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Best Sapp quotes


By Stephen F. Holder, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

The quotable Warren Sapp

• "It's not so much what's expected of you because you always shoot for the moon. And if you miss, you're among the stars."

• "Except for that last drive (on which the Patriots went up 30-13), we basically handed it to them."

• "I've always said I'll take the ugly win to the Picasso loss any day of the week."

• "It's a pleasure to come to work every day because I get to work on my stuff. I get to sharpen my knife. And when it's sharp, you're going to get cut."

• "Without making plays, I've got nothing to talk about."

• "I don't think any of those other defenses that came in (to the Super Bowl) ranked No. 1 had to face the type of offense that we had to face. And we put the choke hold on them."

• "Chicks dig the long ball. The wide receivers have always been prima donnas and pretty boys. They are big-time players. The thing with (Terrell) Owens is he makes so much noise, it's like an empty wagon going down the road. Just go play."

Other Hall of Famers, class of 2013


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

The other new Hall of Famers

The induction ceremony is scheduled for Aug. 3 in Canton, Ohio. Ticket are on sale now. For information, go to the Hall of Fame's website, profootballhof.com.

Larry Allen, G/T

Years/teams: 1994-2005 Dallas Cowboys, 2006-07 San Francisco 49ers

College: Sonoma State, Butte Junior College (Calif.)

Seasons: 14 Games: 203

All-Pro: 7 Pro Bowls: 11

Notable: Allen is a member of the NFL's All-Decade teams for the 1990s and 2000s.

Cris Carter, WR

Years/teams: 1987-89 Philadelphia Eagles; 1990-2001 Minnesota Vikings; 2002 Miami Dolphins

College: Ohio State

Seasons: 16 Games: 234

All-Pro: 2 Pro Bowls: 8

Career stats: 1,101 receptions for 13,899 yards, 130 touchdowns

Notable: He retired as the NFL's second all-time leading receiver. Three times Carter led the NFL in touchdown catches.

Jonathan Ogden, T

Years/teams: 1996-2007 Baltimore Ravens

College: UCLA

Seasons: 12 Games: 177

All-Pro: 6 Pro Bowls: 11

Notable: He was the first player drafted by the franchise. He made the 2000s All-Decade team. He had two receptions, both for TDs.

Bill Parcells, coach

Years/teams: 1983-1990 New York Giants; 1993-96 New England Patriots; 1997-99 New York Jets; 2003-06 Dallas Cowboys

College: Colgate, Wichita State

Seasons: 19. Division titles: 5

Conference titles: 3

Super Bowl titles: 2

Notable: Parcells was twice named NFL coach of the year (1986, 1994).

Senior Selections

Curley Culp, DT

Years/teams: 1968-1974 Kansas City Chiefs; 1974-1980 Houston Oilers; 1980-1981 Detroit Lions

College: Arizona State

Notable: He was the NFL's defensive player of the year and first-team All-Pro in 1975. He was first- or second-team All-AFC five times and made six Pro Bowls.

Dave Robinson, LB

Years/teams: 1963-1972 Green Bay Packers; 1973-74 Washington Redskins

College: Penn State

Notable: He was starting outside linebacker in three straight NFL championship wins, 1965-67, and in Super Bowl I and II wins. He had 27 interceptions for 449 yards, one TD. He was All-Pro second team in 1968-69, first-team All-NFL in 1967-69. He mad three Pro Bowls and was named to the NFL's 1960s All-Decade team.

Twenty-five years later, Doug Williams understands impact


By Rick Stroud, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013


Twenty-five years ago, when Doug Williams shook off a first-quarter knee injury to pass for a then-record 340 yards and four touchdowns in the Redskins' 42-10 win over the Broncos in Super Bowl XXII, he collected his MVP trophy and was greeted in the stadium tunnel by his legendary coach at Grambling, Eddie Robinson.

"The first thing Coach Robinson told me, I would not understand the impact of that moment until I got older," Williams said of becoming the first Super Bowl-winning African-American quarterback.

Robinson was right.

Williams understood the story line heading into that Super Bowl. He didn't begrudge people for focusing on the historical significance. But at 32 and having been through some trials in his career — from being allowed to walk in 1982 when the Buccaneers didn't re-sign him, to struggling for two seasons in the NFL, to joining the Redskins as a backup — Williams was more focused on winning the game than blazing a trail for black quarterbacks.

"Everybody was talking about a black quarterback going to the Super Bowl," said Williams, drafted 17th overall by the Bucs in 1978. "Black quarterback this and black quarterback that. But for me, it was an opportunity to quarterback the Redskins in the Super Bowl. It wasn't about color for me because from the day I stepped in Tampa, everybody let me know I was a black quarterback.

"Winning the game was all that mattered to me. I understood all the hoopla and all the aggravations and all the articles that were going to be written. But it was important I didn't get too deep into that. Let the people who are writing about it do their jobs. But at the same time, I had a job to do and that was to go out and play the best I could in the Super Bowl."

It almost didn't happen.

Late in the first quarter of that Super Bowl, Williams set up to pass and his right leg slid out from under him. As he fell, he twisted his left knee. On his way back to the huddle, he collapsed.

Jay Schroeder replaced Williams for two plays — a sack and an incompletion — forcing the Redskins to punt.

"It was ugly, and I was fortunate enough to be able to get up and walk away and finish that football game," Williams said. "Even though at the end of the day I was in tremendous pain.

"(Coach) Joe (Gibbs) asked that question before we got the ball in the second quarter. Joe Gibbs came to the back of the bench and said, 'Can you go?' I said, 'Yeah.' I went back in the second quarter and the first play was a touchdown. At that time, I didn't think Joe or anybody else worried about my knee."

Gibbs had been on the Bucs staff during Williams' rookie year at Tampa Bay. So when the United States Football League folded, Gibbs brought Williams to D.C. to back up Schroeder.

Williams replaced a struggling Schroeder in the final game of the regular season against the Vikings and won the game. At the next news conference, Gibbs announced that Williams would be the starter in the postseason.

Williams didn't disappoint. After returning from his knee injury in the Super Bowl, he led the Redskins to five touchdowns in five possessions and established a postseason record for one quarter of 35 points. Williams had nine completions in 11 attempts for 228 yards and four touchdowns, and his scoring passes covered 80, 27, 50 and 8 yards.

Williams, 57, still hasn't watched an entire replay of that Super Bowl. He saw parts of it for only the third time this week when he taped something for CBS.

"That day, after I walked off that field, tomorrow didn't even matter to me," Williams said. "Yes, that was history. But whether I played another down, it didn't matter to me because I had that same feeling Martin Luther King talked about, I'd been to the mountaintop. Plain and simple, I was at the mountaintop so nothing else mattered to me. I understood the significance of it. I understood the significance of it before, I just didn't buy into it."

What else did Robinson say to Williams in that tunnel?

"He said to me, it was like Joe Louis knocking out Max Schmeling," Williams said. "That's how he described the Super Bowl.

"You wake up in the morning, I do, I think about the fact that it happened, and I think about the fact that I was the one it happened to. Then I think about the fact that even if it hadn't been me, it was good that it happened."

Sapp, six others elected to Hall of Fame


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — Bill Parcells was a winner everywhere he coached. He pulled off another win Saturday — election to the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

The former coach leads an class that includes defensive lineman Warren Sapp, receiver Cris Carter, offensive tackle Jonathan Ogden, tackle/guard Larry Allen and two senior selections, defensive tackle Curley Culp and linebacker Dave Robinson.

Parcells, 71, earned a bust in Canton on his fourth try. He believed he might get in last year in tandem with one of his former players, Curtis Martin.

"It was a little less stressful than last year," Parcells said. "I was kind of hoping we could do it together. But as fate would have it, it didn't work out."

Parcells reversed the fortunes of four teams, coaching the Giants, Patriots, Jets and Cowboys (and almost the Bucs, twice) over 19 seasons. He went 172-130-1, most notably leading the Giants to Super Bowl titles in 1987 and 1991.

