Sports News

Ciara celebrates 36th birthday with husband Russell Wilson at the top of Seattle's Space Needle

Stefanie Keenan/Getty Images for TOM FORD: AUTUMN/WINTER 2020 RUNWAY SHOW

NFL star Russell Wilson didn't allow a recent injury to stop him from celebrating wife Ciara's 36th birthday Monday.

The Seattle Seahawks quarterback was sidelined from Monday night's game against the New Orleans Saints after undergoing hand surgery. However, he made the night very special for his Grammy-winning spouse. Wilson rented the top two floors of Seattle's iconic Space Needle observation tower and restaurant, which was filled with rose petals, candles, flowers and balloons.

"Perfect in every way. God made you for me. He made you to fit perfectly in my arms. Made you to be the amazing woman and mother you are. God made you to entertain the world with your gift to sing & dance!" he commented on Instagram.

"Awe baby. You are my everything!," Ciara replied. "Thank you for making me feel special today, and everyday. I’m a better woman because of you! I love you so much!"

With the music of Sade's "No Ordinary Love" in the background, Ciara was amazed, constantly repeating, "Oh my God!"

"Wow Babe @DangeRussWilson. Thank You for loving me the way you do!," she commented. "I didn’t have much growing up, but I can say I had a lot of love. That feeling made me feel like I could conquer the world. That’s how you make me feel. Like a little girl all over again. I love you so much!" 

As Ciara enjoyed the breathtaking view of the city, the Super Bowl winner told her, "We have a special date night tonight, me and you. A little dinner on top of Seattle....We'll have some dessert, and more dessert later. I love you."

The couple celebrated their fifth wedding anniversary in July. They have two children together: four-year-old daughter Sienna and one-year-old son, Win.

 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 
 

A post shared by Ciara (@ciara)

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Scoreboard roundup -- 10/25/21

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Monday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Milwaukee 119, Indiana 109
Boston 140, Charlotte 129 (OT)
Atlanta 122, Detroit 104
Brooklyn 104, Washington 90
Miami 107, Orlando 90
Chicago 111, Toronto 108
New Orleans 107, Minnesota 98
Cleveland 99, Denver 87
L.A. Clippers 116, Portland 86

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 4, Dallas 1
Buffalo 5, Tampa Bay 1
Calgary 5, NY Rangers 1
Carolina 4, Toronto 1
Florida 5, Arizona 3
Washington 7, Ottawa 5
St. Louis 3, Los Angeles 0

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
New Orleans 13, Seattle 10

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 10/24/21

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Charlotte 111, Brooklyn 95
Philadelphia 115, Oklahoma City 103
Boston 107, Houston 97
Orlando 110, New York 104
Golden State 119, Sacramento 107
Lakers 121, Memphis 118

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Boston 4, San Jose 3
Nashville 5, Minnesota 2
Detroit 6, Chicago 3
NY Islanders 2, Vegas 0

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Atlanta 30, Miami 28
Cincinnati 41, Baltimore 17
Green Bay 24, Washington 10
NY Giants 25, Carolina 3
New England 54, NY Jets 13
Tennessee 27, Kansas City 3
LA Rams 28, Detroit 19
Las Vegas 33, Philadelphia 22
Arizona 31, Houston 5
Tampa Bay 38, Chicago 3
Indianapolis 30, San Francisco 18

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Austin FC 2, Houston 1
New England 2, Orlando City 2 (Tie)

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Ride to the Olympics CEO on increase in Black polo players: 'We break barriers'

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(ATLANTA) -- Historically, very few African Americans have played polo, but that's changing in Atlanta.

"I've never ridden a horse outside of me starting this, let alone actually play polo, so I had to get over my fear of, like, thinking I would get kicked or that I will fall," Gia Tejeda, a junior economics major at Spelman College, told ABC News. "I just feel as though if you can learn how to navigate a horse and really master a sport that you can also, in the same sense, conquer the world, because it takes a lot to ride a horse."

Tejeda's three-woman team includes another Spelman student and one from Savanah College of Arts and Design. They're sponsored by Ride to the Olympics, a foundation that exposes urban students to equestrian sports.

"We break barriers," Kim Watson, CEO of Ride to the Olympics, told ABC News. "It was almost, like, tear-jerking it to see what it does to their confidence level."

