, and starting to spread."

The couple's daughter, Erin, a college student, on Saturday posted a photo showing her lying next to her father in a hospital bed, her head resting on his right shoulder as they watched college basketball.

"Watching the Syracuse game with daddy ... he's my buddy! Love him so much!!" read the post.

Two March 21 photos she posted show former teammates Andre Reed, Bruce Smith and Thurman Thomas smiling with Kelly during a visit at his home.

News of Kelly's cancer has brought an outpouring of well wishes from the community and beyond for the family, which has remained in Buffalo since Kelly's retirement from football following the 1996 season.

Kelly spent 11 seasons with the Bills and was the face of Bills teams that made four consecutive Super Bowl appearances in the early 1990s, only to lose them all. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 2002.

Jim and Jill Kelly established the Hunter's Hope Foundation here in 1997 after their son, Hunter, was born with Krabbe disease, an inherited degenerative disorder of the central and peripheral nervous systems. Given little more than three years to live, Hunter died at age 8 in 2005.

"So incredibly overwhelmed and thankful" for "the multitudes who are praying for Jim," Jill Kelly wrote on Twitter on Sunday after the congregation at the Chapel at CrossPoint in the suburb of Getzville prayed for Kelly in a service streamed online.

"He's strong," Dan Kelly said. "Jim is humbled by all the prayers coming in."

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AP Sports Writer John Wawrow contributed to this report.

Snyder: Redskins to assist Native Americans

WASHINGTON (AP) Washington Redskins owner Dan Snyder says it's time to put some money behind his claim that his team's nickname honors Native Americans.

Snyder said Monday he's creating a foundation to assist American Indian tribes, even as some in that community continue to assert that the name "Redskins" is offensive.

"It's not enough to celebrate the values and heritage of Native Americans," Snyder said in a letter to the team's fans. "We must do more."

The letter states the Washington Redskins Original Americans Foundation will "provide meaningful and measurable resources that provide genuine opportunities" for Native Americans. The announcement did not state whether Snyder will personally donate any money to the foundation and gave no other financial details.

A major opponent of the nickname said Snyder's move was "somewhere between a PR assault and bribery." Suzan Shown Harjo, a lead figure in a long-running case that seeks to strip the Redskins of their federal trademark protection, told The Associated Press that Snyder is showing the "same arrogance" that he's shown previously when defending the nickname.

"I'm glad that he's had a realization that Native Americans have it tough in the United States," Harjo said. "All sorts of people could have told him that, and have been trying to tell him that for a long time."

Snyder again gave no indication he plans to change the team's name. He said he believes "even more firmly" the name "captures the best of who we are and who we can be, by staying true to our history and honoring the deep and enduring values our name represents."

Snyder has come under unprecedented pressure to change the name over the last year. President Barack Obama told the AP in October he would consider changing the name if he owned the team.

Harjo said the refusal to budge on the name will offset, at least in part, the good that is done with the foundation's money.

"Will (the foundation) do much of anything? No. But it probably won't hurt," Harjo said, "except that it will continue the cycle of negative imaging of Native American people in the public arena."

In the letter, Snyder said he and his staff visited 26 reservations over the last four months. He listed poverty, illness, drug abuse, violence and lack of basic infrastructure as among the problems faced by Native Americans.

"I've listened. I've learned. And frankly, its heart wrenching," the letter said.

Harjo wondered why Snyder, who has owned the team since 1999, is only just now reaching out to Native Americans.

"It's sort of an admission that he was losing the PR battle," she said. "So now he's gone out to find the real story - as if someone was hiding the real story about pressing needs in Indian country."

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

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Former NBA player: 'Tough day' being reported dead

DALLAS (AP) Former SMU and NBA basketball player Quinton Ross had to ease the fears of friends and family members after he was erroneously reported dead.

Ross lives in the suburbs near Dallas and was attending Monday night's NIT game between LSU and SMU.

He said he woke to a phone loaded with messages from people concerned about his well-being.

"My phone was going crazy," he said. "I checked Facebook. Finally, I went on the Internet, and they were saying I was dead. I just couldn't believe it."

