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Sports briefs, Oct. 26, 2011

Vikings’ Robison fined $20K for kicking TJ Lang

EDEN PRAIRIE, Minn. — Minnesota Vikings defensive end Brian Robison has been fined $20,000 by the NFL for kicking Packers offensive lineman T.J. Lang in their game Sunday.

Robison received word of the fine Wednesday. He apologized to Lang, the league and the Vikings via Twitter on Sunday evening after he kicked Lang in the groin during a field goal try in the second quarter of a 33-27 loss to the Packers.

Lang replied on Twitter that he accepted Robison’s apology and did not consider him a dirty player.

Robison says he got caught up in the heat of the moment when he kicked Lang, who had dumped him on to his back during Mason Crosby’s field goal attempt. Robison says he regrets it and will make sure it doesn’t happen again.

Mayweather not guilty in Vegas harassment case

LAS VEGAS — A judge has found boxer Floyd Mayweather Jr. not guilty on misdemeanor charges accusing him of threatening two homeowner association security guards outside his Las Vegas home.

Las Vegas Justice of the Peace Diana Sullivan said Wednesday that she was not convinced the guards feared for their safety in the October 2010 confrontation over parking tickets.

The 34-year-old boxer faced up to a year in jail and a $2,000 fine if the judge found him guilty of both harassment charges.

He was accused of threatening to summon “homies” with guns to handle a dispute after the guards ticketed several of his vehicles that were parked near his house in violation of association rules.

Sharapova pulls out of season-ending WTA finals

ISTANBUL — Maria Sharapova pulled out of the WTA Championships with a sore ankle Wednesday after losing her second straight match at the season-ending tournament.

The second-ranked Russian’s withdrawal ensures that Denmark’s Caroline Wozniacki will finish the year with the No. 1 ranking, despite losing her group-stage match against Russia’s Vera Zvonareva.

Sharapova entered the tournament after sitting out since withdrawing in the quarterfinals in Tokyo last month because of an ankle injury.

After losing 7-6 (4), 6-4 to Li Na in her second round-robin match Wednesday, Sharapova said “the ankle didn’t recover as well as I had hoped after the first round.”

Sharapova lost to Sam Stosur in her opening match on Tuesday.

“The swelling got a little worse,” the second-ranked Russian said. “It just limits my movement a lot, and it’s not something I really want to risk, especially at the end of the season, knowing that I have some time to recover and let it heal naturally instead of really pushing it and damaging something else.”

The Russian will be replaced by alternate Marion Bartoli of France, who will face Victoria Azarenka of Belarus in the final group round. Azarenka maintained her perfect record against Sam Stosur with a 6-2, 6-2 win earlier Wednesday.

Wozniacki fell to 1-1 in the round-robin phase after losing 6-2, 4-6, 6-3 against Zvonareva in the late match.

Sharapova led 4-2 in the first set before Li broke back to force the tiebreaker, where the Russian let a 4-0 lead slip away. Li then took a 5-2 lead in the second and served out the match on her second attempt.

Sharapova said she expects to return to the court in Brisbane next year ahead of the Australian Open.

“Obviously disappointing to end it this way,” the Russian said about her season. “But I have no regrets. … I definitely progressed from last year and I’ve improved, and my game has stepped up. I still feel like going into next year there’s so many things that I can improve that can make me better. It’s just something I look forward to when I start training again.”

Li, the French Open champion, is the first Chinese player to qualify for the season-ending event for the world’s top eight players.

Stosur, the U.S. Open champion, was coming off her first ever win over Sharapova on Tuesday but appeared flat as she came out for Wednesday’s opening match. In her first match in the White Group, the fourth-seeded Azarenka broke four times to take her head-to-head record against Stosur to 5-0.

“I didn’t play aggressive enough … I don’t feel like I did anything,” Stosur said. “I just kind of got pushed around the court, and eventually was made to make an error or she would hit a winner.”

The Australian said her performance wasn’t affected by the late match against Sharapova the previous evening.

“Oh, I can’t blame that,” she said. “Yeah, it was a quick turnaround, but I felt like I was ready to go.”

Les Ferdinand: Ban Terry if claims are proven

LONDON — Former England striker Les Ferdinand, whose cousin is at the center of the racism investigation against John Terry, does not want the England captain to be allowed to play for his country again if he is found guilty.

The Football Association is investigating whether the Chelsea captain directed a racial slur at Queens Park Rangers defender Anton Ferdinand during a Premier League match on Sunday.

The probe was triggered Tuesday by QPR’s official complaint after footage of Terry apparently mouthing the insult at the black player spread on social networking sites.