The group was founded in 2017 by men's formal wear designer Miguel Wilson, who said he hoped one day of having its members qualify for the Olympics.

"The change of scenery, seeing the concrete turn into grass ... for a lot kids in the inner cities, going out to the country and just being able to spend a few hours with horses is life-changing," Wilson told ABC News.

Polo is very expensive to play and requires wide-open spaces that are hard to find in most cities.

"There are barriers that exist -- so it's about bridging that gap," Wilson said.

Even though comparatively fewer African Americans ride horses professionally now, Black jockeys played an important role in American history. Among the first 28 Kentucky Derby winners, 15 jockeys were Black. But zero Black riders participated from 1921 to 2000. And even fewer played polo.

In 2019, with the help of Wilson and Ride to the Olympics, Morehouse became the first historically Black college to create a polo club and be declared a member of the United States Polo Association.

"A lot of kids in these inner cities," Wilson said, "they know about football, they know about basketball, but who knows how many professional polo players we have walking around in northwest Washington, D.C., or in southwest Atlanta?"

Tejeda said she's "honestly still in awe" to have the opportunity to play the sport.

"When you think of polo, you don't think about Black kids playing the sport," she added. "So to be the pioneer in starting this is really amazing."

Added Wilson: "I mean, the Morehouse team was phenomenal. But to see these young ladies is extraordinary."

Female players composed about 40% of the U.S. Polo Association's membership in 2020, and the number of women's tournaments has grown steadily over five years, but no Black women currently are playing professionally. Uneku Atawodi, a Nigerian, is credited with being the first Black woman to reach such heights.

"I wasn't exposed to it, so that's generally the main reason" more Black Americans don't play polo, said AnaSimone Guimone, a junior who plays for Spelman College.

Ride to the Olympics recently teamed up with the Boys and Girls Foundation to create eight polo teams in urban areas for kids 8 to 18, and it hosts the Polo Classic in Atlanta, where student members and other Black players can play together.

"I wanted to create an environment where African Americans can go to a polo event that celebrates our culture," Wilson said. "Most polo events aren't about us."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Snoop Dogg joins the Harlem Globetrotters for the first NFT sitcom

Harlem Globetrotters

As Snoop Dogg's 50th birthday week continues, he's now joined the Harlem Globetrotters for a unique project.

The hip hop icon has partnered with the legendary basketball team to star in a hilarious video that's being described as the first sitcom to be auctioned as an NFT.

In the trailer, Snoop, whose character is named Jermaine, is hired to work with the Globetrotters in his "Da Dogg Gone Gym." The caption reads, "When the Harlem Globetrotters hired trainers, something went terribly wrong...They hired the wrong brothas."

In the clip, Snoop proves he is extremely unqualified for the job, leading one player to say to the team, "I told you we need basketball trainers this time!" At one point, Jermaine brags to one of his assistants that they are being paid "50 cents a hour."

Harlem Globetrotters Vice President Sunni Hickman says in a statement about the collaboration, "It's been a dream come true for our Globetrotter players to work with the iconic Snoop Dogg. His passion for basketball and baller culture is second to none; to have him as part of our team has been super dope."

The sitcom, which is still in development, will be available on the crypto promotion site VAST.com. The "All the Way Up" rapper also will create a theme song for the show, which will drop during the Globetrotters' Spread the Game tour, kicking off December 26 in Pittsburgh.

As previously reported, Snoop celebrated his 50th birthday Wednesday night at his home in Inglewood, California, with a star-studded players ball attended by Jamie Foxx, Usher, T.I., Mike EppsTerence J and many more.

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 10/21/21

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
LA Dodgers 11, Atlanta 2 (Atlanta leads series 3-2)

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Atlanta 113, Dallas 87
Miami 137, Milwaukee 95
Golden State 115, LA Clippers 113

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Columbus 3, NY Islanders 2 (OT)
Washington 4, New Jersey 1
Carolina 4, Montreal 1
San Jose 2 Ottawa 1
Florida 4, Colorado 1
Calgary 3, Detroit 0
Winnipeg 5, Anaheim 1
NY Rangers 3, Nashville 1
Vancouver 4, Chicago 1
Edmonton 5, Arizona 1

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE
Cleveland 17, Denver 14

TOP-25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
FSMU 55, Tulane 26

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Chris Brown supports NBA star Kyrie Irving's refusal to be vaccinated

Chris Brown and Kyrie Irving in 2014; Jerritt Clark/Getty Images

As many sports commentators are slamming Brooklyn Nets star Kyrie Irving for refusing to be vaccinated, Chris Brown is coming to his defense.

