<![CDATA[NBC4 Washington - Sports]]>Copyright 2017http://www.nbcwashington.com/news/sports http://media.nbcnewyork.com/designimages/WASH+NBC4+BLUE.png NBC4 Washington http://www.nbcwashington.comen-usFri, 20 Oct 2017 01:53:33 -0400Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:53:33 -0400NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Dodgers Advance to World Series for 1st Time Since 1988]]> Fri, 20 Oct 2017 01:46:56 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-863241870.jpg

Four more wins.

"In a year that has been so improbable, the impossible has happened."

The Dodgers are going to the World Series.

Pause for a moment and let that sink in.

Enrique Hernandez hit three home runs, including a grand slam, as the Los Angeles Dodgers punched their ticket to the Fall Classic, defeating the Chicago Cubs, 11-1, in Game 5 of the NLCS on Thursday night at Wrigley Field.

In 1988, the last time the Dodgers went to the World Series, Clayton Kershaw was just seven months old. Twenty-nine years later, he was on the mound when they won the pennant.

Kershaw (2-0), threw six innings, allowing just one run on three hits with one walk and five strikeouts in his third potential-clinching start in his postseason career.

In those games, the three-time NL Cy Young Award winner is a perfect 3-0 when he takes the mound with a chance to advance his team to the next round.

Since 2013, Kershaw had only gotten one run of support in four total starts in the NLCS over the course of his career. In his only two starts in 2017, he got 14 runs of support.

In order to end the drought, the Dodgers needed to go through the Cubs, the reigning World Series Champions, a team that slayed their own demons only one year prior.

Los Angeles wasted little time dispatching the champs.

After a nine-pitch leadoff walk to Chris Taylor to start the game, Cody Bellinger roped a double down the right field line, and the Dodgers led 1-0.

One inning later, Hernandez started off the second inning swinging, as he jumped all over a first-pitch fastball from Cubs' starter Jose Quintana, and hit it to straightaway center for a solo home run.

Hernandez wasn't finished. After an RBI single from Justin Turner gave the Dodgers a 3-0 lead, Quintana loaded the bases before leaving the game for Hector Rondon.

Once again, the Puerto Rican was swinging on the first pitch, and this time, Hernandez sent a slider into the basket in right-center for a grand slam home run.

Hernandez not only sent the Dodgers to the World Series with his bat, he also became the first Dodger since Adrian Gonzalez in 2013 to hit multi-homers in a postseason game.

As Wrigley Field fell silent as the sheeted dead, one voice could be heard — that of Hernandez's father, Enrique Hernandez Sr., one year removed from a life-threatening battle with cancer, fresh off an evacuation from his homeland because of Hurricane Maria. Despite it all, he stood and cheered.

He just watched his son have the game of his life, in the biggest moment of his career.

Quintana (0-1) lasted only two innings, surrendering six runs on six hits with one walk and one strikeout in his fourth start of the postseason with the Cubs.

John Lackey entered the game in the fourth inning for the Cubs and served up a two-run double to Logan Forsythe that gave Los Angeles a 9-0 lead.

The two innings of relief may have been the last ever seen of Lackey as the 38-year-old's contract is up at the end of the season and he could be leaning toward retirement at the end of the year.

Kris Bryant hit his first home run of the postseason in the bottom of the fourth, a laser beam off Kershaw over the scoreboard in left field, for the Cubs' only run of the game.

Just for good measure, Hernandez hit his third home run of the game off Mike Montgomery in the top of ninth, to put the exclamation point on his historical night. 

Hernandez is just the ninth player in MLB history to have three homers in a postseasong game, joining like the likes of Babe Ruth, Reggie Jackson, and Albert Pujols.

Hernandez finished the game 3-for-4 with three home runs and a league championship record seven RBI. 

To put that in perspective, the Cubs scored eight runs in the entire series.

Kenta Maeda, Brandon Morrow, and Kenley Jansen pitched the final three innings of the game, as the Dodgers bullpen set an LCS record with 17 scoreless innings of relief. 

Overall, the Dodgers' pen has a scoreless innings streak of 23 consecutive, a new Major League postseason record, surpassing the 1977 New York Yankees.

However, the rest of the game was a mere formality as the both teams went through the motions before the Dodgers popped champagne on the 29-year-old in the visiting clubhouse.

The victory earned the Dodgers their 22nd National League pennant, the second most in baseball history behind only their rivals, the Giants, who have 23.

Nearly one year ago, the Cubs clinched their first World Series berth since 1945 against these same Dodgers. That night, as the mob of adoring fans celebrated in Wrigleyville, the Dodgers team buses were unable to leave, so the players had to wait over two hours in the visiting locker room.

During that time, the Dodgers sat and stewed, thinking about this exact moment that could occur one year later, and how great it would be to beat the Cubs on their own field to advance to the World Series.

Revenge is, indeed, sweet.

Up Next:
The Dodgers advance to the World Series for the first time in 29 years and will await either the Houston Astros or New York Yankees with Game 1 at Dodger Stadium on Tuesday, October 24.

Please refresh this page for more updates, stats and player reactions.

Photo Credit: Jamie Squire/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Patriots Owner Robert Kraft Teams Up With Nike for Charity]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:36:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/LISNEAKERS.png

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft has teamed up with Nike to celebrate the Pats Super Bowl LI victory over the Atlanta Falcons. The Nike RKK Air Force 1 Flyknit is the fourth collaboration between Kraft and the sneaker company.

<![CDATA[Full Recovery Expected for Hayward After Injury in Celtics Debut]]> Thu, 19 Oct 2017 15:44:04 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/185*120/GettyImages-860330888.jpg

The Boston Celtics said Gordon Hayward is expected to make a "full recovery" after undergoing successful surgery on Wednesday night.

The team announced Thursday afternoon that Hayward underwent "successful bony and ligamentous stabilization surgery for the fracture dislocation of his left ankle" sustained in Tuesday night's season opener.

Hayward's father tweeted Thursday morning the surgery was 'a big success,' and his wife Robyn posted her own message on social media saying "He did great with surgery! So now we are starting the recovery process." His agent, Mark Bartelstein, added that the surgery "went really well."

No timetable has been set for his return, but Bartelstein told ESPN it remains unlikely the 27-year-old forward will return this season.

The Celtics player had arrived at New England Baptist Hospital on Wednesday after flying in from Cleveland, where he and former Cavaliers point guard Kyrie Irving played their first game in Celtics green.

Hayward came down awkwardly after an alley-oop pass in the first quarter, dislocating his left ankle and fracturing his leg.

In a video message on the Celtics' Twitter page Wednesday, Hayward spoke to his fans from his hospital bed.

"Wanted to say thank you to everyone whose had me in their thoughts and prayers," he said. "I'm gonna be alright.

"Hurting me that I can't be there for the home opener," Hayward went on to say in his video tweet. "I want nothing more than to be with my teammates and to walk out on that floor tonight. But I'll be supporting you guys from here and wishing you the best of luck."

While the team initially tweeted that Hayward had been diagnosed with a broken ankle, Stevens said in a press conference Wednesday that hospital tests had confirmed his actual injuries.

"He put a lot of effort into trying to start his career out well in Boston, but this is a setback," Stevens added.

Despite the setback, the coach said he believes Hayward will be back to full health.

"We are expecting a full recovery," he said. "We know there are going to be a lot of tough days ahead on that recovery, but at the same time, I think, hopefully, he'll improve day to day."

Stevens coached Hayward at Butler University. After spending the first seven seasons of his NBA career with the Utah Jazz, Hayward signed a four-year, $128 million contract to play for his college coach in Boston.

