TIME NFL

Redskins to Reid: Come Catch a Game, Harry

Dallas Cowboys v Washington Redskins
Washington Redskins home game against the Dallas Cowboys at FedExField on Dec. 22, 2013 in Landover, Maryland. Larry French—Getty Images

Bruce Allen hopes the Senate Majority Leader will enjoy the team's "positive, unifying force" in person after the lawmaker asked the NFL to call for a name change

The president of the Washington Redskins told Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid Friday to come a game after Reid wrote a letter to the National Football League urging the league to change the D.C.-area’s team’s name.

“I hope you will attend one of our home games, where you would witness first-hand that the Washington Redskins are a positive, unifying force for our community in a city and a region that is divided on so many levels,” Bruce Allen told the Democratic senator in a letter posted on the team’s website Friday.

Allen’s letter is a response to a letter signed by 50 U.S. senators and sent to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell Thursday asking him to recommend a name change for the Washington Redskins. The senators say the Redskins’ name is disrespectful towards Native American culture. Reid and Senator Maria Cantwell (D-Wash.) wrote the letter, which 47 colleagues signed (Senator Bill Nelson, D-Fla., sent a separate letter).

Allen’s respose defends the Redskins’ name. He argues that a national survey found most Native Americans do not find the name offensive, that the logo was approved by Native American leaders and that the team’s use of the name “has always been respectful of and shown reverence toward the proud legacy and traditions of Native Americans.”

TIME Soccer

Landon Donovan Gets Cut from U.S. Soccer Team

The U.S. team's biggest star and highest scorer won't be going to the World Cup this summer

The U.S. men’s soccer team for the 2014 World Cup in Brazil this summer is set, and a familiar face is absent. When coach Jurgen Klinsmann announced the roster Thursday, 32-year-old Landon Donovan hadn’t make the cut.

The all-time leader in scoring and assists for the national U.S soccer team is also the only American player to reach the 50 goals/50 assists mark in either category. Over the past decade he’s helped pull the U.S. team out of mediocrity and into the limelight. That’s why many analysts are simply confused by the coach’s move.

But as TIME’s Bill Saporito notes, “Donovan’s omission from the roster, although shocking, isn’t altogether unexpected. When Klinsmann took over as U.S. coach two years ago, he warned the veteran players that their status was meaningless to him.” It didn’t help that Donovan took a four-month sabbatical last year while other players were working on their game.

Donovan has been very cordial about his dismissal, addressing his fans on Facebook by saying:

TIME NFL

Painkiller Suit a Serious New Headache for NFL

Roy Green catches pass in endzone
Wide receiver Roy Green #81 of the Phoenix Cardinals catches a pass in the endzone during an NFL game against the San Diego Chargers on Oc. 1, 1989 at Sun Devil Stadium in Phoenix. Stephen Dunn—Getty Images

In 1984, while naming his first All-Madden team, John Madden called Roy Green, wide receiver for the St. Louis — now Arizona — Cardinals the best player in football. Better than Montana, better than Marino. But three or four years after he retired in 1992, Green says he started feeling a strange fatigue. From there, things just progressively worse.

“Bending over to tie my shoe felt like running a mile,” Green tells TIME. “You know what, just imagine, being one of the most highly-trained athletes, the best in the world at what I did,” says Green. “You go from that, to not being able to jog, barely able to walk. Just imagine what my psyche was like.” Green got depressed, and his physical problems persisted. Since his retirement, Green has suffered three heart attacks. He has high blood pressure, and his kidneys failed: in November 2012, Green had a kidney transplant. “It was just a miserable existence, really.”

Now, Green wants the NFL to pay for his medical problems. Green is one of eight named plaintiffs, which include two stars from the 1985 Chicago Bears Super Bowl team — quarterback Jim McMahon and defensive end Richard Dent — in the latest class-action legal move against the NFL. More than 500 ex-players are suing the league over its alleged reckless distribution of narcotic painkillers, which help keep players on the field but carry serious long-term health risks. The complaint says that Green, for example, received “hundreds, if not thousands, of injections from doctors and pills from trainers, including but not limited to NSAIDs (non-steroidal anti-inflammatory drugs), Indocin, Naprosyn, Percocet, Vicodin and Butisol. He was also given trauma IVs. No one from the NFL ever talked to him about the side effects of the medications he was being given or cocktailing.”