Breezy, who has displayed his basketball skills in several celebrity games, is praising the NBA All-Star for his anti-vaccine stance.

"THE REAL HERO!!! I stand with my brother," the "Freaky Friday" singer wrote Wednesday in an Instagram Story over a picture of Irving. "WHOEVER DONT LIKE IT... Go live your damn life.. ITS HIS CHOICE AND A DAMN GOOD ONE. ALWAYS IN MY BROTHERS CORNER."

Kyrie, who won an NBA championship with LeBron James as a member of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2016, has been banned by the Nets from playing because he has not received a COVID-19 vaccine. The team began the new season Tuesday night without Irving and lost 127-104 to the defending NBA champs, the Milwaukee Bucks.

The 29-year-old player explained his position on being vaccinated on October 14 in an Instagram Live session.

"It is reality that in order to be in New York City, in order to be on a team, I have to be vaccinated," Irving said. "I chose to be unvaccinated, and that was my choice, and I would ask you all to just respect that choice."

Before the Nets played Tuesday night, Charles Barkley blasted Irving for refusing to be vaccinated.

"First of all, you don't get the vaccine for yourself, you get it for other people," the NBA Hall of Famer said on TNT's Inside the NBA. "I got vaccinated. I can't wait to get the booster. You get vaccinated for your family first, you get vaccinated for your teammates second. That's what bothers me about this whole thing."

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Dodgers Justin Turner likely out for year after hamstring injury

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(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Dodgers third baseman Justin Turner is out for the year with a hamstring injury, manager Dave Roberts announced. 

The All-Star suffered the injury while hitting into a double play in the bottom of the seventh inning of the team's 9-2 loss to Atlanta in game four of the National League Championship Series, Wednesday night. 
"Early indication is it's a grade two [strain], so I think that will be it from him," manager Dave Roberts said after the game. 

Turner did not speak to reporters after the game. 

The Dodgers season could also be over tonight. They are down 3-1 in the NLCS heading into tonight's game five in Los Angeles. 

The first three games of the series were all won by one run. Atlanta took the first took games at home winning 3-2 and 5-4, respectively. Once the series shifted to Los Angeles, the Dodgers won 6-5, using a four-run bottom of the eighth rally to give them the 5-4 lead. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Colts safety Julian Blackmon out for year

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(INDIANAPOLIS) -- Indianapolis Colts safety Julian Blackmon is out for the year after tearing his Achilles, the team announced on Thursday. 

Black suffered the injury during practice on Wednesday. 

The second-year player started all six games this season and recorded 34 tackles and one pass break up. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Six schools in set to join American Athletic Conference

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(NEW YORK) — The American Athletic Conference has announced the addition of six new schools to its conference. 

The University of Alabama at Birmingham, Florida Atlantic University, The University of North Carolina at Charlotte, The University of North Texas, Rice University, and the University of Texas at San Antonio will join the conference at a date to be determined. 

The six new schools will join the nine current members to bring the conference to 15 schools. The conference will compete as a 14 team league in football, and men’s and women’s basketball. 

“I am extremely pleased to welcome these six outstanding universities to the American Athletic Conference,” said AAC commissioner Mike Aresco in a statement. “This is a strategic expansion that accomplishes a number of goals as we take the conference into its second decade. We are adding excellent institutions that are established in major cities and have invested in competing at the highest level. We have enhanced geographical concentration which will especially help the conference’s men’s and women’s basketball and Olympic sports teams."

The conference is replacing Cincinnati, Houston, and the University of Central Florida, which accepted invitations to join the Big 12. 

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


How professional sports leagues got most players vaccinated -- without mandates

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(NEW YORK) -- As companies in the U.S. look to vaccinate staff en masse, some employers have achieved high rates of vaccination without major mandates -- professional sports leagues.

Several high-profile players have made headlines in recent weeks for not getting the shot, but by and large, the vast majority of their peers have -- at greater rates than the general public.