Terry has denied allegations of racism, saying his comments were taken out of context.

But if Terry was found guilty, his future playing for England — not only as captain — would be thrown into doubt, just seven months after regaining the armband following a sex scandal.

Anton Ferdinand’s close relative said the English football authorities need to be seen to be acting tough on racism.

Asked if Terry should be banned from the national team if the allegations were proven, Les Ferdinand said Wednesday: “It’s down to the FA, but I’d be shouting from the rooftops (for that).”

“They need to make a statement,” he added. “If they don’t make a statement, paltry fines that have been handed out in the past prove to people that these people do not believe there is a problem with racism in football.”

Ferdinand spoke to The Associated Press at the Black List Awards in London, which recognize the achievements of black people in English football. He said he has to speak to his cousin about the incident.

“The more we see (racism) is a problem and we can do something about it, the more it eradicates the problem from happening,” Ferdinand said. “Until we can do that, this problem will continue (to) happen and I think it will steadily get worse until major steps are taken about stamping this out.”

The Terry incident is also being investigated by police in London.

The 30-year-old defender said the alleged comments directed at Ferdinand were taken out of context by social media users who spread the video on Sunday night.

“I thought Anton was accusing me of using a racist slur against him,” he said after the match. “I responded aggressively, saying that I never used that term.”

The incident happened during English football’s anti-racism week, which highlights the progress made since abuse marred the game in the 1970s and 80s.

And it came just a week after the FA launched a probe into allegations that Liverpool striker Luis Suarez racially abused Manchester United’s black defender Patrice Evra during a Premier League match.

“I think the FA, FIFA and UEFA have been in positions where they have been able to stamp out a few problems which have reared their ugly heads in the last few years and they haven’t done so, or they haven’t done it diligently enough,” Ferdinand said. “And I think that’s what has brought us to where we are today talking about this situation (with Anton).”

Report: Ex-UNC coach denies steering players

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — Former North Carolina associate head coach John Blake says he never worked to steer players to late NFL agent Gary Wichard.

In an interview with Sports Illustrated released Wednesday, Blake says he is “an honest and good man.” He plans to attend the school’s hearing Friday with the NCAA infractions committee in Indianapolis after being accused of trying to steer players to Wichard, a close friend who died of cancer earlier this year.

Blake’s relationship with Wichard became a key part of the investigation into improper benefits and academic misconduct within the football program. According to the notice of allegations, Blake received more than $31,000 in financial transfers from Wichard from 2007-09, though his attorneys have described those transactions as loans from one friend to another during financial trouble.

Bradford misses more practice time

ST. LOUIS — Sam Bradford was not at Rams practice while rehabbing from a high left ankle sprain, leaving his availability in doubt for the second straight week.

Backup A.J. Feeley got his first start since 2007 in a 34-7 loss at Dallas and expects to start again this week against the Saints.

Bradford remains in a walking boot and was in a cast for three days after on-field testing on Friday.

Offensive tackle Jason Smith, who has a concussion, visited a specialist Tuesday for a neck injury that showed a bruise. Smith and defensive tackle Darell Scott, who also has a concussion, were sent home.

Two players, offensive tackle Rodger Saffold and running back Jerious Norwood, were sent home with illnesses.

Lambeau Field to maintain weapons ban

GREEN BAY, Wis. — Lambeau Field officials plan to maintain a weapons ban when Wisconsin’s new concealed carry law takes effect next week.

The law takes effect Tuesday. People can apply for a permit to carry concealed handguns, knives or electronic weapons, thought businesses can prohibit concealed weapons on their property.

The Green Bay Packers’ head of security Doug Collins, said weapons are not going to be allowed in the stadium or parking lot. Team spokesman Aaron Popkey says fans should notice little difference beyond the signs explaining the ban.

Green Bay police say a violator could be arrested and cited for trespassing, which includes a $177 fine.

Vikes’ Cook appears in court on felony charge

MINNEAPOLIS — Suspended Minnesota Vikings cornerback Chris Cook has made a court appearance on a felony assault charge alleging he tried to choke his girlfriend during a disagreement over the weekend.

Cook did not enter a plea at Wednesday’s appearance in Hennepin County court.

Judge Robert Small ordered that Cook be on supervised release if he’s allowed to leave the state for work. If Cook leaves Minnesota for non-business-related reasons, he will have to clear that with probation officials.

Cook appeared in a black suit with a black shirt and white tie, his dreadlocks pulled back in a ponytail. He answered the judge respectfully with “Yes, sir” and “No, sir.” He left court without comment.

The Vikings have suspended Cook indefinitely without pay. His next court hearing is Nov. 22.

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