National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

Parker, Duncan won't play for Spurs vs Nets

NEW YORK (AP) Spurs stars Tony Parker and Tim Duncan will not play Thursday night when San Antonio visits Brooklyn.

Parker (lower back) left Wednesday night's game against Washington at halftime and did not return. The Spurs said the 37-year-old Duncan will miss the Nets game to rest after playing 40 minutes, his season high, in the double-overtime, 125-118 win over the Wizards.

San Antonio's Boris Diaw was listed as questionable for the Nets game because of food poisoning. The Spurs also played at Washington without Manu Ginobili (left hamstring) and Kawhi Leonard (broken left hand).

Freeman humbled by biggest deal in Braves' history

Freddie Freeman says he won't try to change to prove he deserves the biggest contract in Atlanta Braves' history.

"I'm going to go out there and just keep trying to get better," he said Wednesday, a day after his $135 million, eight-year deal was finalized. "I progressively got better the last three years. Hopefully, I can stay healthy and continue to do so. I'm not going to try to put extra pressure, just go out there and keep doing what I've been doing."

Freeman already has plans on how to spend some of the money.

"The first thing I've got to do is pay for a wedding," he said, looking ahead to the Nov. 22 ceremony.

Freeman's fiance, Chelsea Goff, sat in the front during the news conference alongside the player's father. She said planned to shop for a wedding gown on Thursday.

Freeman gets a $2,875,000 signing bonus, of which $1,875,000 is payable on May 1 and $1 million on July 1. He receives salaries of $5,125,000 this year, $8.5 million in 2015, $12 million in 2016, $20.5 million in 2017, $21 million in each of the following two years and $22 million in each of the final two seasons.

The agreement covers three arbitration-eligible seasons and five years in which he could have become a free agent.

Freeman's deal tops the $90 million, six-year contract for Chipper Jones that covered 2001-06 and came one year after the Braves gave outfielder B.J. Upton the biggest contract for a free agent in team history - $75.25 million for five years.

Upton struggled in his first year in Atlanta, hitting only .184 and losing his starting job. After the season, general manager Frank Wren said Upton may have felt too much pressure.

Wren said Freeman can handle the long-term deal.

"One of the things we were looking at was ... the right timing," Wren said. "Has the player established himself well enough that this won't affect him one way or the other? This was the perfect timing for us."

Freeman, 24, has played only three full seasons. He was an All-Star last year, when he hit .319 with 23 homers and 109 RBIs. He matched his career high in home runs, set highs in batting average and RBIs and finished fifth in NL MVP voting. He has topped 20 home runs in three straight seasons.

"He keeps getting better," manager Fredi Gonzalez said. "I think before all this is said and done, it's going to be a contract that's well worth it because he's going to keep getting better. His numbers are going to keep getting better. Last year he set out to drive in 100 runs. And he did it."

Freeman said he was humbled to receive the long extension so early in his career.

"For them to believe in me with this kind of contract is truly an honor, humbling," he said. "But to happen this young, I never thought it would be even possible."

Freeman then paused before adding with a huge grin "But I'm happy!"

In addition to his salary, he would get a $500,000 bonus if he's NL MVP, $1 million if he wins the award a second time and $1.5 million for a third. He gets $200,000 if he's second through fifth in the voting.

In addition. Freeman receives $50,000 apiece for All-Star selection and World Series MVP, and $25,000 each for Gold Glove, Silver Slugger and league championship series MVP.

Outfielder Jason Heyward and the Braves agreed Tuesday to a $13.3 million, two-year contract. Heyward and Freeman had filed for salary arbitration last month. Closer Craig Kimbrel is the Braves' only player left in arbitration.

The Braves' biggest news of the offseason was their surprising plans to open a new stadium in 2017 in suburban Cobb County. Wren said expectations for increased revenue from the new stadium played a role in Freeman's deal.

"We looked to how we could strategize to make that happen," Wren said. "And I think there's also the element of the new situation in Cobb County three years from now that allows us to be more competitive. And I think that's evidenced by this signing."

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AP freelance writer Amy Jinkner-Lloyd in Atlanta contributed to this report.

SOCHI: Fenninger fastest woman in downhill training run

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- It took some major course work to turn the last big jump on the women's Olympic downhill from terrifying to rather tame.

A one-hour delay, too. And three skiers sailing high into the air, with one racer even hurting both knees when she landed.

Quite a start on the new course.

Anna Fenninger of Austria had the fastest time in a training run that had to be halted early on so workers could alter a harrowing jump. Fenninger finished the tricky course in 1 minute, 41.73 seconds to put herself 0.21 seconds ahead of Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland.

American skier Julia Mancuso was third, 0.38 seconds behind. Defending champion Lindsey Vonn is sitting out the Olympics after undergoing recent knee surgery.

Some of the skiers complained about the quality of forerunners that were used, believing that faster, more experienced course testers were needed to avoid what took place, with the opening three racers getting too much air on the jump down the home stretch.

That led to a lengthy delay to fix the course - something that does occasionally happen on the World Cup circuit. The three racers were given the option of running the course again, with only Laurenne Ross of the United States doing so.

Daniela Merighetti of Italy skipped the re-run after hurting both knees when she landed hard on the ground after the jump. She had her left knee examined later in the day and her coach, Raimund Plancker, said at the team captains' meeting that she "has nothing broken so she is OK."

Merighetti's teammate, Verena Stuffer, also elected not to race again.

"I'm upset they didn't have more expert forerunners," Merighetti said after her run. "They would've known not to send us down."

That sentiment was shared by Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein as well after a run in which she finished fourth.

"The problem is we don't have really good test runners and forerunners," said Weirather, who finished 0.53 seconds behind Fenninger. "We should have two very good forerunners, just retired, paying them for one or two years, doing just that. Then we would have a responsible test run and then it would be much safer."

Women's race director Atle Skaardal grasped where the athletes' gripes were coming from and said: "We, of course, would always like to have better quality forerunners. But we can't blame them."

The International Ski Federation had workers adjusting the course for quite some time during the training run and then manicured it even more after the race.

"I think it's perfect or almost perfect now," Skaardal said. "We are quite confident now it is OK, but to be safe we have also adjusted the course setting. That will hopefully take down the speed in that section."

For some, it was smooth sailing once the jump was altered.

"Easy," Tina Maze of Slovenia said. "I didn't jump far. I heard the others went pretty high (earlier in the day)."

