New Orleans Saints QB Drew Brees gifts commemorative footballs to 174 former teammates, coaches, and others

Photo by Phil Ellsworth / ESPN Images(NEW ORLEANS) — After he set the NFL career passing yards record earlier this season, New Orleans Saints quarterback Drew Brees set out to do something special to recognize all of the players who played a part in the record.

So, he surprised nearly 200 former teammates, coaches and mentors with commemorative footballs this week.

“I wanted to do something for everybody,” Brees said. “You just start thinking about all the guys that had a hand in that.”

Among the big names who received a football from Brees, former San Diego Chargers teammate LaDainian Tomlinson, ex-Saints wide receiver Brandin Cooks (now playing for the Los Angeles Chargers), and Carolina Panthers offensive coordinator Norv Turner (Turner’s Panthers are the Saints’ next opponent).

Brees credited Saints general manager Mickey Loomis, and members of the communications staff with putting together a list of teammates and tracking down addresses and other information. The 39-year-old initially wanted to honor every player who had ever caught a pass from him, but said he then thought about every offensive lineman who blocked for him and every coach he has had.

“It was actually a long list,” Brees said. “But I just wanted to do that for them.”

One other person who received the gift was Dr. James Andrews, who performed surgery on Brees’ shoulder in 2006.

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US Olympic Committee chooses Salt Lake City for potential 2030 Winter Games bid

4kodiak/iStock(NEW YORK) — The United States Olympic Committee has selected Salt Lake City to represent the U.S. in a potential bid for the 2030 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games.

Salt Lake City and Denver were the two finalists to represent the U.S. after Reno/Tahoe, Nevada dropped out of the running. In a press release, USOC Chair Larry Probst said Salt Lake City was eventually chosen because “we believe Salt Lake City will give us the best chance to return the winter Games to the U.S.”

The Utah capital hosted the 2002 Winter Games.

The International Olympic Committee will choose the host city for the 2030 Games. It is not yet clear when the IOC will make that decision.

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Philadelphia Eagles’ Carson Wentz likely out remainder of season with stress fracture in back

Photo by Allen Kee / ESPN Images(PHILADELPHIA) — Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Carson Wentz is likely done for the remainder of the season, head coach Doug Pederson admitted Friday, after he was diagnosed with a stress fracture in his back.

Wentz saw his rookie season end early last year, following a torn ACL. Backup quarterback Nick Foles took over for Wentz last year and led Philadelphia to a Super Bowl win. Foles is expected to take the reins in Wentz’ absence.

Pederson says Wentz will travel with the team this weekend andis listed as doubtful to play.

The fracture in Wentz’ back was discovered on a scan earlier this week, after the second-year quarterback was limited at practice due to back soreness. Pederson insists there will be no long-term issues for Wentz following his recovery, which should take about three weeks and will not require surgery.

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Suns owner Robert Sarver affirms commitment to keep team in Phoenix

stevanovicigor/iStock(PHOENIX) — One day after reports that he had threatened to move the the team elsewhere, Phoenix Suns owner Robert Sarver said Thursday he is fully committed to keeping the team in place.

“I am 100 percent all-in in keeping this team right here where we stand,” Sarver said in a video message posted to Twitter. “And I want to make sure that message comes across crystal clear to every one of you.”

Earlier in the week, the Phoenix City Council delayed a vote on more than $200 million in renovations to the team’s stadium. The Arizona Republic reported Wednesday that Sarver had recently contacted a member of the council threatening to move the team to Seattle or Las Vegas if the renovation deal wasn’t approved.

On Friday, Suns president Jason Rowley released a statement that indicated the team has had no discussions with any other city about potential relocation.

Sarver has said he is looking to build a “first-class” practice facility in addition to improving the arena. The vote on those renovations will now be held on January 23.

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Fired Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin offering input to Alabama coaching staff

33ft/iStock(TUSCALOOSA, Ala.) — Former University of Maryland football coach D.J. Durkin has been working with the University of Alabama coaching staff this week, ahead of the Crimson Tide’s College Football Playoff game.

