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Sports briefs for Sept. 12, 2013

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Armstrong returns Sydney Olympic medal to officials

Disgraced retired cyclist Lance Armstrong has returned his 2000 Olympic medal to the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC) nine months after he was stripped of it, USOC officials said on Thursday.

“I can confirm that the United States Olympic Committee has received the bronze medal awarded to Lance Armstrong at the 2000 Olympic Games in Sydney,” USOC spokesman Patrick Sandusky said in a statement.

“The International Olympic Committee and the USOC had previously requested that the medal be returned. The USOC has made arrangements to return the medal to the IOC.”

The confirmation came shortly after Armstrong had tweeted: “The 2000 Bronze is back in possession of @usolympics and will be in Switzerland asap.”

The American lost his seven Tour de France titles last year and in January admitted to years of performance-enhancing substance use in the most spectacular drugs case in recent years.

Following his public confession, the IOC ordered the return of the bronze medal he won in the time-trial at the Sydney 2000 Games and declared the race results void.

Jets’ Sanchez to attempt rehab of torn labrum

Mark Sanchez’s season might be over before it begins, but he’s not going down without a fight.

The New York Jets quarterback has a right shoulder labral tear. Sanchez plans to attempt to avoid season-ending surgery with a rigid rehabilitation program, but there is no guarantee he’ll be back on the field in 2013.

Sanchez saw Dr. James Andrews for a second opinion Wednesday in Gulf Breeze, Fla., and the noted orthopedist confirmed the shoulder tear, according to multiple reports. The 26-year-old quarterback delayed the operation in an effort to play later in the year, then have the surgery following the season. Postseason post-surgery rehab could impact Sanchez’s ability to be ready for the start of the 2014 season.

The injury occurred in the fourth quarter of the Jets’ Aug. 24 preseason game against the New York Giants, when Sanchez was playing behind an offensive line made up of reserves.

Geno Smith, a rookie second-round draft pick, started and led the Jets to a season-opening, 18-17 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers on Sunday. Smith completed 24 of 38 passes for 256 yards with one touchdown and one interception.

The previous four seasons, Sanchez started 62 of the Jets’ 64 games, posting a 33-29 regular-season record. He led the Jets to a AFC Championship Game after the 2009 and 2010 seasons.

Former Bronco Frank Tripucka dies at 85

Former Denver Broncos quarterback Frank Tripucka died Thursday morning after battling a long illness. He was 85.

Tripucka, who is in the team’s Ring of Fame, threw the first touchdown pass in American Football League history on Sept. 9, 1960. His No. 18 jersey was retired by the team, but he allowed Peyton Manning to wear it when he joined the Broncos in 2012.

“Frank Tripucka was an original Denver Bronco and Ring of Famer who was the first to quarterback the team,” the team said in a statement. “He laid the foundation for the Broncos’ future success as an American Football League All-Star, twice leading the league in passing yards and setting numerous single-game and career records. He is proudly remembered as one of professional football’s first great drop-back quarterbacks.”

Tripucka was the No. 9 overall draft pick of the Philadelphia Eagles in 1949 after he was an All-American quarterback at Notre Dame. However, he never played for the Eagles. After stints with the Detroit Lions, Chicago Cardinals and Dallas Texans, he spent most of the 1950s in the Canadian Football League.

Yankees owe $29 million luxury tax

The New York Yankees have to pay a record $29.1 million luxury tax bill after the season, according to USA Today.

The figure is based on the Yankees’ $236.2 million payroll. The team is taxed 50 percent on every dollar over the $178 million luxury tax threshold.

The tax is calculated based on the team’s payroll at the end of the season, so the Yankees’ tax amount could slightly change, depending on any transactions they make in the next few weeks.

Next year, the luxury tax threshold increases to $189 million. The Yankees are trying to get under that number to avoid paying the tax in the future and to benefit from revenue sharing.

The Los Angeles Dodgers are the only other team projected to pay the luxury tax. Despite having a current $234.5 million payroll, they will only be charged with a $9.9 million bill because first-time offenders are only taxed 17.5 percent for every dollar over the threshold.

Since the luxury tax was implemented in 2003, the Yankees have paid about $253 million towards it. Every other team in Major League Baseball has combined to pay about $32 million. The Boston Red Sox, Detroit Tigers and Los Angeles Angels are the only other teams to ever pay the tax.

Schiano denies fixing team captains vote

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano told the Tampa Bay Times that he did not fix the results of the team’s voting for team captain to prevent quarterback Josh Freeman from being honored.

Freeman was a captain for the last three years. Rumors circulated that Schiano rigged the voting after Freeman was not elected this year.

“I know there’s a story out there,” Schiano said. “It’s 100 percent false. If there was such a thing as 102 percent, this would be it.”

Freeman said during a radio show Tuesday that his votes for captain went to wide receiver Vincent Jackson and guard Davin Joseph, according to ESPN.

“Everybody wants to make it out like it’s a demotion,” Freeman said. “I don’t look at it like that. They don’t look at it like that. Essentially, the conversations, the day-to-day actions are the same.”

The Tampa Tribune reported that Freeman was late for the annual team photo. When asked to comment, Freeman sent a text to the newspaper that read: “You know I can’t do Buc non-sanctioned interviews.”

Red Wings get Cleary after change of heart

Right winger Daniel Cleary won’t bid farewell to the Detroit Red Wings after all, leaving the Philadelphia Flyers at the altar to rejoin the team he’s been with for the past eight years.

Cleary, 34, had agreed to a three-year contract with Philadelphia. But he had a change of heart at the last minute and the Red Wings announced he would report to training camp Thursday, where a one-year, $1.75 million deal awaits.

Cleary told the Flyers of his last-minute pitch to the Red Wings before it was announced.

“He’s a character guy with deep ties to the Red Wing organization,” Flyers general manager Paul Holmgren said Thursday. “I can’t fault him for that. I had a couple of conversations with Dan leading up to even two days ago when he’d agreed to come on a tryout. I knew that he wanted to be in Detroit.”

The Red Wings are over the salary cap and have 25 players under contract. They added Stephen Weiss and Daniel Alfredsson and could only afford Cleary at a cut rate. He made $3 million last season.

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