Before the transplant, Green says he came across a 1984 team medical report that showed he had high creatine levels, a condition that warns of possible kidney failure. Green’s lawyers say they have the report. Yet, Green says, doctors and trainers continued giving him drugs where kidney damage was a known side-effect. (The NFL says its lawyers are reviewing the complaint; a spokesman for the Cardinals, the team for which Green played the bulk of his career, did not return a request for comment).

“I was angry,” Green says about his reaction to seeing the report. “Like, ‘wow, I could have avoided all those miserable years.'” Green says that if he were warned of the potential side-effects of the drugs, he would not have taken them. “I would have had a very short career,” Green says. “You just trusted they had your best interests at heart.”

Coming on the heels of the concussion litigation that the NFL and ex-players settled for $765 million in August — though the judge hasn’t officially signed off on the amount, saying it might be too low to support all the suffering players who need the financial assistance — it might be tempting to dismiss this action as a frivolous follow-up. Hit the NFL while it’s vulnerable: a settlement worked for concussions, let’s give painkillers a go.

Don’t. “This is a serious suit,” says Paul Haagen, co-director of the Center for Sports Law and Policy at Duke University. “If the facts bear out that doctors were not warning players about the health risks, weren’t putting them on notice, for a long period of time, there’s clearly potential for liability.”

Though victory is very far from a sure thing. The NFL is sure to argue that because it operates under a collective bargaining agreement with its players, these grievances are subject to arbitration, not the federal court system. Also, the NFL will question why the players’ union didn’t object to any of this medical treatment.

As with the concussion litigation, the biggest challenge will probably be causation. In Roy Green’s case, for example, how can you prove without question that painkiller injections caused his kidney damage? “No doubt the players have suffered real damages from playing football,” says Warren Zola, sports law expert at Boston College’s Carroll School of Management. “But blaming the NFL in a court of law is a high hurdle.”

Legal merits of the suit aside, says Haagen, “the entire issue of painkillers is the next part of the exploration of violence in the game.” Getting players “healthy” enough to return to the field will always come with potential consequences. “Normally, doctors control a patient’s medication to help the body heal,” Haagen says. “Here, they are controlling medication to do more damage to the body.”

The suit itself acknowledges that “several NFL teams and physicians have recently taken steps to tighten the control and distribution of medications in the locker room.” One recently retired NFL vet, former Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk, says he always got “excellent care” and was given warnings about the side-effects of painkillers. Russ Hochstein, meanwhile, played in the NFL from 2001-2012, most notably as an offensive lineman for the New England Patriots. “The difference in the education about painkillers and their side effects definitely changed, for the better, since the time I entered the NFL,” Hochstein says.

Green hopes the suit will permanently change the NFL’s painkiller culture. “It’s all about the opportunity to say, ‘no, I don’t want to do that.'” Since his kidney transplant about a year-and-a-half ago, Green said his health is improving. “But I’m never going to get all those bad years back,” Green says. “That’s for sure.”

TIME NBA

NBA Pressing On in Sterling Case Despite Reports He’s Selling Team Through Wife

Donald Shelly Sterling
Los Angles Clippers' owners Donald Sterling and wife Shelly sit court side during the Western Conference game 2 between Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies at the Staples Center on April 22, 2013 in Los Angeles. Armando Arorizo—Zuma Press

The NBA's actions against Sterling will continue despite reports that the disgraced owner of the Los Angeles Clippers has agreed to allow his wife to negotiate the sale of the team

The National Basketball Association intends to continue its legal action against Donald Sterling, the league announced in a statement Friday, despite reports the L.A. Clippers owner has agreed to let his wife negotiate the sale of the team.

“We continue to follow the process set forth in the NBA Constitution regarding termination of the current ownership interests in the Los Angeles Clippers and are proceeding toward a hearing on this matter on June 3,” the NBA said in a statement.