Giants president and CEO John Mara said Parcells' selection was "long overdue." But his candidacy stirred plenty of debate — a one-hour discussion among the voters, by far the longest among the finalists.

"He's one of the best coaches in NFL history," Mara said. "We went through a long period in the 1960s and '70s when we were a laughingstock. When Bill took over in 1983, he survived a very difficult first year (3-12-1) but then turned us into a perennial playoff contender. Everywhere he went, he had great success."

No one was more emotional than Carter, for whom it took six years to get in despite putting up some of the best receiving numbers in NFL history.

Carter, 47, played 16 seasons. He was the second player to reach 1,000 receptions (and remains one of only eight). He caught at least 70 passes in 10 seasons and totaled 130 touchdown catches from 13 passers.

"This is the happiest day of my life," he said as he broke down in tears. "When people said, 'Aw, it really doesn't matter. You're a Hall of Famer in my eyes,' I said, 'It's more important that I'm a Hall of Famer in the Hall's eyes.' And I really, really wanted this. "

Like Sapp, Allen and Ogden were first-year selections.

Ogden, 38, played a dozen seasons with the Ravens. He led the way for Jamal Lewis to become the fifth player in NFL history to rush for 2,000 yards in a season and was a six-time All-Pro and voted to 11 Pro Bowls.

Ogden shared the moment with his family. He called his mother "first thing," and also told his 7-year-old son.

"He's real proud of his dad," Ogden said.

He watched nervously as the announcement was made.

"It's like going to the hospital with your wife to have a baby. You can't do anything about it," Ogden said. "You hear everybody say you're a first ballot for sure, but you never really know. A lot of good, well-deserving guys didn't get in on the first ballot."

Allen, 41, played 203 games over 14 seasons, spending the bulk of his career with the Cowboys. He played every position on the offensive line except center and was a first-team All-Pro seven straight seasons.

"When I got drafted (by Dallas), they'd just won a Super Bowl," Allen said. "When they threw me in, I just didn't want to be the one to mess it up."

His philosophy never changed over his long career: make the guy across from him "quit … tap out." He joins three other players from that great Cowboys offense of the 1990s in the Hall: quarterback Troy Aikman, running back Emmitt Smith and receiver Michael Irvin.

"They were kind of like big brothers," Allen said. "I looked up to them. They came to work every day and showed me how to do it. They all wanted to be the best."

Culp, 66, was a defensive stalwart for the Chiefs in the 1960s and '70s and also played for the Oilers and Lions. He started at tackle in the Chiefs' Super Bowl win in 1970 and was selected to six Pro Bowls.

"Curley was a dominating force on the defensive line for the Super Bowl IV championship team and one of many great players that helped build the tradition and foundation of the Kansas City Chiefs," Clark Hunt, the team's chairman and CEO, said in a statement. "We look forward to seeing him take his rightful place in Canton."

Robinson, 71, played on the powerhouse Green Bay teams of the 1960s, starting at outside linebacker on coach Vince Lombardi's two Super Bowl champions. He closed his 12-year career with the Redskins.

"When you wait this long, it gets a little sweeter," Robinson said. "When you wait a long time, you gain a great deal of appreciation for what it really means to get in the Hall of Fame. I was 14 years old when I started playing football, and this is it. I can't go any higher."

Ten finalists didn't get in, including eight players — Jerome Bettis, Tim Brown, Kevin Greene, Charles Haley, Andre Reed, Will Shields, Michael Strahan and Aeneas Williams — and former owners Art Modell and Edward DeBartolo Jr.

Record crowd watches Mickelson roll


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Phil Mickelson drew the loudest cheers from the biggest crowd in golf history Saturday at the Phoenix Open.

Mickelson nearly aced the par-3 16th, hitting a 9-iron to a foot to set up birdie on the rowdy stadium hole packed with nearly 20,000 screaming fans.

"What's funny about that is 172 yards is a very tough 9-iron for me to get there, but I immediately take 5 yards off and in my head I had 167," Mickelson said. "The reason is you always have a little bit of adrenaline here, and the ball goes a little bit longer on 16.

"I played for a 167-yard shot and tried to hit just a comfortable or stock 9-iron, and the ball ended up flying that far and released to the hole. Having played this course and that hole over the years and knowing what your body does and how to adjust to it has helped me, and certainly it did (Saturday)."

Estimated at 179,022, the third-round crowd broke the record of 173,210 set last year, also on a Saturday at fan-friendly TPC Scottsdale. The event has drawn 467,030 fans for the week and is in position to break the mark of 538,356 set in 2008.

Mickelson birdied the final four holes and five of the last six for 7-under 64 and 24-under 189 overall, giving him a six-stroke lead over Brandt Snedeker.

"I know how good Snedeker is and how hot he can get with a putter," Mickelson said. "He can make birdie from just about anywhere. He's going to make a run (today). I, hopefully, will be able to keep pace."

The 42-year-old former Arizona State star has led after each round. He fell a stroke short of the tour record for 54 holes and matched the tournament mark set by Mark Calcavecchia in 2001.

In his 24th appearance in the event that he won in 1996 and 2005, Mickelson is trying to complete his third wire-to-wire victory and first since the 2006 BellSouth Classic, a 13-stroke blowout the week before the second of his three Masters victories.

"To me, the wire-to-wire isn't that important except for now I'm three rounds and the fourth one is kind of the more important one," Mickelson said.

"It would be an important thing because it's meant so much to me over my career having won this tournament, coming back as a past champion, and winning here in the town that has meant so much to me, to (wife) Amy and I, where we met, had our first two kids, went to college. It's a special place."

Corner will help gay kids


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — 49ers CB Chris Culliver will begin sensitivity training and education after the Super Bowl then likely start volunteering with at-risk homosexual youth nationwide.

Tuesday, Culliver said he wouldn't welcome a gay player in the locker room, the 49ers didn't have any gay players and, if they did, they should leave. He apologized Thursday.

Culliver will work with "The Trevor Project," which provides crisis and suicide intervention for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender youth.

"(Culliver is) so passionate about youth and people being comfortable with who they are and accepted by all," group spokesman Theodore Palmer said Saturday. "He is genuine about his words."

Culliver said he realizes some will question his sincerity.

"I hope people understand because it's coming directly from me and I'm talking to the whole world," Culliver said. "It is not (how I feel) in my heart."

Final preparations: Both teams did walk-throughs of about 15 minutes at the Superdome before meetings Saturday night. 49ers coach Jim Harbaugh said the only surprise was the stadium lights were brighter than when his team played the Saints there Nov. 25. Otherwise, both he and Ravens coach John Harbaugh said they were happy with their players' preparation all week.

Consolation prize: Jell-O will give away free cups of chocolate pudding in the losing team's city on Tuesday. Fans will be able to download a coupon off the company's website.

Harbaugh brothers gambled — and won


By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
Saturday, February 2, 2013


The safe thing to do would have been nothing.

The patient thing to do would have been to stand pat.

The loyal thing to do would have been for a coach to keep grinding with what he has and hope things work out.

After all, most coaches hate to gamble. They prefer to look leaderly and calm and under control. Pretty much, it's the reason they punt on fourth and 1. They want to look as if they trust the plan.

Understand, then, how large the Harbaugh brothers are in guts.

That way, you might understand why they are in the Super Bowl. In the brotherhood of risk, there are the Harbaughs, and then there are the Wallendas.

Start with Jim Harbaugh, the 49ers coach who sent his starting quarterback to the bench in mid November.

Yeah, it took some nerve. Alex Smith was having his finest season at the time. He had resurrected his career under Harbaugh, he had won 20 of his previous 25 starts, and he had helped the 49ers reach the NFC championship last year. Who wouldn't have stuck by Smith?

Well, Harbaugh, that's who. Once a concussion by Smith opened the door, Harbaugh fell in love with what he saw from Colin Kaepernick. So even though the 49ers were 6-2-1 in his starts, even though Smith had a quarterback rating of 104.1, Harbaugh made the change. Under Kaepernick, the 49ers offense took off.

