National Sports Headlines from NBC Sports

McIlroy, Wozniacki announce engagement

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) Rory McIlroy is claiming his first win of the new year - his engagement to tennis star Caroline Wozniacki.

One of the top power couples in sports announced their engagement Tuesday night on Twitter, which was Wednesday morning in Australia. A spokesman for McIlroy confirmed he popped the question in Sydney, where Wozniacki is starting to prepare for the Australian Open in Melbourne.

"Happy New Year everyone! I have a feeling it's going to be a great year!! My first victory of 2014," McIlroy tweeted. He added a hash tag, "She said yes!!" Wozniacki sent out a similar tweet a few minutes earlier that said, "Happy New Year everyone! Rory and I started 2014 with a bang! ... I said YES!!!!"

They included a collage of three photos - her engagement ring, a photo of them together and fireworks over the Sydney Harbor.

That should put to rest two reports out of Ireland at different times this year that they were splitting up. One of those reports was in August, even though McIlroy and Wozniacki had dinner in New York the following night ahead of the U.S. Open in tennis.

They first began to see each other in the summer of 2011, shortly after McIlroy won his first major with a record-setting performance in the U.S. Open at Congressional. They confirmed they were dating a few months later, and they were never shy about sharing their relationship on social media.

He changed his avatar on Twitter of the couple when Wozniacki was No. 1 and McIlroy was No. 2. That changed within six months, when McIlroy first ascended to No. 1 in the world and Wozniacki began a steady decline down the WTA ranking. She now is No. 10, while McIlroy goes into the 2014 season at No. 6.

McIlroy is coming off a rough season in which he failed to meet enormous expectations while changing golf equipment. He also left his management company in a nasty split that is to be settled next year in an Irish court. The 24-year-old from Northern Ireland did not win a tournament until the Australian Open in December.

It was his first year of serious criticism, and McIlroy said it only got to him when it involved his personal life.

"I don't care what people say about my golf," he said. "It's when people start digging into my personal life, that's where it starts to annoy you - whether it's Caroline, whether it's management, all that stuff shouldn't be a consequence to how I play my golf."

When he was asked jokingly whether they broke up five or six times this year, McIlroy gave a hearty laugh and said, "Something like that."

Wozniacki joined him at the World Challenge in California, and then they headed to south Florida and his new home for the first part of the holidays. He later when to Northern Ireland before heading Down Under.

Tweets of congratulations about their engagement began pouring in from Graeme McDowell, Ian Poulter and Francesco Molinari.

McIlroy makes his 2014 debut on Jan. 16-19 in the Abu Dhabi HSBC Golf Championship.

Hundley, UCLA rout Virginia Tech 42-12 in Sun Bowl

EL PASO, Texas (AP) Brett Hundley threw two touchdown passes and ran for two more scores to help No. 17 UCLA rout Virginia Tech 42-12 on Tuesday in the Sun Bowl.

The Bruins (10-3) outscored the Hokies (8-5) 28-5 in the second half.

Virginia Tech cut it to 14-10 on Michael Branthover's 22-yard field goal with 3:53 left in the third quarter. UCLA answered with a 12-play, 85-yard drive, capped by Paul Perkins's 5-yard run early in the fourth.

Hokies backup quarterback Mark Leal then threw a pass under heavy pressure that linebacker Myles Jack intercepted and returned 29 yards for a touchdown that made it 28-10.

Virginia Tech, which lost starting quarterback Logan Thomas to an injury in the second quarter, got its final points when UCLA punter Sean Covington stepped on the end line for a safety with 9:38 left.

UCLA pushed it to 35-12 on Hundley's 8-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Duarte with 7:31 to play. The Bruins stayed aggressive late, and Hundley fired a 59-yard scoring strike down the right sideline to Shaquelle Evans for another score with 5:49 remaining.

Maple Leafs-Red Wings Preview

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) As the novelty of playing hockey outdoors seems to be wearing off, the NHL is hoping bigger is better at the Winter Classic.

The league has been playing at least one game outdoors annually since 2008 other than last season because of the lockout. The popularity of the concept is being tested by putting six games in the elements this season.

With a lot more fans and two Original Six teams, including one from Canada for the first time, the NHL is confident the 2014 Winter Classic will be different.

"Those are two distinguishing factors," NHL Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said. "It'll be special."

The league said 105,500 tickets have been sold for the game Wednesday between the Detroit Red Wings and Toronto Maple Leafs at Michigan Stadium. That almost doubles the average of 53,045 spectators who watched the first five Winter Classics.

If every person who paid for a ticket braves temperatures in the teens on a snowy afternoon, a record will be broken.

In the same football stadium, known as the Big House, Michigan and Michigan State set a hockey attendance record of 104,173 in 2010.

"If you haven't been to a football Saturday here, then you should put it on your bucket list," Red Wings coach Mike Babcock said Tuesday after a brief practice. "It's the best sporting event. I've been to the Olympic Games, the World Series, the Stanley Cup. This is probably the best sporting event I've ever been to, bar none.

"Can it transfer into hockey? I assume it can.

Some players will borrow a practice from football, putting eye black on their cheeks to help cope with glare.

"I remember back to Wrigley Field (in the 2009 Winter Classic), I thought it looked kind of silly when guys were doing it," Red Wings defenseman Niklas Kronwall said with black smudges under both eyes. "But it does actually help."

And like some football games, shoveling might be necessary to clear the playing surface.

Skaters with shovels cleared the ice before both teams practiced on Tuesday and they might be busier during the game. A winter weather advisory is calling for 4 to 6 inches to fall from Wednesday morning through Thursday morning in Ann Arbor.

"A little bit of snow just adds to the romance of the game," NHL Chief Operating Officer John Collins said.

A lot of snow, though, and 10 mph wind could become a problem for the Red Wings and Maple Leafs, who enter the game tied in the Eastern Conference standings with 45 points halfway through their seasons.

"Cold you can deal with," Red Wings forward Justin Abdelkader said. "But if the snow is coming down hard and it's windy, it can be pretty tough."

If gusts are a significant factor, Toronto coach Randy Carlyle said the NHL will have the teams switch ends midway through the third period so that both play into the wind for an equal amount of time in the game.

Snow hasn't been much of a problem in previous Winter Classics because they've been played with an average temperature of 39 degrees on or around New Year's Day.

A blizzard, gale-force wind and below-freezing temperatures would not be enough to wipe the smile off the face of Maple Leafs captain Dion Phaneuf one day after he signed a $49 million, seven-year contract.

"I got chills coming into the building," Phaneuf said. "You grow up playing on outdoor rinks as a kid. And to be able to come here and obviously with this news being announced, to have my family here it's going to be a special game to be a part of. .... When there are 110,000 people, it's going to be an experience I'll never forget."

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Follow Larry Lage on Twitter: http://www.twitter.com/larrylage

Small improvement for Schumacher after 2nd surgery

GRENOBLE, France (AP) Michael Schumacher underwent a second surgery after a brain scan showed small, "surprising" signs of improvement, but grim doctors said Tuesday they could offer no insight into the prognosis for the Formula One champion.

Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, suffered critical head injuries when he fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing on a family vacation in the French Alps. His manager confirmed that the accident cracked his helmet, which doctors credited for giving him a chance at survival.

Schumacher's condition stabilized somewhat after the second surgery, but he remains in a medically induced coma - and doctors gave no prediction on how long that would last.

"We cannot tell you any more about the future," said Gerard Saillant, a surgeon and friend of the family who is in Grenoble. Saillant said it would be "stupid" to make any predictions about Schumacher's recovery.

Schumacher and his 14-year-old son were skiing in the French Alpine resort of Meribel, where the family has a chalet, when he fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock. He was taken first to a local hospital, then to Grenoble University Hospital, which is recognized as having one of France's best neurology teams.

Dr. Emmanuel Gay, the hospital's chief neurosurgeon, said a brain scan performed late Monday showed bruising "a little bit everywhere" in Schumacher's brain - but also an unexpected easing of pressure.

"The brain scan was, I must say, surprising," he said.

But Gay and other doctors cautioned that Schumacher's condition was still grave after the successful two-hour surgery to eliminate the largest and most accessible bruise, on the left side of his brain.

"We cannot say he is out of danger," said Dr. Jean-Francois Payen, head of the hospital's intensive care unit. Payen said any neurological evaluation was "out of the question" for now.

Payen told BFM-TV on Monday that medical literature puts the recovery rate at 40 to 45 percent of patients. "I don't work with statistics. I work with patients," he was quoted as saying.

Schumacher was being kept artificially sedated and his body temperature was lowered to between 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93.2 and 95 degrees Fahrenheit), to reduce swelling in the brain, reduce its energy consumption and allow it to rest.

Schumacher earned universal acclaim for his uncommon and sometimes ruthless driving talent, which led to a record 91 race wins. He retired from Formula One last year after garnering an unmatched seven world titles.

Schumi, as his fans affectionately call him, was famously aggressive on the track and no less intense off-hours. In retirement, he remained an avid skier, skydiver and horseback rider.

Sabine Kehm, Schumacher's manager, offered more details on the accident, confirming that his helmet cracked on impact.

"It looks like probably that initiating a corner, he was hitting a stone which he had not seen and was catapulted down on a rock," Kehm said in English. "That is extremely and very unfortunate ... really very, very bad luck. Michael was not at high speed."

Visitors to the hospital Tuesday included two close friends of Schumacher's from his time at Ferrari, where he won five of his record seven F1 titles from 2000-04.

Jean Todt, then manager of the storied Italian team and now president of motor racing's governing body, and Italian test driver Luca Badoer both declined to speak with media.

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Associated Press writer Lori Hinnant contributed from Paris.

Seattle may get Harvin back for postseason

RENTON, Wash. (AP) Already with home-field advantage in the NFC playoffs, the Seattle Seahawks might be getting another addition just in time for a postseason run: Percy Harvin.

Seattle coach Pete Carroll said Monday that Harvin will practice when the Seahawks return later this week to prepare for their NFC divisional playoff game on Jan. 11. Carroll said there is no guarantee Harvin will be able to play.

But Harvin has reached a point in his recovery from hip surgery - and a setback following his one game this season - where he can return to practice in time for the postseason.

"It will be a great thing for him first off. This guy is a true competitor and would do anything to play. He's been fighting for a months and months to position himself so he could get back here and to his credit he has not given up on it. He's at a place where he has a chance," Carroll said. "We'll see what happens. That's kind of it. If he can help his team, great."

The news came a day after Seattle wrapped up the NFC West title and the No. 1 seed in the NFC with a 27-9 win over St. Louis. It was Seattle's eighth divisional title in franchise history and first since 2010 when they won the then pitiful NFC West with a 7-9 record.

This time they survived the toughest division in the NFL and lofty expectation by matching the franchise record for most victories in a season.

"We handled it the whole time. We dealt with it throughout the season and put it in the right place and the guys understood what it meant and what it didn't mean and performed under that kind of scrutiny," Carroll said. "Here we are to get the division taken care of and to have the best record and all of that under those expectations we dealt with it. That's a really good thing. That's how you make expectations like that normal."

It's a stunning turn after Carroll hinted last week that a roster move could be possible with Harvin to clear a roster spot. Instead, the Seahawks are potentially getting a dynamic playmaker back in time for a playoff run.

"Percy's going to practice with us when we get back with the intention on playing in this next game," Carroll said. "We'll see what happens. That's the intention and we'll see how it goes. It's come to the point where we can go to that and we'll keep our fingers crossed for him. He wants to contribute and be part of this team, and he's going to do everything he can to do that. We'll see what happens."

After Carroll announced the news, Harvin tweeted to Seahawks fans that he'll see them in two weeks and "It's go time once again."

Seattle would like to see this start with Harvin last more than just one week. He had hip surgery in early August to repair his labrum. It was late October before he finally returned to practice and made his Seahawks debut in Week 11 against Minnesota. Harvin had one reception and a 58-yard kickoff return in the victory.

But he's been absent since that game, unable to overcome what Carroll has called "soreness" in the hip area. Harvin has not practiced since, but Carroll has said there is no additional structural damage.

Even Monday morning on his radio show, Carroll seemed uncertain about the prognosis, saying Harvin likely needed an entire offseason to fully get healthy. Just a few hours later the tone changed significantly and Seattle suddenly had the potential of springing a new toy on whoever they face in the playoffs.

"He's been rehabbing the whole time to get to this point," Carroll said. "He ran really well today."

There is no guarantee that Harvin will play even with the plan for him to practice. The only week he's practiced extensively the entire season was leading into the game against Minnesota when Harvin faced his former team. He was in for 19 offensive snaps and two on special teams against Minnesota, but was unable to get back on the field following Seattle's bye in Week 12.

"He had major surgery in his hip. There are lots of people who walk around for years trying to get back from that and he's trying to do it in months," Carroll said. "And he's not trying to just get back to being a normal human being walking down the street."

Notes: Carroll said players who were banged up on Sunday - Brandon Mebane, Richard Sherman, Jeremy Lane and Jermaine Kearse - should be able to practice on Thursday. The one concern is TE Luke Willson who suffered a high-ankle sprain against the Rams. ... LB K.J. Wright has an outside chance of practicing next week, Carroll said. Wright suffered a broken foot in Week 14 at San Francisco.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Tim Tebow joins SEC Network, still pursuing NFL

ATLANTA (AP) Tim Tebow has his next football job - talking about the sport on TV.

The Heisman Trophy winner has been hired as a college football analyst for the new SEC Network in a return to his Florida glory days, but he still hopes to play quarterback in the NFL.

Tebow will appear on "SEC Nation," a pregame show that will travel to a different campus each week after the channel launches in August. The multiyear deal "will not preclude him from continuing to pursue playing opportunities in the NFL," ESPN, which runs the network, said in a statement Monday.

Tebow did not play in the league in 2013 after he was cut by the Patriots in August. In the span of just over one season, he went from a national sensation who led the Denver Broncos to the playoffs, to a backup, to out of the NFL.

"While I continue to pursue my dream of playing quarterback in the NFL, this is an amazing opportunity to be part of the unparalleled passion of college football and the SEC," Tebow said in a statement released by ESPN.