As Hayward lay on the court Tuesday night, the Quicken Loans Arena fell silent, with Celtics and Cavs players alike showing their concern. The crowds erupted in applause when he was carried off the floor on a stretcher. The following day, athletes and fans have taken to social media to support Hayward.

"Thanks for all the prayers for Gordon and our family," Hayward's wife, Robyn, tweeted Wednesday. "It sucks, but this is what happens."

Robyn Hayward's tweet included a quote, reading, "When everything seems like it's falling apart that's when God is putting things together just the way he wants it."

In their opener, the Celtics came back from a 16-point halftime deficit and jockeyed with Cleveland for the lead in the fourth quarter. The Cavs won their first game 102-99.

Wednesday night, the Celtics played their home opener without Hayward against the Milwaukee Bucks, but it was clear Hayward was on the mind of everyone.

Love for the forward was evident in every corner of TD Garden, as fans who miss him signed a giant "get well soon" banner for him, gave him a standing ovation, and even chanted his name.

The Bucks beat the Celtics 108–100.

Photo Credit: Getty Images, File
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<![CDATA[Goodell: 'Everyone Should Stand for the National Anthem']]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 17:10:25 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/RGoodell_FULL-150836042626100002.jpg

The NFL Commissioner stated "we believe everyone should stand for the national anthem" at a press conference Wednesday.

<![CDATA[Olympic Gold Medalist Details Sexual Abuse by Team Doctor]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 21:18:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/McKaylaMaroneyfeuerherd.jpg

Two-time Olympic medalist McKayla Maroney says she was molested for years by a former USA Gymnastics team doctor, abuse she said started in her early teens and continued for the rest of her competitive career.

Maroney posted a lengthy statement on Twitter early Wednesday that described the allegations of abuse against Dr. Larry Nassar, who spent three decades working with athletes at USA Gymnastics but now is in jail in Michigan awaiting sentencing after pleading guilty to possession of child pornography. Nassar also is awaiting trial on separate criminal sexual conduct charges and has been sued by more than 125 women alleging abuse.

Nassar has pleaded not guilty to the assault charges, and the dozens of civil suits filed in Michigan are currently in mediation.

Maroney, now 21, says the abuse began while attending a U.S. National team training camp at the Karolyi Ranch in the Sam Houston Forest north of Houston, Texas. Maroney was 13 at the time and wrote that Nassar told her she was receiving "medically necessary treatment he had been performing on patients for over 30 years." Maroney did not detail Nassar's specific actions.

Maroney, who won a team gold and an individual silver on vault as part of the "Fierce Five" U.S. women's team at the 2012 Olympics in London, said Nassar continued to give her "treatment" throughout her career. She described Nassar giving her a sleeping pill while the team traveled to Japan for the 2011 world championships. Maroney says Nassar later visited her in her hotel room after the team arrived in Tokyo, where he molested her yet again.

"I thought I was going to die that night," Maroney wrote.

Maroney did not immediately return an interview request from The Associated Press. Attorneys for Nassar had no comment.

Maroney says she decided to come forward as part of the "#MeToo" movement on social media that arose in the wake of allegations of sexual misconduct against Hollywood mogul Harvey Weinstein.

"This is happening everywhere," Maroney wrote. "Wherever there is a position of power, there is the potential for abuse. I had a dream to go to the Olympics, and the things I had to endure to get there, were unnecessary and disgusting."

Maroney called for change, urging other victims to speak out and demanding organizations "be held accountable for their inappropriate actions and behavior."

Maroney is the highest profile gymnast yet to come forward claiming she was abused by Nassar. Jamie Dantzscher, a bronze medalist on the 2000 U.S. Olympic team, was part of the initial wave of lawsuits filed against Nassar in 2016. Aly Raisman, who won six medals while serving as the captain of the U.S. women's team in both 2012 and 2016, called for sweeping change at USA Gymnastics in August.

USA Gymnastics launched an independent review of its policies in the wake of the allegations against Nassar in the summer of 2016 following reporting by the Indianapolis Star that highlighted chronic mishandling of abuse allegations against coaches and staff at some of its more than 3,500 clubs across the country.

In June, the federation immediately adopted 70 recommendations proffered by Deborah Daniels, a former federal prosecutor who oversaw the review. The new guidelines require member gyms to go to authorities immediately, with Daniels suggesting USA Gymnastics consider withholding membership from clubs that decline to do so. The organization also named Toby Stark, a child welfare advocate, as its director of SafeSport. Part of Stark's mandate is educating members on rules, educational programs, reporting and adjudication services.

USA Gymnastics praised Maroney's strength in a statement on Wednesday, adding it is "outraged and disgusted" by Nassar's alleged conduct.

"We are strengthening and enhancing our policies and procedures regarding abuse, as well as expanding our educational efforts to increase awareness of signs to watch for and reporting suspicions of abuse, including the obligation to immediately report," USA Gymnastics wrote. "USA Gymnastics, its members and community are committed to working together to keep our athletes as safe as possible."

The organization had initially agreed to purchase the training facility at the Karolyi Ranch following longtime national team coordinator Martha Karolyi's retirement shortly after the 2016 Olympics ended. The organization has since opted out of that agreement. Steve Penny, longtime president and CEO, resigned in March. A replacement has not been named.

The allegations and fallout have reached Capitol Hill. Two different pieces of legislation are in the works that call for greater responsibility for organizations that oversee Olympic sports to immediately report sex-abuse allegations to law enforcement or child-welfare authorities.

California Sen. Dianne Feinstein issued a release Wednesday saying she is putting the finishing touches on a bill she is co-sponsoring that would make failure to report sexual abuse a crime.

"It has become clear that for too long, amateur athletics organizations have shirked their responsibility of protecting young, vulnerable children," Feinstein wrote. "That must stop, and it must stop now."

Maroney, who lives in California and officially retired in 2015, encouraged others to speak out.

"Our silence has given the wrong people power for too long," she wrote, "and it's time to take our power back."

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Elise Amendola
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<![CDATA[Wizards Preview: Porter Signed, Sealed, Delivers?]]> Wed, 18 Oct 2017 13:04:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Wizards+Celtics+Game4.jpg

More Washington Wizards 2017-18 season preview thoughts ahead of Wednesday ‘s matchup against the Philadelphia 76ers. Check out Part 1, which includes why John Wall is set for his best season and yet won’t crack the Top 5 in NBA voting and the bench upgrades aren’t apparent for everyone.

New Contract and Chill

Otto Porter isn’t the rest-on-his-laurels type, so don’t fear the small forward switching to cruise control after signing a four-year, $106 million contract this summer. What does seem different entering his fifth season is the comfort level. Whether that’s the money coming his way, personal growth or extra confidence after the best year of young career, Porter appears more at ease on and off the court.

That will translate into a scoring average rise for the fifth-straight season, assuming the 3-point shooting decline after the break was more blip than reality. One of the NBA’s most efficient players (0.6 turnovers in 33 minutes per game), the slim forward is also a sneaky good rebounder thanks to his penchant for knowing where the ball will carom.

The next step? Creating his own shot off the dribble. That will take pressure off Wall and Beal and provide coach Scott Brooks with a central figure offensively when the guards need a rest. Seeing as Wall stated this week that Porter is the most improved player on the team, sounds like that next step is coming.

If the Starters’ Defense Doesn’t Improve, Could Ian Mahinmi Starting Help?

While best in the league in points per possession defending transition, Washington often labored in half court sets. The Wizards ranked 24th in field goal percentage defense last season. All six teams below them missed the playoffs. They stood 27th in defensive rating (110.7) after the All-Star break, with the starters (29th) the primary offenders, and 29th in opponent 3-point shooting (38.8).