They certainly did. Ross was the first skier of the day to go and sailed over the final jump - and just kept sailing, and sailing, and sailing.

"You feel like you're never going to come down," she said.

On her second pass, Ross took the jump at a more leisurely pace, not really catching any air. She passed along a favorable course report up the mountain to her teammates, saying everything was just fine and they could attack it.

Mancuso did just that, too.

"This course is technical and faster than I thought," said Mancuso, who captured two silver medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. "It's definitely faster."

She's referring to two years ago, when there was a test race held on the Sochi course. Back then, the conditions weren't as good as Thursday, Lara Gut of Switzerland said.

"Now, it's right," said Gut, one of the favorites in the downhill. "They prepared a really nice downhill."

Ross felt honored to be the first skier through the Olympic course, even if the experience was a little "intimidating." She said she held back a bit, just to get the lay of the land.

Still, the jump definitely caught her by surprise. Like Merighetti and Weirather, Ross said more experienced forerunners are necessary.

"It would be a little bit more settling for us that have the first couple of bibs, to have athletes going as fast as we're going," Ross said. "It's tough when they're just not going quite as fast as you."

SOCHI: Canada tabs St. Louis as Stamkos' replacement

SOCHI, Russia -- Canada's Olympic hockey team has picked a healthy Tampa Bay Lightning forward to replace an injured one.

Hockey Canada announced Thursday that Martin St. Louis is on the roster for the Sochi games to replace Steven Stamkos.

Doctors ruled out Stamkos on Wednesday because he hasn't recovered sufficiently from a broken right leg suffered in a Nov. 11 National Hockey League game.

Stamkos has been practicing and hoped to play for the Lightning on Saturday against Detroit in their final game before the Olympic break. He had 14 goals and nine assists in 17 games this season.

"I heard from Stammer that he wasn't going to go, so I knew it was a possibility," St. Louis told reporters in Tampa on Thursday. "So I guess I was prepared for it."

St. Louis said he felt bad for Stamkos.

"I think we've got to understand how hard he's tried and worked to put himself in the position he's in and give himself a chance," St. Louis said. "Obviously he's disappointed and I'm disappointed for him. Stammer's a true professional and he's done everything he can this past month to get back to the Lightning first and hopefully to Team Canada."

Steve Yzerman, the Canadians' executive director and Tampa Bay's general manager, chose St. Louis over Philadelphia's Claude Giroux and Pittsburgh's James Neal.

St. Louis had 54 points in 56 games, entering Thursday night's game against Toronto. The 38-year-old forward led the league in points in the 2012-13 shortened season with 17 goals and 43 assists in 48 games.

"I don't see this as Marty replacing me, I see it as Marty deserving a spot on this team and going over and hopefully bringing back a gold medal," said Stamkos.

St. Louis has won two World Championship silver medals for Canada over his career. He played in the 2006 Turin Olympics, scoring two goals and an assist in Canada's disappointing seventh-place finish. 

SOCHI: Miller razor-sharp in first downhill training session

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia -- Bode Miller is at his fifth Olympics and already owns a U.S.-record five Alpine medals, so in many ways he certainly already has, as he put it Thursday, "been here and done this."

While Miller's past accomplishments, plus propensity for saying whatever is on his mind, might have made him an athlete to keep an eye on during the Sochi Games anyway, his skiing still can grab headlines. Miller delivered the fastest opening downhill training run ahead of Sunday's race, finishing in 2 minutes, 7.75 seconds.

"He's been fast this whole season, but especially these last three weeks," said Aksel Lund Svindal of Norway, who tied for eighth in Thursday's training and, like Miller, won a medal of each color at the 2010 Vancouver Olympics. "And this is also a course that should be good for him. So I'm not surprised."

The women's downhill training was interrupted for about an hour while the lip of a dangerous jump was flattened by machines. Only three racers went down the hill before the delay, and one got hurt. Anna Fenninger of Austria turned in the best time, 1:41.73, followed by Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland and Julia Mancuso of the U.S. (Defending champion Lindsey Vonn is sidelined after right knee surgery.)

Mancuso is the sort of athlete who says the sorts of things the folks who run the Olympics might like - and perhaps expect - to hear about participating.

"I just still really get excited," she said. "My Olympic experience is really exciting, and I just get fueled by the energy, and it doesn't matter if it's my first time or my fourth time."

And then there's Miller.

"Not to take anything away from the Olympics," he said, a pair of sunglasses perched atop the "USA" blue wool cap on his head, "but it just isn't the same after I've done it as many times as I have."

He made his debut at the 1998 Nagano Games, won a pair of silvers four years later in Salt Lake City, boasted about his late-night partying while failing to even finish three of five events in Turin in 2006, then left Vancouver in 2010 with a gold in super combined, silver in super-G and bronze in downhill.

Miller's also a two-time overall World Cup champion, a man who has started 430 races on the circuit, earning 33 wins and another 45 top-three finishes.

All of which means he's very talented at what he does - a good thing, naturally - and has plenty of experience - not necessarily good, in Miller's view.

Let him explain.

"It can be a hindrance to be in your fifth Olympics, with 400-something World Cups behind you: I do get less nervous; I do get less excited. I'm much more focused, and I'm hoping that kind of trade-off works in my favor," Miller said. "But I definitely can see, from my perspective now, some of my competitors, in a way, have an advantage over me."

Teammate Marco Sullivan was asked how Miller has changed, not only as a ski racer but as a person.

The query drew a hearty laugh.

"The relationship between Bode and I and all the guys is pretty much on the ski hill," Sullivan said. "I can say the way Bode skis is really similar to when I first saw him ski. ... He skis hard, skis technically amazingly well, and he's fast, and he wants to win. Super-competitive. And I don't know - he's Bode."

Two years ago, Miller injured his left knee during a Sochi Olympic test run on the same course used Thursday. He wound up needing surgery, then sat out all of last season.

He's in much better shape than he was for Vancouver, he says, and has trimmed about 20 pounds from his frame. He finished second in a World Cup giant slalom in Beaver Creek in December, then had a pair of top-three finishes in Kitzbuehel, Austria, last month.

Miller himself will say he does not glide as well as many other racers, but he can find other places to make up time.

"I have areas where I can beat them, where I'm sneakier," Miller said, "where I can look at (the) line and know that I can do something that maybe hasn't been done before."