Around 67% of eligible Americans are fully vaccinated, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. Meanwhile, leagues such as the NBA, NFL and MLS have rates greater than 90%, with the NHL and WNBA at over 99%.

Some leagues resorted to financial pressure to encourage vaccine uptake. But they also often deployed vaccination campaigns early that relied heavily on education and opportunities for players to connect with trusted medical experts, those involved in the efforts told ABC News.

"As far as the NHL is concerned, this is a very simple and very direct story -- you need to educate everybody as to what good public health practices are when you have a pandemic like this, and where someone who is ill can spread that disease to others at the workplace," Don Fehr, executive director of the National Hockey League Players' Association, told ABC News.

Meaningful 'fireside chats'

Back in January, months before the recent season started and COVID-19 vaccines were widely available, the WNBA's players' union, WNBPA, started hosting panels with medical experts over Zoom to address players' questions about the pandemic.

"They were curious about everything related to their public health risk, their public health understanding of the pandemic and then specifically about the vaccines," one of the experts on the panel, Jessica Malaty Rivera, an infectious disease epidemiologist and research fellow at Boston Children's Hospital, told ABC News. "They just very earnestly wanted to understand and learn about the stuff that we were sharing."

Malaty Rivera said she has done these virtual "fireside chat sessions" with several companies and teams, from Patagonia to the MLB's Washington Nationals, and finds them to be very effective. In talking with the WNBA players, she and the other medical experts crafted a conversation that touched on how the vaccine approval process works and concerns around pregnancy and fertility.

"They applied what they understood and it shows by the vaccination rates," she said. "We know that it didn't fall on deaf ears."

Leagues including MLS and the NHL provided similar opportunities for players to connect with medical experts and ask questions.

For the NBA, an educational campaign was the "crux of our program," Dr. Leroy Sims, senior vice president of medical affairs for the league, told ABC News.

Starting in February, all 30 teams watched a 20-minute PowerPoint on vaccinations, and the NBA and its players' association made doctors and scientists available to talk with players as a team and one-on-one if desired. Sims often fielded questions on how the vaccines were developed and approved, the impact on performance and side effects.

"It was a really big effort, but it was the most appropriate thing to do -- for us to take that time with our players and our coaches," said Sims, who noted they did similar sessions with players' families, the National Retired Players Association and the league's referees. "No question was out of bounds."

Who was delivering that message was also important, Sims and Malaty Rivera said.

"The thing that allowed us to achieve the numbers that we have achieved, in part, is the relationship. The doctor-patient relationship is dynamic, it's engaging, it's a two-way street," said Sims, who is a former team physician and was with the players in last season's "bubble." "It's built on trust."

The panels for WNBA players featured female scientists who are women of color -- which Malaty Rivera said was also "meaningful" for the league's athletes, who are predominantly women of color.

"When you talk about science communication you have to think about the message, the messenger and who's receiving the message," she said.

No mandates, but pressure

Some leagues have required staff in close contact with players to be vaccinated. The athletes have yet to face similar mandates, though there have oftentimes been strong incentives to get the shot.

In the NFL, for instance, teams could face potential forfeits and lost paychecks for outbreaks among unvaccinated players. As of July 22, when the policy was announced, 75% of players were partially vaccinated. As of Oct. 7, a month into the regular season, 93.3% of NFL players were vaccinated, the league said.

Unvaccinated players in the NHL and NBA, which both kicked off their seasons this month, could also face docked pay if they are unable to play due to local COVID-19 regulations. Around 96% of NBA players have been vaccinated, with that number expected to climb, league Commissioner Adam Silver said this week. Still, a vocal minority has made headlines for not getting the shot, notably Brooklyn Nets point guard Kyrie Irving. The decision makes him ineligible to play any home games at the Barclays Center, which under New York City regulations requires proof of vaccination for entry, and could potentially cost him millions of dollars.

The Nets decided to bench him entirely unless he gets vaccinated. He has not been allowed to practice with the team and did not play in the team's season opener Tuesday night in Milwaukee.

Beyond the threat of financial losses, unvaccinated players may have to follow stricter COVID-19 protocols, such as more frequent testing and stricter masking and social distancing measures.