Individually there’s no overt weak link. There’s also no consistent standouts unless Wall focuses on that more often. There is one player on the roster whose career is based on defense and rebounding: Ian Mahinmi.

Injured much of last season, his return after the All-Star break along with the addition of Bojan Bogdanovic dramatically improved the second unit’s net rating.

Don’t infer this means starting center Marcin Gortat should be benched. The “Polish Machine” is a durable, screen-setting force who averaged a double-double last season. He’s also never been considered a rim protector and isn’t built to chase perimeter bigs. The latter point also strikes Mahnimi as neither interior bigs are built for the modern NBA. Of the two, Mahinmi does offer more defensive fluidity overall and a stronger presence in the paint.

On the wrong side of 30, Mahinmi won’t be tasked with heavy minutes regardless. There’s a case for Gortat starting considering his role in the potent offense. There’s also no logical second option for any of the other four starters should the defensive woes carry over. Markieff Morris can handle some minutes at the 5 when he returns from hernia surgery, but replacing him at the 4 becomes tricky. If coach Scott Brooks seeks a fix and wants a true center on the court, especially late in games, a swap of bigs might be the best hope.

Going 55

Washington came one win shy last season of 50 for the first time since the 1978-79 season. That number would serve as a franchise milestone, but 50 wins might be enough to improve on last season’s four seed. Get 55 and perhaps the Wizards host at least two rounds of the postseason and maybe even the Eastern Conference Finals. For that to happen, they need good health, standard improvements from their main players and a major leap from Kelly Oubre Jr.

The 21-year-old forward is the only draft pick from the past four years on the roster. That makes him the primary source of youthful upside, certainly beyond the starters. Oubre’s physical gifts, namely his go-go gadget arms, adds to the hope. Yet the kid barely played late in the Celtics playoffs series –- six seconds in Game 7. The reasons were clear.

Oubre entered the NBA with limited basketball instincts and they haven’t improved enough. Poor shot selection, dribbling into traffic, missteps in team defense concepts. He shot a dismal 28.7 percent on 3-point tries last season.

The left-hander spent the summer tweaking his shooting form and working on his previously nonexistent right-hand on dribble-drives. Additional maturity should help his overall hoops IQ.

Oubre will play alongside Porter and the starters in a lineup that was incredibly effective last season. He’ll be the go-to threat on the second unit if these personal upgrades are real. He’ll be on the bench games if they’re not.

In the End

For the first time since the 1970s, Washington wins 50-plus games. Let’s go with 52.

The path for a deeper run may have opened on the NBA's opening night after Celtics forward Gordon Hayward suffered a brutal ankle injury. Should the teams meet in an epic playoff rematch, John Wall gets to prove he's a better leading man than Kyrie Irving. How the Wizards defend big man Al Horford on the outside in that series – and similar players all season -- remains a mystery, but they overcome.

Then come the Cavaliers. Let’s see how Cleveland puts together all its new pieces, including guards Dwyane Wade, Derrick Rose and Isaiah Thomas, who will miss a chunk of the season with a hip injury. Until further notice, LeBron James rules the East. Washington is in position to rise above if James actually suffers an injury for once. That’s what it will take. Otherwise, their NBA Finals wait continues.

Ben Standig talks Wizards daily on the Locked on Wizards podcast, covers the Redskins for BreakingBurgundy.com and tweets way too much via @benstandig.

Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Oldest Woman to Finish a Marathon Dies at 94]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 00:13:34 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Harriette-Thompson-Marathoner-2017.jpg

A nonagenarian who set a world record as the oldest woman to complete a full marathon has died, her family confirmed in a published report.

Harriette Thompson, 94, smiled and laughed as she crossed the finish line at the Rock 'N' Roll Marathon in San Diego in June.

With her finish, Thompson became the oldest woman to run a half-marathon.

"I guess it's unusual, but I don't know why people make such a big deal," Thompson said at the time. "I feel just like I did when I was 16. But I just can’t move as fast."

In 2015, Thompson broke the world record as the oldest woman to complete a full marathon.

The Charlotte Observer reported Monday Thompson died in hospice after suffering an injury in a fall on Oct. 6.

Thompson, a cancer survivor, used her love of running to raise money for the Leukemia Lymphoma Society.

Through the years, she raised $100,000 for the organization. She raised $15,000 in 2017 alone.

In June, when she completed the Rock n' Roll marathon with a time of 3 hours, 42 minutes, Thompson was most pleased that she did it surrounded by members of her family.

"I enjoyed running across the finish line," Thompson said. "That’s always the biggest thing. And I really enjoyed having my family with me."

Photo Credit: NBC 7]]>
<![CDATA[Washington Wizards Season Preview: Wall to Wall Success?]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 22:56:50 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/853821476.jpg

The Washington Wizards open the 2017-18 regular season Wednesday night at Capital One Arena against the Philadelphia 76ers. There are many thoughts worth stating, predictions worth making. Here are some in this two-part season preview.

John Wall won’t finish among the top 5 in the MVP race

Don’t panic. This isn’t a bad thing – but blame Bradley Beal. The NBA world largely views the Wizards as Wall’s team. That is fair considering, as one team official stated, “how much he’s had to carry the franchise as its face since he entered the league at 19 years old.” This year the Wall-Beal pairing takes on true co-headliner status.

Beal already had several big moments in his career, particularly in the playoffs before last season’s breakout campaign. Healthy after two consecutive campaigns limited by injuries, the wing guard set career-highs in scoring (23.1), assists, field goal and free throw percentage while sinking 40.4 percent of his 3-point tries.

Significant improvement with his ball handling opened up the dribble-drive game and led to a notable rise in free throw attempts. Now the 24-year-old enters this season armed with another weapon.

“It’s really just a confidence booster,” Beal said of entering this season after last year’s success. “Just realizing my potential, what I can be, the type of player I can be.”

Beal cited improved rebounding as a personal goal for the upcoming year.

Whether he improves on last season’s 3.2 average or not, Beal will make the All-Star team this year for the first time. It just won’t be because several stars landed in the West. Bradley Beal is one of the top 10 guards in the league and among the 20-25 best overall. This isn’t reflected in league-wide rankings. That changes after this season.

Oh, Wall will also have his best season

During the lead up to this season, the four-time All-Star mentioned this was the first summer he dedicated to getting into the best shape of his career. We can quibble with the statement's alternative meaning – what about those other seasons??? -- but the strength and conditioning work looks legit. Whether because the 6’4” guard was coming off two knee procedures, averaged his most minutes since his rookie season or wasn’t in tip-top shape, Wall weakened late in games at times last season

He also had the best season of his seven-year career, matching Beal for team-high scoring honors and finishing second in the league with 10.7 assists. Respect came in the form of his first All-NBA selection and finishing seventh in the league MVP voting.

Now the fitness went next level. Now Wall shouldn’t tire late. Now there's no need to rest defensively. Now let’s see just how good John Wall – and the Wizards -- can be.

“The Wizards have an outside shot at a 2-seed (in the Eastern Conference),” one league source told the Locked on Wizards podcast. “John Wall will have a big year and if Brad is able to match him, [the Wizards] will be dangerous.”

Second unit remains primary concern

Marcin Gortat wasn’t tactful with his criticism of Washington’s bench early last season, but he wasn’t wrong. The incredibly open secret played out painfully for most of the 82-game season and playoffs even with the in-season addition of Bojan Bogdanovic.

