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National Briefs: Lions punished for tampering with Chiefs

February 19, 2011

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— The Detroit Lions have been found guilty of tampering with Kansas City Chiefs players and will lose a pick in April’s draft, according to an NFL statement released by the team.

The Lions will forfeit their seventh-round pick, acquired from the Broncos as part of the Alphonso Smith-Dan Gronkowski trade and also will swap fifth-round picks with the Chiefs. Already, the Lions were without a sixth-round choice.

The tampering charges revolved around defensive coordinator Gunther Cunningham, comments he made to the Detroit Free Press about the Lions’ interest in acquiring unnamed Kansas City players still under contract last year, and “impermissible contact” the Lions had with safety Jarrad Page (or his agent).

The Chiefs filed tampering charges against the Lions, and the matter was determined following a review and hearing, the statement said.

By swapping picks, the Lions now select 23rd in the fifth round while the Chiefs select ninth.

NFL

Redskins KR leaves hospital

Washington — Washington Redskins kick returner Brandon Banks has been released from the hospital, nearly a week after a stabbing that left him with a collapse lung.

Banks’ agent, James Gould, said Friday that a tube in Banks’ left lung has been removed and that the lung is now inflated. He said Banks should be able to resume normal activities in three to four weeks.

In other NFL news:

— NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell and union head DeMaurice Smith met in front of a federal mediator for about six hours Friday, a bid to jump-start contentious and slow-moving labor negotiations two weeks before owners could lock out players and threaten the 2011 season.

Friday’s session was the sides’ first with George Cohen, the director of the Federal Mediation and Conciliation Service, a U.S. government agency.

— Bob Sanders couldn’t stay healthy and the Indianapolis Colts couldn’t afford to keep investing in the oft-injured safety.

Team owner Jim Irsay released the 2007 NFL defensive player of the year on Friday, announcing the decision less than 24 hours after he told reporters he would make a decision about Sanders’ future before March 3.

— Dave Duerson, a four-time Pro Bowl safety who played on Super Bowl winners with the Chicago Bears and New York Giants, has died. He was 50.

Basketball

Hall of Fame announces finalists

Los Angeles — Dennis Rodman, Jamaal Wilkes and Tex Winter were among 12 finalists announced Friday for induction into the Basketball Hall of Fame.

The other finalists are former NBA stars Maurice Cheeks, Chris Mullin and Ralph Sampson, five-time Olympian Teresa Edwards, Stanford women’s coach Tara VanDerveer, former NBA coach Dick Motta, Philadelphia University coach Herb Magee, college referee Hank Nichols, and Al Attles, the current vice president and assistant general manager of the Golden State Warriors.

Prison for woman in extortion case

Louisville, Ky. — A woman was sentenced Friday to more than seven years in prison for threatening to reveal a sexual tryst with basketball coach Rick Pitino unless he paid her millions in cash, luxury cars and a house.

Auto racing

Bowyer wins Nationwide pole

Daytona Beach, Fla. — Clint Bowyer has won the pole for the Nationwide Series race at Daytona International Speedway.

Bowyer’s lap of 180.821 mph in Friday’s qualifying session knocked Landon Cassill off the front starting spot, moments after he had knocked Danica Patrick from the top position.

The final qualifying order ended up Bowyer first and Cassill second, with Dale Earnhardt Jr. also squeezing in ahead of Patrick.

Golf

Couples turns back clock at Riviera

Los Angeles — Fred Couples does not look like he belongs atop the leaderboard on the PGA Tour. Except that he’s at Riviera.

Despite a bad back that hurts when he stoops over a short iron, Couples navigated around his favorite tour course without a bogey Friday for a 5-under 66 that gave him a two-shot lead in the Northern Trust Open.

Baseball

FIU shortstop’s streak ends

Miami — Garrett Wittels’ hitting streak is over at 56 games.

The Florida International shortstop went 0-for-4 against Southeastern Louisiana on Friday night, leaving him two games shy of matching Robin Ventura’s 58-game Div. I record set in 1987.

In MLB news:

— Vladimir Guerrero finalized an $8 million, 1-year contract with the Baltimore Orioles on Friday.

— St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Jim Edmonds has announced his retirement at age 40. Edmonds injured his right Achilles’ tendon while rounding the bases after a home run last September for Cincinnati and never played again.

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