Thursday Sports in Brief
CLEVELAND (AP) — Cleveland defense end Myles Garrett ripped off Pittsburgh quarterback Mason Rudolph’s helmet and hit him with it in the head in the final seconds as the Browns’ 21-7 win over the Steelers on Thursday night ended with a wild brawl between the rivals.
Garrett faces a likely suspension for his actions, and Steelers center Maurkice Pouncey will likely be disciplined for kicking Garrett in the head.
Players from both sidelines spilled on the field during the wild melee, which began after Garrett wrestled Rudolph to the ground after he threw the ball on a meaningless play. Garrett, Pouncey and Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi were ejected.
Before the ugly ending, Baker Mayfield threw two touchdown passes and scored on a 1-yard plunge as Cleveland held on to defeat the banged-up Steelers for just the fourth time in 10 years and improved to 2-0 in the AFC North for the first time.
The Browns (4-6) have won two in a row after dropping four straight, a skid that put first-year coach Freddie Kitchens’ job in jeopardy.
NEW YORK (AP) — The NFL said Thursday that 11 teams have committed to attending Colin Kaepernick’s workout in Atlanta this weekend and that more teams are expected to attend the former NFL quarterback’s audition.
The league also announced that two former NFL head coaches will be in attendance: Hue Jackson, who will lead the drills, and Joe Philbin.
The NFL said it will send video of the workout and interview to all 32 of its teams, including head coaches and general managers.
The teams that have RSVP’d so far are: the Arizona Cardinals, Atlanta Falcons, Cleveland Browns, Denver Broncos, Detroit Lions, Miami Dolphins, New England Patriots, New York Giants, New York Jets, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Washington Redskins.
NEW ORLEANS (AP) — The state board that oversees Louisiana’s Superdome approved a contract Thursday for the first phase of a $450 million renovation of the 44-year-old New Orleans landmark that became a symbol of the city’s rebirth following Hurricane Katrina.
The unanimous vote by the Louisiana Stadium and Exposition District was to approve a $53 million contract for initial work on the stadium upgrade.
The renovations will be the most extensive since 2005, when the dome became a last-resort haven for thousands of Hurricane Katrina’s victims despite being heavily damaged. The upgrade is seen as a key element in getting a new long-term commitment from the Saints to keep the NFL franchise in New Orleans, and to attract future Super Bowls and other major events.
The state is to cover $90 million of the project cost. The Saints are to put up $150 million and the district is to pay $210 million.
NEW YORK (AP) — Los Angeles Angels star Mike Trout has overcome injury and tragedy to win his third AL MVP Award.
Trout got 17 of 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed Thursday night. Alex Bregman of the Houston Astros was second with the other 13 first-place votes. That duo combined for all the first- and second-place votes.
Trout had season-ending foot surgery in September. The outfielder played just 134 games but still set a career high with 45 homers. He batted .291, led the majors with a .438 on-base percentage and drove in 104 runs.
The 28-year-old shined even following the death of close friend and teammate Tyler Skaggs on July 1.
Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Cody Bellinger beat out the Milwaukee Brewers’ Christian Yelich to win NL MVP.
Bellinger got 19 of 30 first-place votes in balloting by the Baseball Writers’ Association of America revealed Thursday night. Yelich got 10 first-place votes, and Washington’s Anthony Rendon got one while finishing third.
The 24-year-old Bellinger and his loose, left-handed swing launched 47 home runs with a .305 average, 115 RBIs and a 1.035 OPS.
He was the best player on the NL’s top team in the regular season, propelling Los Angeles to 106 wins.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) — Pitcher Jake Odorizzi accepted a $17.8 million qualifying offer to stay with the Minnesota Twins and first baseman José Abreu took the same amount to remain with the Chicago White Sox as general managers headed home following their four-day annual meeting.
Using the threat to accept San Francisco’s offer, reliever Will Smith became the first of the 168 free agents to switch teams, agreeing Thursday to a $40 million, three-year contract with the Atlanta Braves.
Just 10 free agents received the offers on Nov. 4, and their former teams will receive draft-pick compensation if they sign elsewhere. Players who did not accept included pitchers Gerrit Cole (Houston), Stephen Strasburg (Washington), Zack Wheeler (New York Mets) and Madison Bumgarner (San Francisco) along with third basemen Anthony Rendon (Washington) and Josh Donaldson (Atlanta) and outfielder Marcell Ozuna (St. Louis).