Now Kelly Oubre Jr. is a year older, Ian Mahinmi starts the season healthy and free agents additions Mike Scott, Tim Frazier and Jodie Meeks bolster the bench. At the very least, the Frazier and Meeks signings are a clear improvement over the flotsam dubbed as the backcourt last year, right?

“No,” one NBA scout said without hesitation or remorse about the new guards. “It’s no secret with the Wizards. Love the starting [five] and how they fit. Don’t trust their bench. Don’t see much of an upgrade from last year.”

That harsh assessment isn’t universal, but concerns remain. Unless Oubre’ significantly improves his decision-making and handle, there isn’t a player capable of creating his own offense. Meeks adds a 40 percent 3-point threat assuming he can avoid a three-year-long injury bug. They’ll need him on the court because proven shooting options are limited beyond Scott and Jason Smith.

Yet the improvement at point guard seems evident with Frazier, who, unlike last season’s options, can truly run an offense. “Great addition,” another scout said.

This group doesn’t need to dominate. They just can’t vomit all over the court upon entering the game. Last season was a constant “Clean up on Aisle 5” scenario.

This group shouldn’t stink based on the Frazier and Meeks moves alone.

Also factor in basic maturation growth from Oubre and another guard, Tomas Satoransky, who now has the confidence with his shot he lacked upon arriving from overseas last season. Of course, I’ve been fooled by a Wizards bench before.

<![CDATA[Hernandez Lawyers Sue NFL, Helmet Manufacturer]]> Tue, 17 Oct 2017 09:27:35 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/aaron-ap.jpg

Lawyers for Aaron Hernandez's family have re-filed their lawsuit against the NFL, but the New England Patriots are no longer named in the complaint.

The family's lawyers filed the complaint Monday in Norfolk County Superior Court. They said the Patriots have been removed as a defendant, but a separate action involving the team will be filed at a later date.

Named in the suit are the NFL and several of its subsidiaries, as well as Riddell, the company that manufactured the official NFL helmet from 1989 to 2013. Hernandez played in the NFL from 2010 to 2012.

The suit claims the defendants knew of CTE dating back to the 1960s but intentionally kept that information from Hernandez and other players. The suit accuses them of a "long-running conspiracy" aimed at insulating themselves from litigation and financial responsibility.

"(Aaron's) decisions with respect to football would have been different had there been no intentional concealment for football-exposure risk," the complaint reads. "Defendants' multi-decade-long efforts to justify ignoring these warnings created a time-bomb in Aaron. Defendants did so to perpetuate the industry of football."

Attorneys for the Hernandez family initially filed suit last month in federal court after a brain study showed he suffered from a "severe case" of the degenerative brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Experts said it was the most severe case of CTE they had ever seen in someone his age.

The suit claimed the team and the league deprived 4-year-old Avielle Hernandez of the companionship of her father.

That suit was dropped on Friday because the lawyers said the issues involved belonged in state and not federal court.

The NFL has said it will "vigorously" contest the lawsuit, saying it would face "significant legal issues from the start."

Riddell said Monday that it is also prepared to defend its reputation.

"More than 15 years ago, Riddell introduced its first helmets specifically designed to mitigate concussion risk and warnings written to raise concussion awareness and promote medical treatment of concussions," the company argued in a statement. "Riddell intends to vigorously and successfully defend its products, its warnings and its reputation from the claims now being made by a handful of plaintiff lawyers."

Hernandez had Stage 3 CTE, the second-most severe out of four stages. That level of degeneration is usually found in players with a median death age of 67. Boston University officials who examined his brain said he also had early brain atrophy and perforations in a central membrane. CTE can be caused by repeated head trauma and leads to symptoms like violent mood swings, depression and other cognitive difficulties.

The 27-year-old former star tight end killed himself on April 19 in the prison cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley, Massachusetts, where he was serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for the 2013 murder of Odin Lloyd. He hanged himself with a bed sheet attached to his cell windows.

Hernandez blocked access to his cell from the inside by jamming cardboard into the door tracks, investigators said. They also said there were no signs of a struggle and Hernandez was alone at the time of the hanging.

His Bible was found marked with blood at John 3:16, a verse that describes eternal life for those who believe in God. The verse name was also written in blood on the wall and in pen on his forehead.

His death came just hours before the Patriots visited the White House to celebrate their latest Super Bowl victory.

Soon after his suicide, Hernandez's family decided they wanted his brain to be studied by the Boston University Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy Center.

State officials originally refused to release the brain because it was part of the ongoing investigation into Hernandez's death, but later agreed to release it after his lawyer accused them of holding the brain illegally.

A star for the University of Florida when it won the 2008 title, Hernandez dropped to the fourth round of the NFL draft because of trouble in college that included a failed drug test and a bar fight. His name had also come up in an investigation into a shooting.

In three seasons with the Patriots, Hernandez joined Rob Gronkowski to form one of the most potent tight end duos in NFL history. In 2011, his second season, Hernandez caught 79 passes for 910 yards and seven touchdowns to help the team reach the Super Bowl, and he was rewarded with a $40 million contract.

But the Patriots released him in 2013, shortly after he was arrested in the killing of Lloyd, who was dating the sister of Hernandez's fiancee. Hernandez was convicted and sentenced to life in prison; the conviction was voided because he died before his appeals were exhausted, though that decision is itself being appealed.

SUICIDE PREVENTION HELP: The National Suicide Prevention Hotline (1-800-273-8255) is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Photo Credit: AP, File]]>
<![CDATA[UMd. AD Taking 6-Month Sabbatical]]> Mon, 16 Oct 2017 15:13:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/114095731.jpg

University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson announced Monday he is taking a six-month sabbatical for professional development, according to the university.

"The University of Maryland has granted me the opportunity to remain in my position of athletic director while I take a six-month professional development sabbatical to engage in various projects focusing on leadership development, including work with a broad coalition of groups focused on issues of equity, student athlete activism and inclusion in college athletics and working with the NACDA/John McLendon Minority Scholarship Foundation," Anderson announced.

Executive Director, Chief Financial Officer and Chief Operating Officer of Athletics Damon Evans will assume athletic director duties.

Over the weekend, sources told News4's Carol Maloney Anderson was on paid administrative leave, but the university said in a statement Anderson was still the athletic director.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Why Aren't NFL Cheerleaders Protesting During the Anthem?]]> Sun, 15 Oct 2017 06:12:07 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/168*120/GettyImages-856384992_master.jpg

Millions of Americans have applauded the NFL players who have taken a knee during the national anthem, but not the women whose job it is to root for the teams — the cheerleaders.

They have been noticeably absent from the year-long drama that has divided football fans and outraged President Donald Trump and their reasons range from not wanting to undermine the team — to not wanting to lose their prized spot on the squad, NBC News reported.

"Definitely the financial compensation isn’t high enough where you’re concerned about paying rent … but certainly if you’re creating waves you could lose your spot,” Danetha Doe, a two-season Indianapolis Colts cheerleader, told NBC News.

Doe remembers when it was rare to find an African-American in the rah-rah ranks and understands why a cheerleader might think twice about joining the players' protest against the persecution of black people in America.

Photo Credit: Tom Pennington/Getty Images, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sources: UMd. Athletic Director Kevin Anderson on Paid Leave]]> Sun, 15 Oct 2017 08:22:40 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/114095731.jpg

University of Maryland Athletic Director Kevin Anderson is on paid administrative leave, sources told News4’s Carol Maloney.

Sources told Maloney Anderson's contract would possibly expire as early as next year.

The university said in a statement Anderson was still the athletic director.

Bobby Blanco, with MASNSports.com, said sources told him university president Wallace Loh removed Anderson on Oct. 1. Blanco said Loh was upset that Anderson sought the University of California athletic director position.