MLB relaxed some protocols for teams with at least 85% of players and coaches vaccinated; just a handful of the league's 30 teams failed to reach that threshold by the end of the regular season earlier this month.

Unvaccinated MLS players have a different set of COVID-19 protocols, including more frequent testing, and are not allowed to engage in any "high-risk behaviors," such as attending concerts indoors, Johnny Andris, deputy general counsel for the MLS Players Association, told ABC News. Over 95% of players are vaccinated.

"There were enough carrots involved such that the sticks weren't really needed," Andris said.

Recognizing 'outsized influence'

Other factors may have also helped boost vaccination rates among professional athletes.

MLS players were "very eager to get vaccinated," particularly after the pandemic disrupted the previous season, Andris said.

"MLS was just two or three weeks into the season before things shut down," he said. "The players went right into the 'bubble' tournament down in Orlando, played the rest of the season after that under these really strict protocols. ... I think that whole experience made guys want to get back to normal as soon as possible."

This year's season, which began in April, has seen breakthrough cases, as was expected, though teams haven't had to cancel or postpone games due to an outbreak, Andris said.

The realities of the job -- from frequent travel to close contact with other players while maskless -- may have also helped spur vaccination, NHLPA head Fehr said.

"In normal workplaces, you can engage in a number of practices. You can work remotely. You can wear masks. You can socially distance at the office, etc., etc.," he said. "You can't do that on the ice."

Athletes may have also embraced their standing as role models in getting the vaccine. The WNBA, which wrapped its postseason earlier this week, did a COVID-19 vaccine public service announcement with four players in April, partnered with the Black Women's Health Imperative to support their vaccination efforts and, like other leagues, held community vaccination sites ahead of the 2021 season.

"We saw our role together with the WNBPA as providing players with the best possible information about the vaccine, and I'm proud of and commend the players for their leadership in getting the vaccine while also serving as role models," WNBA Commissioner Cathy Engelbert said in a statement to ABC News.

Silver, the NBA commissioner, told reporters this week he would like to see all players vaccinated in part because they have an "outsized influence on the rest of the public."

"I think it's a public service of sorts," he said, "particularly to young people who might not see the value of getting vaccinated."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 10/20/21

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Wednesday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Houston 9, Boston 1 (Houston leads series 3-2)

NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
Atlanta 9, LA Dodgers 2 (Atlanta leads series 3-1)

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Chicago 94, Detroit 88
Charlotte 123, Indiana 122
Washington 98, Toronto 83
Philadelphia 117, New Orleans 97
Memphis 132, Cleveland 121
Minnesota 124, Houston 106
New York 138 Boston 134 (2OT)
San Antonio 123, Orlando 97
Utah 107, Oklahoma City 86
Denver 110, Phoenix 98
Sacramento 124, Portland 121

NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
Philadelphia 6, Boston 3
St. Louis 3, Vegas 1

TOP-25 COLLEGE FOOTBALL
Appalachian St. 30, Coastal Carolina 27

MAJOR LEAGUE SOCCER
Chicago 4, Cincinnati 3
CF Montreal 1 Orlando City 1 (Tie)
New York City FC 1, Atlanta 1 (Tie)
New England 3, DC United 2
Miami 3, Toronto FC 0
Los Angeles FC 3, FC Dallas 2
Minnesota 3, Philadelphia 2
Columbus 1, Nashville 1 (Tie)
LA Galaxy 3, Houston 0
Seattle 1, Colorado 1 (Tie)
Vancouver 3, Portland 2
San Jose 4, Austin FC 0

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


NFL, former players reach agreement to end race-norming in concussion settlement program

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NFL, former players reach agreement to end race-norming in concussion settlement program

Pete Madden, ABC News

(NEW YORK) -- After several months of confidential negotiations, the NFL and attorneys for former players have reached an agreement that will end the controversial practice of race-norming in the league's landmark concussion settlement program.

The deal, which was filed under seal but obtained by ABC News on Wednesday, also outlines a process for reevaluating past claims for compensation that may have been affected by race-based adjustments to cognitive test scores, which sources familiar with the matter say could result in hundreds of millions of dollars in additional payouts to former players and their families.