The first three starters in the women's run soared too high off the jump down the home stretch. Daniela Merighetti of Italy hurt both knees during her too-hard landing. They were among those complaining that the forerunners who went down the slope to check on the course weren't going fast enough to really test whether that jump would be too difficult for the competitors.

"The problem is," said Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein, who was fourth, "we don't have really good test runners and forerunners."

SOCHI: USA's Mancuso finishes third in women's downhill training run

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia — It took some major course work to turn the last big jump on the women's Olympic downhill from terrifying to rather tame.

A one-hour delay, too. And three skiers sailing high into the air, with one racer even hurting both knees when she landed.

Quite a start on the new course.

Anna Fenninger of Austria had the fastest time in a training run that had to be halted early on so workers could alter a harrowing jump. Fenninger finished the tricky course in 1 minute, 41.73 seconds to put herself 0.21 seconds ahead of Fraenzi Aufdenblatten of Switzerland.

American skier Julia Mancuso was third, 0.38 seconds behind. Defending champion Lindsey Vonn is sitting out the Olympics after undergoing recent knee surgery.

Some of the skiers complained about the quality of forerunners that were used, believing that faster, more experienced course testers were needed to avoid what took place, with the opening three racers getting too much air on the jump down the home stretch.

That led to a lengthy delay to fix the course — something that does occasionally happen on the World Cup circuit. The three racers were given the option of running the course again, with only Laurenne Ross of the United States doing so.

Daniela Merighetti of Italy skipped the re-run after hurting both knees when she landed hard on the ground after the jump. She had her left knee examined later in the day and her coach, Raimund Plancker, said at the team captains' meeting that she "has nothing broken so she is OK."

Merighetti's teammate, Verena Stuffer, also elected not to race again.

"I'm upset they didn't have more expert forerunners," Merighetti said after her run. "They would've known not to send us down."

That sentiment was shared by Tina Weirather of Liechtenstein as well after a run in which she finished fourth.

"The problem is we don't have really good test runners and forerunners," said Weirather, who finished 0.53 seconds behind Fenninger. "We should have two very good forerunners, just retired, paying them for one or two years, doing just that. Then we would have a responsible test run and then it would be much safer."

Women's race director Atle Skaardal grasped where the athletes' gripes were coming from and said: "We, of course, would always like to have better quality forerunners. But we can't blame them."

The International Ski Federation had workers adjusting the course for quite some time during the training run and then manicured it even more after the race.

"I think it's perfect or almost perfect now," Skaardal said. "We are quite confident now it is OK, but to be safe we have also adjusted the course setting. That will hopefully take down the speed in that section."

For some, it was smooth sailing once the jump was altered.

"Easy," Tina Maze of Slovenia said. "I didn't jump far. I heard the others went pretty high (earlier in the day)."

They certainly did. Ross was the first skier of the day to go and sailed over the final jump — and just kept sailing, and sailing, and sailing.

"You feel like you're never going to come down," she said.

On her second pass, Ross took the jump at a more leisurely pace, not really catching any air. She passed along a favorable course report up the mountain to her teammates, saying everything was just fine and they could attack it.

Mancuso did just that, too.

"This course is technical and faster than I thought," said Mancuso, who captured two silver medals at the 2010 Vancouver Games. "It's definitely faster."

She's referring to two years ago, when there was a test race held on the Sochi course. Back then, the conditions weren't as good as Thursday, Lara Gut of Switzerland said.

"Now, it's right," said Gut, one of the favorites in the downhill. "They prepared a really nice downhill."

Ross felt honored to be the first skier through the Olympic course, even if the experience was a little "intimidating." She said she held back a bit, just to get the lay of the land.

Still, the jump definitely caught her by surprise. Like Merighetti and Weirather, Ross said more experienced forerunners are necessary.

"It would be a little bit more settling for us that have the first couple of bibs, to have athletes going as fast as we're going," Ross said. "It's tough when they're just not going quite as fast as you."

Galaxy sign Bruce Arena to contract extension

CARSON, Calif. (AP) The Los Angeles Galaxy have signed coach Bruce Arena to a multi-year contract extension.

Terms of the deal were not released when the extension was announced Thursday.

Arena, a three-time MLS coach of the year, joined the Galaxy in 2008 and has led the club to MLS titles in 2011 and 2012. He has an 82-46-44 regular-season record with Los Angeles.

Arena said in a release that he is honored to remain with what he called the "pre-eminent soccer club in the United States."

My name is my name: Shine off Tiger Woods

SOCHI -- So one of the fun things I’m doing while here in Russia ... I’m asking random Russian people to name the first active American athlete who comes to mind. It’s just an offbeat little exercise. A couple have asked me to name Russian athletes I’m familiar with, and I come armed with Alexander Ovechkin, Maria Sharapova, Andrei Kirilenko, Yevgeny Malkin, Drago ...

I don’t really say Drago.

But I’d love it if just one person would say Rocky Balboa.

Here’s the point. So far, the names I’ve heard are more or less who you would expect. LeBron. Kobe. Michael Phelps. I’ll keep you updated. One guy, wearing a Giants ski cap, actually said: Eli Manning. I love that. In all, I’ve probably asked 11 or 12 people so far, so it’s hardly worth mentioning. But there is one semi-interesting thing.

Nobody yet has named Tiger Woods.

Now, this is only SEMI-interesting because, as you probably know, golf is all but nonexistent in Russia. For years there was only one 18-hole golf course in the entire country; even now there are fewer than a half dozen. Almost nobody plays golf. And professional golf is simply a non-starter here. There is not a single Russian man ranked in the world’s top 1,500 -- which is the entire ranking. I don’t think there is any television access to the golf majors. So, logically, there’s no reason at all that anyone here should know Tiger Woods or care.

Still ... I do keep waiting for someone to mention him. I have long believed that Tiger Woods -- like Babe Ruth and Muhammad Ali and Michael Jordan and Pele before him -- was bigger than his sport. At his peak he transcended golf, transcended America, had become something iconic and symbolic and titanic.

He still might be that. And then, well, he might not.

You might think this is all just an excuse to write about Tiger Woods’ slow start -- and you would not be entirely wrong. Woods, you might know, has played in two tournaments so far in 2013, both at places he has dominated. He started the year at the Famers Insurance Open at Torrey Pines in San Diego. He has won the tournament seven times (four in a row from 2005 to 2008) and Torrey is the site of his greatest victory, the 2008 U.S. Open he won on one leg over Rocco Mediate in a playoff. This time he shot a mesmerizing 79 on the third day and missed the cut. It was kind of mind-blowing.

