Exonerated player gets shot at playing with UFL team
Brian Banks, a one-time high school football star who was recently exonerated in a California rape case in which he was falsely accused, is finally getting a chance to play professional football.
The 26-year-old Banks, a linebacker, is signing with the Las Vegas Locomotives of the United Football League, the team confirmed Wednesday. Banks served more than five years in prison following a conviction a decade ago on rape and kidnapping charges. The woman later recanted her claim and offered to help Banks clear his name.
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"We're very pleased to be able to welcome this young man to the UFL and give him an opportunity in football that was denied him years ago," Locomotives Coach Jim Fassel said in a statement.
Banks was trying to land a spot in the NFL and got his first tryout with the Seattle Seahawks. He also received tryouts with the San Diego Chargers and Kansas City Chiefs, and eventually took part in Seattle's minicamp in June. Seattle Coach Pete Carroll gave Banks the opportunity to see where he stacked up against NFL players. Banks had verbally committed to playing for Carroll at USC before Banks' arrest and conviction.
Women's soccer ranked 18th
The Kentucky women's soccer team has earned its first Top 25 ranking in Jon Lipsitz's four seasons as head coach. Coming off Southeastern Conference victories over Florida and Mississippi State last weekend, the Cats are ranked No. 18 in this week's Soccer America poll. Kentucky, 7-1-0, is one of four SEC teams ranked in the poll, joining No. 12 Texas A&M, No. 19 Missouri and No. 24 Tennessee. The Wildcats continue conference play this weekend with games at Arkansas on Friday and LSU on Sunday.
■ Veterans Gabriel Conelian and Steven Perinovic scored their first career goals and senior Charley Pettys recorded his third of the year as the Kentucky men's soccer team posted a dominating 3-1 win over visiting East Tennessee State.
Ex-MVP Ovechkin returning to Russia
Alexander Ovechkin is returning to his former Russian team Dynamo Moscow during the NHL lockout.
The KHL team said Wednesday that it has signed the Washington Capitals star to a contract that lasts until the lockout ends. Ovechkin joined the Capitals in 2005 and was the NHL's MVP in 2008 and 2009.
Falcons' Turner apologetic after arrest
Atlanta Falcons running back Michael Turner apologized Wednesday to the team for his drunken-driving arrest, saying he made "a bad decision" and was prepared to deal with the consequences.
Turner was pulled over by police in suburban Gwinnett County around 5 a.m. Tuesday — just hours after scoring a touchdown in Atlanta's 27-21 win over Denver. Police say he was clocked doing 97 mph in a 65-mph zone and booked him into jail on a DUI charge after a field sobriety test. He expects to play Sunday at San Diego.
■ The New England Patriots have signed tight end Kellen Winslow and re-signed wide receiver Deion Branch. Tight end Aaron Hernandez was sidelined with a right ankle injury Sunday.
Winslow was released by Seattle on Sept. 1 after spending the past three seasons with Tampa Bay following five seasons with Cleveland. He had 75 receptions last season and has 437 in his career.
The Patriots released Branch on the final roster cut-down after he caught 51 passes last season.
■ Running back Ahmad Bradshaw (neck), offensive tackle David Diehl (knee) and wide receiver Domenik Hixon (concussion) have all been ruled out of the New York Giants' game against the Carolina Panthers Thursday. The players were hurt in Sunday's win over Tampa Bay and did not practice this week.
■ Six-time Pro Bowl wide receiver Chad Johnson's divorce is final from reality TV star Evelyn Lozada, a month after his arrest on a domestic battery charge. The couple wed on July 4.
In an interview with Showtime's Inside the NFL, Johnson says he's taking anger management classes. "I'm trying to find out how can I channel my anger when I'm in situations to where I would pop off," he says. "How can I diffuse those situations, trigger points?"
Pre-kickoff prayer OK with Tennessee
The University of Tennessee said Wednesday it plans to continue allowing pregame prayers at Neyland Stadium after receiving a letter from an organization arguing the practice is unconstitutional.
The Freedom From Religion Foundation sent a letter to Tennessee Chancellor Jimmy Cheek asking that the university stop the use of prayer at university functions and sporting events. Cheek released a letter in which he said he had discussed the matter with the school's counsel and was told that "nonsectarian prayer at public university events does not violate the First Amendment.".
The complaint from the Madison, Wis., atheist group points out that UT-Chattanooga decided last week to stop its use of a pregame prayer. Chattanooga officials decided to observe a moment of silence.
■ TCU leading rusher Waymon James will miss the rest of the season for the 17th-ranked Horned Frogs because of a left knee injury. Jones appeared to get hurt in the fourth quarter Saturday of Big 12 newcomer TCU's 20-6 win at Kansas. He clutched his knee after making a cut on a run.
James had 168 yards rushing and a touchdown this season for TCU (2-0), averaging 9.9 yards on 17 carries. The junior, who also led the Frogs in rushing last season with 875 yards, could be eligible for a medical redshirt.
EKU's Jones signs with European team
Former Eastern Kentucky University and Bryan Station High School guard Jaron Jones has signed a contract to play in Europe for the Apollon Basketball Club in Limassol, Cyprus.
The 6-foot-5 Jones played two seasons for the Colonels. As a senior last year, Jones averaged a team-high 17 points.
■ Connecticut and Michigan State will meet in the first regular-season major college basketball game in Europe on Nov. 9 at Ramstein Air Base in Germany. ESPN announced the creation of the Armed Forces Classic on Wednesday. The classic will feature additional games to be announced later.
Couples gets in World Hall with 51%
Fred Couples has been elected to the World Golf Hall of Fame.
Couples won the 1992 Masters among his 15 career victories on the PGA Tour. He was elected on the PGA Tour ballot with 51 percent of the vote, the lowest percentage for any inductee. Election typically requires 65 percent, although if no one gets the minimum, the leading vote-getter with more than 50 percent is elected.
The last word
A few days have gone by, but Redskins rookie quarterback Robert Griffin III was still peeved by the play of the Rams' defensive players in St. Louis' 31-28 victory against Washington on Sunday:
"They were doing a lot of dirty things. I still think they have an extremely good team ... but the game was unprofessional. Who am I to talk? I've barely been a pro for very long, but from what I experienced against the Saints compared to that game, it was definitely unprofessional and does need to be cleaned up."