Players want $4 billion frozen, $707 million in damages
Seeking more clout in their fight with the NFL, locked-out players asked a federal judge Thursday to make $4 billion in disputed broadcast revenue off limits to the league and to award them at least $707 million in damages, too. U.S. District Judge David Doty took the request under advisement after a two-hour hearing that included arguments from attorneys for the league and the players.
Jeffrey Kessler, an attorney for the players, urged Doty to rule quickly on the request to put the $4 billion "war chest" in escrow because of the ongoing lockout. The players have argued that the league can make it through the work stoppage in part because it illegally secured that money by renegotiating TV contracts for 2011 that allow the NFL to get paid even if there are no games to televise.
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Gregg Levy, an attorney for the league, said the players have no right to damages, and he accused them of "sandbagging and ambush." Levy told reporters afterward that the league never intended to finance a work stoppage with money from the networks.
Packers to retire No. 4 when they're sure
Packers president Mark Murphy said the team will eventually retire Brett Favre's No. 4, but they want to make sure he's really retired.
"He deserves that for what he did as a Packer," Murphy told fans in Ashland, Wis., Wednesday. "There are very few players in our history that had their number retired. He deserves it though. But it's a very, very meaningful honor, and we want to do it at a time when it's meaningful for both him and the organization."
The Green Bay Press-Gazette quoted Murphy as saying it would probably be a few years before the ceremony. He said that when Favre retired after the 2007 season, they planned a ceremony at the opening game against the Vikings, but then Favre went to play for the Jets. Earlier this week Favre said he has no intention of coming out of retirement.
Centre senior up by 5 in D-III golf tourney
Centre senior Chris Morris shot a 1-under 71 Thursday and took a five-shot lead into Friday's final round of the NCAA Division III Men's Golf Championship in Greensboro, N.C. The Nova Scotia native who went to Mason County High is 13 under par after shooting 67-65-71 in the first three rounds. He's five strokes ahead of Tain Lee of Claremont-Mudd-Scripps (Calif.) and six in front of Jeremy Sanders of Redlands (Calif.). Only two others are under par at minus-5. The Colonels, ranked No. 8 in the nation in a coaches' poll, are tied for ninth in the team standings with Christopher Newport (Va.) and Redlands.
"The conditions were tough, and our guys responded well," Centre assistant coach Tom Campbell said. "We are excited as a team for our chance to move up tomorrow and also for the opportunity that Chris has to be the individual champion."
HCAC's top pitcher, hitter go to Transy
Transylvania senior Kendra DeArk and sophomore Megan Mitchell have been named pitcher and hitter of the year, respectively, by the Heartland Conference following a vote of league coaches.
It was DeArk's second pitching MVP in three years, and Mitchell was selected the HCAC's best offensive player for the second year in a row. Both were named to the All-HCAC first team, the fourth straight year for DeArk and the second season in a row for Mitchell. Mitchell had 17 home runs, tying her own single-season school record, including a conference-best 11 in league play. She set HCAC records with a .629 batting average, 27 runs scored and 11 homers. Joining DeArk and Mitchell on the first team were senior pitcher Olivia Wall and sophomore shortstop Michelle Ladanyi out of Clark County.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Fiesta scandal touches Ariz. lawmakers
A review by the Arizona Senate Ethics Committee found that some lawmakers might have violated state law by improperly accepting free football game tickets from the Fiesta Bowl, Chairman Ron Gould said Thursday. However, Gould said he is temporarily refraining from taking further action because he doesn't want to taint a criminal investigation being conducted by Maricopa County prosecutors. Senate President Russell Pearce released copies of canceled checks and other documents that he said show a "clear pattern of compliance" with state laws restricting acceptance of gifts and of making reimbursements to the Fiesta Bowl for game tickets. Pearce released the material one day after the bowl was fined $1 million by the Bowl Championship Series for apparent illegal campaign contributions and inappropriate spending.
Federer falls in third round in Rome
Roger Federer's French Open preparation hit a roadblock Thursday with a 4-6, 7-6 (2), 7-6 (4) loss to Richard Gasquet in the third round of the Italian Open in Rome. Federer had won his last eight meetings against Gasquet, but his uncharacteristic errors from the baseline allowed the 16th-seeded Frenchman to take control.
"I definitely feel I should never have lost this match," Federer said. "I just couldn't come up with the shots."
That hasn't been an issue for Novak Djokovic, who extended his winning streak to 36 matches with a 6-4, 6-1 win over 14th-seeded Stanislas Wawrinka. Djokovic has won all 34 of his matches this year, trailing only John McEnroe's 42-0 start in 1984 in the Open era. The Serb can claim the top ranking from Rafael Nadal if he wins this tournament and Nadal fails to reach the semifinals. Djokovic's quarterfinal opponent will be fifth-seeded Robin Soderling, who held on to beat ninth-seeded Nicolas Almagro 6-3, 3-6, 6-4.
Nadal overcame a virus to beat fellow Spaniard Feliciano Lopez 6-4, 6-2 Thursday. The start of the match was delayed by about 20 minutes because Nadal considered withdrawing.
Serena pulls out of French Open
Serena Williams pulled out of the French Open on Thursday, a decision that was expected because the 13-time Grand Slam singles champion has been off the tour for more than 10 months. Williams, who won the 2002 French Open, hasn't competed since early July because of two foot operations and blood clots in her lung. She returned to practice last month and said Thursday she aims to be back on tour this summer. Her older sister Venus — a seven-time major singles champion — is also in doubt for the clay-court French Open, which starts May 22. Tournament organizers said Thursday they have not heard from Venus Williams, who hasn't played since January because of a hip injury. The French Open will be the third consecutive Grand Slam tournament missed by Serena.
■ Former top-ranked tennis player Dinara Safina said Thursday she is taking an indefinite break from tennis in hopes of recovering from chronic back pain. Safina told the Russian daily Sport Express that she will miss the French Open, where she has twice reached the finals.
The last word
Lucas Glover's beard has received so much attention recently that it now has its own Facebook page. Glover, who won the Wells Fargo Championship last week, shot a 7-under 65 in the opening round of The Players Championship Thursday. But Glover insisted that he's not superstitious about his facial hair:
"No, the ball doesn't know what I've got on my face. "