Then he went to Dubai, a tournament he has won twice and has always impressed. He finished 41st despite making three straight birdies to finish. Sky Sports analyst and swing coach Ewen Murray put it bluntly. “I think this is the worst I have ever seen Woods technically.”

There have been a million analyses already of Woods’ rough start -- and his decision to take a little time off to rest and work on his game -- which might mean something and, just as easily, might not. It’s just two tournaments. It is a month or two before the golf season really even gets going. The temptation with Woods is always to put too much emphasis on the moment -- to shout, “He’s back!” when he wins something, to lament, “He’s finished” when he does not. If he wins his next tournament in Florida, he will become the odds-on favorite at the Masters all over again.

Still, the sluggish start is a reminder that Tiger Woods -- even if he plays great golf like he did often last year -- is not Tiger Woods. He’s still the biggest golfer, often the best, certainly the most interesting and the one who can move the needle. But he’s a golfer. The Tiger Woods who stretched our imagination, who broke through the constraints of his own sport, who represented not just golf brilliance but ALL brilliance -- that guy is gone. Well, he’s not gone. He’s 38, tired, working with another swing coach, his body has been stitched up several times and you sometimes wonder why he even bothers to play at Farmers Insurance Opens.

A few years ago, even before the tabloid scandal, a prominent golfer told me that he did not think Tiger Woods would be a great old golfer like Jack Nicklaus or Ben Hogan had been. When i asked why, he said: “Because great success breeds great boredom.” His point was that the laser focus and the desperate hunger that fueled Tiger Woods to play golf at a previously unachieved level ... that stuff grows old just like the body. He doubted Woods would stay that interested into his 40s.

“You don’t just need talent and work ethic to be great,” he told me. “You need a reason.”

Tiger Woods is rich. He’s endured turbulent fame. He played his sport better than anyone who ever lived. Does he have that reason? That motivation? My guess is that, like most of us, some days he will, some days he won’t. Nobody stays forever young. Even Bob Dylan is doing car commercials.

Curt Schilling announces he has cancer

HARTFORD, Conn. (AP) Former pitcher Curt Schilling announced Wednesday that he is battling cancer.

The 47-year-old Schilling divulged the news in a statement released through his employer, Bristol-based ESPN. It did not indicate what type of cancer Schilling has, when he was diagnosed or what his prognosis might be.

"With my incredibly talented medical team I'm ready to try and win another big game," said Schilling, who retired in 2009 after 20 years in the major leagues.

"I've been so very blessed and I feel grateful for what God has allowed my family to have and experience, and I'll embrace this fight just like the rest of them, with resolute faith and head on."

ESPN spokesman Mike Soltys said Schilling is taking a leave of absence. He recently signed a multiyear contract extension with the network and was to be part of the "Sunday Night Baseball" broadcast team, as well as contribute to the network's studio coverage, including its spring training coverage, Soltys said.

"Our thoughts are with Curt and his family during this challenging time," the Bristol-based network said in a statement. "His ESPN teammates wish him continued strength in his cancer fight and we look forward to welcoming him back to our baseball coverage whenever he's ready".

Schilling played for five teams during his Major League career. He won three world championships, with the Arizona Diamondbacks (2001) and Boston Red Sox (2004, 2007), sharing the World Series MVP award with teammate Randy Johnson in 2001.

He won 216 games and struck out 3,116 batters during his career, but is perhaps best known for pitching in the 2004 ALCS and World Series after having stitches to mend an ankle injury. His bloody sock was later put on display in Cooperstown.

Schilling has been in the news recently after the failure of 38 Studios, a video game company he owned in Rhode Island, with the help of a $75 million state loan guarantee. The company went bankrupt last year, leaving Rhode Island taxpayers on the hook to pay back tens of millions of dollars.

Schilling said he invested and lost as much as $50 million.

This is not the first time he and his family have battled health issues.

Schilling recently revealed he suffered a heart attack in November 2011. His wife, Shonda, successfully battled melanoma in 2001.

His daughter, Gabby, took to Twitter on Wednesday to ask for prayers for her father.

"So i guess the word is out, if everyone could just keep my dad and family in their prayers it would mean a lot!" she wrote.

Ohio State stocks up with several top linebackers

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) It's not the same as a victory on the field. Yet having a nationally ranked recruiting class is almost as important to Ohio State coach Urban Meyer.

"I hear people say it's not important," Meyer said Wednesday on the first day athletes could sign up to play major-college football. "I disagree. As long as you're keeping score we're going to try to win. I'm disappointed we weren't the No. 1 recruiting class in the country."

The Buckeyes had to settle for No. 3 in the country according to most of the experts.

Meyer and his staff were seeking reinforcements at several thin spots - principally linebacker and offensive line - and were pleased with what they got.

"There is a correlation between how teams do and where your recruiting class is ranked," said Meyer, 24-2 through two years at Ohio State after winning two national titles at Florida. "But certainly that's not the final product because you've got to coach and develop them after you get them here. But we do pay attention to (the national recruiting rankings)."

Ohio State locked up 23 players, including four linebackers, five offensive linemen and four wide receivers. The Buckeyes needed help at all of those positions, since top linebacker Ryan Shazier left a year early for the NFL draft, the line loses four senior starters and the leading receiver is also graduating.

Perhaps the biggest get was Raekwon McMillan, a 6-foot-2, 249-pound brute out of Georgia who some scouting services called the best linebacker in the nation.

"Every time I visited Ohio State I felt it was the place for me," said McMillan, who chose Ohio State over several powerhouses including Clemson, which beat the Buckeyes in the Orange Bowl. "Everything about it was great. Coach Meyer, the coaching staff is one of the best in the nation and I really like working with these guys."

Meyer has been unhappy with his linebacker play. He clearly took a step toward changing that by also bringing in Ohio Associated Press Mr. Football Dante Booker Jr. out of LeBron James' high school, St. Vincent-St. Mary in Akron, along with Kyle Berger from Cleveland St. Ignatius and Sam Hubbard of Cincinnati Moeller - three of the top prep programs in the state.

Johnnie Dixon, a fleet wide-out from West Palm Beach, Fla., said he hoped to step right in and play.