The Associated Press, ESPN and other media outlets reported Friday that, according to anonymous sources familiar with the matter, Sterling has opted to allow his wife, Shelly, to negotiate the sale of the L.A. Clippers. It’s not clear, however, if such a move would be allowed by the NBA — USA Today reports Shelly Sterling will agree to the deal only if she is granted a minority interest in the team, and any deal must be approved by the league.

A spokesperson for the Clippers declined to comment on the news. TIME reached out to an NBA spokesperson for more information but the league did not immediately respond.

The NBA is moving to remove Sterling from ownership of the Clippers; a related hearing has been set for early June. If the Sterlings and the NBA can come to a quick deal, however, it would save the league time and energy, removing the necessity for a complicated and potentially drawn-out voting process.

Sterling was banned from the NBA i by league commissioner Adam Silver in April following an outcry over racist comments Sterling made in a phone conversation which were later published publicly.

Sterling stands to make an enormous profit if and when he sells the Clippers. ESPN’s Bill Simmons estimates that the team would fetch at least $1.5 billion, while Sterling reportedly bought the team for $12.7 million in 1981.

TIME NFL

Former NFL Player Tim Green: Football ‘Thrives on Violence’

Tim Green NFL Violence
Defensive end Tim Green #99 of the Atlanta Falcons tackles running back Roger Craig #33 of the San Francisco 49ers during a game at Candlestick Park on Sept. 23, 1990 in San Francisco. George Rose—Getty Images

Years ago in my book The Dark Side of the Game: My Life in the NFL, I dedicated an entire chapter to the conflict of interest between a team doctor and his patients. Teams in the NFL hire and pay the doctors, yet their Hippocratic oaths belong to their patients. Some people are now claiming they know the answer to my question back then: How can a doctor act in the best interests of a patient when they may be diametrically opposed to the best interests of the people who hired him and pay his fees? The answer we now know: He can’t.

Worse still, a group of former players –and indeed we may see an entire class of players- have filed suit alleging certain NFL teams and their doctors committed fraud by inducing them to play with injuries they were unaware of or not fully informed about, which led to further and permanent injury. From a legal standpoint, these claims will arise from two categories: fraud and negligence, very different claims we need to distinguish. Fraud is the intentional misrepresentation or concealment of an important fact that results in an injury. Informed consent is something doctors need to secure from a patient by first fully illuminating the risks involved in a certain treatment or procedure so the patient can then either accept or reject that risk. Failure to do so constitutes negligence.

Before I illuminate the problems and potential outcomes of such claims, let me set the stage for you. On the bright side, football is match of wits, speed, and skill. It is an amalgamation of dance, track, and chess. But this essay is a reflection on the dark side of the game.

Football is a brutal game.

Football thrives on violence, strength, relentlessness, and physical domination. Toughness is revered. Enduring pain is a badge of honor. Surgical scars, arthritic hands, bad backs, and shuffling limps are the purple hearts of the game. In a pagan world, the god of football would be Mars.

The universe of football, both beautiful and terrible, captures the dreams of America’s youth. I know it did mine. Where else can a young boy from any walk of life attain the pride of a warrior, the adulation of a rock star, the access of a politician, and the treasure of a hedge fund manager? Nowhere quite like the National Football League. What lengths will young men go to live that dream? Show me the boundaries of the human spirit.

The culture of the sport begins in backyards, town parks, and school yards.

“Get back in there and hit him,” I remember one father saying.

“Toughen up and stop crying,” growled another.

“Getting hurt is part of the game,” said yet another.

“You have to know the difference between being hurt and being injured,” I instructed my own football team as a coach.

Being hurt is when you feel pain or discomfort that you can overcome with winces, gritted teeth, bells in your ears, and shooting stars across your vision. It may cause you to suffer, but it won’t get any worse. If, by continuing to block, tackle, run, snap, catch, or throw, you can, and likely will, further damage an important bodily structure, you are injured. (The definition of important is somewhere between the little finger Ronnie Lott had amputated so he could play and the internal organs you need to live and breathe.) Playing with pain is built into nearly every moment of preparation for the game of football as well as the game itself. You not only have to play with pain, you have to train with pain. It is with great wisdom players utter the mantra, “no pain, no gain.”

