In this Oct. 4, 2009, file photo, Chicago Bears defensive tackle Tommie Harris (91) celebrate with Charles Tillman, left, after an interception during the first half of an NFL football game against the Detroit Lions in Chicago. Former NFL players Tommie Harris and Eric Bassey are the first owners of a team in the new FXFL developmental league, which plans to launch in October as a developmental league, with no NFL affiliation but with lots of intriguing ideas. Harris and Bassey will own the Austin franchise, with other teams to be located in the New York and Boston areas; Omaha, Nebraska; Portland, Oregon; and a city in Florida yet to be determined. (AP Photo/Nam Y. Huh, File)NEW YORK (AP) — Six teams, 40-man rosters, limited salaries — and perhaps no punts, kickoffs or extra-point placements.A home for players who can’t crack the big time to hone their skills for another shot at the NFL. Maybe even a place for collegians not yet eligible for the NFL to grow their games.The Fall Experimental Football League plans to launch in October as a developmental league, with no NFL affiliation but with lots of intriguing ideas.“Given the current Division I landscape in football and the collective bargaining agreement the NFL has with the union, there is more than ever a need for another platform out there,” says Brian Woods, the FXFL commissioner. “A platform like for basketball and baseball players.“Pro football has nothing. The NFL has the practice squad, but it does not develop players because they don’t get into games. You don’t develop if you aren’t getting on the field.”In this image released by the Fall Experimental Football League shows the league’s logo. (AP Photo/Fall Experimental Football League)Woods, an attorney who played at Mississippi and coached as a graduate assistant at Iowa State, wouldn’t mind having a tie-in with the big boys, but that’s not immediately on the agenda. The FXFL will field teams in the New York and Boston areas; Austin, Texas; Portland, Oregon; Omaha, Nebraska; and in Florida. No city has been announced for the Florida franchise.Former NFL players Tommie Harris, a three-time Pro Bowl defensive tackle, and Eric Bassey have purchased the Austin franchise.In this Aug. 1, 2008, file photo, St. Louis Rams cornerback Eric Bassey takes part in drills during NFL football training camp at Concordia University in Mequon, Wis. (AP Photo/Jeff Roberson, File)The teams will play six games this fall in minor league baseball stadiums, with an emphasis on gaining experience. The main idea is to advance the talents of players, coaches, officials and front office executives, something NFL football operations chief Troy Vincent said in April his league is looking into for the future.“Our long-term goal is to establish a partnership with the NFL,” Woods says, “and we feel can do that on many platforms. It would give them a way to work with younger players that they don’t currently have. We can help them train prospective NFL officials — in the NBA, every referee entering the league (in recent years) comes from NBA Developmental League.“We can be a testing ground for proposed rules, too.”That’s where the FXFL’s creation gets particularly noteworthy. The status quo, on and off the field, will not necessarily apply.The league is contemplating eliminating the kicking game, which might take away excitement with no kickoff or punt returns, but add fan enthusiasm for extra points, which would be a required 2-point conversion.“We’ll get a chance to experiment,” says Bassey, a former Rams defensive back, “and doing a little bit of everything here.”That would include looking at college underclassmen and even high school players, a no-no for the NFL.Mainly, the core of FXFL players will be no more than two years removed from their college careers, with the majority coming from that year’s draft class. That would include players cut in training camp or those who never even got a look from the NFL.That approach would not impact the NCAA, and the league says it won’t actively recruit players who are still enrolled. But Woods explains that some players could come from the ranks the NFL doesn’t touch.“We are not ruling out the possibility of working with players who have hardships,” he said. “We’ll look at it on case-by-case basis. There might even be a situation for a player right out of high school who might not want to go to college.”The FXFL has a television deal in the works, Woods said, but details have not been released. Games will be played on weeknights, mostly Wednesdays, although the league is considering some Friday night contests in its Northeast locations where high school football is not overwhelmingly popular.To enhance local interest, the league will give each team territorial rights, so the Austin franchise has first shot at players from Texas, for example.Salaries will be $1,000 a week for the players. Coaches will draw from a pool of around $110,000 for the staff.Woods and the team owners will work on setting up host families for the players, similar to what minor league baseball and hockey do. That saves on costs, but also makes the players more a part of the community.“This league will provide the opportunity for players who otherwise might not get it,” Bassey says. “There’s those 100-150 players who don’t get drafted and this would be a perfect opportunity for them. We’re talking about extremely good athletes, and we will set up a platform for those guys to get an opportunity to prove themselves.“Sometimes they are not ready to play at that pace of the NFL when they get out of school. Maybe they just need that one year or two years that we can provide. Or the environment in college might not have been a proper forum for them.”