"I've just got to work hard," he said. "Nothing is ever given to you. Depending on how hard you work, it's there."

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Follow Rusty Miller on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/RustyMillerAP

Seattle erupts during Seahawks Super Bowl parade

SEATTLE (AP) Hundreds of thousands of notoriously loud Seahawks fans cranked up the volume Wednesday, cheering, chanting and going berserk during a parade to celebrate the first Super Bowl victory in the history of the franchise.

The mood in downtown Seattle was electrified as the parade featuring the NFL champions began near the Space Needle and slowly made its way to CenturyLink Field, the home of the team.

Police estimated about 700,000 people - more than the population of the city - attended what might have been the largest gathering in Seattle history.

Shawn Cooper and Marlana Studebaker of Covington staked out a spot hours before the parade started and displayed supersized photo cutouts of quarterback Russell Wilson and cornerback Richard Sherman, prompting many fans to stop and take photos.

"This was a long-awaited win. It's well worth the wait," Cooper said. "They're years ahead of their time which makes me believe there's another one coming."

Dakota Heaphy, 20, who called himself a lifelong Seahawks fan, and friend Ellie Hergert, 20, drove all night from Cheyenne, Wyo. - more than 1,400 miles away.

"My boss is a Broncos fan and said we kicked their butts and deserved to go," Hergert said.

Revelers packed the 2-mile route and greeted the team at CenturyLink Field and nearby Safeco Field. They wore blue and green wigs, waved flags, scarves and signs, and erupted into song and dance.

The Washington National Guard chauffeured many of the players in Humvees and other military vehicles under blue, sunny skies in cold temperatures. Elected officials rode along in amphibious vehicles used to take tourists around the city.

Players enjoyed the celebration as much as the fans.

Running back Marshawn Lynch sat on the hood of a vehicle carrying the Sea Gals cheerleaders. He tossed Skittles - his favorite treat - into the crowd.

Other Seahawks players threw jerseys and T-shirts to fans while waving blue "12" flags as a sign of gratitude to the loyal fans, known as the team's 12th man.

Boisterous fans observed a "moment of loudness" at 12:12 p.m. Crowds also gathered in Spokane and Olympia to celebrate the first championship in the 38-year history of the franchise.

Many fans had camped out overnight to reserve front-row seats along the route, braving freezing temperatures. Others perched on window sills and balconies, climbed trees and pillars, or sat on sturdier shoulders to get a better view.

At Westlake Center in the middle of the route, smartphones and cameras were thrust into the air whenever players rolled by.

Seattle city officials asked the public to keep cellphone use to a minimum to keep lines free for emergency use. There were some reported difficulties with 911 calls getting through, said Jeff Reading, a spokesman for the mayor.

Chris Hoops, a sales worker from Everett, leaned against a pillar with two of his school-aged daughters looking cold as they bundled in sleeping bags at his feet.

The family left home at 7 a.m. to get a good spot for the parade. The girls, 11-year-old Emily and 8-year-old Bella, warmed up when they were asked whether they were sorry about missing school. They shouted "No" in unison.

"I like the Seahawks," Emily said. "They were really good this season."

Bubba Lezard, 28, of Enumclaw said his tribe, the Muckleshoot Indian Tribe, gave everyone the day off in honor of the Super Bowl champions. He, his wife and 6-month old baby traveled 1 1/2 hours into Seattle for what he called a once in a lifetime experience.

Paul Szabo of Shoreline also pulled his two kids out if school to attend the parade.

"I think the teachers are probably jealous," he said. "If I was them I would have canceled school."

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AP reporters Donna Gordon Blankinship, Gene Johnson and Tim Booth contributed to this report.

White drops out of slopestyle following wrist injury

Shaun White jammed his wrist on one jump and watched the world's best snowboarders join him in tumbling down the supersized, super-scary Olympic slopestyle course.

Quickly, his choice became clear: Time to step away from the danger, and give himself a better chance in the event he knows he can win.

The world's most famous snowboarder pulled out of the new Olympic event Wednesday, saying that after much deliberation, he has decided to bypass a chance at winning two gold medals at these games and instead concentrate on the halfpipe, where he'll have a chance to win his third straight title next week.

"With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on," White said in a statement.

The world's most decorated rider in a sport known for its risk-takers, White's decision was a stunner that dealt yet another blow to the still-to-start Sochi Games. They have been wracked by security threats and political dust-ups, along with the loss of at least one other headliner, injured American skier Lindsey Vonn.

White isn't leaving, but his departure from an event that was essentially introduced at the Olympics this year to take advantage of his star power certainly can't make the folks at the IOC or NBC too happy.

"He's a notable person and he probably would have brought more viewers to slopestyle," said Nick Goepper, an American who competes in the skiing version of the event.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams downplayed the idea that the course is too dangerous.

"I don't think that's an issue," he said. "A lot of the athletes have said they're very happy, they like the venue."

Slopestyle qualifying starts Thursday, the day before the opening ceremony.

Snowboarding's newest and most-hyped Olympic event is a judged sport — a speed-packed trip down the mountain, filled with rails, bumps and, most notably, steeply angled jumps that allow riders to flip two, sometimes three times, before landing. White hurt his wrist on one of the takeoff ramps, which were built "kind of obnoxiously tall," according to one top rider, Canadian Mark McMorris.

White, who had already hurt his shoulder and ankle in the lead-up to the Olympics, deemed his latest injury — the jammed wrist — as nothing serious and said reports about it were overblown. But he said there remained serious issues with the slopestyle course.

"There are definitely concerns about the course," he said. "It's been interesting to see how it's developed and changed over the past couple days. The big question is if it will continue to change. Because every day, they have riders meetings and they give feedback. Sometimes there's changes, sometimes there's not."

Reaction to White's decision came from several corners, not all of it positive.

"Mr. White... It's easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can't win," said Canadian rider Sebastian Toutant in a tweet that was later deleted.

Maybe so, but White certainly wasn't alone in questioning the course.

Australian Torah Bright, the defending women's halfpipe champion who is trying to compete in three events this year — halfpipe, slopestyle and a racer's version called snowboardcross — also described an overly treacherous few days of training.

"We're here as the world's best snowboarders," she told The Associated Press. "Too bad we don't have a world-class course. The craftsmanship doesn't match the world-class athletes that are here."