This culture, which ushers a young man from schoolyard to MetLife Stadium, rewards and thus nurtures the disregard for physical well-being typically sought by the common citizen. Doctors are mystical professionals whose purpose isn’t to get a patient “well,” but simply “well enough to play.” Players know this and accept it. Are they culpable? Absolutely. Players understand and players choose, and my money says that given the same circumstances they’d do things the same way all over again if it meant an unobstructed road to the NFL. I know I would, and I don’t say that lightly. Is forgetting what I was about to say or not remembering the name of a well-known associate just normal aging, or are the multiple concussions I suffered finally taking their toll? I’m not sure, but that’s the context in which I say that I’d do it all over again. I won’t even mention the cracked bone in my neck, the collar bone separated from my sternum, the tattered cartilage, ligaments, and bone spurs in my knees, shoulders, and elbows. Really, how many people get to live out their childhood dreams? Not many, and that’s what playing in the NFL was for me and most of the guys I played with and against. That’s the honest answer. You’d give a lot to make that happen.

So, regarding informed consent, my prediction is that courts will find players to have some measure of culpability in a majority of the decisions that resulted in their ill health. Yet, I think it likely courts (and juries) will find that the teams, doctors, and league own some of the responsibility as well. If this happens, players will receive damage awards slashed by the percentages of their own culpability.

The fraud is more troublesome and something I never witnessed. Could it have happened? Of course. I can easily envision someone on the medical staff of an NFL team overeager to get their patients “back on the field,” even if it took an omission or a white lie that everyone could live a bit easier with. Did it happen? I can’t answer that, but my guess is that we soon shall see as these cases make their way through the courts.

Tim Green is a practicing attorney and best-selling author who played eight seasons in the NFL. His latest novel for young adults is New Kid.

TIME NFL

Manziel Sexual Harassment Lawsuit is a Hoax

A rep for the newly minted Cleveland Browns player says a document that surfaced online alleging a whole host of sexual harassment claims is either fake or frivolous

Updated at 12:30 p.m.

Football star Johnny Manziel’s agent says a legal document circulating online that alleges a litany of sexual harassment complaints against the recently-drafted NFL player is either a fake or simply bogus.

Samantha Schacher, the purported plaintiff in the lawsuit, says the lawsuit is a hoax.

“It’s a shame you’re taking advantage of the legal system. You’re playing with people’s reputations and careers and it’s hurtful,” she told TMZ Friday.

Deadspin reported Friday that a “tipster” had sent them a document purported to be a lawsuit filed against Manziel by Schacher. TIME has confirmed that the document in question, which is riddled with grammatical errors, has been filed in federal district court in Florida.

The allegations include that Manziel sent Schacher a photo of his genitals in a hot dog bun and numerous incidents that carry the implication Manziel has small genitalia.

“Manzeil sent me a homemade video of himself at Walt Disney World on “It’s a Small World” ride in the Magic Kingdom, and while the song is on, he puts the camera down and unbuttons his pants, pulls his penis out and jingles his penis to the music,” says one allegation.

The lawsuit seeks $25 million in damages.

TIME

Mark Cuban Apologizes to Trayvon Martin’s Family For ‘Black Kid in a Hoodie’ Comment

The Dallas Mavericks owner is backtracking part of his comments about race and bigotry in U.S. during a candid interview with Inc. Magazine at a Nashville Conference

Dallas Mavericks owner and entrepreneur Mark Cuban issued an apology via Twitter Thursday for statements he made during an interview about race and prejudice with Inc. Magazine.

Cuban admitted during a candid conversation about embattled L.A. Clippers owner Donald Sterling that he holds his own prejudices.

“If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street,” Cuban said during the interview, published Wednesday. “And if on that side of the street there’s a guy who has tattoos all over his face, white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere, I’m walking back to the other side of the street.”

Cuban became the target of Twitter backlash Thursday as many interpreted his comment about a “black kid in a hoodie” as reference to the shooting death of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. The billionaire owner issued a Twitter apology to the Martin family on Thursday, saying it probably wasn’t the most appropriate example.

“In hindsight, I should have used different examples,” Cuban tweeted. “I didn’t consider the Trayvon Martin family and I apologize to them for that.”

