Associated Press Sportswatch

By: Associated Press
By: Associated Press

NEW ORLEANS (AP) -- NFL commissioner Roger Goodell (guh-DEHL') took center stage at the Super Bowl today. He issued his annual State of the Game assessment and in doing so touched on several topics.
-Regarding player safety, he said he welcomed recent comments from President Barack Obama about football safety. Goodell also said the league will look into eliminating certain low blocks and improve the quality of playing fields. The commissioner also said neurosurgeons will be added to game day medical staffs. He added that the No. 1 issue in the game is taking the head out of tackles.
-On the topic of testing for human growth hormone, Goodell said he believed there will be an agreement soon with the players union. He said he expects one to be in place before the start of the 2013 season.
-- On the topic of the New Orleans' Saints bounty scandal, Goodell said his biggest regret is that he can't get everyone to recognize bounties need to be eliminated from the game. He said he hasn't been able to make the point clearly enough with the players' union and others that the league will not tolerate pay for hard hits.
-- And regarding minority hiring the commissioner said he wants a "new generation" of the Rooney Rule because "we didn't have the outcomes we wanted" when none of 15 recent coach and general manager jobs were given to a minority candidate.
Earlier in the day, in their final news conference, coaches John and Jim Harbaugh discussed not only the game but sibling rivalry. John is the coach of the AFC champion Ravens, while Jim coaches the NFC champion 49ers.
Normally the Super Bowl coaches have separate news conferences on the Friday of super Bowl week but because of the uniqueness of the Harbaughs being brothers, a joint session took place.
What will Mickelson do today?
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) -- Despite his great score in the opening round of the PGA's Phoenix Open, the pressure is on Phil Mickelson as he plays his second round.
It seems nobody is all that impressed with the course and the scores show it.
The early second round clubhouse leader is Keegan Bradley who shot an 8-under-63 to finish the round at minus-12.
Angel Cabrera (AHN'-hehl kuh-BREHR'-uh) shot a 6-under-65 today and finished play at the midway mark at 11-under.
Mickelson who shot an opening round score of 11-under, is 1-under through seven and is now 12-under for the tournament.
Before the start of second round play the first round, which was shut down because of darkness yesterday, was completed.
Top tier teams from the east are in action against each other tonight
UNDATED (AP) -- Two of the leading Eastern Conference teams in the NBA are squaring off tonight in New York as the Nets play host to Chicago. The visiting Bulls top the Central Division with a record of 28-17 while the Nets are 2 1/2 back of the Knicks in the Atlantic with a mark of 27-19.
The Pacific Division-leading Clippers are looking for their 35th win of the year tonight as they play the Raptors in Toronto. The Clips have won two straight and can tie the idle Thunder for second-most wins in the league behind San Antonio's 37. The Spurs have the night off as well.
Miami is at Indiana in another game of Eastern Conference front-runners. The Heat have the best record in the conference at 29-13 while the Pacers are 1 1/2 games back of the Bulls in the Central at 27-19.
On the other side of the fence is Orlando. The Magic have dropped seven straight and are 14-31. This evening they are facing the Celtics in Boston.
The remaining games tonight feature Milwaukee at New York, the 76ers home to the Kings, Cleveland at Detroit, the Wizards in Memphis against the Grizzlies, Denver home to New Orleans, Portland at Utah, the Mavs in Phoenix against the Suns and the Lakers in Minneapolis for a game against the Timberwolves.
Barnes of L.A. suspended
NEW YORK (AP) -- The NBA has suspended Matt Barnes of the Los Angeles Clippers for one game because he hit an opponent during a game. Barnes struck Greg Stiemsma of the Minnesota Timberwolves in the neck in the second quarter of the Clippers' 96-90 win Wednesday night.
Barnes will miss the Clippers' game tonight against the Toronto Raptors.
Hunter placed on leave
NEW YORK (AP) -- Billy Hunter, the executive director of the NBA players association, is being placed on an indefinite leave of absence, following a report that was critical of his leadership and decision making.
Union president Derek Fisher said in a statement that the union is forming an interim executive committee and advisory committee.
Union attorney Ron Klempner was appointed acting executive director.
It's a seven-game schedule tonight on ice
UNDATED (AP) -- Two of the early-season disappointments in the NHL face off tonight in Washington as the Capitals entertain the Flyers. The Caps have just one win and three points, while the Flyers have two wins and four points. Each resides in last place in its division, the Atlantic for the Flyers and the Southeast for the Caps.
Ottawa has been anything but a disappointment with 11 points and the top spot in the Eastern Conference. This evening the Senators are at Carolina.
The top two teams in the Southeast Division meet tonight as Tampa Bay entertains Winnipeg. The Lightning top the division with 10 points while the Jets are in second with seven.
The rest of the schedule has St. Louis at Detroit, Dallas home to Phoenix, Chicago at Vancouver and Minnesota at Anaheim.
Thornton suffering from concussion
BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Bruins say forward Shawn Thornton will miss 7-10 days with a concussion. He was injured in the first period of Thursday night's game against Buffalo when he fought with Sabres forward John Scott. Thornton has one goal and 25 penalty minutes this season.
Houston's Foster denies report of heart procedure
HOUSTON (AP) -- Houston Texans running back Arian Foster says a report on the NFL Network that he is considering a heart procedure is wrong. He goes on to say he has not spoken to his doctors about "any surgery" after a report that he was likely to undergo a heart procedure in about a month.
The NFL Network reported that Foster was considering an ablation procedure to address a heart issue he's had since he was 12.
According to the Mayo Clinic's official Web site, such a procedure involves the use of a catheter to correct structural problems that can lead to an abnormal heartbeat.
Foster said in a statement that he has "no complications with my blood pumper."
Hafner works out deal with New York
NEW YORK (AP) -- Travis Hafner and the New York Yankees have agreed to a $2 million, one-year contract that allows him to earn up to $4 million more in bonuses based on plate appearances. Limited by injuries the past five seasons, the 35-year-old gives the Yankees a designated hitter with power potential from the left side of the plate.
Hafner played in only 66 games for Cleveland last year because of knee and back problems and hit .228 with 12 homers and 34 RBIs in 263 at-bats.
The Indians declined a $13 million option, electing to pay him a $2.75 million buyout
Cards work out deal with pitcher
ST. LOUIS (AP) -- Left-hander Marc Rzepczynski (ZEHP'-chihn-skee) and the St. Louis Cardinals have agreed to a $1.1 million, one-year contract and avoided salary arbitration. The 27-year-old was 1-3 with a 4.24 ERA in 70 games last year, when he made $501,000.
Report: Red Sox sign Overbay
BOSTON (AP) -- The Boston Red Sox have reportedly worked out a deal with first baseman Lyle Overbay. An official with knowledge of the deal says the career .270 hitter has agreed to a deal.
If he makes the Boston roster out of spring training, Overbay would share duties with recently signed Mike Napoli (NAP'-oh-lee).
U.S. starts match with Brazil
JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) -- The best-of-five first round Davis Cup World Group match between the U.S. and Brazil starts today in Jacksonville, Fla. U.S. captain Jim Courier announced his team yesterday with John Isner (IHZ'-nur) and Sam Querrey (KWEER'-ee) serving as the singles players and the brothers Mike and Bob Bryan serving as the doubles team.
Isner says he is ready to return to the courts after injuring his knee a month ago at the Hopman Cup in Perth, Australia playing with Venus Williams. He hasn't played competitively since.

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