Durkin was fired by the University of Maryland in October after two investigations into the program — focusing on the death of offensive lineman Jordan McNair and the culture Durkin had created.

Alabama head coach Nick Saban has invited a number of former head coaches to spend time with the Alabama staff in recent years, including Hugh Freeze, Chip Kelly, Lane Kiffin, Butch Jones, Steve Sarkisian and Rich Rodriguez. Freeze, Kelly and Kiffin all eventually received head coaching jobs elsewhere after working with Alabama, while Jones, Kiffin and Sarkisian each ended up on the Alabama coaching staff.

Sources told ESPN that Durkin has not been hired in any capacity, and was solely offering input ahead of Alabama’s game against Oklahoma on December 29. ESPN also says Durkin has met with multiple NFL teams since his firing to “watch tape and offer input.”

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Sophia Floersch, after terrible crash, looks forward to next F3 season

ISAAC LAWRENCE/AFP/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Sophia Floersch can’t wait to get back on the track.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News’ Good Morning America, the German Formula Three driver recounted the moment she lost control of her car during the Macau Grand Prix in November, sending it flying over the barriers and into the photographer’s box at 170 mph.

“I wasn’t really afraid because, for me, it was a normal crash,” Floersch said. “When I saw the video, I was quite shocked as well, because it looks horrible and, all the flying parts, it feels different in the car.”

Days shy of her 18th birthday, Floersch lost control of her car as she was trying to pass Jehan Daruvala. She spun out of control and catapulted into Lisboa Bend, smashing into Sho Tsuboi’s car before flying into the photographer’s pit.

Following the crash, doctors spent 11 hours surgically repairing Floersch’s fractured spine and removing a bone splinter jammed dangerously close to her spinal cord, threatening paralysis.

Floersch admits the crash was the worst she’s ever had, but she said she’s not fazed by it. Actually, she added, it motivates her.

“It doesn’t scare me at all because every race driver knows the risk,” she said. “I have one big crash now and nothing really bad happened. So it doesn’t scare me, no.”

Floersch started her racing career karting when she was 4 years old, switching to race cars at 14. She admits she wasn’t happy the first time she tried it.

“I was crying,” she added. But she grew to love it and learned to push back and fight in a male-dominated sport.

“Most of the people think it’s a man’s world and a man’s sport — for sure, it’s still a man’s world, but it’s not a man’s sport,” Floersch said, sending a message to aspiring female race drivers to “keep doing what you love and believe in yourself, because as a girl it’s not always easiest, especially in karting. You need to learn to be self-confident and not believe in what everyone is saying.”

Floersch already has secured her spot in the next F3 season. Depending on how quickly her back and neck bones heal, she hopes to begin training in February.

“It was never a thought to not continue racing,” Floersch said. “I want to drive again.”

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Scoreboard roundup — 12/13/18

iStock(NEW YORK) — Here are the scores from Thursday’s sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Houston 126, L.A. Lakers 111
San Antonio 125, L.A. Clippers 87
Orlando 97, Chicago 91
Phoenix 99, Dallas 89

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Buffalo 3, Arizona 1
Columbus 4, L.A. Kings 1
Tampa Bay 4, Toronto 1
Montreal 6, Carolina 4
OT Nashville 4, Vancouver 3
OT Winnipeg 5, Edmonton 4
Minnesota 5, Florida 1
San Jose 3, Dallas 2

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
L.A. Chargers 29, Kansas City 28

TOP-25 COLLEGE BASKETBALL
(16) Wisconsin 101, Savannah St. 60

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Macron calls for calm as France prepares for fifth weekend of protests

Photo by Gustavo Muñoz/Getty Images(BRUSSELS) — French President Emmanuel Macron urged for calm on Friday, as his country prepares for another day of expected protests this weekend.

While Macron announced an increase to the minimum wage next year and cancelled a tax hike for the poorest pensioners, many remain unsatisfied. That in response to the so-called Yellow Jackets movement — named after the neon yellow security vests demonstrators have been wearing.

