Senior U.S. District Judge Anita Brody announced Thursday in Philadelphia that the NFL and 4,500 former players had reached a settlement in the lawsuit accusing the league of not warning players of the risk and suppressing studies that showed damage to players.

I have written for months that this suit would never see the trial courtroom. This is because the NFL would have been compelled to reveal information that might have shown it knew of the risk involved with concussions and willingly chose to hide it from its own players.

Commissioner Roger Goodell deserves praise for finally acknowledging through the settlement that the NFL has an obligation to try and protect the health and safety of players. He didn't create the years of denial on this issue, and has been part of the solution. Details are yet to come, but financial relief will be distributed to former players that will help them deal with the consequences of these hits.

Perhaps the most significant consequence of the settlement is that it frees the NFL to be more active on this issue. I have called concussion injury a ticking time bomb and undiagnosed health epidemic for years. Each play starts with an offensive lineman hitting a defensive lineman -- an act that produces a low level concussive episode. These are never diagnosed nor recorded.

A lineman who plays in high school, collegiate and professional football may leave the game with 10,000 of these sub-concussive hits, with aggregate damage more consequential than three knockout blows. This knowledge presents a proximate threat to football as it is now played. The concussion litigation put the NFL under a microscope and made them view reform in light of how it exposed their liability for the past. Now the NFL is free to aggressively address this issue.

The first avenue of attack is prevention. This involve teaching players from an early age not to use the head and neck in blocking and tackling. Aggressive enforcement of rules is necessary. More funding is needed to explore prophylactic medicines that can prepare the brain to resist the hit. Our advanced technology that can send a space probe to Mars needs to focus on helmetry that can attenuate the energy wave delivered in a hit and dissipate it.

Once the blow has occurred, there are more accurate diagnostic tools now available to accurately chart damage while the player is on the sidelines. They make return to play decisions more protective. Medical researchers, like the Prevacus group, have medicine which can be taken right after the hit to minimize the consequences. More research needs to be undertaken into medicine that can cure the brain once multiple concussions have occurred.

These issues are not limited to football. AYSO, hockey, cycling, and virtually all sports that have collision potential produce these hits. Adolescents are at the highest level of risk. The NFL is far and away the most popular spectator sport in this country, so it has a symbolic power to lead the way on this issue. Now they are free to help raise awareness and fund prevention and treatment that will save millions from an injury that affects what it means to be human.

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NEW YORK -- Among the 128 tennis players gathered in Queens, New York for the final grand slam of the season, Victoria Duval's shot at winning seemed among the most slim on Tuesday.

Although Duval earned a trip to the 2012 U.S. Open after winning the 2012 Under 18 USTA National Champions (she lost in the first round to three-time champion Kim Clijsters), the 2013 journey was tougher. Duval lost in the quarterfinals of this year's Under 18 Championships and entered the qualifying draw. She needed to win all three qualifying matches just to come back to the U.S. Open.

When she did reach the main draw, she was matched with 2011 U.S. Open champion Samantha Stosur, 29, a veteran former champion with career earnings more than $12 million.

Duval, ranked No. 298 in the world, had no expectations and limited exposure, which is what makes her upset on the biggest stage in tennis that much more exciting. The 17-year-old shocked the 11th-seeded Stosur 5-7, 6-4, 6-4.

Duval was born in Miami but spent her early childhood in Haiti. Her father, Jean-Maurice Duval, was a doctor in Port-au-Prince and Victoria trained at the JOTAC Tennis Academy as a youngster. She left Haiti after at age 8. She eventually trained at the RCS Tennis Academy in Atlanta and the IMG Academy in Bradenton, Fla.

Only a few years later, perhaps the most challenging time of her life came around the time of the January 2010 Haitian Earthquake.

On Jan. 11 of that year, Jean-Maurice left Atlanta for Haiti. The quake occurred the next day.

Duval's father was buried alive for hours. He reportedly suffered a puncture lung among other injuries. Family friends of the Duvals from tennis, chartered a plane to Haiti to save Jean-Maurice.

"We're forever grateful to them," Duval said. "If it wasn't for them my dad definitely wouldn't be here today. Not everyone just pays $30,000 to fly a helicopter to save someone."

Upon his return to the United States, Jean-Maurice's injuries prevented him from working. He relocated the family to Boca Raton, Fla., home of the USTA Training Center.

When Duval took the court at Louis Armstrong Stadium, her racquet was not the only thing in her backpack. She carried 17 years of emotions and obstacles.

In the two-hour, 39-minute match that followed, the world experienced the turbulence of feelings going through Duval. As an American, the stands at Armstrong leapt to her side.

"I felt like I was on Ashe honestly," she said. "They were so loud. It was incredible. The crowd helped me a lot."

After losing the first set, Duval powered to a second set victory. The crowd started to see the attractiveness of Duval. With unstoppable energy and a sweetheart look–Duval were a pink top with goggles and a visor–Duval supplied the crowd with a fresh personality they could root for.

"I think I'm very much of a child at heart," Duval said. "On the court, you have to be a warrior because that's just the sport we are in. Off the court, I think it's important to have fun and be a good role model for other people."

It took four match points on serve against Stosur to finish out the final game.

All the drama made for that much sweeter of a victory. When all was said and done, Duval became the new American 'it' girl.

"I don't even remember match point," she said. "I guess I was really happy. I mean, you could tell by all the jumping I did."

Stosur, on the other end was left in shock. It will be a sour flight back Down Under for the former champ.