Blanco reported Anderson will be on administrative leave until August 2018. He said there has been no official announcement, but boosters are campaigning for former head basketball coach Gary Williams to take over the position.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Preview: Redskins Heavy Favorites Against Vengeful 49ers]]> Sat, 14 Oct 2017 08:46:06 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/854627652.jpg

The Washington Redskins (2-2) return to action Sunday (1:00 p.m.) at FedEx Field for a Week 6 matchup against the San Francisco 49ers (0-5).

On paper and according to the weekly betting lines, the Redskins have a soft landing spot following their Week 6 bye. In the parity-heavy NFL, there is no such thing. In this case, there is plenty of background drama as well.

Pierre Garcon, Washington’s top receiver last season, faces his former team for the first time since signing a free agent contract with San Francisco this offseason. 49ers rookie head coach and former Redskins offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan gets a shot at revenge against the team that sent him and his father packing in 2013.

There’s also the never-ending reports that a reunion looms between Shanahan and Kirk Cousins should the Redskins quarterback actually reach free agency next offseason. Sounds like fun.

Here’s a look at four other things to watch in Sunday’s matchup.

Cover Up

The bye week, though earlier than desired, came at a nice time for the Redskins considering the injuries suffered in the 23-20 Week 4 loss at Kansas City on Monday Night Football. The break likely gave left tackle Trent Williams (knee) enough time to recover, though the Pro Bowl is listed as “questionable” after not practicing all week.

Time off wasn’t enough for others. Cornerback Josh Norman (ribs) was ruled out, while starting running back Robert Kelley (ankle) and safety Deshazor Everett (hamstring) are listed as “doubtful” on the weekly injury report.

Quinton Dunbar replaces Norman in the starting lineup and rookie Fabian Moreau will likely receive his most extensive NFL action. Everett’s absence would limit Washington to only three safeties unless another rookie, Fish Smithson, is activated from the practice squad.

There’s no good time for injuries, but in terms of the pass defenders, this isn’t the worst of weeks. San Francisco quarterback Brian Hoyer present something of a challenge in that he’s experienced. He’s also well traveled for a reason. The 49ers entered the week tied for 29th with four touchdown passes and rank 27th with 6.2 yards per attempt average.

Running for Daylight

Running back Chris Thompson has turned into arguably Washington’s top offensive playmaker this season – 7.1 yards per carry, team-high 235 receiving yards. However, the Redskins prefer limiting his workload to 25-30 snaps. That was true even when Kelley missed the Week 3 win over Oakland with a rib injury. That means rookie Samaje Perine (3.1 yards per carry) and Mack Brown will handle early down work with Kelley out.

The 49ers defense allows 366.4 yards per game (28th), but they have forced a league-high six rushing fumbles. Perine has struggled with ball security early this season and won’t have a long leash even without Kelley.

Welcome Back

Despite five productive seasons, the Redskins showed little interest in retaining Garcon this offseason. Perhaps that makes sense long-term, but for now, they miss the physical wide receiver. That’s not just because Garcon ranks eighth in the league with 379 receiving yards on 28 receptions.

The combination of Terrelle Pryor and Josh Doctson hasn’t come close to replacing Garcon’s steady presence. Washington also lost one of its most intense players.

“Yeah, he’s always been angry. [Pierre] was angry at me the whole time he was here,” Redskins coach Jay Gruden joked. “I think that’s what people appreciate about him. When you compete with him or against him, you see the anger that he plays with on tape. It’s not a bad thing. It’s a good thing for a wide receiver.”

Without Norman, the primary coverage duties likely falls to cornerback Bashaud Breeland.

Don’t Sleep on the Underdog

The Las Vegas smart guys installed the Redskins as an 11-point favorite over the 0-5 49ers. Whether that’s fair or not, it’s certainly rare. Washington hasn’t been a double figure favorite since 2009.

The winless start and the point spread hides the fact that San Francisco has lost its last four games by a combined 11 points. There is talent in their defensive front-7 in the form of three recent first round picks: defensive tackle DeForest Buckner, pass rusher Solomon Thomas and inside linebacker Reuben Foster.

Offensively, running back Carlos Hyde (332 yards) ranks among the league-leaders. While Garcon is the primary receiving target, Marquise Goodwin averages an impressive 17.4 yards per catch.

Photo Credit: Icon Sportswire via Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Men's Soccer Coach Resigns After Catastrophic Loss]]> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 11:05:11 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/859961824-Bruce-Arena-Resigns.jpg

Bruce Arena resigned as coach of the United States men's national soccer team Friday in the wake of a shock loss to tiny Trinidad and Tobago that left the team outside of contention for next year's World Cup in Russia.

Arena coached the team in the 2002 and 2006 world cups, and was hired in November as the American campaign to qualify for 2018 stuttered. A 4-0 victory over Panama had put the U.S. in position to qualify going into Tuesday's game, for which the U.S. were heavy favorites.

The loss, combined with other results, meant the U.S. wouldn't qualify for the World Cup for the first time since 1986.

"Everyone involved in the program gave everything they had for the last 11 months and, in the end, we came up short. No excuses. We didn't get the job done, and I accept responsibility," Arena said in a statement Friday.

Arena took the team to its best World Cup finish, the quarterfinals, in the 2002 tournament in Korea and Japan.

As a Major League Soccer coach, he has won the MLS Cup five times, most recently for the LA Galaxy in 2014.

Photo Credit: Ashley Allen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Nationals Out of Playoffs, Fall to Cubs 9-8 in Game 5]]> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 08:12:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-860730320.jpg

Max Scherzer emerged from the bullpen to protect a lead, and Bryce Harper batted with the bases loaded. Again and again, the Nationals had the defending World Series champions on the ropes. 

For Washington's tortured fans, it was all just another setup for a crushing playoff defeat. 

Scherzer allowed four runs in an exasperating inning of relief, and the Nationals' repeated attempts to rally came up maddeningly short in a 9-8 loss early Friday morning to the Chicago Cubs in Game 5 of their NL Division Series. 

Scherzer called it a "gut punch'' - and a feeling all too familiar. Washington was eliminated in the NLDS for the fourth time in six years, including a trio of Game 5 losses at home. The Nationals haven't won a playoff series since moving to the nation's capital from Montreal in 2005. 

"Here we are in Game 5, play our hearts out, everybody lays it on the line, everybody's fighting to do everything they can and we lose a nail-biter of a game again,'' Scherzer said. "This game's cruel sometimes just the way things can happen. What a series.'' 

This chapter of postseason disappointment may be the wildest yet. There was Jayson Werth whiffing on a line drive to left field, pinch-hitter Adam Lind grounding into a comeback-killing double play and backup catcher Jose Lobaton getting picked off first base to erase another golden chance. 

"It was just a series of bad events,'' manager Dusty Baker said. "It really hurts to lose like that.'' 

Michael A. Taylor had a three-run homer and an RBI single after helping the NL East champions stay alive with a grand slam in Game 4. But the Nationals couldn't overcome a crippling sequence during Chicago's four-run fifth. 

Scherzer entered to a roar from the sellout crowd of 43,989, manager Dusty Baker letting him loose with a 4-3 lead for his first relief appearance since the 2013 playoffs, when he was with the Detroit Tigers. 

Nationals Park rocked as Scherzer got two quick outs, and then it all fell apart. Scherzer allowed three straight hits, the last a two-run double by Addison Russell, and Chicago went ahead 5-4. 

After an intentional walk to Jason Heyward, Scherzer struck out Javier Baez, but catcher Matt Wieters dropped the pitch. The ball rolled away, and then Wieters threw it into right field, allowing Russell to score. 

