SAN FRANCISCO (AP) San Francisco 49ers linebacker Aldon Smith pleaded no contest Wednesday to three felony weapons charges and two misdemeanor counts of driving under the influence.
The 24-year-old Smith entered his pleas in a Santa Clara County Superior Courtroom in San Jose. He faces a sentence ranging from spending no time in custody to a maximum of four years and four months behind bars at a judge’s discretion, prosecutors said.
Smith is scheduled to be sentenced on July 25 – two days after the 49ers are to open training camp in Santa Clara.
Former NFL lineman Jeremy Newberry says he often hobbled into the 49ers locker room using a walking boot and crutches, then lined up behind as many as two dozen teammates for treatment – in his case, a shot of the painkiller Toradol. Ten minutes later, he sprinted onto the field to play.
The toughness of pro football players is part of the league’s image, but a lawsuit filed Tuesday on behalf of more than 600 former players contends it was abetted by team physicians and trainers across the NFL who routinely dispensed powerful narcotics and other controlled substances on game days to mask the pain.
Although painkillers have been discussed around NFL locker rooms for decades, plaintiffs in this suit give details about which drugs they say teams persuaded them to use and how even severe injuries were covered up temporarily.
BOSTON (AP) – Investigators asked for help from tattoo artists who may have inked former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, saying they could help in the prosecution of a double murder Hernandez is charged with committing in 2012.
The Suffolk district attorney’s office stressed that the tattoo artists are considered witnesses, not suspects, and ”may have made observations of evidentiary value.”
Hernandez is charged in three killings. He is scheduled to be arraigned May 28 on two counts of murder for allegedly shooting two men in Boston in 2012, prosecutors said Wednesday.
WASHINGTON (AP) – President Barack Obama congratulated the Super Bowl champion Seattle Seahawks, saluting their victories on the field and their contributions to their community.
Noting that some analysts didn’t see Seattle as a top team, Obama said he appreciated the team overcoming long odds.
”As a guy who was elected president named Barack Obama, I root for the underdog,” the president joked.
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) – Colts linebacker Robert Mathis apologized to his teammates for the four-game suspension he received from the NFL.
Mathis spoke publicly for the first time since the league announced he had violated its performance-enhancing substance abuse policy.
Mathis had previously admitted to taking fertility medication that contained a substance on the NFL’s banned list. He also said he did not check with league officials or the players union to determine if anything he used might cause a positive drug test.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) – Wendell Scott became the first African-American driver to be elected to the NASCAR Hall of Fame.
The late driver from Virginia was among the latest group of five – all drivers, another first – voted into the hall. Scott joins popular NASCAR champion Bill Elliott, two-time series champ Joe Weatherly, 1960 champion Rex White and 26-race winner Fred Lorenzen.
Scott competed in NASCAR’s top series from 1961-73. He won his only race at Speedway Park in Jacksonville, Florida, in 1963, taking the checkered flag in the 100-mile feature after starting 15th. Scott started 495 Sprint Cup events and had a 147 top 10 finishes.
MIAMI (AP) – The long break between games in the Eastern Conference finals could be welcomed by Indiana, after Pacers guard Paul George was diagnosed with a concussion that will force him to complete several NBA-mandated procedures before he can return to the court against the Miami Heat.
The series, now tied at a game apiece, resumes Saturday night.
Indiana not only needs to get George cleared but also had starters Lance Stephenson, Roy Hibbert and David West all either limping or ailing in the final minutes of the Game 2 loss on Tuesday night.
MINNEAPOLIS (AP) – With the Memphis Grizzlies front office in turmoil, the Minnesota Timberwolves are strongly considering hiring coach Dave Joerger away to take over the team in his home state.
The Timberwolves received permission from the Grizzlies to interview Joerger and will meet with him Thursday, two people with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Wednesday. The people requested anonymity because the Timberwolves are not commenting publicly on their coaching candidates, but all indications were that Joerger was in the driver’s seat to replace the retired Rick Adelman.
NEW YORK (AP) – The WNBA is launching a campaign to market specifically to the gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgendered community.