Out of slopestyle, White will now focus solely on next Tuesday's contest in the halfpipe, which is essentially a hollowed-out ice shell with 22-foot (7-meter) sidewalls. There is danger there, but unlike slopestyle, it's based mostly on the types of head-over-heels tricks the riders try and not the setup of the pipe.

In a news conference about an hour before he gave first word of his decision to the "Today" show, White was asked whether halfpipe was more important to him.

"For me, I definitely feel the halfpipe carries a bit more weight, a bit more pressure. I guess that's fair enough to say," he said.

He is favored to become the first male American to win three straight golds in the Winter Games.

His prospects for slopestyle, on the other hand, were uncertain. He's the five-time Winter X Games champion, though he more or less gave up the event about five years ago to focus solely on the halfpipe. He hurt his ankle on the halfpipe in the season's first Olympic qualifier, then bashed his shoulder during a nasty fall in slopestyle about a month later.

He pulled out of events, changed his mind a few times about the X Games — considered the biggest snowboarding event outside of the Olympics — before skipping that, as well. In all, it has been a hectic lead-up period as he tried to deal with both events, and it didn't stop once he reached Russia. The slopestyle final is set for Saturday, which would cost him the first day of practice on the halfpipe.

"It's tough juggling both events," White said. "Definitely not easy. It's something that's been talked about quite a bit. Losing a day of practice is a serious thing, especially with a new course and the challenges I'd face in slopestyle."

He said watching the injuries pile up on the course didn't build much confidence.

Another top rider, Torstein Horgmo of Norway, was forced out after breaking his collarbone during practice Monday. On Tuesday, Finnish rider Marika Enne was carted off the course with a concussion.

There were dozens of other less-serious flips and spills.

Many riders said the dangers of the course were being overblown — "There's no way this course is too dangerous," American Sage Kotsenburg insisted.

But White and Bright are not alone in criticizing the setup.

"It's a little intense, a little challenging," said American rider Jamie Anderson, a gold-medal favorite on the women's side. "The jumps are still a little weird. I'm having a questionable time getting used to them."

While the other riders might breathe a little easier knowing one of their main competitors is out of the way, White understands his place in the sport and the gravity of his decision.

"Not one I take lightly," he said. "I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history — a history I had planned on being part of."

Kentucky recruiting class considered its best ever

LEXINGTON, Ky. (AP) Mark Stoops didn't have to go far to recruit Kentucky's best-rated class in school history.

The second-year Wildcats coach on Wednesday announced a 28-member class including 11 prospects from Stoops' native Ohio, along with the state of Kentucky's top four players, one of the program's best showings in-state.

The group includes 11 four-star prospects resulting in best-ever rankings by Rivals.com (14th) and Scout.com (20).

Leading the in-state contingent are quarterback Drew Barker of Burlington; defensive tackles Matt Elam of Elizabethtown and Adrian Middleton of Bowling Green; and defensive end Lloyd Tubman of Louisville, who announced his decision to play for the Wildcats on Wednesday.

Fifteen defensive players dominate this class, including six linemen and four linebackers, critical to improving a team coming off a 2-10 season and is winless in the Southeastern Conference since 2011.

Kentucky also added four wide receivers to what was a thin group last season, along with four offensive linemen. The class includes junior college players Ryan Flannigan, a linebacker, defensive tackle Cory Johnson and cornerback A.J. Stamps.

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KENTUCKY

National rankings (Rivals 14; Scout 20).

Best in class: Drew Barker, QB, Conner, Ky. Ranked by Rivals.com as Kentucky's top prospect, his early commitment to the Wildcats over South Carolina and others opened the eyes of top-flight recruits who began looking at Kentucky as a viable choice.

Best of the rest: Matt Elam, DE, Elizabethtown, Ky. Chose the Wildcats over Notre Dame and Alabama.

Late addition: Lloyd Tubman, DE. The Louisville native picked Kentucky on Wednesday over the hometown Cardinals and Nebraska.

One that got away: Derrick Kelly, OL. The Havana, Fla., product de-committed from the Wildcats to accept a late offer from national champion Florida State.

NOTE: Barker is among seven recruits enrolled this semester and was featured in a Kentucky football commercial that ran in parts of the state during halftime of Sunday's Super Bowl. Wildcats offensive coordinator Neal Brown said the new QB "has those abilities that will give him the opportunity to come in and compete, and he's going to be thrown into the fire this spring.

LeBron James teams up with Starz for comedy series

NEW YORK (AP) LeBron James is no stranger to getting the greenlight to shoot, but this time it's for a scripted comedy series set in the world of professional basketball.

Starz network is giving the go-ahead his sitcom, "Survivor's Remorse."

The Miami Heat star will serve as an executive producer of the half-hour show. He will team with Tom Werner, a force behind series such as "The Cosby Show" and "Roseanne." Actor-writer Mike O'Malley will also be an executive producer.

The story follows Cam Calloway, a basketball phenom in his early twenties who is thrust into prominence after signing a multi-million-dollar contract with a pro team in Atlanta.

The series will shoot in Atlanta. Its six-episode first season airs this fall.

The network didn't announce any cast members.

Shaun White pulls out of Olympic slopestyle competition

KRASNAYA POLYANA, Russia - Shaun White jammed his wrist on one jump and watched the world's best snowboarders join him in tumbling down the supersized, super-scary Olympic slopestyle course.

Quickly, his choice became clear: Time to step away from the danger, and give himself a better chance in the event he knows he can win.

The world's most famous snowboarder pulled out of the new Olympic event Wednesday, saying that after much deliberation, he has decided to bypass a chance at winning two gold medals at these games and instead concentrate on the halfpipe, where he'll have a chance to win his third straight title next week.

"With the practice runs I have taken, even after course modifications and watching fellow athletes get hurt, the potential risk of injury is a bit too much for me to gamble my other Olympics goals on," White said in a statement.

The world's most decorated rider in a sport known for its risk-takers, White's decision was a stunner that dealt yet another blow to the still-to-start Sochi Games. They have been wracked by security threats and political dust-ups, along with the loss of at least one other headliner, injured American skier Lindsey Vonn.

White isn't leaving, but his departure from an event that was essentially introduced at the Olympics this year to take advantage of his star power certainly can't make the folks at the IOC or NBC too happy.

"He's a notable person and he probably would have brought more viewers to slopestyle," said Nick Goepper, an American who competes in the skiing version of the event.