Baez's bat struck Wieters in the side of the mask on strike three, and the catcher argued unsuccessfully for interference to be called. Major League Baseball rules state that if, in the umpire's judgment, a catcher is struck on a backswing before he secures the ball, it should be called a strike and the play ruled dead. 

Plate umpire Jerry Layne said that because the ball was already past Wieters, Baez's bat did not impede his ability to make a play. 

"The graze of the helmet didn't have anything to do, in my judgment, with anything at all, with that particular play,'' Layne said. 

Wieters was called for catcher's interference on the next at-bat, and then Scherzer plunked Jon Jay to force home a run. 

Wieters called it one of the worst defensive games of his career, and those mistakes cost Scherzer dearly. 

"You can execute pitches and sometimes that's not enough,'' said Scherzer, who was charged with two earned runs. 

Chicago took a 7-4 lead and narrowly staved off Washington's rallies the rest of the way, including a bases-loaded, one-out jam in the seventh when the Nationals got just one run, on Harper's sacrifice fly. 

This elimination-game loss was another stunner a year after a topsy-turvy Game 5 against the Los Angeles Dodgers that included third base coach Bob Henley sending Werth into a sure out at home and ace Clayton Kershaw picking up the save. Scherzer called that "the craziest game'' he had ever been a part of. 

Craziest to that point. Even after Scherzer's 28-pitch maelstrom, the Cubs scored again when Werth slid and missed a line drive in left and got their ninth run in the seventh on an RBI groundout. 

"I can probably count on one hand how many balls I've had go in the lights on me in seven years,'' Werth said, setting his beer bottle down in the locker next to his for perhaps his final media scrum as a National. 

"For that to happen tonight, it feels like if it could go wrong, it did.'' 

The Nationals chipped away and got it to 9-8 in the eighth. Cubs closer Wade Davis stumbled while chasing a seven-out save, but Lind grounded into a double play in the eighth, and then Lobaton was backpicked by Contreras at first base to end a two-on threat. Originally called safe, Lobaton was ruled out after a Cubs challenge when his right foot momentarily slid off the base. 

"I thought I was safe for sure until I saw the replay,'' Lobaton said. "I didn't know that my foot came off.''

Harper said he thought Lobaton was out right away. The 2015 NL MVP got a final chance to keep the season alive, but he went down swinging for the final out. 

"That's what you live for: Go out there and battle your tail off against a great Cubs team and do all the things you could to put your heart and soul into a game,'' Harper said. "Just came up short.'' 

Players said they felt in the dugout like a comeback was inevitable until Harper struck out. It was a familiar, uncomfortable feeling.

"It really felt like it was only a matter of time before one of those breaks, one of those weird plays was going to go our way, we were going to be able to break it open and get over that hump,'' closer Sean Doolittle said. "We just couldn't get it done.''

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Injured Marine's New Challenge: 31 Marathons in 31 Days]]> Fri, 13 Oct 2017 09:00:32 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/robjones.jpg

Rob Jones never liked running. He didn’t like running when he grew up on a farm in Lovettsville, Virginia, and he didn’t like it by the time he graduated from Virginia Tech in 2007.

The 32-year old former Marine said he only ran to prepare for the test to join the United States Marine Corps.

All of that hasn’t stopped Jones from embarking on an ambitious journey of running 31 marathons in 31 cities — in 31 days.

Running multiple marathons back-to-back is remarkable but not unprecedented. A couple in Australia reportedly ran a marathon every day in 2013 and a man ran 401 marathons in as many days to raise awareness about the effects of bullying.

But Jones is not only planning to run a combined 812.2 miles in a month. He is doing so without his legs.

After kicking off his first run in London on Thursday, he's set to visit Philadelphia, New York City, Boston, Chicago, San Francisco, Los Angeles, San Diego, Dallas and other cities in the coming days and weeks. His last run will be on Veterans Day in Washington, D.C.   

Jones’s life changed forever in 2010 when he was critically injured as part of a team of combat engineers, whose primary task was detecting IED’s in a heavily Taliban-controlled area in Afghanistan. He came across a landmine that detonated and resulted in both of his legs being amputated.

After hours of surgery and a year and a half of rehabilitation, Jones was ready to get back to his life, though he couldn't picture exactly where his recovery would take him.

“I wasn’t sure exactly of the specifics,” he said. “All I knew was that I was going to do everything I could to get back to being able to take care of my own, be self-sufficient.” 

After his accident, Jones rehabilitated at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, where he was fitted with prosthetics. He recalled having to learn to walk again, but this time with bionic knees.

“I also used the time to relearn how to do other things with my new challenge including riding a bicycle, running, and rowing," Jones wrote on his website.

Running a marathon wasn’t something that Jones had on his mind, following his accident. He wanted to do more weightlifting or rowing, which he took a liking to.

After being honorably discharged from the military in 2011, he trained for the 2012 Summer Paralympic games in London, where he won a bronze medal for Team USA in mixed double sculls.

Despite being an Paralympic medalist, he wanted to do something for veterans. He set a goal to raise money for wounded veterans and thought that running successive marathons was a great start.

Jones said it was important to dispel the myth that all veterans are physically and mentally damaged.

“What I’m setting out to do here is to be an example for other veterans and millions alike,” Jones said.

He is a veteran who went to war and is still in the fight, he said.

He started training a year and a half ago by doing running an hour a day, three to four times a week, until he got to a point where he was able to run five back-to-back marathons in as many days.

“There are plenty of people who have done similar stuff and run similar distances,” Jones said. “It’s about preparation.”

Jones doesn’t know anyone who has done this type of ultramarathon, but he’s watched a lot of documentaries on people who have and said he is ready for the challenge.

While most marathoners run nonstop, Jones is taking a different approach once he starts on Oct. 12. He plans to pace himself while completing each leg of his run and could break up his run over the course of a day. He will monitor his distance by using fitness watches with GPS functionality.

Jones said he knows he couldn’t do this alone and is relying on his family for support. His wife, Pam, helps get his story out to the public, and his mother, Carol Miller, will be her son’s massage therapist.

“My wife is my number one supporter,” he said.

He also is working on a way for fans to watch his amazing run online, whether through Facebook Live or other live streaming services.

Jones has also received support from his prosthetists, physical therapist and other runners who were inspired by his story, among them Mirna Valerio, a runner and author of the book, “A Beautiful Work in Progress.” 

“He’s going to get up there and do it and challenge his body and spirit,” Valerio said. “They’re using their bodies and showing the world that despite what somebody might see as a challenge they’re just doing it anyway.”

Jones maintains close friendships with those he served with in Iraq and Afghanistan and knows they back him, even though they may be tired of his antics.

“I think they probably expect it at this point,” he said jokingly. “They’re not that impressed anymore.”

He is glad for his continued relationship with the Marines.

“You know the saying in the Marine Corps is, ‘Once a Marine, always a Marine,” he said. “It remains to be a tight-knit brotherhood for me, and that is what the Marine Corps is all about.”

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<![CDATA[Cousins Continues to Evolve as a QB Like Shanahan Expected]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 20:28:24 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/Kirk+Cousins+GettyImages-856835640.jpg

Kyle Shanahan believed in Kirk Cousins before the quarterback believed in himself.

Cousins was a fourth-round pick the same year the Washington Redskins traded up to draft Robert Griffin III second overall. As Cousins focused on making the team, Kyle Shanahan as offensive coordinator and his dad, Mike, as coach helped set his sights higher, and he hasn't forgotten that.

“Kyle believed in me when it was just potential,” Cousins said. “There was no production. I hadn't done anything to earn his belief and he believed in me.”