He added, “beyond apologizing to the Martin family, I stand by the words and substance of the interview.”

https://twitter.com/mcuban/status/469588482181308418

TIME Baseball

Baseball Hall of Fame Commemorates Obama’s Opening Pitch

U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown
U.S. President Barack Obama delivers remarks at the National Baseball Hall of Fame in Cooperstown, New York, May 22, 2014. Jonathan Ernst—Reuters

President Barack Obama's pitch at the 2009 Major League Baseball All-Star Game was definitely far from the strike zone, but Cooperstown will honor the moment anyway

President Barack Obama became the first acting U.S. head of state to visit the National Baseball Hall of Fame on Thursday, where he donated the Chicago White Sox jacket he wore during the All-Star Game in St. Louis five years ago.

“I love baseball. America loves baseball. It continues to be our national pastime,” Obama said at a press conference.

The President’s stop at the illustrious museum in Cooperstown, N.Y., aimed to promote both tourism and initiatives to improve airport protocol for foreign and domestic travelers in the U.S.

“If they come into JFK faster, if they come into LaGuardia faster, then they can get to Cooperstown faster,” he said.

During a brief tour of the institution’s exhibits, Obama, who openly flaunts love for his hometown franchise, took special time to check out the historic artifacts from White Sox history.

The nation’s Commander-in-Chief also showed off his self-deprecating sense of humor by jesting about the 2009 All-Star Game, when he failed to put the ball over the plate during the opening pitch.

“I hear that with all the media attention about it, there was also some interest in the jeans I wore that night,” said Obama. “But Michelle retired those jeans quite a while back.”

TIME Soccer

Landon Donovan Gets Kicked Out of Bounds

U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan.
U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan, one of the anchors of the national soccer team for the last decade, was cut Thursday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who reduced his 30-man squad to the mandatory 23. Nacho Doce—Reuters

Landon Donovan was one of the anchors of the U.S. national soccer team for the past decade, until he got cut on Thursday. Coach Jurgen Klinsmann called dumping Donovan “the toughest decision in my coaching career”

His second-to-last World Cup goal for the U.S. produced one of the great moments in American soccer history. There was Landon Donovan, calmly sweeping the ball into the net in the last, frantic minutes of the third and final group game against Algeria in 2010 in Pretoria, South Africa. As he ran to the corner flag to celebrate, he was mobbed by his delirious teammates; Donovan had delivered them into the knockout round. In the quarterfinals against Ghana a few days later, it was Donovan who stepped up to take a penalty kick, which he dispatched like the veteran he is, although the U.S. would lose in extra time.

But now you can call him Lan-done. Or Gone-ovan.

Donovan, one of the anchors of the U.S. national soccer team for the past decade, was cut Thursday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who reduced his 30-man squad to the mandatory 23. For pro soccer players looking to book a spot at the World Cup, the last cut is the cruelest. Joining Donovan on the sidelines were two other 2010 teammates, Maurice Edu and Clarence Goodson. Brad Evans, Michael Parkhurst, Joe Corona and Terrence Boyd were also told they won’t be making the trip.

Klinsmann called dumping Donovan “the toughest decision in my coaching career.”

“I just see some other players slightly ahead of him,” Klinsmann said.

Among those are Aron Johannsson, a 23-year-old, American-born, Iceland-raised forward who plays in Holland and has impressed Klinsmann with his ability to make an impact on a game. He also selected 31-year-old Chris Wondolowski of the MLS San Jose Earthquakes. A few minutes watching Wondo play and you’d think he might be a good addition to your weekend pub team; what he lacks in style he makes up for in his penchant for scoring goals, which is not a bad thing in a World Cup.

On the other hand, Klinsmann also picked Jozy Altidore, who plays for Sunderland in England’s Premier League and who has been allergic to the goal this season. Still, Altidore is also 23, and his strength at holding and shielding the ball is valuable. And Klinsmann prefers guys who play in top leagues. That leaves Clint Dempsey, late of Fulham and now with the MLS Seattle Sounders, as his most experienced forward. The least experienced forward is Julian Green, an 18-year-old son of an American father and German mother who plays for Bayern Munich, Germany’s top club, although he spent most of the season on the B team.