ESPN senior vice president Justin Connolly called Tebow an "SEC icon with a national fan base and broad appeal."

Tebow will make his ESPN debut during pregame coverage of the BCS championship Jan. 6.

After winning the 2007 Heisman and two national championships for the Gators in the SEC, Tebow became one of the biggest stories in the NFL in his second season. He went 7-1 in his first eight starts in 2011 then threw an 80-yard touchdown pass on the first play of overtime to give the Broncos a 29-23 playoff win over the Pittsburgh Steelers.

But he was still dogged by doubts about his passing ability, and Denver traded him that offseason to the New York Jets after acquiring Peyton Manning.

He languished on the bench while coach Rex Ryan ignored fans' calls for Tebow to replace a struggling Mark Sanchez. Tebow threw just eight passes, ran only 32 times and was cut last April 29.

For six weeks no team wanted him until the Patriots signed him to a low-risk, two-year contract with no guaranteed money.

Houston's horrid season gives Texans No. 1 pick

HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Texans thought they would be preparing for a deep run in the playoffs.

Instead as the new year approaches, they're looking for a new coach and have the No. 1 pick in the draft after a stunning collapse cost coach Gary Kubiak his job and left them with the NFL's worst record.

Their 2-14 mark ties the 2005 team for the poorest mark in team history. But this one seems much worse because of the expectations entering this season.

Defensive coordinator Wade Phillips took over as interim coach when Kubiak was fired. Houston ended the season on a 14-game skid. Phillips, who dealt with the death of his father, Bum, during the season, was ready to put this rough year behind him.

He walked into his last news conference Monday with a plaintive plea of: "Let's wrap up the season - please."

Kubiak, who was in his eighth season in Houston, had a mini-stroke at halftime of the Texans game against Indianapolis on Nov. 3, but returned to work just 10 days later. Phillips also filled in for Kubiak in the one game he missed because of his illness.

Phillips is one of three candidates, along with Penn State's Bill O'Brien and former Chicago Bears coach Lovie Smith, who have reportedly interviewed to be Houston's next coach. Phillips, last a head coach in Dallas, said he would like to be a head coach again.

"In certain circumstances, like here," he said. "Tampa Bay wanted to talk to me two years ago and I declined that. It would have to be the right situation. There aren't many right situations."

Houston safety Danieal Manning, who played for Smith in Chicago, said he's talked to him about his interest in returning to coaching, but not specifically about this job.

"I'd love to play for Lovie again," Manning said.

The Texans were coming off back-to-back AFC South titles and were favorites to contend for a Super Bowl in 2013. Things looked good early, with Houston starting 2-0 before the trouble began.

But even in the wins cracks began show in the play of quarterback Matt Schaub, a Pro Bowler a year ago. He threw three interceptions in the first two games combined, but Houston was able to overcome his miscues for victories.

He struggled in the next two games, both losses, before things got really ugly in the n against San Francisco. He tossed three interceptions, including one on the third play of the game which was returned for a score in the 34-3 loss. Schaub started one more game before he was injured and replaced by Case Keenum. Schaub was healthy a week later, but the Texans chose to stick with Keenum, an undrafted free agent.

It was quickly apparent the record-setting University of Houston quarterback wasn't the answer as the losses piled up. Schaub got spot work in two games after his benching before starting the final two games after Keenum was injured.

It seemed fitting in this dreadful season that he threw an interception on Houston's last offensive play Sunday to seal the loss.

The quarterback woes have many predicting Houston will use the top pick on a QB. Top quarterbacks likely to be available are Louisville's Teddy Bridgewater, 2012 Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M, and Fresno State's Derek Carr, younger brother of Houston's first-ever draft pick, David Carr.

But Schaub's rough season was far from Houston's only problem this year. It dealt with several season-ending injuries to key players.

The first came when tight end Owen Daniels broke a bone in his leg on Oct. 7, and Manning went down a week later with a knee injury. Star linebacker Brian Cushing was lost the next week when he sustained a second straight season-ending injury to his left knee.

Running back Arian Foster played eight games before being placed on injured reserve and undergoing back surgery. He finished with 542 yards rushing to end a streak of three straight seasons with at least 1,200 yards on the ground. Backup Ben Tate broke four ribs just before Foster's season ended, but continued to play until another injury to his ribs sidelined him with two games left.

Along with the injuries on defense, the unit was also hurt by the ineffective play of veteran safety Ed Reed. The Texans signed him to a three-year, $15 million contract in the offseason thinking he could be the piece to help Houston reach the next level. But he missed the first two games after hip surgery and made just 16 tackles with no interceptions before he was released Nov. 12.

About the only bright spots for the Texans in this dismal year were defensive end J.J. Watt and receiver Andre Johnson. Both players made the Pro Bowl after Watt had 10 1/2 sacks and Johnson finished with 1,407 yards receiving for his seventh career 1,000-yard season.

"The team didn't do well, but they did well and did some amazing things," Phillips said.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Ole Miss beats Georgia Tech 25-17 at Music City

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) Bo Wallace ran for two touchdowns and threw for another score and Mississippi beat Georgia Tech 25-17 Monday in the Music City Bowl for the Rebels' second straight bowl victory under coach Hugh Freeze.

The junior quarterback and Tennessee native made up for his three turnovers in the Egg Bowl overtime loss by throwing for 256 yards and running for 86 more, giving him the school record for total yards in a season and most completions in a season, topping Eli Manning for both.

Ole Miss (8-5) now has won six straight bowls and 10 of the last 11 in making up for the lone loss in that stretch in the 2000 Music City Bowl.

Georgia Tech (7-6) has lost eight of nine bowls. The Yellow Jackets scored 10 points in the fourth quarter as they tried to rally before a safety with 4:22 left ended their last chance.

Yellow Jackets lineman Adam Gotsis blocked a 32-yard field goal attempt by Andrew Ritter giving Georgia Tech the ball at their own 20 with 4:36 left trailing 23-17.

But Georgia Tech lost 5 yards on the first play, then Vad Lee flipped the ball to Corey Dennis on a reverse with the receiver apparently looking to throw when he fumbled under pressure. Right tackle Ray Beno covered up the ball in the end zone for the safety.

Ole Miss then chewed up the clock before finally punting back to Georgia Tech with 37 seconds left. Senquez Golson intercepted Lee on the next play to seal the victory for the Rebels in the bowl, sponsored by Franklin American Mortgage Company.

With a month to prepare, Ole Miss shut down the nation's fourth-best rushing offense. Georgia Tech came in averaging 311.7 yards per game, and the Rebels smothered the Yellow Jackets, holding them to just 151 yards on the ground. Ole Miss held the ball for nearly 33 minutes and had a 477-298 edge in total offense.

Ole Miss had a 23-7 lead when the Yellow Jackets scored 10 straight points.

Harrison Butker capped a 64-yard drive with a 38-yard field goal in the opening seconds of the fourth quarter, then D.J. White intercepted a Wallace pass intended for Donte Moncrief. On the next play, Lee found Darren Waller for a 72-yard catch-and-run for a TD with 13:25 left.