None of the main-line newspapers dwelled too much on her background, which has been well reported. She was born in Japan to a Japanese mother and Haitian father, moved to the United States when she was 3 and now lives in Florida where she has trained for more than a decade.In an interview Monday from New York on Japan’s TBS television, she was asked what she wants to do now. She replied in Japanese: “Have curried rice topped with a pork cutlet.” Then she slipped into English and said: “I am very honored. I don’t know how to say that in Japanese.”She gave some of the same answers in a similar interview with Japan’s NTV television.“She is such a lovable character,” said Seiji Miyane, the NTV talk show host.She smiled through the media pressure, which several newspapers have called a Japanese trait. Her broken Japanese works as an asset, apologizing occasionally for getting the wrong word — or not knowing the Japanese word at all.“She is not the type of person who asserts herself boldly, but she is shy and humble and that makes her look more like a Japanese,” Junko Okamoto, a communications specialist, wrote in the weekly magazine Toyokeizai.Okamoto also said Osaka could become a face of the 2020 Tokyo Olympics, leading to big sponsorship deals.Forbes magazine has reported that Williams is the highest earning female athlete with income of $18 million per year, almost all from endorsements. The Evening Fuji tabloid newspaper, citing Forbes, speculated wildly about Osaka’s potential lifetime earnings. Its headline suggested she could earn $100 million. Sports and tabloid newspapers reporting Naomi Osaka’s victory in the U.S. Open tennis finals are sold at a newsstand in Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) People walk by a huge screen showing US Open women’s singles champion Naomi Osaka with her trophy, in Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara)TOKYO (AP) — Naomi Osaka’s halting Japanese, her manners — she bowed and apologized after beating Serena Williams in the U.S. Open final — and her simple charm have swelled national pride in Japan and eclipsed many questions about her mixed-race parentage in a famously insular country.Two days after becoming the first Japanese player to win a Grand Slam tennis title, Osaka is still filling the front pages of the country’s three major daily newspapers and leads the discussions on talk shows.The perspective from Japan on Monday: Osaka is being embraced as Japanese despite her mixed background. National pride — at least for now — is overriding questions of cultural identity and what it means to be Japanese.Williams’ dramatic behavior during a chaotic final on Saturday, a hot topic in the United States and around the world, has been largely brushed aside in Japan with the focus on Osaka’s poise under pressure.Japan’s largest newspaper, Yomiuri, called Osaka a “new heroine that Japan is proud of” and characterized her appeal as “the contrast between her strength on the court and her innocent character off the court.”Yomiuri centered Osaka’s photograph holding the U.S. Open trophy at the top of its Monday front page — as did the two other large dailies. In a headline inside the paper, Yomiuri called her an “Overnight Queen — Powerful and Stable.”The Asahi newspaper also called her the “New Queen,” picking up on her mix of “strength and gentleness.” Sports and tabloid newspapers reporting Naomi Osaka’s victory in the U.S. Open tennis finals are sold at a newsstand in Tokyo, Monday, Sept. 10, 2018. (AP Photo/Koji Sasahara) The Mainichi, one of top three general circulation newspapers, noted that Osaka was wearing a dress at a victory celebration from a well-known Japanese designer.Osaka’s 73-year-old grandfather, Tetsuo Osaka, surfaced in several interviews from Japan’s northern island of Hokkaido, where he heads a fishing cooperative. He said he plans to meet his granddaughter when she plays next week in a tournament in Japan.Their relationship seems solid now, but the New York Times reported that for a more than a decade Naomi’s mother, Tamaki, had little contact with her family in Japan.Roland Kirishima, a photographer who is half Japanese and Scottish, criticized some internet comments questioning if Osaka is really Japanese, because of her darker skin color.“Look at the French soccer team that won the World Cup,” he wrote on Twitter. “Half of the players are immigrants’ sons or multi-racial. I’m surprised many people in Japan are still obsessed with racial purity. It’s 21st century already. Please overcome this type of insular prejudice.”It looks like Japan has taken at least a first step.___Stephen Wade on Twitter: http://twitter.com/StephenWadeAP___More AP tennis coverage: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Tennis and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports
LONDON (AP) — This was supposed to be the week Anthony Joshua completed his whirlwind six-year journey from Olympic gold medalist to undisputed world heavyweight champion.Deontay Wilder should have been the opponent, Las Vegas potentially the venue. Instead, Joshua has to take a detour.The 28-year-old Briton was back home in London on Thursday, ready to fulfil his mandatory obligations by facing Russian fighter Alexander Povetkin at Wembley Stadium.It’s not the fight he wanted — Wilder, the WBC champion, remains his No. 1 priority — but he knows it’s another important step toward his ultimate goal of unifying the division.The last time Joshua fought at Wembley, it was in front of about 90,000 spectators against Wladimir Klitschko in April 2017. A similar-sized crowd is expected on Saturday.Joshua, the IBF, WBO and WBA titleholder, says “I feel relaxed and calm. It’s not new to me anymore. I feel like this is home and where I’m going to perform.”___More AP sports: https://apnews.com/tag/apf-sports and https://twitter.com/AP_Sports Boxers, Britain’s Anthony Joshua, left, and Russia’s Alexander Povetkin pose for photographers with boxing promoter Eddie Hearn, centre, after a press conference at Wembley stadium in London, Thursday, Sept. 20, 2018. Joshua and Povetkin are due to fight for the WBA, IBF, WBO and IBO heavyweight titles in a boxing match on Saturday at Wembley stadium. (AP Photo/Frank Augstein)
PITTSBURGH (AP) — George Aston has seen a lot in five years at Pittsburgh. Two coaching staffs. A handful of big-time upsets that hinted at a turnaround. Just as many baffling losses that have ultimately prevented it from happening.Still, the burly fullback hasn’t seen this: it’s November and the Panthers are in first place in the ACC’s Coastal Division heading into a visit from Virginia Tech. Pitt’s first trip to a conference title game is within reach, an achievement that Aston and the rest of the 19 seniors who will play their final game at Heinz Field on Saturday know would leave a tangible lasting legacy.“We haven’t been in this position this late in the season before,” Aston said. “It’s pretty late in the season, we control our own destiny. We’ve just got to win.”Something the Panthers (5-4, 4-1) have managed to do with regularity over the last month, reviving what threatened to be a lost season. Pitt has won three of four — the lone setback a narrow 19-14 nonconference loss to unbeaten Notre Dame on the road — to move into the driver’s seat in the typically unwieldy Coastal, which could have its sixth different champion in as many years.“I felt like we put our mind to it, this team can do a lot of different things,” defensive end DeWayne Hendrix said. “Just us going through adversity as a team, losing games that we weren’t supposed to and now we’re finally starting to get into a groove. We always knew we should be winning those games. We just didn’t know when it was going to happen.”This might be the year. Emphasis on might. The Panthers, however, are wary. As promising as the last month has been, it can come undone very quickly. A team built on running the ball and defense understands it has little margin for error. Still, they like their chances.“A lot of people doubted us,” Hendrix said. “People are going to doubt you when you’re losing but when you’re winning, they’re going to jump on the bandwagon. We know how good we can be but we can’t be sidetracked on that. We’ve got to go out and grind each week just like everybody else.”Something Virginia Tech (4-4, 3-2) has been unable to do during a stretch in which it has dropped three of four. Still, the Hokies can revive their own chances at capturing the Coastal — and salvaging an uneven year — by beating the Panthers for the third straight time.“It’s not our job to be frustrated, it’s our job to try to fix, coach and mentor,” Virginia Tech coach Justin Fuente said. “Continuing to try to push these guys forward so that they can execute on a more consistent basis so that as a team we have a chance to have more consistent play against very good people.”VIVID MEMORYVirginia Tech edged Pitt 20-14 in Blacksburg last season thanks to a dramatic goal-line stand in which the Hokies stopped Pitt on four shots from inside the Virginia Tech 5 in the final minute. The loss ultimately cost the Panthers a shot at a bowl game and the near miss has come up frequently over the last 12 months.“We all know what happened,” Pitt sophomore quarterback Kenny Pickett said. “We remember it clearly. It’s extra motivation this week.”ROAD WARRIORSThe Hokies have been a bit of an erratic mess this season thanks in large part to an inability to get things done at Lane Stadium. Virginia Tech is just 1-3 at home — including 0-2 in the league — but has been solid on the road. The Hokies have won four straight ACC road games dating to a victory at Virginia in the 2017 season finale. Quarterback Ryan Willis has been a little more productive away from Lane Stadium. His road quarterback rating of 147.3 is a tick above what he puts up at home (134.9).TRYING THIS AGAINIn Boston College last week, the Hokies played the team whose style most resembles the very physical approach Pittsburgh takes offensively and allowed 219 yards rushing. That came a week after they allowed 465 to Georgia Tech. With perhaps his youngest defense ever, Hokies defensive coordinator Bud Foster hopes having played the Eagles will help. “Yeah, they’re going to be similar,” he said. “Big and physical up front. Big, physical, athletic tailbacks. They’re going to be very similar in a lot of ways. Maybe it will benefit us a little bit, but we’ll see.”