The squad also includes a number of German-born players — like Green they are sons of American servicemen — whose selection will provide some ruggedness to the squad as well as European experience. They include John Brooks, Timmy Chandler and Fabian Johnson, who play in Germany’s Bundesliga, as well as Jermaine Jones, who now plays for Besiktas in Turkey.

Donovan’s omission from the roster, although shocking, isn’t altogether unexpected. When Klinsmann took over as U.S. coach two years ago, he warned the veteran players that their status was meaningless to him. He wanted players to compete for positions at every practice, and have no expectations of starting, which has sometimes been a point of contention within the team. They want to know where they stand. Donovan, burned out from playing constantly in the MLS, in the Premiership for Everton, and for the national team, decided to take a four month sabbatical last year. That never sat well with Klinsmann.

In leaving Donovan behind, Klinsmann is giving up a ton of World Cup experience. It’s something that a team such Italy would hesitate to do — the Italians respect maturity in a player, particularly when it comes to high-pressure games. But given the Americans’ ridiculous first-round schedule — Ghana, Portugal, Germany — Klinsmann feels he needs more youth, and perhaps an X factor in players such as Johannsson.

Donovan isn’t the first U.S. legend to be let go this way. Before the 1998 World Cup in France, coach Steve Sampson dropped John Harkes, a stalwart, hardnosed footballer he had previously named “Captain for Life” over what was then described as Harkes’ refusal to play as a holding midfielder and other “leadership” issues. The reason was more complicated than that, but Harkes’ exit left Sampson with a hole that his other players couldn’t fill. The U.S. lost three straight in the opening round, including a game against Germany — in which Jurgen Klinsmann, by the way, scored a stunning goal. Sampson lost his job shortly after the tournament. Klinsmann understands that if Donovan’s goal scoring isn’t replicated by one of the 23 he picked, he’s going to suffer the same fate.

2014 FIFA WORLD CUP – U.S. ROSTER BY POSITION | DETAILED ROSTER
GOALKEEPERS (3): Brad Guzan (Aston Villa), Tim Howard (Everton), Nick Rimando (Real Salt Lake)
DEFENDERS (8): DaMarcus Beasley (Puebla), Matt Besler (Sporting Kansas City), John Brooks (Hertha Berlin), Geoff Cameron (Stoke City), Timmy Chandler (Nürnberg), Omar Gonzalez (LA Galaxy), Fabian Johnson (Borussia Mönchengladbach), DeAndre Yedlin (Seattle Sounders FC)
MIDFIELDERS (8): Kyle Beckerman (Real Salt Lake), Alejandro Bedoya (Nantes), Michael Bradley (Toronto FC), Brad Davis (Houston Dynamo), Mix Diskerud (Rosenborg), Julian Green (Bayern Munich), Jermaine Jones (Besiktas), Graham Zusi (Sporting Kansas City)
FORWARDS (4): Jozy Altidore (Sunderland), Clint Dempsey (Seattle Sounders FC), Aron Johannsson (AZ Alkmaar), Chris Wondolowski (San Jose Earthquakes)

TIME world cup 2014

Landon Donovan Snubbed as U.S. Soccer Releases World Cup Roster

U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan.
U.S. national soccer team player Landon Donovan, one of the anchors of the national soccer team for the last decade, was cut Thursday by coach Jurgen Klinsmann, who reduced his 30-man squad to the mandatory 23. Nacho Doce—Reuters

Team U.S.A.'s 2010 World Cup hero won't be going to Brazil

Landon Donovan, who scored the game-winning goal for team U.S.A. in their 2010 World Cup match against Algeria, has been left off the roster for the 2014 FIFA World Cup.

U.S. Soccer tweeted the 23-man roster Thursday.

Donovan, 32, has played for the U.S. in the past three World Cups and was the face of the national team for much of the past decade. He has played in more World Cup matches than any other player. U.S. manager Jurgen Kilnsmann kept Donovan out of the lineup during the U.S. exhibition game against Mexico in April, citing a knee problem.

Kilnsmann narrowed down this roster from a 30-man preliminary one he announced on May 12. Along with Donovan, Michael Parkhurst, Brad Evans, Clarence Goodson, Joe Corona, Maurice Edu and Terrence Boyd were cut from the team that will play in Brazil.

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