Ole Miss led 13-7 after an interesting first half where both teams opened the game driving for touchdowns with some special teams miscues.

Wallace capped the opening possession for Ole Miss with a 17-yard run for a touchdown, and he connected with Moncrief on a 28-yard TD catch where the receiver went down the right sideline and then held the ball out at the pylon for the score in the second quarter.

But Gotsis also blocked the extra point, keeping Ole Miss' lead at 13-7. Ritter also missed a 29-yard field goal later in the quarter that was so low it bounced off the crossbar.

Georgia Tech looked impressive with a 14-play, 74-yard drive, and senior Robert Godhigh scored on an 8-yard run that tied the game.

The Yellow Jackets also hurt themselves with a fake punt attempt in the second when punter Sean Poole tripped short of the line of scrimmage on fourth-and-11 at midfield.

Seahawks finish atop AP Pro32 rankings

NEW YORK (AP) The Seattle Seahawks finished the 2013 season atop The Associated Press power rankings, just ahead of the Denver Broncos.

In balloting by 12 media members who regularly cover the NFL, the top three teams in the AP Pro32 were the Seahawks, Broncos and San Francisco 49ers. They also were at the top of the poll heading into the season, with the 49ers first, followed by the Seahawks and Broncos.

NFC West champion Seattle grabbed eight first-place votes on Monday and 380 points. AFC West winner Denver got the other four first-place choices and 372 points. Both had 13-3 records this season and are the top seeds in each conference.

"The Seahawks are still the favorite in the NFC," said Herm Edwards of ESPN. "They are tough to beat in Seattle. `The 12th Man' is still alive."

Tony Dungy of NBC echoed his fellow ex-coach's thoughts:

"Defense, run game and home crowd are awesome."

But Jeff Legwold of ESPN.com favored the Broncos, who finished first for the 2012 season.

"With 55 touchdown passes from quarterback Peyton Manning, Broncos became first team to crack 600-point barrier," he said.

Rounding out the top five were Carolina and New England, both with 12-4 records. The Panthers began the year ranked 23rd, while the Patriots were fifth, just where they finished.

"No matter what happens in January, Bill Belichick will look back at this season with immense pride," said Ira Kaufman of the Tampa Tribune.

Among the teams making huge improvements in the AP Pro32, along with Carolina, were Kansas City from 21st to ninth; Philadelphia, 26th to 10th; Arizona, from 24th to 12th; and San Diego, from 27th to 13th.

Of the 12 teams who made the playoffs, only the Chargers (9-7) didn't rank in the top dozen, replaced by Arizona (10-6).

"That the Cardinals were in the playoff hunt until the final weekend was a testament to Bruce Arians' terrific coaching and GM Steve Keim's roster makeover," said Bob Glauber of Newsday.

Houston, which began the schedule ranked fifth, finished 32nd and last with 13 points. The Texans (2-14) have the first pick in May's draft.

"The Texans are the first time in NFL history to win their first two and lose their final 14," said Charean Williams of the Fort Worth Star Telegram.

Other teams dropping way down in the AP Pro32 from September until Monday were Atlanta, from fourth to 26th; defending champion Baltimore, from eighth to 16th; and Washington, from 10th to 31st.

"The retooled offensive line failed Matt Ryan this season," John Czarnecki of Fox Sports said of Atlanta.

"Hard to believe this was a playoff team last year," Dungy said of the Redskins.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Texas AD: Brown's successor needed by mid-January

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) New Texas athletic director says Steve Patterson says he expects a successor to Mack Brown will be found in the next two weeks.

Patterson said before kickoff at the Alamo Bowl on Monday night that he believes Texas needs a new coach by Jan. 15. That's the end of the so-called "dead period" in the NCAA that prohibits coaches from in-person contact with recruits during bowl season.

Patterson said coaches "are certainly expressing their interest" in the job but wouldn't discuss any potential candidates.

The Alamo Bowl is Brown's final game at Texas after 16 years. He's resigning after a rocky final season in which Texas lost at least four games for the fourth consecutive year.

Raiders coach Dennis Allen expects to return

ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) Dennis Allen met with the Oakland Raiders players as a team and individually and talked about his vision for turning the franchise around after a second straight four-win season.

Even with no official word yet from owner Mark Davis, Allen is sure acting like a coach who will be back in Oakland for a third season.

"I've been given the indication that I'll be back but I think it will be important for me and Mark to be able to sit down and communicate and talk about the things that we need to talk about," Allen said Monday. "But I have every intention of being back."

Allen said he has already met with general manager Reggie McKenzie about plans for the future and will meet soon with Davis to talk about how he plans to turn around the team.

"I'm sure there's a lot of things that he wants to talk to me about, there's things that I want to be able to talk to him about, and those will be things that we'll communicate on and we'll move forward from there," Allen said.

Allen said he doesn't expect many changes on his coaching staff even though most of them have contracts that expire next month.

Despite losing their final six games and eight of the last nine following a promising start to the season, Allen retained the support in the locker room from players hoping for continuity after years of constant change in Oakland.

"The result on the field was not anywhere near what we wanted, but we need to keep continuity and keep building," left tackle Jared Veldheer said. "You can't rip down and start over because then we just fall into the same problem. It's hard for people to see, but it's going to happen. There will be success here."

It was hard to see that success down the stretch of the season especially. The Raiders struggled mightily on defense and allowed the second most points in franchise history and had the fifth worst passer rating against in NFL history.

The offense also struggled late in the season as both Matt McGloin and Terrelle Pryor failed to deliver consistent play. Pryor won three of his first six starts before regressing down the stretch. McGloin won his debut start before losing his final five games.

The Raiders have the fifth pick in May's draft and could use it on a quarterback or bring in a veteran through trade or free agency.

"That's a position that we've got to make sure that we address," Allen said. "I'm not sure that we have the quarterback of the future in the building right now."

Allen and McKenzie took over a team that had gone 8-8 in two straight seasons but was hampered by bloated contracts for veterans who did not produce enough to stay in Oakland and a lack of premium draft picks to use to find replacements.

The two spent the first two seasons tearing down the organization, leading to more than $50 million of this year's salary cap being counted as "dead money" to players who were no longer part of the organization.

But the Raiders are projected to have close to $70 million in salary cap room this offseason. That could be used to keep some of the 17 potential unrestricted free agents like Veldheer, defensive end Lamarr Houston, safety Charles Woodson or running back Rashad Jennings, or add impact players from other teams.

Allen said he would like all of those key free agents back next season if possible.

Allen said the Raiders need to add two of three playmakers on each side of the ball this offseason in order to be a playoff contender in a division that had three playoff teams. The most important spot is quarterback.

Allen said he doesn't expect a hard time getting free agents to want to come to a team that has failed to make the playoffs or post a winning record for 11 straight years.

"Because they have an opportunity to be a part of building something special," he said. "That's the belief that we have and hopefully that's something that we can convince these free agents that are out there. We believe that we can build something special here."

