Falcons' first-ever pick dies
Tommy Nobis, the first player drafted by the expansion Atlanta Falcons and a hard-hitting middle linebacker who was never fully recognized for his talents on a struggling franchise that failed to make the playoffs during his long career, died Wednesday. He was 74. The team said he died at his suburban Atlanta home after an extended illness with his wife of more than 50 years, Lynn, at his side. Nobis was among hundreds of ex-NFL players who struggled with physical and cognitive ailments after their careers ended, having played in an era when no one paid much attention to the lingering impact of concussions. A native of San Antonio who sported a red-headed crew cut, Nobis starred on both sides of the line at the University of Texas, where his No. 60 is one of six numbers retired by the school. Despite being slowed by a knee injury during his senior season, he won the Maxwell Award as the nation's best all-around player and the Outland Trophy as top lineman. He was drafted first overall by the Falcons and also picked by his home-state Houston Oilers of the American Football League, leading to a spirited bidding war. Nobis wound up signing with Atlanta, becoming the first player in franchise history and a beloved figure who would forever be known as "Mr. Falcon." He earned NFL rookie of the year honors and the first of five Pro Bowl berths in 1966, the launch of an 11-year career spent entirely with the Falcons. No. 60 has never been worn by any other Atlanta player. Nobis was among the initial inductees into the team's "Ring of Honor" in 2004.
Patriots sign WR Britt
The New England Patriots have beefed up Tom Brady's receiving corps for this week's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, adding veteran Kenny Britt. They'll also get tight end Rob Gronkowski back after his one-game suspension. Also Wednesday, tackle Marcus Cannon was placed on injured reserve. A second-team AP All-Pro last season, Cannon played in seven of the first eight games but missed the last five with an ankle injury. Britt, a 2009 first-round pick out of Rutgers, was released by Cleveland last week in his first season after signing a four-year, $32.5 million contract in March. He appeared in nine games with four starts for the Browns, catching 18 passes for 233 yards and 2 TDs.
Broncos place safety on IR
Justin Simmons' breakout season is over because of a sprained left ankle he sustained while celebrating a rare big play by the Denver Broncos in their first victory in two months. The Broncos placed Simmons on injured reserve Wednesday. He was injured in Denver's 23-0 victory over the Jets on Sunday, their first victory in 70 days. Simmons jumped to body bump teammate Brandon Marshall following the linebacker's strip-sack of Josh McCown that resulted in a takeaway at the Jets 20-yard line in the first quarter. Simmons landed awkwardly when he came down on Marshall's right foot and had to leave the game. He was replaced by fellow second-year safety Will Parks.
Seahawks promote LB to roster
With concerns about depth at linebacker, the Seattle Seahawks have promoted linebacker Paul Dawson off their practice squad and placed offensive lineman Oday Aboushi on injured reserve. The Seahawks made the roster moves Wednesday before beginning preparations for Sunday's NFC West matchup against the Los Angeles Rams. Seattle is uncertain of the status of linebackers Bobby Wagner (hamstring) and K.J. Wright (concussion). Dawson was a third-round pick of the Bengals in 2015. He played 13 games in his first two seasons before signing on to Seattle's practice squad in November. Aboushi started eight games for Seattle at right guard before suffering a season-ending shoulder injury in Week 11 against Atlanta. Rookie Ethan Pocic has filled in at the position since Aboushi's injury.
UCLA hires former Hogs' DC
Paul Rhoads has been named UCLA's defensive backs coach. UCLA announced the addition of the former Iowa State head coach to Chip Kelly's new staff on Wednesday. Rhoads was in charge of the Cyclones from 2009-15. He spent the past two seasons on Bret Bielema's staff at Arkansas, serving as the Razorbacks' defensive coordinator. Rhoads spent seven seasons as Pitt's defensive coordinator and another year in the same job at Auburn before taking over at Iowa State.
Georgia freshman arrested
A Georgia freshman is facing a felony forgery charge over allegations of passing a counterfeit $100 bill last summer, the third player to be arrested since the Bulldogs won the SEC championship and a spot in the College Football Playoff. Defensive back Latavious Brini was taken into custody Tuesday evening by the Clarke County sheriff's office. He was released about three hours later on $5,700 bond, jail records show. Media outlets reported that Brini's arrest stems from a July incident in which the counterfeit bill was used to make an $8 purchase at a pet supplies store, with the suspect receiving $92 cash in return. Police said the store realized later at a bank drop that the $100 bill was fake. Officers were called when Brini returned to the store about a week later, leading to the investigation that eventually resulted in a warrant being issued for his arrest. A police report said Brini also gave a different name during his initial visit to the store when setting up a rewards card.
Crosby to head Walker Cup
Nathaniel Crosby is returning to Royal Liverpool for the Walker Cup, this time as the U.S. captain. The USGA has selected Crosby to lead the Americans in the 2019 matches at Royal Liverpool. Crosby played on the 1983 team that beat Great Britain and Ireland the last time it was held at Royal Liverpool. Crosby, 56, is the son of Bing Crosby. He won the 1981 U.S. Amateur at Olympic Club, and a year later was the low amateur in the U.S. Open at Pebble Beach. He also was part of the World Amateur Team Championship that the American won in 1982. The Walker Cup is the amateur version of the Ryder Cup. The Americans won this year, 19-7, at Los Angeles Country Club.
Suns sign guard Canaan
The Phoenix Suns have signed guard Isaiah Canaan after receiving an injury hardship exemption from the NBA. Under the exemption, the Suns added Canaan because they have four players on the roster out for two weeks or more. Star guard Devin Booker is out with a groin injury, and Alan Williams, Davon Reed and Brandon Knight have serious knee injuries. The 6-foot Canaan has averaged 8.4 points, 1.8 rebounds, 1.6 assists and 20.2 minutes in 186 games in five seasons with Houston, Philadelphia and Chicago. Canaan was a two-time Ohio Valley Conference Player of the Year at Murray State.
Spokesman: Goodell’s contract his last
IRVING, Texas — Commissioner Roger Goodell views the agreement reached on an extension last week as his final contract overseeing the NFL, a league spokesman said Wednesday.
Goodell’s extension through 2024 will allow him to help negotiate a new labor deal when the current collective bargaining agreement expires in 2021, and have a hand in talks over new broadcast contracts, spokesman Joe Lockhart said when announcing details of the deal signed last week.
“The commissioner I think has been clear that he views this as his last contract and will allow him to deal with some of the important issues that we know are on the horizon,” Lockhart said at the luxury Dallas-area hotel where NFL meetings were held.
The extension has been a source of controversy because powerful Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones objected to the process led by the six-owner compensation committee and chairman Arthur Blank of the Atlanta Falcons.
Lockhart said 90 percent of the contract will be incentive based, which he said was an increase in nonguaranteed income over previous deals.
A person with knowledge of the agreement has told The Associated Press the five-year extension is worth almost $200 million with a base salary of $40 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the figures are not made public.
Goodell made nearly $32 million in 2015, the last year public records of the NFL are available. League revenues have more than doubled to $14 million since Goodell replaced Paul Tagliabue in 2006.
Sports on 12/14/2017
Print Headline: Off the wire