At the time, not many people knew very much about Kaepernick. He played at a small school, and he had some talent, and he had a bunch of tattoos. Soon, however, the world would see how much stress his legs could put on a defense. In other words, they would see what Harbaugh saw.

Score one for boldness.

Actually, score two.

Three weeks later, it was John Harbaugh whose convictions were tested. That's when the Ravens coach sent his offensive coordinator to the unemployment line.

Yeah, that took some fortitude, too. Cam Cameron had been his offensive coordinator for five seasons, and all of them had wound up in the playoffs. And while the Ravens had their struggles, it was no longer the drag-them-along offense of old. The Ravens were ninth in the league on offense, averaging 344 yards per game. As a team, Baltimore was 9-4. Who makes changes at 9-4?

Well, Harbaugh, that's who. With three weeks to go in the season, he pulled the plug on Cameron — a man he had known since Cameron helped coach Jim at Michigan — in favor of quarterbacks coach Jim Caldwell. Under Caldwell, the Ravens offense took off.

In particular, quarterback Joe Flacco responded. Flacco, too, had been up and down. He always has insisted he is an elite quarterback, but there still seemed to be days when the offense rode the brakes. Since Caldwell came aboard, however, Flacco hasn't had a day when he wasn't the better quarterback on the field.

These days, it is easy to praise either Harbaugh for the brilliance of those two moves. But go back to the backbone it took to make either switch.

Coaching is the ultimate dance-with-the-one-who-brought-you profession.

Then, there is this: It wasn't just the resolve of the Harbaughs that made these moves. It's the quarterbacks who performed so well afterward that made them look smart.

If Kaepernick struggled, if Flacco wobbled, then the moves wouldn't look nearly as courageous.

These days, neither Harbaugh seems to want to discuss the moves, lest the losers in the competitions — Smith and Cameron — end up looking worse.

"I hesitate to answer those questions (about the quarterback change)," said Jim, who at 49 is 15 months younger than John. "All those questions and answers really lead to a lot of self-promotion. The main thing is the way Colin Kaepernick has played is a credit to Colin Kaeper­nick and to his teammates."

"We just needed a jump start," said John, who called it "the hardest decision of his career" when he made it.

Still, it is doubtful that the status quo would have brought either team here. That's why you make the move, isn't it?

Yes, Smith had been a much better quarterback under Harbaugh. But privately, the 49ers still didn't think he was good enough to be a Super Bowl-winning quarterback. That's why the organization flirted with Peyton Manning before the season began. That's why Kaeper­nick was drafted to begin with.

Harbaugh has always admired running quarterbacks. The other day, he explained how a running quarterback makes defenses play "11-on-11 instead of 11-on-10."

In an October game against the Giants, Harbaugh grew restless as he watched Smith struggle. Several times, he inserted Kaepernick into the game.

Two weeks later, Smith was injured against the Rams. It was obvious how much more explosive the 49ers offense was behind Kaepernick. Suddenly, Smith was a spectator and Kaepernick had the keys to the car. He has not slowed down since.

Likewise, it was Flacco's play that convinced the world how right the Ravens were — and it was John Harbaugh's call — to change coordinators.

Under Cameron, there was an underlying frustration to the Ravens offense. The Ravens had some nice weapons around Flacco, but the production didn't seem to reflect that. There were reports — denied by the Ravens — that there was a rift between Flacco and Cameron.

These days, players talk about how the playmakers get the ball more often and how everyone understands the plan. Usually, those are code words for saying Cameron was too conservative.

Certainly, the move has benefited Flacco, who has eight touchdowns and no interceptions in the playoffs. Even Cameron has said the move to fire him was "brilliant."

Was it risky? Sure. Every bold move has the possibility of backfire to it.

Was it worth it? Absolutely. It's hard to imagine either team getting here without the guts of the coaches or the impacts of the quarterbacks.

That's why they call it leadership. That's why they call it coaching.

In a profession about winning, that's what they call "going for it."

Pitcher Morris among Ted Williams Museum honorees


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

ST. PETERSBURG — Jack Morris strolled the aisles of the Ted Williams Museum on Saturday knowing he was in enemy territory.

But on a night when the Hitters Hall of Fame inducted another impressive class — the Alomar family, Darrell Evans, Tampa's Lou Piniella, Ryne Sandberg — the right-handed hurler got some attention, too.

Morris was added to the museum's Pitching Wall of Great Achievement, flattered by the award and who gave it.

"Especially when you know what Ted thought of pitchers," Morris said.

Morris, 57, is seeking a grander honor, hoping after falling short again this year that he will be elected to Baseball's Hall of Fame in his 15th and final year of eligibility on the writers ballot.

"It's been quite an ordeal," Morris said. "When you've got guys that are in the Hall, a lot of guys, saying we're waiting for you, we're trying to get you in, that's encouraging. …

"No matter what happens, I'm going to be fine."

Sandberg said there should be no doubt. "He's a Hall of Famer in my book," he said. "His postseasons are outstanding, he was on winning teams, he was a big-time pitcher, the big-game pitcher of that era. For me, he's a Hall of Famer."

Roberto and Sandy Sr. Alomar, Evans, Piniella and Sandberg (introduced passionately by Rays senior adviser Don Zimmer) all attended the induction, which was part of the Dinner with David Price and Friends event, benefitting his Project 14 Foundation and the museum. The event drew a crowd of more than 800 to Tropicana Field.

Around the majors

WBC: Outfielder Melky Cabrera, who was on the provisional roster for the Dominican Republic for the World Baseball Classic, withdrew his name from the tournament. Blue Jays right-hander Esmil Rogers also removed himself from consideration for the Dominican team.

OBITUARY: Former catcher Earl Williams, the 1971 National League rookie of the year, died Monday from acute myeloid leukemia at his home in Somerset, N.J. He was 64.

ORIOLES: Former Rays left-hander Mark Hendrickson is expected to get a minor-league deal this week. Hendrickson, 38, did not pitch professionally last season. Also, a one-year, $1.5 million contract with right-hander Jair Jurrjens is expected to be finalized.

Information from Times wires was used in this report.

Rays questions as spring training nears


By Marc Topkin, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

Spring training is now close enough that you can say "next week," and while the Rays are just about set to convene in Port Charlotte, there are some interesting topics of conversation. Among them:

1) What will the roster look like?

Contracts for RHP Kyle Farnsworth, INF Kelly Johnson and DH Luke Scott are set to be finalized early this week, which should just about complete their additions, though another vet or two could be signed to minor-league deals. There still seems to be a need for a right-handed hitting DH/1B/OF, though with limited options (Carlos Lee? Russ Canzler?), a late-spring acquisition could be more likely.

Three players still have to be taken off the 40-man roster. INF Reid Brignac, who is out of options and unlikely to make the team, could be a casualty, either via trade (there was some chatter last week) or waivers, or Elliot Johnson. Others who could be designated for assignment include a spare catcher, potentially Stephen Vogt, and a pitcher, maybe reliever Dane De La Rosa or one of the younger arms.

2) What's going on with closer Fernando Rodney?

Rodney apparently really wants a contract extension.

Because even after the Rays responded to a Dominican newspaper report quoting Rodney that a deal was pending by saying there had been no talks, and after Rodney's agent agreed and blamed it on a "misunderstanding" with the reporter, Rodney brought it up again Friday.

Talking in Spanish with mlb.com's Alden Gonzalez at the Caribbean Series in Mexico, Rodney said: "It's in plans already. We've talked a few times, and I expect it to get finalized this month."

It's natural for Rodney to want to cash in on his dazzling 2012 season after making just $1.75 million, and with only a $2.5 million option for this year. But the Rays typically don't do deals that way. And if he doesn't get a new one, you have to wonder if it will be an ongoing issue, and potential distraction.

3) How will 3B Evan Longoria be?

More than any acquisition, Longoria is the key to 2013 success. He has a new $100 million contract extension and a baby on the way, but the focus will be on his left hamstring, which forced him to miss more than half of last season. Longoria said last week he has recovered extremely well from November surgery and will be in Port Charlotte when pitchers and catchers report Feb. 12.

