League looking into Pro Bowler Collins' confrontation with fan
The NFL is investigating a confrontation between Packers safety Nick Collins and a fan after Monday night's loss to the Bears at Soldier Field in Chicago. Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league is "in the process of reviewing all the facts," and Bears spokesman Scott Hagel said the team is doing the same thing.
"Right now, we're monitoring it," Hagel said.
Milwaukee's WITI-TV aired video in which Collins is seen yelling at a fan as he left the field. Collins then appears to throw his mouthpiece into the stands. According to the station's report, Collins said the fan spit on him and used a racial slur. WITI said Collins apologized for "losing his cool." Collins, a veteran safety who has been selected to two straight Pro Bowls, might have been frustrated after being caught in the middle of two penalties that helped turn the game in the Bears' favor. With the score tied at 17 and the Bears driving in the final minutes of the game, Collins intercepted a pass from Chicago quarterback Jay Cutler. But the play was wiped out by a pass-interference penalty on rookie safety Morgan Burnett, putting the Bears in position to kick the game-winning field goal. Robbie Gould booted the 19-yarder through the uprights with four seconds left to give Chicago a 20-17 win and a 3-0 record.
"I saw that yellow flag (come) down, and you're like, 'Aw, come on, man,' " Collins said after the game. "It happens. It's just part of the game."
■ Monday night's game was the highest-rated cable telecast of the year. ESPN said Monday Night Football had an estimated 17.5 million viewers, making it the fifth-most watched cable program ever. The network said Monday night's 12.5 rating was well over the season average so far of 10.9.
■ The Bears held defensive tackle Tommie Harris out of the game on a coach's decision. Lovie Smith insisted the reasons were simply related to performance and not health or discipline. A three-time Pro Bowl pick, Harris was benched for a game last season and suspended for one in 2008 because of detrimental conduct. He has also been limited by knee and hamstring injuries over the past four years.
Kicker Carney to re-sign with Saints
Veteran kicker John Carney is returning to the New Orleans Saints. Carney's agent, Jack Mills, confirmed via e-mail Tuesday that his client would be signing a contract with his former team. Terms of the deal were not released. Carney, who is 46, worked out for the Saints Tuesday after starting kicker Garrett Hartley missed a 29-yard field goal in overtime Sunday that would have given New Orleans a 27-24 win over the Atlanta Falcons. For the season, Hartley is 4-for-7 on field-goal attempts. The Saints have not announced who would be waived to create a roster spot for Carney.
Rice questionable with bruised knee
Ravens running back Ray Rice has a bruised knee, an injury that has left his status in doubt for this week's AFC North showdown against the undefeated Pittsburgh. Rice left Sunday's game against the Browns with just less than 10 minutes left after catching a short pass for a 4-yard gain. An MRI on Monday revealed "a significant contusion," according to Coach John Harbaugh. Asked whether he expected Rice to play against Pittsburgh, Harbaugh said, "We'll see how he fares throughout the week. We'll see how it heals."
■ Former Kentucky receiver Keenan Burton has worked out for the Redskins, St. Louis Globe Democrat reporter Howard Balzer posted on his Twitter account Tuesday.
■ The NFL and its players' union have talked about a change to an 18-game regular season at a bargaining session. The two sides issued a joint statement about Tuesday's meetings, saying that negotiations "focused on several matters," including a rookie wage scale and improvements for retired players. League owners and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell want to expand the regular season from 16 games to 18 and cut the pre-season from four games to two.
■ Charlie Batch, buried so deep on the Steelers' depth chart that he barely practiced during training camp, will start Sunday's AFC North game against Baltimore after his great performance at Tampa Bay, Coach Mike Tomlin said Tuesday. Batch hasn't started successive games since midway through 2005, when Ben Roethlisberger had a right knee injury.
■ A spokeswoman for Hall of Fame offensive lineman Rayfield Wright said Tuesday that the former Cowboys player is doing well after a heart attack. Jeannette DeVader, director of The Rayfield Wright Foundation, said the 65-year-old was released from a Fort Worth hospital late Saturday, three days after a "moderate to severe heart attack." DeVader said Wright's prognosis is good. Wright was a two-time Super Bowl champion and six-time Pro Bowl pick while playing his entire NFL career with the Cowboys from 1967-79.
Sports in the courts
Ex-Spartan Vincent pleads guilty to fraud
Former Michigan State and NBA basketball star Jay Vincent pleaded guilty Tuesday in Grand Rapids, Mich., to fraud and tax charges related to a $2 million Internet scam. Prosecutors say the 51-year-old Vincent and an associate defrauded 20,000 people by charging them to become certified home inspectors through a business called Foreclosure Bank Inspection Co. The government says no inspectors were hired, and the business had no contracts with banks. Vincent played on the 1979 Michigan State national championship team alongside Magic Johnson. He also played in the NBA with Dallas, Washington, Denver, San Antonio, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Lakers.
■ UNLV basketball player Tre'Von Willis pleaded guilty Tuesday to a misdemeanor battery charge as part of a deal with prosecutors in a domestic violence case that once carried felony charges. The Las Vegas Review-Journal reported Willis pleaded guilty in Henderson Justice Court on Tuesday. University officials also announced Tuesday that Willis would be suspended three games. The 22-year-old was accused of choking his girlfriend during an argument. Willis was the Runnin' Rebels' top scorer as a junior guard last season.
Hamlin and Harvick make up
Denny Hamlin said Tuesday he's made peace with Kevin Harvick, and the drivers have agreed their focus should be only on dethroning four-time defending NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson. The two tangled on the track immediately as practice began Saturday at Dover and then went face to face in the garage.
"Regardless of what happens on the racetrack, our friendship goes further than that," Hamlin said.
"The more we chase each other on the racetrack, the more we're going to let somebody else, mainly Four-Time (Johnson), make it Five-Time."
■ A plan to rescue New Jersey's troubled horse racing industry will reach Gov. Chris Christie's desk shortly. New Jersey horsemen say they've been developing a plan that includes more Internet wagering and off-track betting parlors. It would not cut into Atlantic City's market by installing slot machines at the tracks. The industry has been forced to develop a survival plan after Christie said he would no longer authorize a $30 million-a-year racing subsidy.
■ U.S. Open champion Kim Clijsters will miss next month's China Open because of an infection on her right foot. The three-time major title winner posted on her Twitter account Tuesday that she "had a mole removed under my right foot and the wound got infected." The WTA Tour confirmed that Clijsters has withdrawn from the hard-court tournament, which runs Oct. 2-10.
■ Sylvia Fowles scored 15 points, and Diana Taurasi added 14 to help the unbeaten United States rout Belarus 107-61 Tuesday at the women's basketball world championship in Ostrava, Czech Republic. The Americans will play rival Australia on Wednesday night in the final game of the second round.
The last word
So far, nothing embattled Carolina Panthers coach John Fox tries is working. And on Monday, he had trouble clearly explaining an 0-3 start that includes three touchdowns and 12 turnovers.
"We are what we are, and that is what I'm trying to change, so we're not that."