It’s the first league to design such a campaign. The marketing push begins with the launch of a website and the signature event will be a nationally televised ”pride” game between Tulsa and Chicago on Sunday, June 22. The league also plans to work with advocacy groups to spread a message of inclusion.
CHICAGO (AP) – The owners of the Chicago Cubs say they’re moving forward with plans to renovate and expand Wrigley Field, despite the threat of lawsuits by the owners of the adjacent rooftop venues overlooking the 100-year-old ballpark.
Chairman Tom Ricketts, whose family owns the north-side Chicago team, said Thursday that the Cubs will submit a revised expansion plan to the Commission on Chicago Landmarks that includes the team’s original proposal to add several outfield signs and additional bleacher seats.
NEW YORK (AP) – Miguel Olivo was suspended by the Los Angeles Dodgers’ top farm team following his fight in the dugout with Triple-A Albuquerque teammate Alex Guerrero.
The Dodgers said Olivo was placed on the suspended list by the Albuquerque Isotopes. The veteran catcher is on the Dodgers’ 40-man roster, and the club said he ”will remain suspended pending the completion of an investigation” into the brawl during Tuesday’s game at Salt Lake.
The Dodgers confirmed Guerrero is recovering from reconstructive surgery on his left ear and will remain in a Salt Lake City hospital for a couple of days. It’s unclear how long he will be sidelined.
BOSTON (AP) – Red Sox shortstop Stephen Drew said he will need about nine or 10 days to be ready to return.
The Red Sox reached an agreement with Drew on Tuesday on a one-year deal that will pay him $10 million. He was added to the active roster to replace Felix Doubront, who went on the disabled list with a left shoulder injury. Drew is expected to need time in the minor leagues to get in game shape.
WASHINGTON (AP) – The Cincinnati Reds placed first baseman Joey Votto on the 15-day disabled list with a left leg injury.
The Reds made the move before their game against the Washington Nationals. He had already missed five games with a quadriceps strain in his left knee.
The move is retroactive to May 16.
The Reds also reinstated outfielder Jay Bruce from the 15-day DL. He had arthroscopic surgery May 5 to repair a torn meniscus in his left knee.
KANSAS CITY, Mo. (AP) – Chris Sale, an American League All-Star pitcher the past two seasons, will come off the disabled list Thursday and start for the Chicago White Sox against the New York Yankees.
Sale went on the disabled list April 22 with a flexor strain in his left arm. He allowed one run and one hit in seven innings against Boston on April 17 in his previous start, throwing a career-high 127 pitches and reported he was sore the next day.
VIRGINIA WATER, England (AP) – Only a few days after sending out wedding invitations, golfer Rory McIlroy broke off his engagement to Danish tennis player Caroline Wozniacki.
Uncomfortable and subdued, the two-time major winner spoke about the decision ahead of the BMW PGA Championship, only a few hours after first announcing the split in a statement.
”It is quite a difficult time for Caroline and myself, and the statement really said it all this morning,” McIlroy said at Wentworth. ”It was mutual and we both thought it was the best for us, the best for both of us. Time to move on, and I’ve said all that I need to say.”
The 25-year-old McIlroy and 23-year-old Wozniacki have been dating since 2011. They were engaged on New Year’s Eve in Australia.
SAO PAULO (AP) – FIFA and local organizers postponed the final test event at the troubled World Cup stadium in Sao Paulo, raising fresh uncertainty about Brazil’s readiness to stage the tournament opener in the city.
Following concerns from local authorities, FIFA said that a test match scheduled for May 29, a Thursday, has been moved to the following Sunday to avoid disrupting the city’s ”operational routine” on a working day.
PARIS (AP) – Lance Armstrong was stripped of his Legion of Honor, the best-known award in France.
Armstrong was given the rank of ”Chevalier” – or Knight – in the ”Legion d’Honneur” in 2005, the last year of his seven consecutive Tour de France victories. He was later stripped of those titles for doping.
SAVONA, Italy (AP) – Michael Rogers took advantage of a downhill attack to win the 11th stage of the Giro d’Italia, while fellow Australian Cadel Evans retained the overall lead.