"The leg is ready," he said.

Still, expect the Rays to take it slow and hold him out of early spring action.

Meanwhile, he and girlfriend Jaime Edmondson announced on Twitter that the baby, due just before opening day, will be a girl. Also, Longoria is involved in a "boutique sports bar" venture called Ducky's planned for Kennedy Boulevard in Tampa.

RAYS RUMBLINGS: Stephanie Katz, a 22-year-old from Lakeland, is the lone Rays rep among 50 finalists for a spot in MLB's Fan Cave; video and voting at mlbfancave.com. … OF Wil Myers is fourth in mlb.com's 100 prospect rankings, RHPs Taylor Guerrieri 44, Jake Odorizzi 45 and Chris Archer 46, and SS Hak-Ju Lee 56. … Former Ray Toby Hall hosts his annual golf tournament Friday benefiting the Miracle League at the Bayou Club. … OF Sam Fuld wraps up his second Diabetes Sports Camp for kids today at USF. … RHP Jeff Niemann recently changed agents, leaving the Hendricks brothers for Casey Close. … OF Matt Joyce raised $13,000 for the North Brandon Little League with his clinic. … TV pre-/postgame analyst Orestes Destrade heads to a U.S. Army base in Germany this week with a group of current and ex-players for a Fox Sports-sponsored "bring spring training to the troops" goodwill tour. … It's not clear if Sun Sports will replace home-game TV reporter Laura McKeeman, who is leaving for a national gig with Fox. … The "Countdown to Opening Day" radio show, featuring Andy Freed and Dave Wills, debuts at 7 p.m. Thursday on 620-AM. … Ben Zobrist is speaking, and better-half Julianna singing, at three upcoming church events: Feb. 13 at Northeast Presbyterian and Feb. 21 at First United Methodist in St. Petersburg, Feb. 17 at First Baptist in Tampa.

Falling Sky wins Sam F. Davis Stakes


By Don Jensen, Times Correspondent
Saturday, February 2, 2013

OLDSMAR — Many thought a Sky colt would win the Grade III $250,000 Sam F. Davis Stakes on Saturday at Tampa Bay Downs. They just didn't think it would be Falling Sky, who held off Dynamic Sky and survived an objection to capture the Kentucky Derby point qualifier in front of 5,862 on Festival Preview Day.

Making his first start — and career debut at two turns — for new owners Newtown Anner Stud, James Covello and Joseph Bulger, Falling Sky ($17.80) won by a neck in gate-to-wire fashion as the fourth wagering favorite in the field of nine. My Name Is Michael, the 8-5 favorite, was third, and Speak Logistics — whose rider, Angel Serpa, claimed foul against the winner — was fourth. The top four finishers earned points in the new Kentucky Derby qualifying scoring system on a scale of 10-4-2-1

Falling Sky, a 3-year-old colt by Lion Heart, stumbled slightly leaving the gate under first-time rider Jose Espinoza. He was quickly sent to the lead and set fractions of 23.49 and 47.68 seconds.

On the final turn, three rivals closed in on Falling Sky, with Speak Logistics trying to sneak through along the rail. But Falling Sky held his position, and Speak Logistics had to take up, losing all momentum. After that, Falling Sky had to deal with only Dynamic Sky, who was cutting into a 2-length deficit with every stride.

It took track stewards only a short time to disallow Serpa's claim of foul.

The winning time for 11/16th miles was 1 minute, 44.79 seconds.

"I saw somebody come behind me when I switched to the lead right at the (second) turn," Espinoza said. "(Speak Logistics) was bumping me from behind. Then my horse gave a break and really kicked in at the end. (My goal is to) win the Kentucky Derby."

Said Falling Sky trainer John Terranova II: "We were hoping to break a little cleaner, but we expected to either be in the front or in the stalking position. Obviously, the Tampa Bay Derby (on March 9) is under consideration (next)."

It was the third victory from four starts for Falling Sky, who raised his career earnings to $164,800 with the $120,000 paycheck. The Pennsylvania-bred was purchased Jan. 15 for a session-topping $425,000 at the Ocala Breeders' Sales Co. winter mixed sale at the recommendation of racing manager Nick Sallusto.

Dynamic Sky, the 9-5 second wagering pick, had no excuses, trainer Mark Casse said. "Luis (Contreras, the jockey) said he switched leads late," Casse said. "Once he switched, (Dynamic Sky) started coming, but it was just a little too little, too late. (On Serpa's objection), you don't really want to win that way."

Jockey Joel Rosario won two Grade III $150,000 stakes races on the 11/16th-mile turf course. In the Endeavour, Old Tune ($8.20) broke a 14-year track record with a clocking of 1:39.30. Tapicat ($3.80) won the Florida Oaks in a stakes-record time of 1:39.78.

Sports in brief


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

College football

Texas coordinator disciplined for relationship with student

AUSTIN, Texas — Texas offensive coordinator Major Applewhite acknowledged he was disciplined by the school for an inappropriate relationship with a student during the Longhorns' trip to the Fiesta Bowl after the 2008 season.

Applewhite and athletic director DeLoss Dodds said the former Texas quarterback had his pay frozen in 2009, was ordered to have counseling and was warned that a repeat offense would have more serious consequences.

Applewhite, who is married, said in a statement he was embarrassed by what happened but took responsibility for his actions. Dodds said the relationship was "inappropriate" but happened between consenting adults. Neither Applewhite nor the school released details. "It was a one-time occurrence and was a personal matter," Applewhite said.

texas a&M: Starting junior defensive lineman Kirby Ennis was suspended from the team after being arrested on a gun charge in College Station, Texas. He was released on a $2,000 bond. No details were available.

purdue: Junior O.J. Ross, the team's second-leading receiver last season, was suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The school didn't provide details.

mississippi state: Starting offensive lineman Tobias Smith was granted a sixth season of eligibility by the NCAA. The school said he hasn't decided whether to use it.

recruiting: Defensive end Robert Nkemdiche, the nation's No. 1 prospect, met former LSU great Shaquille O'Neal at a dinner during his visit to the school this weekend. Nkemdiche is expected to announce his school choice on signing day Wednesday.


Bryans take rare loss for U.S. in Davis Cup

Brazil's doubles team of Marcelo Melo and Bruno Soares upset top-ranked Mike and Bob Bryan 7-6 (6-8), 6-7 (7-8), 6-4, 3-6, 6-3 and kept the United States from clinching the first-round Davis Cup match in Jacksonville.

It was only the third time the Bryan brothers had dropped a Davis Cup match. But Melo and Soares beat them for the third time in four meetings overall.

The United States has a 2-1 advantage heading into today's reverse singles. Tampa resident John Isner faces Brazil's Thomaz Bellucci in the opening match. If Isner loses, Sam Querrey meets Brazil's Thiago Alves in the deciding match.

more davis cup: Argentina reached the quarterfinals for the 12th straight time when David Nalbandian and Horacio Zeballos defeated Germany's Christopher Kas and Tobias Kamke in doubles at Buenos Aries. … In the longest match in Davis Cup history, the Czech Republic's Tomas Berdych and Lukas Rosol beat Switzerland's Stanislas Wawrinka and Marco Chiudinelli 6-4, 5-7, 6-4, 6-7 (3-7), 24-22 in a doubles epic lasting seven hours at Geneva. The defending champion Czechs took a 2-1 lead over the Swiss on Chiudinelli's double-fault. The previous longest match was 6 hours, 22 minutes for John McEnroe's singles victory for the United States against Sweden's Mats Wilander in 1982. … Marcel Granollers and Marc Lopez helped Spain staved off elimination with a 4-6, 6-4, 6-7 (4-7), 6-3, 6-2 win over Canada's Daniel Nestor and Vasek Pospisil in Vancouver. Canada leads Spain, which is without its best players because of injury and rest, 2-1.

et cetera

soccer: Cristiano Ronaldo scored the first own goal of his otherwise stellar career to condemn Real Madrid to a 1-0 defeat at Granada in the Spanish league. … Manchester United took a 10-point lead in the English Premier League by beating Fulham 1-0 on a Wayne Rooney goal.

horses: Bob Baffert-trained Flashback made a solid case for himself as a Kentucky Derby contender, winning the $196,000 Robert B. Lewis Stakes by 61/4 lengths in his 3-year-old debut at Santa Anita in Arcadia, Calif.

winter sports: American Hannah Kearney won the freestyle skiing World Cup dual moguls final at Park City, Utah.