NOTES: The Raiders signed practice squad CB Johnny Adams, OL Jack Cornell, WR Jared Green, LB Eric Harper, TE Brian Leonhardt and DE Chris McCoy to reserve-future contracts.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Browns vow to 'get it right' with next coach

BEREA, Ohio (AP) Browns owner Jimmy Haslam understands the situation looks bad, even embarrassing. He bungled his first NFL coaching hire and can't afford to make another mistake.

Haslam vowed it will be different this time.

It has to be.

A day after firing Rob Chudzinski for failing to make the Browns better in just one season, Haslam explained his reasons on Monday for the shocking move when he was forced to answer some tough questions, including one from a fan who wondered if the "Three Stooges" were running his team.

"We understand the importance of continuity," Haslam said. "But I think it's really important to hear this: We also understand the importance of getting it right."

The Browns dumped Chudzinski on Sunday night, just hours after a 20-7 loss in Pittsburgh and less than a year after he was brought in to turn around a team that can't seem to get out of its own way.

Haslam and CEO Joe Banner cited an overall lack of progress in their decision to dismiss Chudzinski, who had the Browns at 4-5 before they lost their final seven games and finished 4-12 - the club's sixth straight season with at least 10 losses. Banner said the decision was finalized Saturday.

"As unpopular and undesirable as it is to sit here and acknowledge we didn't get it right, the fact that we're making a change makes a statement that we're not going to accept not being successful," Banner said.

Haslam knows there are skeptics wondering if this Browns regime has what it takes to transform a foundering franchise. Cleveland fans have spent years hearing broken promises and plans that go astray. Haslam, though, is committed to making good on his word to bring sustained success to the Browns.

"There will be a lot of people who say we should have given this staff a second year, a second chance," Haslam said. "And in our estimation, it was best to go ahead and make the change and try to get it right so that we can move forward and candidly, and most importantly, give the fans here the kind of winner they deserve."

Banner and Haslam have begun their search for Chudzinski's replacement. Banner said the team is still deciding whether to interview Browns defensive coordinator Ray Horton for the opening. Horton interviewed with the Browns last season before the job went to Chudzinski, a lifelong Browns fan who was caught off guard by his ouster.

Banner said none of the other candidates interviewed last year will be considered again. That would appear to rule out Penn State coach Bill O'Brien and San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt.

New England offensive coordinator Josh McDaniels could be the frontrunner to be Cleveland's seventh full-time coach since 1999 because of his relationship with Browns general manager Michael Lombardi. The team requested permission to interview McDaniels as well as Seattle defensive coordinator Dan Quinn and Denver offensive coordinator Adam Gase.

Haslam knows it's imperative to stop the constant turnover. The Browns have changed coaches four times in six years.

"We have to prove to you all we'll get the right guy," Haslam said. "We're confident we can do that. But until that individual comes in here and wins football games, talk is cheap. So actions speak loud."

The Browns do have a more attractive situation to lure a prospective coach than they did a year ago. Cleveland had five Pro Bowl players this season, the team has two first-round picks in May's draft and there's plenty of salary cap room to sign free agents.

"This is the crucial offseason for the Cleveland Browns," Haslam said. "If we get that right, we'll have a lot of positive press conferences. We feel a lot of pressure to get this right for our players, our fans and the city of Cleveland."

Chudzinski was told of his firing shortly after the team returned by bus from Pittsburgh.

"I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired," Chudzinski said in a statement released by the Browns. "I am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be. ... While clearly I would have liked to see the long-term vision through to the end, I am very grateful to Jimmy Haslam and the Haslam family for letting me live my dream."

Chudzinski has three years left on his contract worth a reported $10 million. He was emotional as he said goodbye to his players.

"It's unfortunate," wide receiver Josh Gordon said. "I can't say what's fair, what's not fair. The NFL, it's the business of the league. But I thought he would have more time than that.

"I figured any coach in the NFL would get at least two years. I didn't even know that was possible."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Brother of NFL QB Vick arrested in Ga.

CUMMING, Ga. (AP) Sheriff's officials in suburban Atlanta say the younger brother of Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick has been arrested for DUI and traffic violations.

Forsyth County deputies say in a report that 29-year-old Marcus Vick was pulled over early Monday in Cumming, Ga., for an expired tag and was questioned about marijuana after a deputy smelled the drug in his car.

Police say Vick was driving without a license and told officers he smoked pot about four hours before.

Investigators reported finding a large sum of money but no drugs inside the car. Vick is charged with DUI, driving without a license and driving with an expired tag. He's being held in the county jail on $4,100 bond.

Marcus Vick was a quarterback for Virginia Tech between 2002 and 2005. Michael Vick had played for the Atlanta Falcons.

Middle Tenn. loses 24-6 to Navy in Armed Forces

FORT WORTH, Texas (AP) Middle Tennessee State quickly found out how difficult it would be trying to stop Navy's triple-option offense.

The Midshipmen ran 10 consecutive times on the game's opening drive, with quarterback Keenan Reynolds going 3 yards for the first of his two touchdowns to put them ahead to stay in a 24-6 victory Monday in the Armed Forces Bowl.

"It hurts to lose this game, but I was really proud of how we played out there," Blue Raiders coach Rick Stockstill said. "It's hard to simulate on a scout team what Navy does."

Especially Reynolds, who increased his NCAA record for touchdowns rushing by a quarterback to 31 while matching Colorado State running back Kapri Bibbs, another sophomore, for the national lead this season.

Even though Reynolds lost two fumbles, matching his total during the regular season, the Blue Raiders (8-5) failed to convert into points either of the miscues. Both fumbles were recovered by linebacker T.T. Barber, the game's defensive MVP after Navy had driving inside the 20.

"After the first couple drives there we kind of settled in. We got acclimated to the speed of the game," Stockstill said. "After that, I thought the defense played fast, they played physical."

Navy (9-4), which won for only the second time in its last seven bowl games, still piled up 366 yards rushing.

The Blue Raiders were held to a season low in points. They had finished the regular season with a five-game winning streak, averaging nearly 43 points a game in that stretch - since a 34-7 loss on Oct. 12 at North Texas, about 40 miles away from the TCU campus where the bowl was played.

Logan Kilgore, the quarterback already with an MBA and a school-record 53 TD passes, was 19-for-33 passing for 218 yards with two interceptions in his final game for Middle Tennessee.

"I couldn't be more proud to be the quarterback the past four years at this university. We've been through a lot," Kilgore said. "The reason why I think this senior class is so special is because we came in, we were at the top going to the bowl games, we had a tough season and nobody pointed fingers. We've come back these last two seasons, back-to-back eight-win seasons, and I just think that we're making this a habit."

Cody Clark had field goals of 43 and 24 yards for Middle Tennessee. The longer kick came at the end of Middle Tennessee's opening drive.

Down 10-6 at halftime, the Blue Raiders drove to the Navy 7 on the opening drive of the second half. They went for it on fourth down instead of trying a short field goal. But fullback Corey Carmichael managed only a yard before getting taken down by Travis Bridges and George Jamison, who also had an interception.

Middle Tennessee played in a bowl a year after getting snubbed with the same 8-4 record in the regular season. That was in the Sun Belt Conference before moving to Conference USA this season.