IOC spokesman Mark Adams downplayed the idea that the course is too dangerous.

"I don't think that's an issue," he said. "A lot of the athletes have said they're very happy, they like the venue."

Slopestyle qualifying starts Thursday, the day before the opening ceremony.

Snowboarding's newest and most-hyped Olympic event is a judged sport - a speed-packed trip down the mountain, filled with rails, bumps and, most notably, steeply angled jumps that allow riders to flip two, sometimes three times, before landing. White hurt his wrist on one of the takeoff ramps, which were built "kind of obnoxiously tall," according to one top rider, Canadian Mark McMorris.

White, who had already hurt his shoulder and ankle in the lead-up to the Olympics, deemed his latest injury - the jammed wrist - as nothing serious and said reports about it were overblown. But he said there remained serious issues with the slopestyle course.

"There are definitely concerns about the course," he said. "It's been interesting to see how it's developed and changed over the past couple days. The big question is if it will continue to change. Because every day, they have riders meetings and they give feedback. Sometimes there's changes, sometimes there's not."

Reaction to White's decision came from several corners, not all of it positive.

"Mr. White... It's easy to find excuses to pull out of a contest when you think you can't win," said Canadian rider Sebastian Toutant in a tweet that was later deleted.

Maybe so, but White certainly wasn't alone in questioning the course.

Australian Torah Bright, the defending women's halfpipe champion who is trying to compete in three events this year - halfpipe, slopestyle and a racer's version called snowboardcross - also described an overly treacherous few days of training.

"We're here as the world's best snowboarders," she told The Associated Press. "Too bad we don't have a world-class course. The craftsmanship doesn't match the world-class athletes that are here."

Out of slopestyle, White will now focus solely on next Tuesday's contest in the halfpipe, which is essentially a hollowed-out ice shell with 22-foot (7-meter) sidewalls. There is danger there, but unlike slopestyle, it's based mostly on the types of head-over-heels tricks the riders try and not the setup of the pipe.

In a news conference about an hour before he gave first word of his decision to the "Today" show, White was asked whether halfpipe was more important to him.

"For me, I definitely feel the halfpipe carries a bit more weight, a bit more pressure. I guess that's fair enough to say," he said.

He is favored to become the first male American to win three straight golds in the Winter Games.

His prospects for slopestyle, on the other hand, were uncertain. He's the five-time Winter X Games champion, though he more or less gave up the event about five years ago to focus solely on the halfpipe. He hurt his ankle on the halfpipe in the season's first Olympic qualifier, then bashed his shoulder during a nasty fall in slopestyle about a month later.

He pulled out of events, changed his mind a few times about the X Games - considered the biggest snowboarding event outside of the Olympics - before skipping that, as well. In all, it has been a hectic lead-up period as he tried to deal with both events, and it didn't stop once he reached Russia. The slopestyle final is set for Saturday, which would cost him the first day of practice on the halfpipe.

"It's tough juggling both events," White said. "Definitely not easy. It's something that's been talked about quite a bit. Losing a day of practice is a serious thing, especially with a new course and the challenges I'd face in slopestyle."

He said watching the injuries pile up on the course didn't build much confidence.

Another top rider, Torstein Horgmo of Norway, was forced out after breaking his collarbone during practice Monday. On Tuesday, Finnish rider Marika Enne was carted off the course with a concussion.

There were dozens of other less-serious flips and spills.

Many riders said the dangers of the course were being overblown - "There's no way this course is too dangerous," American Sage Kotsenburg insisted.

But White and Bright are not alone in criticizing the setup.

"It's a little intense, a little challenging," said American rider Jamie Anderson, a gold-medal favorite on the women's side. "The jumps are still a little weird. I'm having a questionable time getting used to them."

While the other riders might breathe a little easier knowing one of their main competitors is out of the way, White understands his place in the sport and the gravity of his decision.

"Not one I take lightly," he said. "I know how much effort everyone has put into holding the slopestyle event for the first time in Olympic history - a history I had planned on being part of."

US picks Todd Lodwick as Olympic flagbearer

SOCHI, Russia (AP) - The United States has chosen six-time Olympian Todd Lodwick to be the team's flagbearer at Friday's opening ceremony for the Sochi Games.

Team USA announced the choice on Wednesday. Lodwick is competing in the Nordic combined in Sochi. He is the first American to compete in six Winter Games. Lodwick was part of the team that won silver in Vancouver in 2010.

The 36-year-old Lodwick's longevity made him the choice despite competing in a relatively low-profile event. The Nordic combined features athletes who compete in both the ski jump and cross-country skiing.

Lodwick was chosen over more famous American athletes, including snowboarder Shaun White and men's hockey captain Zach Parise.

Beckham exercises option to buy MLS team in Miami

MIAMI -- David Beckham hopped onto the stage, his back to sparkling Biscayne Bay, and a pack of photographers jostled for position as soccer fans cheered and chanted.

"Thank you for the warm welcome," Beckham said on a sunny, 80-degree February morning. In this case, it was soccer weather.

The sport moved a step closer to returning to South Florida on Wednesday, when Beckham confirmed he has exercised his option to purchase a Major League Soccer expansion franchise in Miami. The deal will be finalized when the former English national team captain can secure a financing plan and location for a new stadium.

Beckham attended a news conference with MLS Commissioner Don Garber and Miami-Dade County Mayor Carlos Gimenez to discuss their progress.

"This is an exciting time, and something we're really looking forward to bringing to Miami," Beckham told a crowd of more than 300 people on a downtown museum plaza. The event was frequently interrupted by cheers for Beckham, who's popular around the world and especially in celebrity-smitten Miami.

Beckham has scouted possible stadium sites and is seeking investors to assist with startup costs such as construction and player acquisitions. Among those who might become involved is Beckham's friend LeBron James, who has had recent conversations with the retired soccer star about bringing a team to Miami.

"We don't want public funding," Beckham said to applause. "We will fund the stadium ourselves. We have worked very hard to get to this stage where we can fund the stadium ourselves. We want to create a football club that is the people's football club."

Beckham, looking the part of a businessman in a suit and tie, said city officials have promised the stadium will be downtown, which is his preference.

Gimenez — who at one point referred to Beckham as "Beckman" — said there's political support for a plan.

"We started our negotiations last week," Gimenez said. "We have to get rolling. There's a time crunch. We are willing partners. We are very grateful that Mr. Beckham and MLS have chosen Miami as the site for their next franchise. We're going to do all in our power to make sure we get the stadium built in the right place as quickly as possible."