AUTOS: Brian Morgan won the 25-lap Street Stock feature at East Bay Raceway in Gibsonton late Friday.

Times wires

Former Buc Sapp can shout his status now


By Gary Shelton, Times Sports Columnist
Saturday, February 2, 2013


Carve this one with some attitude, guys. When the bust of Warren Sapp is created, no one should make it tame. Do not have it stare out into eternity with a placid little smile. Not for this guy. For Sapp, the bust that will accompany him into the Pro Football Hall of Fame should be snarling. The mouth should be wide open, the way it usually was. The eyes should be wide in full-blown rage. His expression should be slightly annoyed.

And the hair?

"It ought to be with the dreads," Sapp said, cackling. "Because when you saw that Sapp coming, you were in trouble."

Warren Sapp, the Bucs' bigger-than-life defensive tackle, became the second Bucs player to reach the Hall on Saturday night (joining the late Lee Roy Selmon). Of course he did. Who was going to tell him he didn't belong?

After a career that combined great play with an occasionally nasty attitude, after helping to turn the perennially wretched Bucs into one of the finest defenses of the era, Sapp reached the Hall in his first year of eligibility.

Think of Sapp as the first link between that tremendous Bucs defense and immortality. Soon, others will follow. Derrick Brooks. John Lynch. Tony Dungy. Ronde Barber. How is Canton, Ohio, going to keep any of them away?

And how is New Orleans going to contain Sapp?

Remember how Sapp used to dance following a sack? Remember how he used to celebrate for the crowd? This looked like that, times a thousand. Sapp was Roberto Benigni celebrating his Oscar. He called Brooks up on stage for a bear hug, and he scurried over here to do a television interview, and over there to do one for the radio.

He grinned. He dabbed at his eyes. He shook his head. He told the old stories. He embraced people. He slapped backs. He kept saying how his feet were not touching the ground. He stepped on a writer's toe which, in a way, seemed fitting.

The emotions of the moment were in control of him now. Sapp, the boisterous cartoon of a personality, the relentless defensive tackle, was immortal. He is 40 years old going on forever.

It was the perfect moment for an imperfect man. It is no secret that Sapp could be rude and distant during his playing days. He rubbed a lot of people the wrong way, and not all of them were offensive guards.

So how should people remember Sapp?

"However they want," he said. "For 13 years, I did it my way. I walked it. I talked it. I played it. I confessed it. I made myself accountable for it."

There were those who wondered whether the voters, mostly media members, might hold that against Sapp. Yes, that would have said more about the voters than about Sapp, but voters are human, too.

"It was out there," Sapp admitted. "But I think we've come to a time when I don't think the voters want to hear that bull anymore. They want to put your resume up for what you did and let it stand.

"Yeah, I was ornery when I came to your town. No doubt. I was ornery sometimes when I went into my own locker room. It's who I was. But it all came out in the wash. I played a kid's game, and I was paid a king's ransom, and I had a blast doing it."

On the field, however, it has always been difficult to find flaws with Sapp. He was on two all-decade teams, for instance. He defined the under tackle position.

Also, he helped to change a culture.

People tend to forget what a mess the Bucs' franchise was when Sapp showed up. It was as if Selmon had taken the greatness with him when he retired.

By the time Sapp showed up, the team had double-digit losses for 14 straight years, and in those days, rookies were as disposable as leaky pens. It was Sapp, along with Brooks and Lynch and Hardy Nickerson and Dungy, who changed things. Suddenly, the Bucs were measured by the fierceness of their defenses.

"I remember everything," Sapp said. "Everything."

Today, Tampa Bay should remember everything, too. The time he knocked Jerry Rice out of a game. The time he leveled Chad Clifton on a brutal hit. The way he would spit chewing tobacco into a white towel while answering questions. The way he kept his teammates from taping Martin Gramatica to the goalposts because "he's our only points."

There has rarely been a force like Sapp. He was funny, sour, moody, happy, short, angry, boisterous. Everything about him was oversized, from his talent to his personality.

Most of all, he was a ballplayer. There are few defensive tackles that have gotten off the line of scrimmage with the burst or the power of Sapp.

Ask Larry Allen, the former Dallas guard who entered the Hall Saturday night as well. Allen was a player that most defenders feared. But not Sapp.

"I'll be happy to make popcorn and watch films with you anytime," Sapp said. "I loved to play against the best. The last time I played against Larry, I had two sacks. Ask him."

Sapp smiled again. He winked.

He had some moments. He won some games. For a while, he was the face that the rest of the nation knew as Tampa Bay's.

Now, he is immortal. He has been validated as one of the finest defenders the league has seen. He has joined Selmon in the Hall.

"It's (No.) 63 and 99," Sapp said. "Soon, there will be 55 (Brooks)."

Sapp laughed again, long and loud.

Eternal, too.

Flyers find a power-play groove against Hurricanes


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

Times wires

PHILADELPHIA — The Flyers' floundering power-play units have contributed to their awful start, but Saturday night they were in the spotlight for another reason.

They couldn't miss.

The Flyers scored on all three of their power-play chances — getting goals from Kurtis Foster, Danny Briere and Claude Giroux — as they ended a three-game losing streak by defeating the Hurricanes, 5-3.

The Flyers, who won for just the third time in nine games, entered 5-for-40 on the power play.

"The power play, sometimes it clicks, and sometimes it doesn't," Giroux said. "It's just about making the right plays. When everybody on the ice knows what they're doing, it makes things easier."

Joni Pitkanen, Eric Staal and Patrick Dwyer had Carolina's goals.

"They executed a good power play, and they were moving the puck well, and they found the lanes to make the shots," Staal said. "For us, we just weren't sharp enough."

Goalie Ilya Bryzgalov (39 saves) had another strong game for the Flyers, who were outshot 42-24, including 15-3 in the final period.

Coburn and Briere scored 58 seconds apart for a 3-1 lead in the first period. Coburn put one in after goalie Dan Ellis made a save on Jakub Voracek's breakaway shot. The rebound kicked out in front to Coburn, who slipped it into an open net.

Ellis, a former Lightning goalie, played in place of Cam Ward for the second time in as many nights. He made 33 saves in a 1-0 victory over Ottawa on Friday night.

GAME HIGHLIGHTS: Sidney Crosby and Chris Kunitz each had a goal and two assists, and the Penguins picked up their first home victory this season, 5-1 over the Devils. Pittsburgh had been the only team that hadn't earned a point at home. New Jersey took its first loss in regulation. … Chris Bourque, son of Bruins great Ray Bourque, scored his first goal as a Bruin to help Boston edge the host Maple Leafs 1-0. … Mike Smith stopped 17 shots and the host Coyotes shut out the Stars 2-0. … Columbus defenseman Jack Johnson's ice time of 34:59 in a 4-2 win over the visiting Red Wings was the most in a regular-season game since Dan Boyle's 37:03 with the Lightning against the Bruins on Feb. 23, 2008, Elias Sports Bureau said.

AROUND THE LEAGUE: Capitals defenseman John Erskine was suspended for three games for an elbow to the head of Flyers forward Wayne Simmonds in the first period Friday. Simmonds missed the rest of the game and is out indefinitely with a concussion, Philadelphia general manager Paul Holmgren said. … Stars forward Ray Whitney, one of the team's key offseason free-agent signings, is out four to six weeks with a broken foot.

at Flyers 3 2 0 5
Hurricanes 2 0 1 3

First Period1, Philadelphia, Foster 1 (Read, Couturier), 5:08 (pp). 2, Carolina, Pitkanen 1 (E.Staal), 8:47. 3, Philadelphia, Coburn 1 (Voracek, B.Schenn), 14:27. 4, Philadelphia, Briere 1 (Giroux, Timonen), 15:25 (pp). 5, Carolina, E.Staal 6 (Tlusty), 15:58. PenaltiesJokinen, Car (interference), 3:34; Harrison, Car, major (fighting), 9:08; Sestito, Phi, major (fighting), 9:08; Jokinen, Car (slashing), 14:39.