As Cousins faces Shanahan's San Francisco 49ers on Sunday, he's a much more polished player but exactly on the progression his former mentor expected.

“I feel like he looks like the same guy I've always seen,” Shanahan said Wednesday. “Obviously the more you play, the more opportunities you get, the better you get with reps. But he looks exactly like the guy I remember from practices out there.”

Shanahan only got to oversee Cousins' development for two seasons before being fired as part of a sweeping regime change. In 2012 and 2013, Cousins completed just 56.2 percent of his passes and had eight touchdowns and 10 interceptions.

Since then, with some help from Gruden and now Los Angeles Rams coach Sean McVay, Cousins has completed 67.2 percent of his passes with 71 TDs and 33 INTs and twice has thrown for over 4,000 yards in a season.

Cousins is 29, but Gruden still called him a “young quarterback.” Cousins feels that way, too.

“I've developed every area of my game from the end of year two to now in the middle of year six,” Cousins said. “Everything from protections, audibles, understanding the run game, reads, coverage recognition, blitz recognition, just how to handle a 16-game season and how to win in this league, how to play on the road. There's so many elements of being a quarterback that as I've played, I've picked them all up and I feel like every year I take another step.”

Many have linked Cousins' next step to Shanahan. Cousins is playing a second consecutive season on the franchise tag and faces another decision point next spring.

Shanahan was careful not to praise Cousins too effusively but said he's accurate delivering the ball, isn't worried by the pass rush, is tough and can go through route progressions very easily. Gruden figures Cousins will get better at reading defenses and adjusting to coverages as he gets more snaps.

Teammates already see that evolution in Cousins over the past five-plus seasons.

“With experience has come maturity,” third-down back Chris Thompson said. “I can think of games where my second year when he had to come in after Griff had his injuries and everything, he was a little nervous at times. I think he would agree with that, as well. He was a little nervous and now it's just like everything flows better because he's had the time, he's had the experience.”

Veteran tight end Vernon Davis isn't worried about Cousins continuing to handle the physical rigors of the NFL and compared his mental improvement to that of now Kansas City Chiefs quarterback Alex Smith.

“He has all the physical attributes he needs in order to play this game, but mentally I feel like he's going to keep on improving mentally, kind of like Alex Smith,” Davis said. “Alex had some rough years in San Francisco. It's all in your mindset. ... If Kirk has the passion and desire to get better, then he's going to keep getting better.”

One thing that's already different in Cousins' mindset is being a father after his wife, Julie, gave birth to their first child Sept. 29. Cousins recalled Drew Brees writing in his book that he was better at time management after having a child and that now 49ers strength and conditioning coach Ray Wright said a player becomes his best self after he's married.

Cousins hopes the same is true now that he has his son, Cooper, at home.

“I think you could maybe even become a better football player after that happens,” Cousins said.

Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[US Misses First World Cup Since 1986 With Loss]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 06:34:12 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/859961062-PUlisic-Wonderboy-USMNT-Loss-World-Cup.jpg

The United States was eliminated from World Cup contention Tuesday night, a shocking loss at Trinidad ending the Americans' streak of seven straight appearances at soccer's showcase.

Twenty-eight years after a stunning victory here put the Americans back in the World Cup following a four-decade absence, their chances for next year's tournament in Russia ended on this island nation off the coast of Venezuela.

Trinidad and Tobago scored a pair of first-half goals, and the United States was eliminated with a 2-1 defeat, its first time missing the World Cup since 1986.

Shocked American players slumped on the bench, and Matt Besler sat on the field after the final whistle as Panama's game ended and then Costa Rica's. At the end, dejected U.S. players filed into their locker rooms with blank looks.

The U.S. entered its final qualifier with a berth uncertain for the first time since 1989. Home losses to Mexico last November and Costa Rica left the Americans little margin for error.

The 28th-ranked Americans needed merely a tie against 99th-ranked Trinidad, which lost its sixth straight qualifier last week. But the defeat, coupled with Honduras' come-from-behind 3-2 win over Mexico and Panama's 2-1 victory over Costa Rica on Ramon Torres' 88th-minute goal, dropped the Americans from third place into fifth in the six-nation final round of the North and Central American and Caribbean region.

Mexico and Costa Rica already had clinched berths, and Panama claimed the third and final automatic spot and will go the World Cup for the first time. Honduras will meet Australia in a two-game playoff next month for another spot at next year's 32-nation tournament.

Missing the World Cup is a devastating blow to the U.S. Soccer Federation, which has steadily built the sport in the last quarter-century with the help of sponsors and television partners. It also is a trauma for Fox, which broadcasts the next three World Cups after taking the U.S. rights from ESPN. The USSF hopes to co-host the 2026 tournament with Mexico and Canada, and Morocco is the only other bidder.

After an 0-2 start in the hexagonal last fall under Jurgen Klinsmann, the USSF replaced him last November with Bruce Arena, the American coach from 1998-2006. The team revived with home wins over Honduras and Trinidad last spring and draws at Panama and Mexico. But the 2-0 defeat to Costa Rica in New Jersey at the start of Labor Day weekend proved one hurdle too many to overcome.

"No excuses for us not getting the second goal and at least a point,'' Arena said. "It's a blemish for us.''

The Americans fell behind in the 17th minute when defender Omar Gonzalez made a casual attempt with his left foot to clear Alvin Jones' cross and sent the ball looping over the outstretched right arm of goalkeeper Tim Howard from 18 yards.

Jones doubled the lead in the 37th with a 35-yard strike, again to Howard's upper right corner, and nearly scored another in the 44th when his swerving shot bounced off Howard's chest and spilled into the penalty area.

Christian Pulisic, the Americans' 19-year-old star midfielder, scored in the 47th minute from the arc with a right-footed shot. He played a role in 12 of the 17 Americans goals in the hexagonal.

One minute later, Howard made a kick save on Shahdon Winchester's short-range shot, and DeAndre Yedlin blocked Levi Garcia's follow-up attempt.

The U.S. bench was tense, as Honduras scored twice early in the second half to take the lead over visiting Mexico in the 60th minute and Panama tied the score against visiting Costa Rica in the 52nd.

Clint Dempsey, who entered at the start of the second half, was denied by goalkeeper Adrian Foncette's leaping save in the 69th and hit a post from 22 yards in the 77th. Pulisic's shot in the 87th was saved by Foncette.

All American reserves were standing for much of the final minutes, and Arena had repeated exasperated looks.

Just a few hundred fans were in the stands at 10,000-capacity Ato Boldon Stadium, located 24 miles south of the capital, Port-of-Spain. Paul Caligiuri's famous goal at the National Stadium in 1989 put the U.S. in the World Cup for the first time since 1950.

Among the spectators were a few dozen American Outlaws, the U.S. supporters group.

Water that had flooded the track surrounding the field ahead of the U.S. training session Monday was gone.

Photo Credit: Ashley Allen/Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Trump Jokes Penguins Co-Owner Should Help With NAFTA Negotiations]]> Wed, 11 Oct 2017 09:20:47 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/DIT_NAT_PENS_WHITE_HOUSE_TRUMP_101017-150766758608200002.jpg

President Donald Trump on Tuesday jokingly asked Pittsburgh Penguins co-owner Ron Burkle if he would help re-negotiate NAFTA. The Penguins visited the White House to celebrate their Stanley Cup title.

<![CDATA[Can Dallas Cowboys Owner Bench a 'Disrespectful' Player?]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 18:50:36 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/AP_172690536585301.jpg

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones took the NFL's battle over the national anthem to a new level this week when he suggested that players who are "disrespectful" to the U.S. flag shouldn't be allowed to play.