"Well, last season we didn't get a bowl game. We had something to prove," said Barber, a sophomore. "Having another eight-win season this year was a great accomplishment."

Barber forced the first fumble late in the first half, jumping over the quarterback to pounce on the ball. The other came late in the third quarter when the Midshipmen drove from their own 6 to the MTSU 14 after stopping Middle Tennessee short on a fourth-and-2.

There was a scary moment in the final minute before halftime when Middle Tennessee receiver Marcus Henry and Navy cornerback Lonnie Richardson each crumpled after a hard tackle. Players from both teams quickly motioned to the sideline, and trainers sprinted to the players.

Henry and Richardson were side-by-side on the ground surrounded by their teammates and medical personnel. They eventually sat up, then got up and walked gingerly off the field with help.

Year in review: 2013 losses in sports

The soundtracks could not have been more different.

One was the stinging crack of the bat of yet another double in the gap and the folksy harmonica strains of some song from long ago. The other soundtrack was rough and grating - a snarling, profane, arm-flailing argument that often ended with home plate covered with dirt.

Stan Musial and Earl Weaver, men of disparate times and temperaments, died in 2013. The deaths of the two Hall of Famers, in an odd alignment of baseball's planets, came hours apart on Jan. 19.

Musial - Stan the Man, "baseball's perfect knight," as a statue inscription reads - was 92 when he died at home in suburban St. Louis. Weaver, the Baltimore Orioles' longtime manager, was 82 and on a Caribbean cruise.

They underscored a year of losses in sports: Emile Griffith and Ken Norton in boxing; Bill Sharman and Jerry Buss in basketball; Pat Summerall, on the football field and in the booth; Deacon Jones in the NFL; Ken Venturi in golf; and Michael Weiner, on baseball's labor front.

Musial, simply put, was one of the best hitters in baseball history. With his left-handed, corkscrew stance, he played with a proficiency and elegance during a 22-year career - all with St. Louis - that lifted the entire sport.

He won seven batting titles and was the MVP three times before retiring in 1963. He led the Cardinals to three World Series crowns in the 1940s. Even the Hall of Fame was overtaken by his body of work, surrendering to the scope of his achievements by saying on his plaque that he "holds many National League records."

"Stan will be remembered in baseball annals as one of the pillars of the game," Hall of Fame President Jeff Idelson said. "The mold broke with Stan. There will never be another like him."

Musial played off-Broadway in St. Louis, never enjoying the mythic acclaim of Joe DiMaggio or Ted Williams. But he never seemed to mind, happy to deliver season after season, all the while busting out tunes on his harmonica or delighting in his magic tricks. The word gentleman followed him wherever he went.

"I never heard anybody say a bad word about him," Willie Mays said. "Ever."

Surely that was not the case with Weaver. Opponents, umpires all had a few select words of their own for this 5-foot-6 pugnacious fighter in the dugout. But in Baltimore, where he managed for 17 seasons, a statue of him stands at Camden Yards.

"His passion for the game and the fire with which he managed will always be remembered by baseball fans everywhere," Orioles great Cal Ripken said.

Weaver understood what made players tick and how to coax the most out of a pitching staff. Let others bunt and move runners along; Weaver waited for the three-run homer. Baltimore went to the World Series four times under him, winning in 1970.

But the casual fan saw less of the managerial shrewdness than his nose- to-nose, hat-turned-backward, foot-stomping confrontations with the men in blue. This was someone who was once ejected from both games of a doubleheader. Former umpire Don Denkinger recalls the time Weaver came to home plate before a game and said he was quitting.

"I told him that if he ever ran out of money to call the umpires' association and we'd take up a collection for him," Denkinger said. "We'd do anything just to keep him off the field and away from us."

Like Musial, Griffith brought elegance to his craft. He died at 75 of pugilistic dementia.

Griffith was quick and savvy in the ring, flicking jabs and punishing opponents. One night of punishing work in 1962 would haunt Griffith for the rest of his life.

He battered Benny "The Kid" Paret on national TV to recapture his welterweight title. A comatose Paret died 10 days later. The fight shadowed boxing for many years. Griffith, suddenly cast in the role of villainous killer, was never the same. At times, he was afraid to leave his hotel.

Boxing was hit hard this year, losing two other champions, both heavyweights: Ken Norton, who in 1973 defeated Muhammad Ali and broke his jaw, was 70; Tommy Morrison, 44, who beat George Forman and later tested positive for HIV, but denied until his chaotic end that he had the AIDs virus. Carl "The Truth" Williams, who lost title fights to Mike Tyson and Larry Holmes, died of cancer at 53.

The Celtics-Lakers rivalry that once defined the NBA had a unifying thread in Sharman. He teamed in the backcourt with Bob Cousy in Boston and became one of the game's best foul shooters. He later coached the Lakers of Wilt Chamberlain and Jerry West when they won 33 in a row, and as an executive presided over the team's Showtime run.

He made it to the Hall of Fame as a player and coach and died at 87. Two footnotes: Sharman introduced the pre-game shootaround; as a baseball player, he was called up by the Dodgers in 1951 and was in the dugout when Bobby Thomson hit his mighty home run.

The Laker family also lost its patriarch in Jerry Buss, 80, the owner who gave his franchise a celebrity dazzle in a city where there is no higher calling. His team won 10 championships and became the gold standard, from the Showtime era of Magic Johnson to Kobe Bryant.

Football in 2013 lost not its heart but its voice. Summerall, 82, spent 10 years in the NFL, kicking field goals for the Chicago Cardinals and New York Giants. But it was afterward, behind a television microphone, where he became a steady, calming, intelligent presence, in everyone's living room, week after week. Tennis and golf also sounded a lot better with him around.

When Jones died at 74 football lost one of its Fearsome Foursome. He was a pass-rushing terror for the Rams who left his stamp not only on the bodies of countless quarterbacks but on the vocabulary of the game: He coined the term "sack."

Also gone was another fierce defensive end - L.C. Greenwood, 67, a key part of Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" of the 1970s. The New York Jets are now without two players from their only championship team - receiver George Sauer and safety Jim Hudson. Art Donovan, the Baltimore Colts' star lineman, was 89 and kept the rollicking stories coming. He said the only weight he ever lifted was a beer can.

Football's coaching ranks thinned: Bum Phillips (Oilers, Saints), Jack Pardee (Bears, Redskins), Chuck Fairbanks (Oklahoma, Patriots), Don James (Washington), Paul Dietzel (LSU).

In baseball, Paul Blair, who could chase down a fly ball like few others and won two World Series titles each with the Orioles and Yankees, was 69.

Two key figures passed from the sport's union-management struggles - Ray Grebey and Weiner. Grebey, 85, tangled with Marvin Miller during the 50-day strike that split the 1981 season. Weiner succeeded Donald Fehr as head of the players' union in 2009. He inherited harsh terrain, with labor relations still rough. But in not much time, and with a lighter touch, he managed to smooth the field. He died at 51 of a brain tumor.

Auto racing's Dick Trickle, who embraced an unconventional name and let the good times roll on small tracks around the country, died at 71, a suspected suicide.

