Sports briefs: June 22

June 22, 2013 

Football

Goodell in holding pattern over Hernandez case

Roger Goodell is doing what any commissioner or president of a sports league would when one of his players is being investigated in a criminal case.

He's waiting for the legal process to take its course.

No charges have been filed in what has been termed by Massachusetts authorities as a homicide in the death of a man connected to New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez.

Police have searched Hernandez's house and the area around it after 27-year-old semi-pro player Odin Lloyd was found dead in an industrial park near the Patriot's North Attleborough home.

Hernandez also was sued Wednesday in Florida by a man claiming Hernandez shot him in the face after they argued at a strip club in February.

As he has done in recent cases, be they high profile — Michael Vick and his dogfighting, for example — or less publicized, Goodell is sitting tight. Innocent before proven guilty.

Should Hernandez be arrested — no charges have been brought in either case — Goodell could punish him under the NFL's personal conduct policy. But he generally prefers to await the outcome of all legal proceedings.

• Facing what he drolly called a "complicated international problem," Vladimir Putin says he's ready to give the New England Patriots' owner custom jewelry to compensate for the Super Bowl ring that some imply the Russian president pocketed. The Super Bowl ring changed hands in 2005 when Robert Kraft was visiting Putin with a business delegation. At the time, he said he gave it as a gift, but last week he was quoted by the New York Post as saying Putin just took it. Putin said at an economic forum Friday he didn't remember Kraft or the ring. But "if it is so valuable to him," Putin would order a piece of jewelry of precious metal and stones be made for Kraft.

• The NFL commissioner said Friday that the league accepts and is taking a leadership role in improving sports safety at all levels. Roger Goodell spoke Friday morning to the National PTA convention. The Parent Teacher Association has urged its members to seek improved head-injury reporting and training in schools, and Goodell said they should push for properly trained coaches and safe equipment. "It is our job to lead the way," Goodell said, adding that the NFL is in the position to have a wide impact and takes that responsibility. The National Football League is facing a federal lawsuit over concussion-related injuries by thousands of former players, and concerns about head injuries have caused some parents to hesitate to allow their children to play football.


Golf

Watson holds 2-stroke lead at Travelers

Although Bubba Watson will always have a soft spot in his heart for Augusta National, he enjoys playing TPC at River Highlands nearly as much.

Watson shot a 3-under-par 67 Friday to take a two-stroke lead over Patrick Reed and Padraig Harrington after two rounds of the Travelers Championship.

"I love this place. I always play well here," Watson said.

The 2010 Travelers champion was at 10-under 130. Reed and Harrington were at 8-under after both shot 66s in the second round. Four players — including 2007 champion Hunter Mahan — were tied for fourth at 7-under.

Charley Hoffman, who held the first-round lead after a 61 on Thursday, followed that with a 73 in a round that included three bogeys and a double-bogey.

Mika Miyazato birdied six of 10 holes in the middle of her round to shoot a 6-under 65 and earn the first-round lead at LPGA Tour's NW Arkansas Championship. Miyazato finished in a tie for second at the event last year, missing a 15-foot birdie putt on the final hole to finish a stroke back of winner Ai Miyazato. The Japanese golfer hit 16 of 18 greens in regulation on Friday to finish a shot ahead of So Yeon Ryu and Angela Stanford at 5 under. World No. 1 Inbee Park is four shots off the lead after shooting a 2-under 69.

Ernie Els shot a 3-under 69 in the second round of the BMW International Open on Friday to maintain his one-stroke lead. The South African made six birdies, a double bogey and a bogey, leaving him at 12-under 132 halfway through the European Tour event. Els, a two-time winner of the British Open and U.S. Open, opened with a 63 Thursday. He is followed by Matthew Baldwin of England (69) and Alexander Levy of France (68).


Auto racing

Mechanical failure in Leffler death

New Jersey state police say a mechanical problem is to blame for the dirt-track racing crash that killed NASCAR driver Jason Leffler last week.

The state police released some findings Friday from its not-yet-complete report on the June 12 crash at Bridgeport Speedway in Logan Township.

The report finds that Leffler was not able to turn as he came out of the fourth turn and spun out, slamming into the concrete wall along the side of the track.

The report does not say how fast Leffler was going, but says cars in the race were averaging 135 mph and hitting 150 mph on straightaways.

Blunt-force neck injuries are cited as his cause of death.

The 37-year-old Leffler was a two-time winner on the NASCAR Nationwide Series.


Baseball

Legends roll over Sand Gnats

Mark Donato had three hits and two runs batted in, and Fred Ford hit his eighth home run of the year as the Lexington Legends took a 6-2 win over the Savannah Sand Gnats Friday night in front of 6,491 fans at Whitaker Bank Ballpark.

Legends starter Daniel Stumpf evened his record at 5-5. He worked five innings, allowed four hits and two runs, walked four batters and struck out six. Chas Byrne and Mark Peterson each pitched two innings of scoreless relief. Peterson picked up his sixth save of the year in six save opportunities.

• A Southeastern Conference team is heading to the College World Series finals for the sixth straight year. For the first time, it's Mississippi State. Hunter Renfroe hit a three-run homer off the back wall of the left-field bullpen, and Kendall Graveman and two relievers held the Beavers in check in a 4-1 victory on Friday.


Etc.

Unique Notre Dame bouquet

Fighting Irish fans can smell, smell for old Notre Dame starting this fall.

Two companies, Cloudbreak Group and Steiner Collectibles, are pairing up to develop fragrances for the school, University of Notre Dame director of licensing Michael Low told the South Bend Tribune.

ND Gold Eau De Toilette for men and Lady Irish Eau De Parfum will be available this fall, with 3.4-ounce bottles expected to retail for $62, he said.

Other scented products will include women's shower gel and body lotion; men's hair and body wash; and aftershave balm, he said.


The last word

Sports Illustrated reporter Chris Mannix tweeted about a Heat fan who could stand to brush up on his golf knowledge.

"Heat fan just walked past Jack Nicklaus. Says, 'Hey you're Arnold Palmer!' Nicklaus says, 'No. But close.' Can't make this stuff up."

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