Favre fined $50,000 for not cooperating in investigation
Brett Favre was fined $50,000 by the NFL for a "failure to cooperate" with its investigation into inappropriate messages and lewd photos he allegedly sent to former Jets employee Jenn Sterger, a decision her lawyer called extremely disappointing. The league said Wednesday that Commissioner Roger Goodell "could not conclude" that Favre violated the league's personal-conduct policy based on the evidence currently available to him.
"The forensic analysis could not establish that Favre sent the objectionable photographs to Sterger," the statement said. "The review found no evidence to contradict the statements of both Favre and Sterger that they never met in person, nor was there anything to suggest that Sterger engaged in any inappropriate conduct."
The decision comes a couple of weeks after Favre's NFL record for consecutive starts was snapped at 297 and ahead of the season finale for the 41-year-old Vikings quarterback, who will play what might be his last game — if he's healthy enough.
Favre's fine will help fund a new training program on workplace conduct around the NFL, Goodell said in a memo sent to clubs Wednesday. Goodell determined Favre was "not candid in several respects during the investigation resulting in a longer review and additional negative public attention for Favre, Sterger and the NFL," the league's statement said.
Carlson: Vick 'should have been executed'
Fox News analyst Tucker Carlson said Eagles quarterback Michael Vick "should have been executed" for his role in a dogfighting ring. Carlson was guest-hosting for Sean Hannity's show on Fox News Channel Tuesday night when he made the remarks. He led a panel discussion about President Barack Obama commending the Eagles owner for giving Vick a second chance after he served 18 months in federal prison for running a dogfighting ring.
"Michael Vick killed dogs, and he did (it) in a heartless and cruel way." Carlson said. "I think, personally, he should have been executed for that."
■ Eagles Coach Andy Reid said Wednesday he hasn't decided whether Vick's leg bruise will keep the quarterback out of Sunday's regular-season finale against the Cowboys.
■ Jets Coach Rex Ryan said Wednesday he was leaning toward playing quarterback Mark Sanchez "some" against Buffalo but might not make a decision until before the game Sunday. The Jets (10-5) have already clinched a playoff berth. Sanchez, whose throwing shoulder is sore, said he's preparing to start but was limited at practice.
■ Jaguars quarterback David Garrard will miss the season finale at Houston because of a finger injury. Garrard will have surgery on the middle finger of his right hand Thursday. Trent Edwards is likely to start in Garrard's place. Garrard probably would miss a first-round playoff game if the Jaguars (8-7) make the post-season. Jacksonville needs to beat Houston and have Tennessee upset Indianapolis to win the AFC South.
■ Giants leading receiver Hakeem Nicks is likely to miss New York's regular-season finale against the Redskins with a broken big toe on his left foot, Coach Tom Coughlin said Wednesday. The Giants (9-6) need to beat or tie the Redskins in Washington and have the Packers (9-6) lose to Chicago in Green Bay to make the playoffs.
■ Browns running back Peyton Hillis is not practicing because of sore ribs. Coach Eric Mangini said he thinks Hillis will be able to play this week against Pittsburgh.
■ 49ers Pro Bowl inside linebacker Patrick Willis underwent a second surgical procedure this week on his broken right hand. He will miss a start for the first time in his four-year career in Sunday's season finale against Arizona.
■ Interim 49ers coach Jim Tomsula said Alex Smith will start at quarterback Sunday against the Cardinals. Smith was benched for last Sunday's must-win game at St. Louis in favor of Troy Smith.
■ Seattle Coach Pete Carroll said the Seahawks plan to start quarterback Charlie Whitehurst in the NFC West title matchup against St. Louis. Carroll said Matt Hasselbeck is rehabbing to make a return from a strained hip area, but it would be "against the odds."
■ The NFL's first Tuesday game since 1946 drew drew a 15.2 overnight TV rating and 24 share on NBC. The network said Wednesday that tied for the fifth-highest rating for a Sunday Night Football game this season.
■ The snow-damaged roof of the Metrodome won't be fixed until sometime in March, affecting hundreds of college baseball games and the annual Twins Fest. Bill Lester of the Metropolitan Sports Facilities Commission said Wednesday the Minnesota Twins will be forced to move their event, which is scheduled for Jan. 28-30. About 300 baseball games were scheduled to be played in the dome in February and March, including about 40 University of Minnesota games and 250 small-college games.
NCAA defends punishment for violations
The NCAA defended its recent rulings in violations cases involving Ohio State and Auburn, saying it does not play favorites or make decisions based on financial considerations. The NCAA posted a statement on its Web site Wednesday responding to its critics.
"Money is not a motivator or factor as to why one school would get a particular decision versus another. Any insinuation that revenue from bowl games in particular would influence NCAA decisions is absurd because schools and conferences receive that revenue, not the NCAA."
Last week, the NCAA suspended five Ohio State players for five games next season for selling their championship rings, trophies and other memorabilia items but allowed them to play in the upcoming Sugar Bowl. Sugar Bowl Executive Director Paul Hoolahan told The Columbus Dispatch that he encouraged Ohio State officials to push for the players to be allowed to play Jan. 4 against Arkansas in New Orleans.
"I made the point that anything that could be done to preserve the integrity of this year's game, we would greatly appreciate it," Hoolahan said in Wednesday's editions of the newspaper. "That appeal did not fall on deaf ears, and I'm extremely excited about it."
Last month, the NCAA didn't punish Auburn quarterback Cam Newton, even though it ruled his father had solicited money from Mississippi State. The NCAA said Wednesday that efforts are being made to strengthen rules "when benefits or money are solicited (but not received)."
"Had Cam Newton's father or a third party actually received money or benefits for his recruitment, Cam Newton would have been declared ineligible regardless of his lack of knowledge," the NCAA said.
■ Revenue growth in college sports' top tier will be held to 3 percent next year as states slash subsidies nationwide, NCAA president Mark Emmert told the Washington Post for a story published Wednesday. The median growth rate was 5.8 percent for the fiscal year ending 2009 and 17 percent a year earlier, according to a report by the Indianapolis-based agency that oversees most college athletic programs. Schools with the strongest growth will be those in conferences that recently negotiated TV contracts, such as the Southeastern Conference's 15-year, $3.1 billion agreement with ESPN and CBS, Emmert said.
Maryland routs ECU in Friedgen's finale
Maryland Coach Ralph Friedgen ended his 10-year run at his alma mater Wednesday with a 51-20 victory over East Carolina in the Military Bowl in Washington, D.C. Maryland forced four turnovers, and Da'Rel Scott ran for 200 yards. New athletics director Kevin Anderson announced last week that Friedgen was being fired, with the school buying out the final year of the 63-year-old's contract for $2 million.
The last word
Broncos Pro Bowl receiver Brandon Lloyd castigated the teams who failed to bring out his talent in previous years during a teleconference Tuesday. After a season full of catching bombs, Lloyd dropped one during the call. When asked whether there's anything he would like to say to San Francisco, Washington and Chicago, Lloyd responded with some salty language, then added, "and I mean that in the most professional way." He didn't back off his sentiments Wednesday but promised to keep his words a little cleaner. On the team's orders?
"That was a joke, to keep it clean. I can cuss all I want."