According to the 46-page document, the parties agreed that "No Race Norms or Race Demographic Estimates -- whether Black or White -- shall be used in the Settlement Program going forward, and no party or Claimant shall have the right to appeal a Settlement Claim determination on the ground that Race Norms or Race Demographic Estimates were not applied, nor shall the failure to use Black Race Norms or Black Race Demographic Estimates be used as a basis to deny, reduce, or in any way justify the reduction or denial of a Settlement Claim."

Going forward, the league will fund the continued work of a panel of experts developing "a set of diagnostically accurate, race neutral, long-term norms" that will ultimately replace the current method of measuring cognitive impairment in former NFL players seeking compensation. The parties will then review all claims that were impacted by the application race-based adjustments and automatically rescore those neuropsychological tests under this new method.

In the coming weeks, the federal judge overseeing the settlement is expected to review its terms and hold a public hearing to solicit questions and comments.

Reached by phone, Cy Smith, the attorney representing Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, Black former players who filed a lawsuit challenging the terms of the original settlement, declined to comment on details of the agreement but called it "a huge win" for Black retired players.

Christopher Seeger, the class counsel representing all former players in the settlement, also hailed the agreement as a "hard fought" victory for former players and their families.

"The agreement filed with the Court today will ensure that the NFL concussion settlement works fairly and equitably," Seeger told ABC News through a spokesperson. "It was reached after hard fought negotiations overseen by Magistrate Judge David Strawbridge, with the guidance of a diverse group of medical experts and agreed to by the NFL and counsel for intervenors Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport. These changes accomplish what we promised: to eliminate the consideration of race in all the settlement's diagnostic testing and provide Black former players retesting or rescoring of claims. We look forward to presenting details of these changes to the Court, and engaging with former players about how this agreement will further the goal of providing them the care and support they deserve."

Brad Karp, an attorney representing the NFL in the settlement, issued a statement through a spokesperson highlighting the program's new "race-neutral evaluation process."

"We look forward to the Court's prompt approval of the agreement, which provides for a race-neutral evaluation process that will ensure diagnostic accuracy and fairness in the Concussion Settlement. We believe that the evaluation process contained in the agreement will have broad diagnostic applications, and welcome the opportunity to work with the greater neuropsychology community on the benefits of the cognitive evaluation process developed by the expert panel and set out in the agreement."

Following an ABC News investigation earlier this year, which uncovered emails and data suggesting that the league's protocols made it more difficult for Black former players to qualify for compensation, the federal judge overseeing the program ordered the NFL and attorneys for former players into mediation to "address the concerns" about the use of race-norming.

The judge later granted a petition to intervene from attorneys for two Black former players, Kevin Henry and Najeh Davenport, who had filed a lawsuit challenging the terms of the original settlement.

Both the league and the class counsel for former players initially defended the practice but ultimately reversed course and sought to reform the program in the face of mounting public pressure and scrutiny.

In an exclusive interview with ABC News in June, class counsel Seeger offered a mea culpa and an apology to Black former players who have claimed that the league's protocols skewed payouts along racial lines.

"I was wrong," Seeger said. "I'm really sorry that anybody, anybody, any client of mine in this program, has been made to feel that way. That is a big mistake. It was a failure of the system."

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


Scoreboard roundup -- 10/19/21

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(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Tuesday's sports events:

 AMERICAN LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
 Final  Houston   9  Boston   2

 NATIONAL LEAGUE PLAYOFFS
 Final  L.A. Dodgers   6  Atlanta   5

 NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
 Final  Milwaukee  127  Brooklyn  104
 Final Golden State  121  L.A. Lakers  114

 NATIONAL HOCKEY LEAGUE
 Final  Buffalo         5  Vancouver     2
 Final  San Jose        5  Montreal      0
 Final SO  Dallas          2  Pittsburgh    1
 Final  Florida         4  Tampa Bay     1
 Final  Washington      6  Colorado      3
 Final  New Jersey      4  Seattle       2
 Final  Detroit         4  Columbus      1
 Final  Nashville       2  Los Angeles   1
 Final  N-Y Islanders   4  Chicago       1
 Final OT  Minnesota       6  Winnipeg      5
 Final  Edmonton        6  Anaheim       5

Copyright © 2021, ABC Audio. All rights reserved.