___AP Sports Writer Hank Kurz in Richmond, Virginia contributed to this report.___For more AP college football: https://apnews.com/Collegefootball and https://twitter.com/AP_Top25 Pittsburgh fullback George Aston (35) celebrates a touchdown during the second half of an NCAA college football game on Saturday, Oct. 15, 2016 in Charlottesville, Va. (Ryan M. Kelly/The Daily Progress via AP/File)
Mission led 37-16 at the half and 55-24 after three quarters.Senior John Zak led the Bombers, the 16th seed, with 13 points while Erich Schepkowski added seven.LVR is missing starting guard Jack Sturrup, who injured his back during the Kootenay AA Boy’s tournament in Grand Forks.Sturrup had a hard fall during the semi final game against Golden.He played in the final but last week developed back pains and was not cleared by doctors to play in the tourament.LVR returns to the court Thursday against South Okanagan Hornets at 10 a.m.The Bombers must pay special attention to Hornet leading scorer Greet Gill, who dropped in 45 points in a losing cause to Duchess Park of Prince George.firstname.lastname@example.org The Mission Roadrunners ran all over the L.V. Rogers Bombers on day one of the B.C. High School AA Boy’s Basketball Championships Wednesday in Kamloops.The Roadrunners opened the 16-team tournament as the top seed.Mission jumped all over the Bombers in the first quarter and never looked back holding a 19-6 advantage at the break.”I was happy with our defence in the game,” said Bomber coach Ross Naka. “When you get into a 1 vs 16 game, things can get out of hand pretty easy but we held our own against a very good club.”
RUN OVER A SLOPPY TRACK, SHAM PROVIDES WINNER WITH 10 KY DERBY QUALIFYING POINTS ARCADIA, Calif. (Jan. 7, 2017)–In what quickly developed into a two-horse race, a short head separated Gormley and American Anthem in Saturday’s Grade III, $100,000 Sham Stakes, with Gormley prevailing under Victor Espinoza in 2017’s first graded prep to the $1 million Santa Anita Derby on April 8. Trained by John Shirreffs and owned by Jerry and Ann Moss, Gormley, a Kentucky-bred colt by Malibu Moon, got a flat mile in 1:35.89 on Santa Anita’s sloppy main track.With Mike Smith gunning favored American Anthem from the rail, Espinoza sat a close second just off the leader’s right hip into and around the Club House turn. As the field made its way into the far turn, the top two separated themselves and “threw down” the final quarter mile in a thriller that looked like it could go either way.“That was a great race,” said Shirreffs, who sent Gormley out to win the Grade I FrontRunner Stakes here two starts back on Oct. 1. “We’re very proud of him. He’s quick. He starts quick, he gets away quickly, but then he checks himself as he gets into the race and he relaxes. It was great to see him pick it back up again and get it done.”Although favored on the morning line, Gormley, who came off a disappointing run in the Grade I Breeders’ Cup Juvenile on Nov. 5, was the 8-5 second choice and paid $5.20, $2.80 and $2.40.A first-out maiden winner going 6 ½ furlongs on Sept. 4 at Del Mar, he now has three wins from four starts. In addition to the winner’s share of $60,000, he also picked up 10 Kentucky Derby qualifying points.“This type of thing never gets old,” said co-owner Jerry Moss, who also won the 2005 Kentucky Derby with Giacomo. “He’s got a lot of heart and I know he’ll go further than this.”“I expected him to run the way he ran today,” said Espinoza, who’s ridden Gormley in all four of his races. “I know he’s still improving but I think he only gets better and better. Hopefully, he gets a lot better…In the Breeders’ Cup he broke slow but today, he came into the race in really good shape and got into it right away.”A gutty first-out maiden winner at six furlongs on Dec. 3 at Del Mar, American Anthem was faced with a tall order stretching out against the likes of Gormley in only his second start. Ridden by Mike Smith and trained by Bob Baffert, American Anthem got hammered late to even money and paid $2.60 and $2.20.“For only his second time out, that was pretty impressive,” said Smith. “If we’d been on the outside…I think that probably would’ve helped out a little bit getting beat a half a nose.”Ridden by Santiago Gonzalez, Big Hit ran on for third, finishing some 13 lengths behind the top two. Off at 11-1, he paid $3.60 to show.Fractions on the race were 22.54, 45.46, 1:10.13 and 1:22.70.