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Sprint car driver killed in Wisconsin

BEAVER DAM, Wis. (AP) Sprint car driver Scott Semmelmann was killed in a wreck during practice for a race Saturday night at Beaver Dam Raceway.

Beaver Dam Raceway general manager Carolyn Mueller and Bumper to Bumper IRA Outlaw Sprint Car Series President Steve Sinclair confirmed the death.

Beaver Dam police later confirmed that a 47-year-old driver was killed, but did not provide a name.

Semmelmann's car made contact with another car during the second practice session, flipped three times and hit the outside concrete wall. The 47-year-old Semmelmann, from Brookfield, was racing for the first time this season.

"This incident appears to be (a) tragic accident at this time," the police statement said.

The race was canceled.

Beaver Dam Raceway is a 0.33-mile clay oval about 75 minutes northwest of Milwaukee. Mueller said it was the first on-track fatality at the track since the facility re-opened in 1993.

Last month, Kevin Ward Jr. was killed in a sprint car race at a dirt track in upstate New York when he left his car and was struck by a car driven by NASCAR star Tony Stewart.

Sun, 21 Sep 2014 04:59:00 +0000
LeBron banner approved to hang in Cleveland

CLEVELAND (AP) A larger-than-life LeBron James will again tower over downtown.

The city's planning commission approved artwork on Friday for a new 10-story-high banner of the NBA superstar, his arms outstretched and "Cleveland" across the back of his jersey.

It will hang across the street from Quicken Loans Arena, home of the Cavaliers.

The Nike-sponsored banner is similar to the black-and-white "Witness" that adorned an outside wall of Sherwin-Williams Co.'s headquarters for years. It was removed after James left for the Miami Heat in 2010.

The new banner is expected to be installed before the Cavs' home opener on Oct. 30 against New York.

James signed as a free agent with the Cavs this summer, returning to his home state to attempt to win Cleveland's first major pro sports championship since 1964.

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 17:04:00 +0000
Mississippi St. stuns No. 8 LSU, 34-29

BATON ROUGE, La. (AP) Dak Prescott highlighted a dynamic performance with two touchdown passes and 56-yard scoring run, and Mississippi State held off a wild rally by No. 8 LSU for a 34-29 victory Saturday night that snapped the Bulldogs' 14-year losing streak in the series.

MSU led 34-10 in the fourth quarter, but LSU scored three late touchdowns. That set up a last-second desperation heave by LSU backup quarterback Brandon Harris, which was intercepted by Will Redmond at the goal line.

Prescott, a Louisiana native, finished with 268 yards passing and 105 yards rushing while helping the Bulldogs (4-0) not only beat LSU (3-1) for the first time since 1999, but win in Tiger Stadium for the first time since 1991 - about two years before Prescott was born.

His touchdown passes went for 74-yards to Jameon Lewis and 9 yards to De'Runnya Wilson. Josh Robinson rushed for 197 yards and a touchdown.

Sun, 21 Sep 2014 03:03:00 +0000
Goodell: 'Same mistakes can never be repeated'

NEW YORK (AP) More defiant than contrite, Roger Goodell announced no sweeping changes in his first public statements in more than a week of turmoil surrounding the NFL's handling of players accused of crimes.

The commissioner was definitive about one thing: He has not considered resigning.

Goodell was short on specifics Friday as he discussed how he would address the rash of domestic violence incidents in the league. He said the NFL wants to implement new personal conduct policies by the Super Bowl.

"Unfortunately, over the past several weeks, we have seen all too much of the NFL doing wrong," he said in his opening statement. "That starts with me."

The league has faced increasing criticism that it has not acted quickly or emphatically enough. The commissioner reiterated that he botched the handling of the Ray Rice case.

"The same mistakes can never be repeated," he said.

Goodell said he would meet with NFL Players Association chief DeMaurice Smith next week, and they would work with outside experts to evaluate the league's policies.

Among the areas that will be examined is Goodell's role in discipline. The commissioner now oversees all personal conduct cases, deciding guilt and penalties.

He will establish a committee to review NFL personal conduct, seeking experts in the area of domestic abuse and violence to serve on it. Goodell's role with such a committee was not directly addressed.

"Nothing is off the table," he said.

One of the key questions is how to balance the league's desire to take a stance against violent acts with the due process requirements - and the sometimes slow pace - of the legal system. Goodell indicated the league is considering becoming "engaged" in the investigation process while law enforcement is still handling its probes.

Goodell said he believes he has the support of the NFL's owners, his bosses.

"That has been clear to me," he said.

The commissioner and some NFL teams have been heavily criticized for lenient or delayed punishment of Rice, Adrian Peterson and other players involved in recent domestic violence cases. Less than three weeks into the season, five such cases have made headlines.

Vikings star running back Peterson and Carolina defensive end Greg Hardy are on a special commissioner's exemption list and are being paid while they go through the legal process. Arizona running back Jonathan Dwyer was placed on the reserve/non-football illness list, meaning he can't play for the team again this season. Ray McDonald, a defensive end for San Francisco, continues to practice and play while being investigated on suspicion of domestic violence.

Groups such as the National Organization of Women and league partners and sponsors have come down hard on the NFL to be more responsive in dealing with them. Congress also is watching to see how the NFL reacts.