The New York Post ran a story early Monday on its website identifying Ross as a man found dead and buried on a city beach. The newspaper later corrected the story.

The 32-year-old Ross called loved ones and posted on Facebook to "let everybody know I was OK."

"A couple (relatives) already heard it," he said. "They were crying. I mean, it was a tough day, man, mostly for my family and friends."

After playing for SMU, Ross played seven NBA seasons with five teams, mostly with the Los Angeles Clippers. His final season came in 2010-11 with the New Jersey Nets.

Spurs win 14th straight, 76ers' skid now at 25

SAN ANTONIO (AP) Austin Daye had 22 points and Tim Duncan added 19 as the San Antonio Spurs earned their 14th straight win with a 113-91 victory Monday night that sent the Philadelphia 76ers to their 25th consecutive loss.

Philadelphia will face Houston on Thursday with the dubious distinction of being a loss shy of tying the NBA record for consecutive losses set by the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2010-11.

Kawhi Leonard and Patty Mills scored 15 points each and Cory Joseph added 12 for San Antonio, which maintained the league's best record at 54-16. The Spurs did not play starters Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter and Danny Green, but did not need them against the lowly 76ers.

Thaddeus Young and Michael Carter-Williams each scored 19 points, Byron Mullens added 15 and Elliot Williams had 14 for Philadelphia (15-56).

Canadiens stop Bruins' 12-game win streak

BOSTON (AP) Alex Galchenyuk scored the only shootout goal, and the Montreal Canadiens stopped the Boston Bruins' 12-game winning streak with a 2-1 victory Monday night.(backslash)

The Bruins fell one game short of their longest winning streak since 1970-71 and two shy of the club record set in 1929-30. But their one point from the shootout loss moved them ahead of Western Conference-leading St. Louis for the most in the NHL with 104.

Boston tied it at 1 with just two seconds left on its sixth power play of the game. Dougie Hamilton's slap shot from the center of the blue line deflected off Patrice Bergeron and past goalie Peter Budaj with 5:26 left in the third period. It was Bergeron's 23rd goal of the season.

Ex-Jets QB Sanchez thanks team, fans in letter

NEW YORK (AP) Mark Sanchez said so long to the New York Jets.

The recently released quarterback thanked the team, its fans and his former teammates in an open letter he posted a link to on his Twitter page on Monday.

"Playing quarterback for the New York Jets has been the thrill of my young career," Sanchez wrote. "We shared some incredible moments that I'll never forget."

Sanchez, cut last Friday when the Jets signed Michael Vick, said there were "some tough times, but mostly good times," highlighting the consecutive trips to the AFC championship game in his first two seasons in 2009 and 2010.

"It's time to move on," Sanchez said, "but before I do, I want to thank you for supporting me and my brothers in green and white." He ends the letter by telling his former teammates, "I love you guys and I'll miss the good times we shared."

Sanchez, drafted fifth overall in 2009, is a free agent who missed all of last season with a shoulder injury suffered in the Jets' third preseason game against the Giants - paving the way for rookie Geno Smith to start every game.

Sanchez's release was listed Monday on the NFL's transaction wire as "failed physical," but he is already throwing and is expected to be ready in time for training camp. Philadelphia and St. Louis are among the teams believed to have interest, although he would likely need to pass a physical before he is signed.

Sanchez, 27, tore the labrum in his right shoulder against the Giants and needed surgery to repair it last October. He had three years remaining on his contract, but the move saved the Jets $8.3 million in salary cap space.

He has thrown for 12,092 yards in his NFL career with 68 touchdowns and 69 interceptions, but also had a league-leading 52 turnovers during the 2011-12 seasons.

NOTES: Former Jets QB Greg McElroy, who spent last season on Cincinnati's practice squad, joined ESPN as a college football analyst for the SEC Network. McElroy, a seventh-round draft pick out of Alabama in 2011, announced his retirement from football last Friday. McElroy will work with Tim Tebow and Jesse Palmer, among others, when the network launches in August.

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

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