Sports in 2013 also mourned a man whose first love was boxing and who understood better than anyone just how much sway, how much force these games can carry. In 1995, when he stood in the middle of a Johannesburg stadium, wearing a green rugby jersey - the game of the apartheid regime now banished - he knew precisely what he was doing.

"Sport has the power to change the world," Nelson Mandela, 95, would say years later. "It has the power to inspire. It has the power to unite people in a way that little else does."

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Contributing to this report were AP Sports Writers R.B. Fallstrom, David Ginsburg, Ben Walker, Dave Skretta, Ronald Blum, Greg Beacham and Gerald Imray.

Chiefs praise former TE Gonzalez's retirement

KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) Even though Tony Gonzalez is retiring as a member of the Atlanta Falcons, the Kansas City Chiefs still view the 13-time Pro Bowl tight end as one of their own.

One day after Gonzalez reaffirmed that he'll never play another NFL game, Chiefs chairman Clark Hunt said in a statement that he'll "always be considered a part of the Chiefs family."

Gonzalez was drafted by the Chiefs and spent his first 12 seasons in Kansas City. He was traded to the Falcons in 2009, when it appeared that Atlanta was going to give him a better shot at playing in the Super Bowl that eluded Gonzalez his entire career.

At halftime of his final game Sunday, Gonzalez was presented with a half Chiefs, half Falcons commemorative helmet. Atlanta wound up losing 21-20 to the Carolina Panthers.

"On behalf of the entire Chiefs family, I want to congratulate Tony on an incredible career," Hunt said. "What he was able to accomplish during his time in the NFL is truly remarkable, and I have no doubt that Tony is a first-ballot Hall of Famer. We were very blessed to have him in a Chiefs uniform for 12 seasons, and his contributions on and off the field were extraordinary."

Gonzalez pondered retirement last season, but after the Falcons came up just 10 yards short in the NFC title game, he put it off to make one more run at the Super Bowl. Instead, an abundance of injuries, poor offensive line play and a defense prone to big plays resulted in a 4-12 finish and a hollow ending to Gonzalez's brilliant playing career.

"Obviously it just wasn't in my cards, and I'm OK with that, honestly," Gonzalez said. "Don't ever look at me and say, `Well, he never won the big game.' I hope there's no glitch on my record because of that, and if you think that way, I don't know what you're talking about. I really don't because this is the ultimate team sport."

The Chiefs made the playoffs on three occasions with Gonzalez, twice losing in the divisional round and once losing a wild-card game. Along with losing the NFC title game last season, Atlanta also came up short in the wild-card round in 2011 and the divisional round in 2010.

Those playoff failures aside, Gonzalez still finished his career with NFL records for tight ends of 1,325 receptions, 15,127 yards receiving, 111 touchdowns receiving and 31 100-yard receiving games. He had 916 of those catches for 10,940 yards and 76 TDs in Kansas City.

"He's one of the all-time greats, a future Hall of Famer," said Chiefs coach Andy Reid, who never had Gonzalez on one of his teams yet always admired him from afar. "I'm proud to have known him, and still know him, and I'm hoping he enjoys retirement and does as well there as he does on the football field, which I'm sure he will with that Cal education."

Gonzalez said he had no regrets with the way his career ended, and he didn't sound as if he'll reconsider stepping onto the field again. Over 40 family members and friends were on hand for his final game at the Georgia Dome on Sunday.

"This is like graduating to me," Gonzalez said. "I'm going to miss it. I'm going to miss my classmates - my teammates. I'm going to miss my coaches - my teachers. I'm going to miss them."

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Associated Press writer George Henry in Atlanta contributed to this report.

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Online: http://pro32.ap.org and http://twitter.com/AP-NFL

Doctors give no prognosis for Michael Schumacher

GRENOBLE, France (AP) Doctors offered a grim assessment of Michael Schumacher's head injuries Monday, providing no prognosis for the Formula One driving great after his skiing accident in the French Alps.

Schumacher has been placed in a medically induced coma to relieve pressure on his brain, which suffered bruising and bleeding when the retired seven-time world champion fell and struck a rock Sunday while skiing during a family vacation.

"We cannot predict the future for Michael Schumacher," Dr. Jean-Francois Payen, the doctor in charge of Grenoble University Hospital's intensive care unit, said at a news conference.

"He is in a critical state in terms of cerebral resuscitation," said Payen, the chief anesthesiologist treating the 44-year-old German driver. "We are working hour by hour."

Schumacher's wife, Corinna, daughter Gina Maria and son Mick were at his bedside.

"The family is not doing very well, obviously. They are shocked," his manager, Sabine Kehm, told reporters.

Schumacher earned universal admiration for his uncommon driving talent, which led to a record 91 race wins. His single-minded dedication to victory sometimes meant he was denied the same affection during his career that he received Monday.

Schumacher "gave the image of someone indestructible, powerful," France's four-time F1 champion Alain Prost said on iTele TV channel. "It's a banal accident compared to what he's done in the past . It's just a dumb thing that ended badly."

Schumacher and his 14-year-old son were skiing Sunday morning in the French Alpine resort of Meribel, where the family has a chalet. He fell and hit the right side of his head on a rock.

By wearing a helmet, Schumacher had given himself a chance of survival, Payen said, though the protection was not enough to prevent serious injury.

Gerard Saillant, a trauma surgeon who operated on Schumacher when he broke his leg in a 1999 race crash, was at the hospital as a visitor. He told reporters that Schumacher's age and fitness should work in his favor.

Schumacher, who turns 45 on Friday, retired from the track for the second time only last year, after a three-season comeback.

Still, the hospital's neurology team, which is recognized as among the best in France, was cautious about Schumacher's prospects.

Doctors lowered his body temperature to between 34 and 35 degrees Celsius (93.2 to 95 degrees Fahrenheit) as part of the coma, which essentially rests the brain, slowing its metabolism to help reduce inflammation after an injury.

The hospital, in a city that is the gateway to the French Alps, sees a large number of skiing accidents every year.

Schumacher has been seriously hurt before. In addition to the broken leg in a crash at the 1999 British Grand Prix, he also suffered neck and spine injuries after a motorcycle accident in 2009 in Spain.

An expert skier, Schumacher fell in a section of trails that slice down through a vast and, in parts, very steep snowfield. Although challenging, the snowfield is not extreme skiing. The runs are broad and neatly tended, and the ungroomed area in between - where the resort said Schumacher was found - is free of trees.

"He was in the deep snow. But it was not an off-piste track," Kehm said, suggesting Schumacher had not taken undue risks. "They were skiing on pistes, but in the moment that it (the accident) happened, it was not on the piste."

Meribel resort officials said Schumacher was conscious when first responders arrived, although agitated and in shock.

After the fall, Payen said Monday, Schumacher was not in a "normal state of consciousness." He did not respond to questions, and his limbs appeared to move involuntarily, the doctor said.

He was airlifted to a local hospital and then later brought to Grenoble. Doctors said that stopover was typical and did not affect his condition.

The French prosecutor in Albertville has opened an investigation into the accident, according to the Mountain Gendarmerie in Bourg-Saint-Maurice. The goal is to determine the circumstances and cause of the accident.

