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Sports briefs for Jan. 3, 2014

By Wire Service Reports, Special to the BDN

Vikings to investigate Kluwe’s allegations

The Minnesota Vikings hired two lawyers to conduct an independent review of allegations made by former punter Chris Kluwe, who claimed the team released him because of his public stance in support of same-sex marriage.

Former Chief Justice of the Minnesota Supreme Court Eric Magnuson and former U.S. Department of Justice trial attorney Chris Madel will lead the investigation.

Kluwe alleged that special-teams coordinator Mike Priefer used homophobic language in Kluwe’s presence, and that the Vikings cut him because of his stance regarding gay rights.

Steelers fire offensive line coach Bicknell

The Pittsburgh Steelers terminated the contract of offensive line coach Jack Bicknell Jr., the team announced Friday.

Bicknell is a former standout Orono High School football player.

The Steelers will begin searching for his replacement in the upcoming weeks.

“I have decided to go in a different direction with respect to the coaching of our offensive line,” Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin said. “I want to thank Jack for his contributions during the 2013 season, and I wish him well in the future.”

Bicknell spent just one season with the Steelers, who finished tied for 27th in the NFL in rushing yards per game in 2013.

Columbus’ MacKenzie suspended 3 games

The NHL suspended Columbus Blue Jackets forward Derek MacKenzie for three games for boarding Phoenix Coyotes defenseman Oliver Ekman-Larsson on Thursday, the league announced Friday.

MacKenzie hit Ekman-Larsson from behind, causing Ekman-Larsson to hit his head on the boards and resulting in a possible concussion.

The incident occurred at 8:46 of the first period, and no penalty was assessed for the hit.

Winter Classic sets two records

The 2014 NHL Winter Classic not only set an attendance record but established a record for regular-season North American television viewership as well, the NHL announced.

The game, in which the Toronto Maple Leafs beat the Detroit Red Wings 3-2 in a shootout, was played at the University of Michigan before a crowd 105,491 fans, the largest crowd ever to see a hockey game.

The combined average television viewership for the game on NBC in the U.S., and CBC and RDS in Canada was 8.234 million viewers in North America. The previous regular-season record was 6.6 million average viewers for the 2011 Bridgestone NHL Winter Classic at Pittsburgh’s Heinz Field.

Giants running back Jacobs retires

New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs announced his retirement Thursday night with a post on his Twitter account.

“After 9 years in this whirlwind business they call the NFL, I am proud to announce that I am hanging up my cleats,” he wrote. “I’ve had an amazing run and I appreciate all of the support from the fans through the good and the bad. The New York Giants are a great organization and I am proud to have been a part of it for so long.”

Jacobs, 31, spent his first seven seasons with the Giants. He appeared in two games with the San Francisco 49ers in 2012, then rejoined the Giants in 2013.

He finishes with 5,094 rushing yards and 60 touchdowns on 1,141 carries.

Magic waive Turkoglu

The Orlando Magic waived forward Hedo Turkoglu, the team announced Friday.

Turkoglu, 34, has not played in an NBA game since last February, and he was suspended 20 games last season for violating the terms of the league anti-drug program.

But apparently Turkoglu still wants to play in the NBA, and he is now a free agent who can sign with any team.

Turkoglu was waived so the Magic could take the unguaranteed $6 million off his current $12 million deal.

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