Second Period6, Philadelphia, Knuble 1 (Read), :52. 7, Philadelphia, Giroux 3 (Timonen, Briere), 12:43 (pp). PenaltiesTimonen, Phi (cross-checking), 9:26; Carolina bench, served by Dalpe (too many men), 12:24; Fedotenko, Phi (tripping), 12:57; Briere, Phi (slashing), 16:36.

Third Period8, Carolina, Dwyer 2 (J.Staal, McBain), 3:29 (pp). PenaltiesVoracek, Phi (tripping), 1:33; Coburn, Phi (interference), 9:23; Talbot, Phi (delay of game), 11:36; Tlusty, Car (goaltender interference), 18:36; Coburn, Phi (interference), 18:36. Shots on GoalCarolina 13-14-15—42. Philadelphia 11-10-3—24. Power-play opportunitiesCarolina 1 of 6; Philadelphia 3 of 3. GoaliesCarolina, Ellis 2-1-0 (12 shots-8 saves), Ward (0:52 second, 12-11). Philadelphia, Bryzgalov 3-5-0 (42-39).

at Blue Jackets 1 2 1 4
Red Wings 1 0 1 2
at Blue Jackets 1 2 1 4
Red Wings 1 0 1 2

First Period1, Detroit, Franzen 2 (Kronwall, Ericsson), 8:36. 2, Columbus, Wisniewski 2 (Tyutin, Brassard), 18:17 (pp). PenaltiesDorsett, Clm (tripping), 4:34; Kronwall, Det (interference), 11:15; Letestu, Clm (tripping), 14:27; Bertuzzi, Det (goaltender interference), 16:27; Huskins, Det (cross-checking), 19:51.

Second Period3, Columbus, Anisimov 3, 2:32. 4, Columbus, Anisimov 4 (Moore, Johnson), 17:18. PenaltiesBoll, Clm (elbowing), 10:53; Boll, Clm (charging), 18:39.

Third Period5, Columbus, Letestu 3 (Dubinsky, Tyutin), 13:25 (sh). 6, Detroit, Brunner 4 (Filppula), 19:33. PenaltiesUmberger, Clm (goaltender interference), 13:12. Shots on GoalDetroit 14-11-9—34. Columbus 12-9-7—28. Power-play opportunitiesDetroit 0 of 5; Columbus 1 of 3. GoaliesDetroit, Howard 4-3-1 (28 shots-24 saves). Columbus, Mason 1-3-0 (34-32).

Bruins 1 0 0 1
at Maple Leafs 0 0 0 0
Bruins 1 0 0 1
at Maple Leafs 0 0 0 0

First Period1, Boston, Bourque 1 (Kelly, Peverley), 8:54. PenaltiesMacDermid, Bos, major (fighting), 2:42; Fraser, Tor, major (fighting), 2:42; Kelly, Bos (hooking), 19:56.

Second PeriodNone. PenaltiesPhaneuf, Tor (delay of game), 11:48; MacDermid, Bos, major (fighting), 15:21; Fraser, Tor, major (fighting), 15:21.

Third PeriodNone. PenaltiesChara, Bos (roughing), 1:45; Komarov, Tor (boarding), 1:45; Seidenberg, Bos (interference), 11:24; Seguin, Bos (slashing), 17:35; Kostka, Tor (tripping), 19:27. Shots on GoalBoston 12-12-10—34. Toronto 7-7-7—21. Power-play opportunitiesBoston 0 of 2; Toronto 0 of 3. GoaliesBoston, Rask 5-1-1 (21 shots-21 saves). Toronto, Reimer 3-2-0 (34-33).

at Penguins 0 2 3 5
Devils 0 1 0 1
at Penguins 0 2 3 5
Devils 0 1 0 1

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesKovalchuk, NJ (slashing), 5:22; Crosby, Pit (tripping), 19:52.

Second Period1, Pittsburgh, Sutter 1 (Crosby, Malkin), 2:27. 2, Pittsburgh, Kunitz 2, 9:56. 3, NJ, Greene 1 (Zubrus, Carter), 12:23 (sh). PenaltiesElias, NJ (holding), 10:44.

Third Period4, Pittsburgh, Letang 2 (Kunitz, Malkin), 2:31. 5, Pittsburgh, Crosby 4 (Kunitz, Pa.Dupuis), 7:11. 6, Pittsburgh, Bortuzzo 1 (Crosby, Pa.Dupuis), 9:51. PenaltiesCarter, NJ (tripping), 13:20; Crosby, Pit (tripping), 17:54. Shots on GoalNJ 6-4-6—16. Pittsburgh 8-12-10—30. Power-play opportunitiesNJ 0 of 2; Pittsburgh 0 of 3. GoaliesNJ, Brodeur 3-1-2 (30 shots-25 saves). Pittsburgh, Fleury 3-2-0 (16-15).

at Avalanche 0 2 1 3
Oilers 1 0 0 1

First Period1, Edmonton, Yakupov 5 (Hemsky, Gagner), :58. PenaltiesFistric, Edm (interference), 6:32; Bordeleau, Col (goaltender interference), 9:42; Hartikainen, Edm (tripping), 15:23.

Second Period2, Colo, Parenteau 6 (McGinn, Wilson), 12:07. 3, Colo, McGinn 1 (Duchene), 15:36. PenaltiesBelanger, Edm (holding), 8:34; Lander, Edm (tripping), 10:04; van der Gulik, Col (hooking), 13:26.

Third Period4, Colo, Stastny 3 (Mitchell, Duchene), 18:50 (en). PenaltiesSmid, Edm (holding), 7:27; J.Schultz, Edm (holding), 13:09; Stastny, Col (face-off violation), 16:40. Shots on GoalEdmonton 7-11-8—26. Colo 13-13-14—40. Power-play opportunitiesEdmonton 0 of 3; Colo 0 of 6. GoaliesEdmonton, Dubnyk 4-3-1 (39 shots-37 saves). Colo, Varlamov 3-4-0 (26-25).

at Canadiens 1 3 2 6
Sabres 0 0 1 1
at Canadiens 1 3 2 6
Sabres 0 0 1 1

First Period1, Montreal, Bourque 2 (Gionta, Plekanec), 19:52 (pp). PenaltiesEnnis, Buf (tripping), 1:34; Desharnais, Mon (holding), 2:40; Vanek, Buf (hooking), 7:12; Foligno, Buf (hooking), 18:15.

Second Period2, Montreal, Gallagher 3 (Galchenyuk, Bouillon), 2:03. 3, Montreal, Desharnais 1 (Eller), 10:08. 4, Montreal, Eller 1 (Galchenyuk, Kaberle), 10:36. PenaltiesEmelin, Mon (tripping), 2:27; Ehrhoff, Buf (high-sticking), 6:35; Subban, Mon (hooking), 7:43; Eller, Mon (tripping), 15:30.

Third Period5, Montreal, Bourque 3 (Plekanec), 1:22. 6, Buffalo, Vanek 7 (Foligno), 3:01 (sh). 7, Montreal, Desharnais 2 (Eller, Subban), 12:43 (pp). PenaltiesOtt, Buf, served by Grigorenko, minor-major (unsportsmanlike conduct, fighting), 1:23; Prust, Mon, major (fighting), 1:23; Pominville, Buf (goaltender interference), 7:08; Leopold, Buf (boarding), 7:34; Desharnais, Mon (holding stick), 7:38; Montreal bench, served by Galchenyuk (too many men), 8:32; Scott, Buf (roughing), 11:24. ShotsBuffalo 1-12-18—31. Montreal 15-6-11—32. PP opportunitiesBuffalo 0 of 6; Montreal 2 of 8. GoaliesBuffalo, Miller 3-3-1 (21 shots-17 saves), Enroth (0:00 third, 11-9). Montreal, Price 5-1-0 (31-30).

at Coyotes 0 1 1 2
Stars 0 0 0 0

First PeriodNone. PenaltiesRyder, Dal (high-sticking), 3:56; Fiddler, Dal (hooking), 10:30; Garbutt, Dal (high-sticking), 18:27; Vrbata, Pho (hooking), 19:08.