Beckham said he also wants to start a children's soccer academy in Miami.

The former Manchester United, Real Madrid, AC Milan, Los Angeles Galaxy and Paris Saint-Germain star has the right to an expansion team at a discount fee of $25 million. MLS's Miami Fusion played in Fort Lauderdale from 1998-01 before folding because of poor attendance.

"Miami is a vibrant city with a lot of passion," Beckham said. "I know this city is ready for football — soccer — this time around. I know this is going to be successful."

The crowd at the news conference included a throng of chanting, singing fans.

"People here love this sport," Garber said. "We together have no doubt it will be a very successful MLS team."

Shareholders will include Beckham's business partner Simon Fuller, the "American Idol" creator who is the driving force in franchise negotiations, and Marcelo Claure, president and CEO of Brightstar Corp.

Beckham declined to say what players he would like to bring to the team.

"We have a list," he said. "We want to bring some of the best players in football to Miami to play on this team. I've seen what happens to teams when you bring great players in. I'm talking about the Heat."

That brought cheers from the crowd. James and the Heat have won the past two NBA titles.

Beckham laughingly ruled out hiring his former coach, Sir Alex Ferguson, to coach the team, but said he has ideas regarding that search as well.

"I kind of know what makes a great coach and what doesn't," he said. "We'll have a good coach here."

AP source: Magic Johnson in group buying Sparks

Magic Johnson is part of a group buying the Los Angeles Sparks of the WNBA, according to a person familiar with the situation.

The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday night because no announcement had been made.

Johnson teamed with a group of investors to buy baseball's Los Angeles Dodgers in 2012 for a record $2.15 billion. It will be the same group owning the Sparks, minus Peter Guber, who owns a stake in the NBA's Golden State Warriors.

Previous Sparks owner Paula Madison informed the league in late December that she wouldn't be able to run the team anymore. She told The Associated Press that her family had lost $12 million on the franchise since buying it from the Buss family in 2007.

Johnson was a part owner of the Los Angeles Lakers for a decade before selling his share of the team in 2011.

While the franchise hasn't been successful financially, the Sparks have been one of the WNBA's best teams on the court and have led the league in attendance the past two seasons. They won titles in 2001 and 2002 and made it to the playoffs in five of the past six seasons. They were knocked out in the opening round by Phoenix this past season.

Los Angeles, one of only four original WNBA franchises left, also has one of the league's marquee players in MVP Candace Parker.

The WNBA will announce the Sparks' new ownership at a news conference Wednesday outside Staples Center.

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Follow Doug on Twitter at http://www.twitter.com/dougfeinberg

Rogers announces more details about NHL deal

TORONTO (AP) Rogers Communications is going to air 500 regular-season NHL games in Canada starting next season as part of its blockbuster 12-year agreement with the league.

Rogers revealed some of its plans at an event for advertisers on Tuesday at Maple Leaf Gardens. The company is trying to drum up excitement from the media buyers who will help pay off its hefty $5.2-billion investment.

Rogers says it will broadcast games across 13 different Canadian TV channels, including City, Sportsnet and cable channel FX Canada. What's still unclear is whether longtime traditions like CBC's "Coach's Corner," and its co-hosts Don Cherry and Ron MacLean, will be part of Rogers' programming umbrella.

"We've had some conversations (with them), but not full conversations," Scott Moore, president of Rogers Sportsnet, said during a media conference after the presentation.

"We will be in a position to announce all our hockey commentators by early May."

Executives kept the focus on plans for Rogers to expand beyond "Hockey Night in Canada," which will still play a major role with 130 games shown on Saturdays throughout the season.

Rogers hopes to build a loyal following around other weekly events like "Hometown Hockey," airing Sunday nights on City. Hosted from different community rinks across the country, the series will feature profiles of NHL players, alongside a Canadian team's game.

In total, more than 1,250 hours of nationally televised hockey will be broadcast, Rogers said.

"This is about giving our fans ways to take advantage of every opportunity to connect with our game," NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman said.

"We know that we're with the right people, the right partner to evolve and even lead in terms of what the developments will be in sports and entertainment into the future."

WR Fitzgerald agrees to restructured contract

PHOENIX (AP) Larry Fitzgerald says he has restructured his contract with the Arizona Cardinals, reducing a big salary-cap hit from his old deal and creating room for signing other players.

Fitzgerald announced the move on Tuesday via his Twitter account. The receiver says the move was made to help the Cardinals "get better for 2014."

Under his old deal, Fitzgerald would have earned $12.75 million next season and counted a whopping $18 million on the cap.

The restructured contract came as no surprise.

Fitzgerald said in a radio interview in New York last week that he understood the need to restructure his deal.

"When those discussions come I will do what I need to do," Fitzgerald told Arizona Sports 98.7 in an interview at the Super Bowl's "radio row." "I have a great relationship with (general manager) Steve Keim, he drafted me in Arizona. I understand his vision and what he is trying to do and the direction he is taking this ballclub. I understand at 30 years old there are things that need to change. That's part of football, that's part of being an older veteran."

Fitzgerald said he knew Patrick Peterson's "deal is coming up and he needs to be compensated as the best corner in the game, which I feel he is."

Fitzgerald also mentioned defensive linemen Darnell Dockett and Frostee Rucker.

"There are a lot of guys that deserve to be compensated for their play," he said in the radio interview, "and I understand that."

Fitzgerald is on his third contract in his 10 NFL seasons, all with the Cardinals. Last season, he made his eighth Pro Bowl. Fitzgerald holds every Cardinals career receiving record.

He caught 82 passes, most on the team, for 954 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. In his career, Fitzgerald has 846 catches for 11,367 yards and 87 touchdowns. He has not missed a game since the 2007 season.

The Cardinals, coming off a 10-6 season in their first year with Keim as GM and Bruce Arians as coach, had several players on one-year contracts, including inside linebacker Karlos Dansby, who resurrected his career with a big season, leading the team in tackles.

Azcentral.com reported that the restructuring was a simple swap of bonus money for salary, saving the team about $10 million on the coming season's cap.

Cardinals President Michael Bidwill expressed confidence last week that the restructuring would get done.

Keim has repeatedly said the team has no intention of trading Fitzgerald and wants him to retire a Cardinal.

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