League pledges $30 millionfor medical research
The NFL has pledged $30 million for medical research to the Foundation for the National Institutes of Health.
Commissioner Roger Goodell on Wednesday announced the donation to the foundation, which helps raise private funding for the NIH, the nation's leading medical research agency.
The same day the grant was announced, researchers published a study indicating that former NFL players are unusually prone to dying from degenerative brain disease.
The work, presented online in the journal Neurology, drew on a long-running study of more than 3,400 NFL players with at least five playing seasons in the league between 1959 and 1988. Some 334 had died by the end of 2007, the cutoff for the study.
Researchers found that deaths from Alzheimer's, Parkinson's and Lou Gehrig's diseases, when combined, reached about three times the rate one would predict from the general population. The study did not look for chronic traumatic encephalopathy, but researchers said some of the deaths they counted could have been from misdiagnosed CTE.
The research funded by the NFL's grant is designed to benefit athletes and the general population, including members of the military, Goodell said. Potential areas of research under the grant include the brain, specifically CTE, concussion management and treatment, and the understanding of the relationship between traumatic brain injury and late-life neurodegenerative disorders, especially Alzheimer's disease.
■ Pro Bowl linebacker Brian Urlacher practiced Wednesday as the Chicago Bears continued to prepare for their season opener against Indianapolis. Urlacher injured his left knee in the final game last season and has been sidelined for most of the pre-season. He had arthroscopic surgery in mid-August and practiced Monday for the first time since July 31.
■ Trent Richardson's pro debut, delayed by an unexpected surgery, appears to be on schedule. The Browns rookie running back practiced again Wednesday for the second time since having knee surgery on Aug. 9. The No. 3 overall pick in April's draft, Richardson is expected to play and perhaps even start Sunday when Cleveland opens the season at home against the Philadelphia Eagles.
Penn State legal fees tab at $17 million
It has cost Penn State almost $17 million in fees alone to deal with the fallout from the Jerry Sandusky child sex-abuse scandal, and the tab is expected to grow by tens of millions of dollars before the meter stops clicking.
According to a post on a university Web site, the school spent almost $16.8 million through June 30 on legal fees, consultants and public relations experts dealing with the Sandusky case. The university will also have to pay a $60 million fine levied by the National Collegiate Athletic Association, the governing body for college sports, and what many lawyers expect will be millions of dollars more to the victims of Sandusky's abuse. At least three suits have been filed and more are expected.
The biggest expenditure so far — about $10 million — was for internal investigations and crisis communication. That cost includes the $6.5 million to Freeh Sporkin & Sullivan for the investigation by former FBI Director Louis Freeh, which found that the university and late football coach Joe Paterno failed to protect the children who were abused.
Georgetown hosts Thursday night game
Georgetown College puts its 18-game regular-season winning streak on the line Thursday when it plays host to Faulkner University in a Mid-South Conference football game at 7 p.m.
The Tigers, who are unveiling a new synthetic field at Toyota Stadium, are also protecting an 11-game home-field winning streak. The school is promoting the game as a night for 10,000 Tigers. Georgetown hopes to unite 10,000 fans and alumni through attendance in the stands, social media and the live iHigh broadcast of the game on Kentucky.com.
In addition to the football game, the school will hold a ring ceremony for its conference tournament championship baseball team and honor its 1982 men's basketball team. "It is a lot of fun playing under the lights," Coach Bill Cronin said. "We don't get a lot of opportunities to do that. The support is always great no matter when we play, but there is something special about a Thursday night game. Our students really enjoy these games."
■ A woman has sued Nebraska Coach Bo Pelini's foundation and offensive coordinator Tim Beck, alleging she suffered a traumatic brain injury while participating in a drill at a football clinic put on by the foundation two years ago.
Beverly Morgan, 66, of Lincoln said in the lawsuit filed Tuesday in Lancaster County Court that she fell and hit the back of her head during a drill in which a gauntlet of women struck her with blocking pads. The lawsuit seeks $92,500 in medical costs and punitive damages.
■ Injured quarterback Connor Shaw was back at practice Wednesday for No. 9 South Carolina. Shaw sustained a deep bone bruise in his throwing shoulder in last Thursday night's 17-13 victory at Vanderbilt. He hadn't practiced since the game and Coach Steve Spurrier said his status for Saturday's home opener against East Carolina (1-0) was wait-and-see.
Magic owner suffered mild stroke
Orlando Magic owner and Amway Inc. co-founder Rich DeVos is recuperating following what was described as a mild stroke last month.
Amway, the Michigan-based direct sales company, said Wednesday that the 86-year-old DeVos was taken Aug. 19 to Spectrum Health Butterworth Hospital in Grand Rapids, Mich. after having a stroke. The company says he was kept for tests and observation before being released Aug. 21. The company says DeVos is in good condition and is recuperating at home.
SPORTS IN THE COURTS
Tennessee track athlete charged
Tennessee track team member Tyler Anderson has been charged with domestic assault and vandalism after police say he beat his ex-girlfriend with his right arm, which was in a cast at the time.
Knoxville police spokesman Darrell DeBusk said Wednesday that Anderson, a long jumper and triple jumper, is accused of striking his ex-girlfriend in the face, nose and jaw. Tennessee athletic department spokesman Jimmy Stanton says officials are aware of the incident, gathering facts and evaluating his status on the team.
Grand-Am, American Le Mans to merge
Grand-Am and American Le Mans announced Wednesday they are merging and will compete as one series beginning in 2014. Grand-Am founder Jim France and ALMS founder Don Panoz made the joint announcement at Daytona International Speedway. The new series will start with the Rolex 24 at Daytona in 2014 and likely include 12 races.
Panoz says the merger will "strengthen professional sports car racing beyond what either of our organizations could have achieved separately."
The last word
Ryan Newman, driver of the 39 car for Stewart Haas Racing, has wrecked in the last two races, knocking him into a must-win situation this weekend in order to get into the NASCAR Sprint Cup playoff.
"We have to win. That's the bottom line. We have to get in Victory Lane to have a shot at the championship. ... It's been an up-and-down season for us, but at the same time we've had our ups, and some other teams out there haven't had their ups."