Second Period1, Phoenix, N.Johnson 3 (Korpikoski), 11:57. PenaltiesOleksiak, Dal (tripping), 2:22; Robidas, Dal (interference), 5:00; Morrow, Dal (roughing), 19:33; Michalek, Pho (high-sticking), 19:33.

Third Period2, Phoenix, Boedker 2 (Hanzal, Morris), 2:47 (pp). PenaltiesRyder, Dal (boarding), 1:48; Roussel, Dal (roughing), 17:16. Shots on GoalDallas 6-3-8—17. Phoenix 11-12-11—34. Power-play opportunitiesDallas 0 of 1; Phoenix 1 of 7. GoaliesDallas, Bachman 0-1-0 (34 shots-32 saves). Phoenix, M.Smith 1-2-1 (17-17).

Peterson takes home MVP award


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

NEW ORLEANS — Just more than a year after tearing the ACL and MCL in his left knee, Vikings running back Adrian Peterson won two NFL awards, most valuable player and offensive player of the year, on Saturday.

Peterson ran for 2,097 yards, 9 off the NFL record, and helped the Vikings improve from 3-13 to 10-6 and a playoff berth.

"My career could have easily been over," he said. "I'm kind of speechless. This is amazing."

Peterson earned 301/2 of 50 votes from a media panel. The other 191/2 votes went to Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning, whose recovery from four neck surgeries earned him comeback player honors.

After sitting out 2011 and being released by the Colts, Manning led the Broncos to a 13-3 record.

"I can't tell you how grateful and thankful I am," said Manning, whose 311/2 votes outdistanced Peterson (171/2) and Chiefs running back Jamaal Charles (one). "I can't tell you how happy I am to be playing the game of football we all love so much."

The Redskins' Robert Griffin III beat out two other quarterbacks for offensive rookie of the year. He earned 29 votes to 11 for the Colts' Andrew Luck and 10 for the Seahawks' Russell Wilson. It was Griffin's first appearance since Jan. 9 surgery for two torn ligaments in his right knee.

"I'm pretty far ahead," he said. "My goal is Week 1."

Texans end J.J. Watt got all but one vote for defensive player of the year. (Broncos linebacker Von Miller got the other.) Watt's 201/2 sacks were two off the record.

"It sets the bar for me," he said.

Bruce Arians became the first interim coach to win coaching honors. Arians, now Arizona's coach, got 361/2 votes for going 9-3 with the Colts while Chuck Pagano (second with 51/2 votes) was treated for leukemia.

"It's hard to put into words the feelings of this past year," Arians said. "This was kind of the cherry on the top, whipped cream and everything else you put on top."

Panthers linebacker Luke Kuechly, who led the league with 164 tackles, won defensive rookie of the year with 28 votes. Seahawks linebacker Bobby Wagner was second with 11, and Bucs linebacker Lavonte David got two.

College basketball preview: USF Bulls at Connecticut Huskies


By Greg Auman, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013


USF at Connecticut

When/where: 2; Gampel Pavilion, Storrs, Conn.

TV/radio: BHSN; 98.7-FM

Records: USF 10-10, 1-7 Big East; UConn 14-5, 4-3

Notable: USF's first half of the Big East season has been a huge drop-off from last year, and rebounding has been a major factor. The Bulls are last in the league in rebounding margin, but the Huskies are third worst. … The most glaring disparity between the teams: UConn leads the league at 72.4 points per conference game while USF is last at 53.1. … The Huskies have two elite scorers in Shabazz Napier and Ryan Boatright, challenging USF's perimeter defense. … Bulls freshmen JaVontae Hawkins and Zach LeDay are playing well as starters, but coach Stan Heath needs top scorers Victor Rudd, Toarlyn Fitzpatrick and Jawanza Poland to step up over the final five weeks of the regular season. … This is USF's first trip to Storrs since joining the Big East; previous meetings have been in Hartford. UConn leads 9-1.

Greg Auman, Times staff writer

Lightning would support a gay teammate


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

It doesn't matter that 49ers cornerback Chris Culliver tried to take back his antigay remarks.

By saying on Artie Lange's national radio show during last week's Super Bowl media day that San Francisco "ain't got no gay people on the team. They gotta get up outta here if they do. Can't be with that sweet stuff," Culliver reminded that even in a time when homosexuality is so much more accepted as part of society, it still seems treacherous for a male gay athlete to be "out" while playing.

That's why it was interesting that in a survey of 22 of the Lightning's 23 players (one was unavailable), all said they generally would be fine with an openly gay teammate. None said they knowingly had played with one.

To be sure, some players were wary, saying their acceptance depended on the dressing room dynamic not turning "weird" or "awkward."

But most comments went like this:

"Not everyone has to agree with it, but if someone in our locker room you were a friend with would come out, for me, personally, I wouldn't have a problem with it," center Steven Stamkos said. "He's still a teammate. He still has your back on the ice. That's just the way it is."

"We're a team, a family," right wing Teddy Purcell said. "We don't look at anybody different like that. Everybody is different. Some guys like cars; some like trucks. You don't really care. As long as he's a good team guy and helps us win, we'll take anybody."

Stamkos and several other NHL stars even have done public service announcements for the You Can Play Project, which its website says is "dedicated to ensuring equality, respect and safety for all athletes, without regard to sexual orientation."

You Can Play was started by Patrick Burke, son of former NHL general manager Brian Burke, whose late son, Brendan, was openly gay as a member of the Miami (Ohio) University hockey staff. He was killed in a 2010 car crash.

"I think it's important for people to realize things like that shouldn't change the way that person feels or the way you feel toward them," Stamkos said.

Will we see an openly gay male athlete in a team sport soon? Left wing Ryan Malone believes so.

"It just takes one person," he said. "You see people coming out at younger ages now, so, I mean, I would assume at some point the way the world is going, you will see that."

Asked about Culliver's comments, Malone said, "Everyone sees the world in a different way, but for a team guy, it would be hard to think that way. It doesn't matter who they like, they still have to do their job on the football field or the ice or wherever it is, so it doesn't really matter."

Lightning's Boucher has lineup dilemma


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

TAMPA — Coach Guy Boucher faced a dilemma during the five-game winning streak on which the Lightning rode before Saturday's loss to the Rangers:

How do you get players such as RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie and D Marc-Andre Bergeron into the lineup without disrupting team chemistry or benching a player who doesn't deserve it?

"Every day I feel like putting them in," Boucher said before the game. "The problem I've got is we've won five in a row with this lineup. I've got nobody in there I can take out. It's really the fact that everyone that's been playing has done the job. No one has given me an excuse to pull them out."

Bergeron has played two of eight games for a total 14 minutes, 15 seconds. Labrie played only Jan. 21 against the Islanders, with 4:54 of ice time and five minutes in the penalty box.

"Labrie would have been great" against the Rangers, Boucher said, "big body, big team. But a guy like (RW Dana) Tyrell has been unbelievable. I hate to make other people pay just so the other one gets a share of the pie. I try to look for some excuse before I do that, but I don't have any."

"I take the positive side," said Labrie, 26, who was promoted from AHL Syracuse out of training camp. "I work out to get stronger, faster, so every time I jump out on the ice every day, I feel better and when they tell me I'm in, I'm all in. It's a different mind-set, but I learn so much."

LITTLE STEPS: Brendan Mikkelson was back on the ice two days after a scary crash into the end boards during Thursday's practice.

"I felt okay," said the defense­man, who skated Saturday morning, "a little sore but a lot better than (Friday)."