But can Jones bench a player for such a reason?

The short answer, according to experts, is that Jones ─ arguably the most powerful owner in the world's richest sport ─ can do what he wants, at least in the short term. But he'd probably thrust himself into a high-profile legal fight that may ending up costing him and the NFL, NBC News reported.

Matthew Mitten, executive director at the National Sports Law Institute at Marquette University, told NBC News it was hard to tell precisely what action Jones was suggesting, but any move would have to adhere to the NFL's collective bargaining agreement.

Photo Credit: AP Photo/Matt York, File]]>
<![CDATA[Sports Junkies: Shanahan, Garcon Return to FedEx With 49ers]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 18:20:20 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/WRC_0000000020463838_1200x675_1066655811856.jpg

The Sports Junkies from 106.7 the Fan weigh in on an injury-filled Week 5 in the NFL and what lies ahead as the Redskins come off the bye to face the winless 49ers, a matchup chock full of drama as Kyle Shanahan and Pierre Garcon return to FedEx Field. Also, why should we be thanking the Junks for Alex Ovechkin’s hot start?

<![CDATA[Nationals Prepare for 3rd Playoffs Game Against Chicago Cubs]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 12:36:13 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/214*120/Nationals_Prepare_for_Third_Playoffs_Game_Against_Subs.jpg

News4's Carol Maloney visits Wrigley Field, where the Washington Nationals will face off against the Chicago Cubs.

<![CDATA[Dolphins Asst. Coach Resigns After 'Powder' Video Surfaces]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 18:56:38 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/100917+Miami+Dolphins+Chris+Foerster.jpg

An offensive line coach with the Miami Dolphins has resigned after a viral video was released that appears to show him snorting a white powdery substance.

In the video, a man who a Facebook user says is offensive line coach Chris Foerster, is seen using a $20 bill to snort three lines of the powdery substance off the table.

"I am resigning from my position with the Miami Dolphins and accept full responsibility for my actions," Foerster said in a statement Monday. "I want to apologize to the organization and my sole focus is on getting the help that I need with the support of my family and medical professionals."

The video begins with Foerster saying to an unspecified woman, "Hey babe, miss you, thinking about you. How about me going to a meeting and doing this before I go?"

After snorting two lines, he says, “It’s gonna be a while before we can do this again. Because I know you're gonna keep that baby. But I think about you when I do it. I think about how much I miss you. How high we got together."

The nearly minutelong video was posted and went viral late Sunday night on Facebook and was shared to other social media sites.

It is unclear how old the video is or where it originated from.

"We were made aware of the video late last night and have no tolerance for this behavior. After speaking with Chris this morning, he accepted full responsibility and we accepted his resignation effective immediately," the Dolphins said in a statement Monday. "Although Chris is no longer with the organization, we will work with him to get the help he needs during this time."

Foerster was in his second season of his second stint with the Miami Dolphins. He was promoted to run game coordinator in February in addition to offensive line coach, which he was originally named as last year.

Foerster has previously coached for the San Francisco 49ers, Washington's NFL team and the Baltimore Ravens, among other teams. He played center at Colorado State.

Dolphins head coach Adam Gase said Foerster apologized to him in a phone call Sunday night after Gase learned of the video.

"I don't think I can say what my reaction was," Gase told reporters at a news conference Monday. "He's always been a guy that just put his head down and worked, he's here at 4 in the morning, worked as hard as he could for us."

Gase said he's known Foerster since 2008, when they both worked for the 49ers.

"It's not a good situation, it wasn't something that you expect. Things happen sometimes that you don't anticipate and you have to deal with it," Gase said. "It's not fun especially when you're close with somebody, but you gotta take the next step, move on, we're gonna play on Sunday.

"Any time you lose a really good coach it's not ideal, but we'll rally, we'll figure out a way, show up next week, we'll do our thing."

Photo Credit: Getty Images, Miami Dolphins]]>
<![CDATA[American Man Wins Chicago Marathon, 1st US Winner in 15 Years]]> Mon, 09 Oct 2017 00:56:54 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/galen+rupp+photo.png

Galen Rupp has become the first American man to win the Bank of America Chicago Marathon in more than a decade.

Rupp beat out fierce competition, including defending champion Abel Kirui, to take a historic victory and become the first US winner since Khalid Khannouchi won in 2002.

He finished with an official time of 2:09:20. 

"It’s just incredible," he said at the finish line. "You train so hard year in and year out, day in and day out and to have a race like this where it all comes together and be able to win in a city that really is such a special place to me, given that my dad grew up here - words can't express the feeling of crossing the line." 

Rupp's father grew up in Maywood, Illinois, and the Oregon alum said he spent a lot of time in the Chicago area during his childhood. 

The Chicago Marathon was only his fourth marathon ever. 

"It’s tremendous," he said. "I feel like I’ve been second so many times in my career, just always this close so I just am so thrilled that I was able to pull it out here. And again in a city like this, the crowd support was incredible. You know, you go through different areas and it was just booming how loud it is. It really picks you up, picks your spirits up." 

And the Chicago Marathon isn't the only American drought Rupp has ended in recent years.

Rupp clinched the silver medal in the men's 10,000m race at the 2012 London Olympics. The last U.S.A. runner to medal in that race was Bill Mills, who won gold at the 1964 Olympic Games in Tokyo.

Photo Credit: NBC5]]>
<![CDATA[American Rupp Wins 40th Chicago Marathon]]> Sun, 08 Oct 2017 16:03:21 -0400 http://media.nbcwashington.com/images/213*120/marathon+side+by+side.jpg

The Bank of America Chicago Marathon has been a longstanding tradition in Chicago, but this year’s race hit a major milestone as the global event marked its 40th anniversary. And the history-making continued in 2017 with American Galen Rupp becoming the first US runner to win the race in more than a decade.  

Olympian Tirunesh Dibaba, of Ethiopia, took the women's victory and Marcel Hug and Tatyana McFadden took victories in the men's and women's wheelchair events, 

Jordan Hasay became the fastest American woman to run the course, finishing in third with an official time of 2:20:57 and capping off the unbelievable marathon magic for this anniversary race. 

The last 40 years of the Chicago Marathon have seen stunning photo finishes, heartbreaking falls, historic victories and moments of both pride and compassion on the course.

The race first stepped off with more than 4,200 runners in 1977, titled the Mayor Daley Marathon - the “people’s race anyone can come and enjoy.”

Fast forward to 2017, where more than 40,000 racers hit city streets.

The years in between saw plenty of ups and downs, but Chicago’s status as “the running capital of the world” could not be denied.

The race will look to once again raise millions of dollars for charities and bring stories of heroism and triumph through Chicago’s 29 neighborhoods.

The city’s storied history was on full display as hundreds of thousands of spectators lined the 26.2 mile course.

“When the Bank of America Chicago Marathon began, it was known as ‘The people’s race anyone can come and enjoy,’” marathon organizers wrote on Facebook in the days before the event. “Everything we do here at the Chicago Marathon is to make sure that sentiment holds true. We love our participants, our spectators, our volunteers and this city for cheering on our community of runners for the last 40 years.”

Stepped up security precautions were in place for this year’s event following the tragic Las Vegas concert shooting that shook the nation earlier this week.

Police added 1,000 additional undercover officers to their team as Grant Park becomes the center of one of the city’s largest outdoor events.

Marathon organizers said Vegas remained at the top of their minds heading into the major outdoor event. 

Runners, spectators, volunteers and organizers stood in complete silence at the starting line in a moment of silence to honor the victims of the heartbreaking massacre.