NHL player Jimmy Hayes' death highlights spike in fentanyl-related drug overdose deaths

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(NEW YORK) -- Family members of a former NHL player who had cocaine and fentanyl in his system when he died are now speaking out to warn people about the risks of fentanyl, a powerful synthetic opioid.

Jimmy Hayes, a 31-year-old father of two who played seven seasons in the NHL, was found dead at his home near Boston on Aug. 23.

His death was ruled accidental.

"I hope getting Jimmy's story out there can save someone's life," Hayes' father, Kevin, told the Boston Globe. "If this can save someone from the pain, great. It's just so sad. I pride myself on being pretty mentally strong. I'm a street guy. But there's just no formula for this. You have a beautiful, all-American boy who made a terrible mistake and it cost him his life.''

Hayes' wife, Kristen, told the Boston Globe she was "completely shocked" that her husband's death was drug-related, telling the newspaper, "I was so certain that it had nothing to do with drugs. I really thought it was a heart attack or anything that wasn't that [drugs]."

Hayes was a Boston native who played over 300 games in the NHL for four different teams. His dad Kevin told the Boston Globe that Hayes came to him over a year ago and told him he was "hooked" on pain pills, and later sought treatment.

"So he gets help and everything was on the path to recovery, I thought," said Kevin. "But this [expletive] is so powerful.''

Hayes is the latest well-known celebrity to die with fentanyl in his system.

The singer Prince fatally overdosed on fentanyl in 2016.

"The Wire" actor Michael K. Williams died in September of a drug overdose which included fentanyl, p-fluorofentanyl, heroin and cocaine.

In February, Dr. Laura Berman, a nationally known relationship and sex expert, shared a warning for parents when her 16-year-old son died after taking what she described as fentanyl-laced Xanax from a person he allegedly met on Snapchat.

What to know about the dangers of illicitly manufactured fentanyl

In the United States, illicitly manufactured fentanyl is the primary driver of the significant increases in drug overdose deaths in recent years. More than 93,000 people died of a drug overdose last year, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

In September, the country's top law enforcement officials announced the seizure of more than 1.8 million counterfeit pills during a coordinated series of law enforcement raids throughout the country since early August.

The pills are often made to resemble real prescription opioid medication like Oxycontin, Vicodin and Xanax or stimulants like Adderall, according to the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. Most are made in Mexico, with China supplying the chemicals.

"We cannot stress enough the danger of these counterfeit pills," DEA Administrator Anne Milgram said at a Sept. 30 press conference. "We're seeing these pills being illegally sold in every state in the United States. They are cheap, they are widely available, they can be purchased online and on social media -- so through people's phones, and they're extremely dangerous."

Fentanyl, a synthetic opioid, is used frequently in medical settings. Developed for the pain management treatment of cancer patients, it is 50 to 100 times more potent than morphine and 30 to 50 times more potent than heroin, according to the DEA.

"It is a very good and effective medicine at relieving pain in appropriate quantities managed by anesthesia," said Dr. Kimberly Sue, medical director of the National Harm Reduction Coalition and an addiction specialist at Yale University. "What we're seeing in the opioid overdose deaths in this country is related to fentanyl that is obtained outside of the context of medical prescriptions, usually on the street."

In the case of an overdose death, fentanyl can cause a person to stop breathing, according to Sue.

Sue said that when people take medications that are not prescribed to them, they are playing "Russian roulette," given the prevalence of illicitly manufactured fentanyl on the streets today.

"In the case of a pill that you buy off the street, people should assume there is fentanyl present even if it is labeled as some other medication," she said. "I've taken care of many patients who think they're buying an oxycodone or heroin and there's nothing in it. It's just fentanyl."

Sue stressed that there are now resources like fentanyl test strips, which identify the presence of fentanyl in unregulated drugs, and naloxone, a medicine that rapidly reverses an opioid overdose, that can help save people's lives.

"These are really tragic deaths because they are preventable," said Sue. "I tell my patients, 'You have to use all these strategies to try to stay alive and keep your friends alive.'"

If you or someone you love is in need of help, call 1-800-662-HELP (4357) or visit HERE to reach SAMHSA's 24-hour helpline that offers free, confidential treatment referral and information about mental and/or substance use disorders, prevention and recovery.

ABC News' Luke Barr, Quinn Owen and Alexander Mallin contributed to this report.

 

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