NOW President Terry O'Neill reiterated her calls for Goodell to resign.

"NFL Commissioner, Roger Goodell today did nothing to increase confidence in his ability to lead the NFL out of its morass," O'Neill said in a statement. "What Mr. Goodell doesn't seem to understand is that he should be aiming to make fundamental changes in the organization."

Rice was initially suspended for two games. Goodell admitted more than a month later that he "didn't get it right" and announced tougher penalties for future domestic violent incidents.

After video emerged of the assault, the Baltimore Ravens cut the star running back and the league banned him indefinitely.

Goodell reiterated Friday that he didn't believe anybody at the NFL had seen the video before it was published by TMZ. The Associated Press reported last week that a law enforcement official says he sent the video to a league executive five months ago.

Citing Rice's appeal of his suspension, Goodell declined to specify Friday how the player's description of what happened was "inconsistent" with what the video showed - the commissioner's reason for changing his punishment.

The NFL asked former FBI director Robert Mueller to conduct an investigation into the league's handling of the Rice case. The law firm where Mueller is now a partner, WilmerHale, has connections to the NFL. Goodell insisted Friday that it wasn't a conflict of interest because Mueller himself has not previously worked with the league.

Goodell acknowledged he has learned that interviewing Rice and his now-wife together is an inappropriate way to handle a domestic violence case.

The commissioner declined to address whether any women were involved in the decision to suspend Rice for two games, but conceded that's "exactly what we're concerned about."

"We didn't have the right voices at the table," he added.

The NFL has since added domestic violence experts as consultants. It also announced it is partnering with a domestic violence hotline and a sexual violence resource center.

In a memo to the clubs late Thursday, Goodell said that within the next 30 days, all NFL and team personnel will participate in education sessions on domestic violence and sexual assault.

The league will provide financial, operational and promotional support to the National Domestic Violence Hotline and the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.

---

AP Sports Writer Rachel Cohen contributed to this report.

---

AP NFL website: www.pro32.ap.org and www.twitter.com/AP-NFL

Sat, 20 Sep 2014 05:08:00 +0000
Procter & Gamble cancels on-field NFL promotion

NEW YORK (AP) Procter & Gamble is canceling an on-field breast cancer awareness promotion it had been planning with the National Football League, the latest sponsor to respond to the NFL's growing problems.

The consumer products maker is the latest major sponsor, following PepsiCo and Anheuser-Busch, to show concern over the NFL's handling of domestic abuse allegations against several players. The move came as NFL commissioner Roger Goodell held a press conference to say that the NFL needs to change its policies and will implement new personal conduct policies sometime before the Super Bowl early next year.

"I made a mistake. I'm not satisfied by the process that we went through. I'm not satisfied with the conclusions," he said during the conference.

Women make up 35 percent of the average audience of 17.4 million during a regular season NFL game, and the NFL has made it a point to reach out to women in recent years.

The league has made Breast Cancer Awareness month in October a particular focus. Part of its NFL Pink "Crucial Catch" campaign, in partnership with the American Cancer Society, features players, coaches and referees wearing pink game apparel, on-field pink ribbon stencils, special game balls and pink coins.

P&G's Crest brand had been working on a program with players from each of the NFL's 32 teams to wear pink mouthguards and participate in other activities.

But on Friday the Cincinnati-based company said Crest would no longer be part of on-field activities and joined the chorus of sponsors voicing disapproval of the NFL's actions. It remains a sponsor but said it will "determine future actions as needed."

"The brand has decided to cancel on-field activation with NFL teams," said spokesman Paul Fox in a statement. "Domestic violence is completely unacceptable and we have strongly urged the NFL to take swift and decisive action to address this issue... Our decision to cancel this on field activity was related to this ongoing issue."

The company will still donate $100,000 to the American Cancer society as planned and said breast-cancer awareness is a "critically important program to support women and their health."

The NFL said that the sixth year of the "Crucial Catch" program will proceed.

"We understand the ways the last week have impacted our partners, including Crest," the NFL said in a statement. "Players will still have the option to wear pink gear, including mouthguards, as planned, this year."

The league and its teams are under fire over their handling of several players with domestic violence allegations against them. An investigation has been launched into whether commissioner Roger Goodell knew about or saw a video of Baltimore Ravens player Ray Rice hitting his then-fiancee earlier than he said.

Most major sponsors have voiced disapproval, with Budweiser beer maker Anheuser-Busch saying it is "increasingly concerned" about the situation.

On Thursday PepsiCo CEO Indra Nooyi made a double-edged statement on the NFL's problems handling domestic violence, calling some players' behavior "repugnant" while also noting that she believes Commissioner Roger Goodell is "a man of integrity."

During Friday's conference Goodell added that the company has been in contact with its sponsors and understands their recent criticism.

"They're not looking for talk. They want to see action," he said.

Manish Tripathi, assistant marketing professor at Emory University, said it's not yet clear whether P&G's move will be an isolated incident or open the floodgates for others.

"You're talking now about a specific promotion or campaign geared toward women," he said. "Anything that is negatively associated with NFL right now gets exacerbated with a campaign like that."

---

AP Writer Dan Sewell in Cincinnati contributed to report.

Fri, 19 Sep 2014 21:00:00 +0000

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