Formula One drivers and fans rushed to wish Schumacher a quick recovery.

"Like millions of Germans, the chancellor and members of the government were extremely dismayed when they heard about Michael Schumacher's serious skiing accident," German Chancellor Angela Merkel's spokesman, Steffen Seibert, said in Berlin.

Sebastian Vettel, the Formula One racer for whom Schumacher was a boyhood idol, told German news agency dpa: "I am shocked and hope that he will get better as soon as possible."

Ferrari, which Schumacher raced for, also expressed its concern. Company President Luca di Montezemolo and race team leader Stefano Domenicali were in contact with the family, the company said in a statement.

Former Ferrari teammate Felipe Massa, who himself recovered from life-threatening head injuries at the Hungarian Grand Prix in 2009, wrote on Instagram: "I am praying for you my brother!! I hope you have a quick recovery!! God bless you, Michael."

British former F1 champion Jenson Button posted that "Michael more than anyone has the strength to pull through this."

Some fans gathered outside the hospital Monday.

Nuravil Raimbekov, a student from Kyrgyzstan who is studying in Grenoble, said Schumacher has been an inspiration to him.

"I'm worried, of course ... But I still hope, and I will pray for him," he said.

During his career, Schumacher set an array of Formula One records. After initial success with the Benetton team, winning his first two championships in 1994 and 1995, Schumacher moved to Ferrari.

There, he helped turn the storied Italian team into the sport's dominant force. After initially retiring in 2006, he made a comeback in 2010 and raced for three years with Mercedes.

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DiLorenzo reported from Paris.

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Associated Press writers Lori Hinnant in Paris, Geir Moulson in Berlin, John Leicester in Super-Besse, France, Lauren Neergaard in Washington and Deborah Gouffran and Milos Krivokapic in Grenoble contributed to this report.

5 NFL coaches already fired

It didn't take long.

Barely 12 hours after the NFL's regular season ended, five head coaches were unemployed. Fired on Monday were Washington's Mike Shanahan, Detroit's Jim Schwartz, Minnesota's Leslie Frazier and Tampa Bay's Greg Schiano.

The Cleveland Browns didn't even wait that long, dismissing Rob Chudzinski on Sunday night after just one season on the job.

Shanahan, who won two Super Bowls in Denver in the 1990s, spent four seasons with the Redskins and was 24-40. Frazier had a little more than three seasons with the Vikings to compile an 18-33-1 mark, and Schwartz coached the Lions for five seasons, finishing 29-52.

Schiano only got two years with the Buccaneers, going 11-21. He had three years and $9 million left on his contract.

Tampa Bay also fired general manager Mark Dominik.

"It's tough for the players to see your coaches go. You never want to see anybody get fired," Pro Bowl defensive tackle Gerald McCoy said. "Me personally, I haven't had any, consistently, in my career. Third head coach, going on my fifth year and three head coaches. Add up everybody, it'll be six D-line coaches."

The Buccaneers, who also have fired the likes of Tony Dungy and Jon Gruden, hired Schiano out of Rutgers in 2012 and went 6-4 before losing five of their last six games. They dropped their first eight games this season and finished 4-12.

One coach allegedly on the hot seat was retained: Rex Ryan, who has one more year on his contract, is staying with the New York Jets after a surprising 8-8 record in his fifth season at the helm.

While some of the fired coaches might have seen it coming, Chudzinski certainly didn't despite going 4-12 and losing his final seven games and 10 of 11.

"I was shocked and disappointed to hear the news that I was fired," said Chudzinski, who grew up a Browns fan. "I am a Cleveland Brown to the core, and always will be. It was an honor to lead our players and coaches, and I appreciate their dedication and sacrifice. I was more excited than ever for this team, as I know we were building a great foundation for future success."

As the coaching searches begin, agents will float the names of their clients - Penn State's Bill O'Brien seems to be the hottest candidate and has interviewed for Houston's vacancy. The Texans (2-14), who own the top choice in May's draft after losing their final 14 games, released coach Gary Kubiak late in the season.

Whoever gets hired in each place will face mammoth rebuilding projects. Overall, the six teams seeking new coaches went 24-71-1.

Shanahan had one season remaining on a five-year contract worth about $7 million a season. He blamed salary cap restraints for part of the Redskins' collapse from NFC East champion in 2012 to 3-13 and eight consecutive losses.

Washington was hit with a $36 million salary cap penalty over two seasons for dumping salaries into the 2010 uncapped season, and Shanahan said it prevented the team from pursuing free agents it had targeted.

But his real undoing, along with the poor records in three of his four seasons, was a contentious relationship with star quarterback Robert Griffin III. RG3 did not speak with the media on Monday.

Frazier took over for Brad Childress in Minnesota for the final six games of 2010. He got the Vikings to the playoffs as a wild card last season, riding an MVP year from running back Adrian Peterson. But he never solved the Vikings' quarterback situation - three QBs started in 2013 - and the defense, Frazier's specialty, ranked 31st overall and against the pass.

"It's a harsh business," safety Harrison Smith said. "As a player, we all love coach Frazier, as a coach, as a man. You can't meet a better guy. And also as a player, we didn't make enough plays on the field. So you just feel like you let him down a little bit."

The Lions were considered an underachieving team the last two years under Schwartz. After a 6-3 start this year in a division where the Packers and Bears lost their starting quarterbacks for lengthy periods, Detroit fell apart down the stretch. It lost six of its last seven.

He had two years and almost $12 million remaining on his deal, signed after the Lions hired him to fix a team that went 0-16 in 2008.

"From where we were in 2008 to where we are now it's a big difference," quarterback Matthew Stafford said. "We owe a lot of that to him. He's a really smart guy and helped us get to where we are. Obviously, we didn't win as many games as we needed to or as we should have this year."

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Proud Giants sticking with Coughlin after 7-9 year

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) Tom Coughlin is returning as Giants coach despite New York missing the playoffs for the fourth time in five seasons.

Giants co-owner John Mara told the 67-year-old Coughlin on Monday morning that he wants him to return for an 11th season with the team that he led to Super Bowl titles in 2008 and 20012.

There are some issues that have to be finalized later this week when Mara and Coughlin sit down with co-owner Steve Tisch and general manager Jerry Reese. There is an evaluation process to run through after a 7-9 season that began with six straight losses.

Changes in the coaching staff, particularly on offense, will be discussed. Coughlin also might get a contract extension so he does not enter next season as a lame-duck coach.

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AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org

Spurs' Parker apologizes for 'quenelle' gesture

SAN ANTONIO (AP) San Antonio Spurs guard Tony Parker is apologizing for a photograph that shows him making the same gesture with anti-Semitic connotations also made by French soccer star Nicolas Anelka this weekend.

The photograph shows Parker and a French comedian making a gesture known in France as a "quenelle," which critics describe as inverted Nazi salute. Parker said Monday in a statement released by the Spurs that the photograph was taken three years ago.

Parker, who is French, said he didn't know at the time that "it could be in any way offensive or harmful." He said he thought it was part of a comedy act.

The photo surfaced after Anelka made the same gesture celebrating a goal in an English Premier League game Saturday, causing an outcry in France.

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