“Out country needs calm,” Macron said from Brussels, where he was attending a European Union summit. “It needs order. It needs to function normally again.”

French authorities, meanwhile, are prepared to deploy various measures, including armored vehicles and thousands of security forces. It would be the fifth straight weekend of protests, which have become violent, in Paris.

Many demonstrators over the last four weekends were seen wearing gas masks or ski goggles, and some threw rocks or other projectiles at police. There were also reports of cars set on fire, barricades built and store windows broken.

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Former Green Beret charged with murder of suspected Taliban bombmaker

gorodenkoff/iStock(NEW YORK) — A former U.S. Army Green Beret has been charged with the 2010 murder of a man he suspected of being a Taliban bombmaker.

The charges follow multiple investigations of Major Matthew Golsteyn’s role in the man’s death that he once admitted to Fox News during a 2016 interview.

“Major Matthew Golsteyn’s immediate commander has determined that sufficient evidence exists to warrant the preferral of charges against him,” said Lt. Col. Loren Bymer, a spokesman for U.S. Army Special Operations Command.

“Major Golsteyn has been charged with the murder of an Afghan male during his 2010 deployment to Afghanistan,” he continued.

On Thursday, Golsteyn’s attorney Philip Stackhouse tweeted that he had been charged with “premeditated murder, a death penalty offense for allegedly killing a Taliban bomb-maker during combat operations in Marjah, Afghanistan.”

The announcement of the murder charge against Golsteyn are the result of multiple Army investigations of his deployment to Helmand Province in southern Afghanistan as part of a Special Forces unit.

It was during that deployment that Golsteyn is alleged to have killed a man suspected of having been a Taliban bomb maker responsible for the deaths of two Marines.

Army Criminal Investigation Command’s initial investigation of Golsteyn began after he admitted in a 2011 CIA job interview that he had killed the man he suspected as being the bomb maker.

That investigation did not determine conclusively that Golsteyn had killed the man, but it resulted in his losing a Silver Star for heroism he had earned during the deployment.

A later review resulted in his leaving the Army in 2015 with a general discharge.

A new Army investigation was trggered following Golsteyn’s October, 2016 appearance on Fox News where acknowledged that he had killed the man during his deployment.

Golsteyn was recalled to active duty by the Army to await the results of the new investigation.

Stackhouse, Golsteyn’s attorney, said he would be “relentless in defending him.”

“MAJ Golsteyn is a humble servant-leader who saved countless lives, both American and Afghan, and has been recognized repeatedly for his valorous actions,” Stackhouse tweeted. “We will be relentless in defending him.

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Pompeo calls Canadians’ detention in China ‘unlawful’ amid tensions over Huawei CFO’s arrest

Credit: US Department of State(WASHINGTON) — Secretary of State Mike Pompeo called the detention of two Canadians in China “unlawful” and said “they ought to be returned.”

Speaking alongside Canadian Foreign Affairs Minister Chrystia Freeland, as well as U.S. Defense Secretary James Mattis and Canadian Defense Minister Harjit Sajjan, Pompeo said the U.S. is working to help get them returned, but did not provide details.

“We ask all nations of the world to treat other citizens properly and the detention of these two Canadian citizens in China ought to end,” he added.

China’s detention of the two Canadians — a diplomat and a businessman — comes after Canada arrested Meng Wanzhou, the CFO of Chinese telecom giant Huawei, on an arrest warrant in the U.S. A Canadian judge is deciding whether to extradite her to the U.S.

But Pompeo denied that Meng’s arrest was related to the U.S.-Chinese trade tensions, saying the U.S. was engaged in a legal process and seeking a “just outcome.”

Citing the various issues in U.S.-Chinese relations, Pompeo added, “We work on each of those to get good outcomes for the people of the United States of America and respecting the rule of law each step along the way. We’ll do that here as well.”

This is a developing story. Please check back in for updates.

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