Mikkelson said he has only right-shoulder soreness and upper-body stiffness after sliding hard head- and shoulder-first into the boards and briefly being knocked unconscious.

"I got folded up there pretty good," Mikkelson said. "I think all the bones and joints just need a chance to decompress."

REMEMBER: As part of the Lightning's 20th anniversary celebration, there were video tributes during the first period for former Tampa Bay coach John Tortorella and former Lightning center Brad Richards, both with the Rangers.

"It's always going to be my first team and my first organization, no matter how many times or what day it is," said Richards, the MVP of the 2003-04 Stanley Cup playoffs for the title-winning Lightning.

Tortorella, as usual, declined to discuss the tribute or the resurgence of Lightning C Vinny Lecavalier, saying, "I don't talk about the other team."

About Lecavalier, one of his best friends, Richards said, "He looks great. We all know how things can open up for you and you see things differently when there's confidence and you feel like you're helping."

ODDS AND ENDS: C Steven Stamkos has an eight-game points streak, tied for the league best. … Stamkos' five-game goal streak tied the Sharks' Patrick Marleau for the league high. … RW Marty St. Louis has assists in five straight games. … RW B.J. Crombeen (left foot) was on crutches before the game. He played, and Boucher said he has no limitations. … G Henrik Lundqvist, who sat in favor of Marty Biron, had started 27 of the Rangers' past 28 games against Tampa Bay.

Lightning: On Pyatt, pelicans and mustaches


By Damian Cristodero, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

5 questions C Tom Pyatt

Your brother Taylor plays for the Rangers. What was most annoying about him growing up?

He was always much bigger than me. So he'd kind of toss me around.

Did he order you around?

We'd be in the basement and he'd tell me "Go get my Pepsi" or something.

As an order?

He'd time me, so I had to sprint up the stairs.

And if you took too long?

He'd give me heck.

Did you ever spike the Pepsi?

I'd shake it up a little bit.

Catch and release

Some Lightning players were out on Tampa Bay on Wednesday to do a little fishing, and RW Pierre-Cedric Labrie got the big one, and it wasn't even a fish.

A pelican after Labrie's sardine bait caught itself on Labrie's hook, beginning a 20-minute struggle to help the bird by getting him on the deck.

The scariest moments, Labrie said, were when the pelican, exhausted, in the water but still fighting, submerged. That is when Labrie said he loosened up on the line so the pelican could get its head above water.

Once the pelican was onboard, the hook was detached.

"It was like it knew we were trying to help," Labrie said. "It didn't try to get away."

At the same time, he said, the pelican "was feeling shame. His head was down and exhausted."

After several minutes, the pelican, with a few extra sardines from Labrie, flew away.

Quote to note

"The cream rises when there are two teams left at the end. That's when the cream has risen. Before that, it's a battle to find out who's got the best cream." — coach Guy Boucher

To dad, with love

On the back-left side of G Anders Lindback's mask is a drawing of a large nose with an even larger mustache under it. Lindback said it is a tribute to his father, Lars, 57. "He always had a big mustache, so since I turned pro, I always wore it back there," Lindback said. "He's always been there for me. He was always taking me to hockey practice, so I thought it would be pretty cool. I think he appreciates it."

Number of the day

9 Goals scored by Steven Stamkos on Wednesdays, the fewest of any day of the week

Griner keeps Baylor rolling


Times wires
Saturday, February 2, 2013

STILLWATER, Okla. — Brittney Griner had 30 points, 10 rebounds and a career-high seven assists to lead top-ranked Baylor to its 19th straight win Saturday night, 81-62 over No. 19 Oklahoma State.

The Bears (20-1, 10-0 Big 12) took control with an 18-2 run immediately after coach Kim Mulkey called timeout and put her five starters back on the floor with 10:03 left and just after Liz Donohoe's scoop shot put Oklahoma State (15-5, 4-5) up 21-16.

Griner had three baskets and also assisted on Jordan Madden's 3-pointer and Kimetria Hayden's layup during the stretch, which featured two shot-clock violations by Oklahoma State.

Odyssey Sims stretched the lead to 34-23 with a steal that led to a three-point play, and Baylor went up by 18 by scoring the first seven after halftime.

Donohoe led Oklahoma State with 24 points, one off her season best.

NO. 2 NOTRE DAME 64, CINCINNATI 42: Kayla McBride scored 17 of her 19 in the first half as the host Irish (20-1, 8-0 Big East) won their 15th straight game, matching the fourth-longest winning streak in school history.

NO. 3 UCONN 71, ST. JOHN'S 65: Kaleena Mosqueda-Lewis scored 19 for the visiting Huskies (20-1, 7-1 Big East) in the teams' first regular-season meeting since the Red Storm ended Connecticut's 99-game home winning streak last February.

NO. 12 LOUISVILLE 74, G'TOWN 60: Antonita Slaughter had 22 points and the host Cardinals (19-4, 7-2 Big East) held Hoyas star Sugar Rodgers, who averages 23.7, to six.

NO. 23 IOWA ST. 67, TEXAS TECH 52: Chelsea Poppens had 18 points and nine rebounds as the host Cyclones (15-5, 6-4 Big 12) rallied after trailing most of the first half.


ROLLINS 52, ECKERD 50: Sarah Taylor, the sister of Eckerd men's point guard Woody Taylor, had 12 points for the visiting Tars, who avoided being swept in the regular season by the Tritons (8-9, 4-5 Sunshine State).

TAMPA 80, PB ATLANTIC 42: Greta Bartkute came off the bench to score a career-high 17 for the host Spartans (13-5), who never trailed.

NOVA SE 78, SAINT LEO 63: The host Sharks overcame a career-high 31 points by Teresa Manigrasso and cruised past the Lions (10-9, 5-4 SSC).

Florida Gators beat Mississippi Rebels


By Antonya English, Times Staff Writer
Saturday, February 2, 2013

GAINESVILLE — In the battle between the SEC's top teams, No. 16 Ole Miss played No. 4 Florida tougher than any other league team has this season.

But in the end, Florida battled its way to a 78-64 victory over the Rebels in front of 12,522 at the O'Connell Center on Saturday night. It was the Gators' 10th consecutive win.

Florida's defense held Ole Miss, which entered the game ranked No. 5 nationally in scoring, well below its season average (80.3), though it marked just the fifth time an opponent has scored 60 or more against the Gators this season.

Florida won its first seven conference games by an average of 28.3 points. Its tightest SEC win had been by 17 at Georgia.

"I thought it was a good game," Florida coach Billy Donovan said. "It was one of those games where it never really got going up and down the floor like I wanted to or as much as I would have wanted to. … We did a really good job passing and sharing the ball."

The Gators (18-2, 8-0 SEC) shot 51.6 percent from the field and held the Rebels to 38 percent shooting. Ole Miss closed out the first half with a 12-5 run, and the Gators took a 40-27 lead into halftime. Forward Murphy Holloway hit eight consecutive points in a 13-3 run to pull the Rebels within 63-50 with 7:12 remaining, but they didn't get any closer.

"This is my seventh Florida team to play, one of those was the national championship team," Ole Miss coach Andy Kennedy said. "I don't even remember a Florida team guarding with that intensity."

Florida senior forward Erik Murphy had a team-high 19 points and six rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting from 3-point range. The Gators made 11 of 29 3-pointers overall.

Marshall Henderson, the Ole Miss junior guard who leads the SEC in scoring with 19.3 points and ranks third in the nation with 3.8 3-pointers per game, scored a game-high 25 (the most against the Gators by an individual this season) and made 7 of 11 3-pointers despite having 14-minute scoreless stretches in both halves. Only one other Ole Miss player, Holloway (15 points), was in double figures.

"I talked to (Henderson) after the game and I told him good game," said junior guard Scottie Wilbekin, who had 13 points and seven assists with the primary assignment of guarding Henderson. "I told him I did my best on him and he still got 25 points. I gave him the respect he deserved."

Antonya English can be reached at english@tampabay.com.

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