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Freshman James Wiseman has withdrawn his lawsuit against the NCAA and Memphis, and the university has declared him ineligible while officials work to resolve the case.
The university announced Wiseman’s decision Thursday morning.
Memphis says it supports Wiseman’s decision and believes it’s in the best interest of both the freshman and the Tigers’ basketball team to resolve his eligibility status through the NCAA process.
The university says it is immediately applying for Wiseman to be reinstated. Until then, Wiseman will be held out of games but can practice with the No. 13 Tigers (2-1).
Memphis says the NCAA is fully aware of “the unique nature and challenges” in this case and will give a fair decision.
Wiseman played in Memphis’ first three games, two after obtaining a temporary restraining order Nov. 8 allowing him to play.
NEW YORK (AP) — Carmelo Anthony is getting another shot in the NBA.
The 10-time All-Star is returning to the league with the Portland Trail Blazers, a person with knowledge of the details said Thursday.
Anthony hasn’t played since a short stint with the Houston Rockets ended a little more than a year ago after just 10 games. But the Blazers hope there is still enough game left in the 35-year-old forward to help them overcome a 4-8 start.
Anthony’s deal with Portland was confirmed to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because it has not been announced. It was first reported by ESPN.com, which said that Anthony would join the team on its upcoming road trip.
Anthony is a three-time Olympic gold medalist but struggled at the end of his recent stops in Oklahoma City and Houston following 6 ½ seasons in New York.
—By AP Basketball Writer Brian Mahoney.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — Penguins star Sidney Crosby will be out at least six weeks after what the team said was a successful core muscle injury repair Thursday.
General manager Jim Rutherford says the procedure was performed by Dr. William Meyers in Philadelphia.
The 32-year-old Crosby leads the team in scoring with five goals and 12 assists in 17 games despite dealing with a sports hernia since training camp.
The two-time MVP left a 3-2 shootout win over Chicago on Nov. 9 in the third period. He got tangled up with Blackhawks defenseman Erik Gustafsson and moments later took a shot from Gustafsson that smacked off his right foot.
Robert Mathis of Alabama A&M, Erik Williams of Central State University and coach Joe Taylor have been selected for induction into the Black College Football Hall of Fame.
Quarterback Earl Harvey of North Carolina Central, defensive back James Hunter of Grambling State and Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference Commissioner Dennis Thomas round out the class.
The induction ceremony will be held Feb. 22 at the College Football Hall of Fame in Atlanta.
WASHINGTON (AP) — Defense Secretary Mark Esper has opened the door for athletes at the nation’s military academies to play professional sports after they graduate, and delay their active-duty service.
Esper signed a memo last Friday laying out the new guidelines, which says the athletes must get approval from the defense secretary, and it requires them to eventually fulfill their military obligation or repay the costs of their education.
The memo, obtained by The Associated Press, came at the insistence of President Donald Trump, who directed the Pentagon in June to come up with a way to allow athletes to play professional sports immediately upon graduation. Trump gave the Pentagon four months to develop the new policy.
Allowing athletes to delay service has been a hotly debated issue. The Obama administration put a policy in place allowing some athletes to go to the pros and defer their military service.
HOMESTEAD, Fla. (AP) — NASCAR and NBC Sports are set to launch a new streaming service that will include exclusive motorsports events and an extensive library of archived documentaries and films.
TrackPass will offer more motorsports options, including the ARCA Menards Series, the NASCAR Whelen Modified Tour, as well as NASCAR Cup Series and NASCAR Xfinity Series practice and qualifying sessions for its half of the schedule. TrackPass also will expand its coverage of IMSA.
TrackPass is part of the NBC Sports Gold service and is expected to debut in December.
LONDON (AP) — The rights to broadcast Champions League games in Britain have been retained by BT Sport for another three seasons in a deal worth more than $1.5 billion, The Associated Press has learned.
The telecommunications company will continue to show every game live and air highlights in the 2021-2024 rights cycle as the competition’s only British broadcaster, a person familiar with the three-year deal said Thursday.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the deal ahead of an official announcement.
—By AP Global Soccer Writer Rob Harris.