"She played a good match," Stosur said. "It was certainly a match where I feel like I could have played a lot better than what I did. At the end of the day, that's what happened today. She did well."

On Wednesday, with the U.S. Open in a rain delay, Duval was still the subject of the USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center. Her highlights played all over the grounds. She will take the court versus Daniela Huntuchova, the number 48 ranked player in the world from Slovakia, in the second round on Thursday.

Is she going to become a tennis star?

"That's what I'm working for," she said. "If God will let it, then let's go."

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"Now baby won't you come with me
'cause down the shore everything's all right
You and your baby on a Saturday night
Nothing matters in this whole wide world
When you're in love with a Jersey Girl."
Tom Waits/Bruce Springsteen

NEW YORK -- Yeah, but if you're a Jersey Girl commuting to the U.S. Open, stuff does matter -- like traffic for example.

Such is the fortnight for 21-year-old Christina McHale.

McHale was born in Teaneck, N.J., in 1992. From ages 3 to 8, McHale and her family moved to Hong Kong, but they returned to the United States in 2000. The McHales resettled in New Jersey, this time in Englewood Cliffs.

In June 2006, McHale was named the valedictorian of her eighth grade graduation class at the Upper School of the Englewood Cliffs Public Schools. Rather than attend high school in New Jersey, she moved to Boca Raton, Fla., to train at the USTA Training Center headquarters in Florida and was homeschooled through Kaplan Online High School.

Now she's back in Englewood Cliffs, and for the first time in five U.S. Open appearances, the tournament is tossing her a bone.

"Transport takes me," she said when asked if she drives from home. "I have been playing this tournament for so many years now, and every year we have driven. Then this year we decided to ask. Let's see if transport will take us. We fit within the radius they go, so it's really nice."

The route from home takes McHale over both the George Washington Bridge and the Triborough Bridge, but transport handles toll payments.

In making the interstate journey, McHale is always at risk of rush hour traffic. She plans according by leaving early in the morning.

"I'd rather get here super early than have to worry about that, because we go over two bridges and everything," she said. "Knock on wood I haven't had a bad experience yet.

"It's actually kind of nice. I just go home and I can get away from it all, like away from the hectic, how it is here at the site. It's like kind of the best. I'm here and then I can go and get away from it all from home."

McHale is one of 19 American women in the draw, but her proximity to Flushing Meadows gives her an added sense of home-court advantage.

McHale's opponent Tuesday, Julia Goerges of Germany, played with an ocean between her and her fans. McHale only had to deal with the Hudson River.

"This does really feel like home for me, this tournament," McHale says. "It's huge when you know you get into like a tight game or something and the crowd kind of like lifts you up and helps you get through it."

McHale defeated Goerges 6-4, 6-3 in the first round. The 2012 Olympian is ranked 114th in the world. McHale was ranked as high as No. 24 in the world last August, but a battle with mononucleosis during the last few months of the 2012 season caused a slide in the rankings.

On Thursday, McHale will return to the court versus Ukrainian Elina Svitolina. If she wins, she would set up a potential third-round matchup on Saturday against former No. 1 Ana Ivanovic.

Then it may be time to crank up the Springsteen. For McHale, everything would be all right.

This text will be replaced

Clarence Clemons' Football Roots: The Big Man Was Almost A Cleveland Brown

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NEW YORK -- James Blake entered Interview Room One at the Arthur Ashe Stadium Media Center. The wild hair is long gone and the former No. 4 has lost his intimidation factor.

No one is going to mistake Blake for one of the young stars of tennis nowadays.

But Blake held his head high. He is content where he stands. On Monday, he announced his plans to retire after his last match at the U.S. Open.

"I've had 14 pretty darn good years on tour," Blake said. "I've loved every minute of it."

The odds have always seemed against Blake. He was born to an African-American father, Tom, and a white, British mother, Betsy, in Yonkers, N.Y., on Dec. 28, 1979. At age 13 he was diagnosed with a severe case of scoliosis and spent five years in a full-length back brace 18 hours a day (As an exception, he could take it off when playing tennis).

Blake was never sent away to a tennis academy. He instead spent his youth training in the Harlem Junior Tennis program, where his parents volunteered. It was there Blake heard Arthur Ashe speak and set off the trigger for his tennis dream.

Thomas Blake, Sr. pushed his son but did not fit the stereotype of the crazy tennis father.

"He was someone that absolutely practiced what he preached and he preached hard work," Blake said of his father. "I have seen and heard about all the fathers from hell, at 12 and under, 14 and under, they're berating them for not hitting a shot the right way. He absolutely never said that. He always said you'll get better."

Blake went to Fairfield High School in Fairfield, Conn., and later Harvard University. He left Cambridge after his sophomore year to become a professional tennis player.

Blake cleared the first set of hurdles. But it was not long before he met an even bigger challenge.

In spring 2004, while practicing in Rome, Blake slipped on clay and broke his neck. His fall was inches from paralyzing him. In July of that year, Tom passed away from stomach cancer. Shortly thereafter, Blake developed shingles, temporarily leaving half his face paralyzed and his sight blurred.

"If I hadn't gotten to the ER immediately and gotten treatment, they said my facial nerve could have died," Blake recalls. "If that's the case, I never would have played."

Blake was near rock bottom. Then he made the impossible possible.

Blake put the personal and physical hardships aside and returned to action in 2005. His long-term absence and poor start to the season dropped him down to a ranking of 210 in April 2005. Blake opted to play tournaments on the Challenger Circuit, a step below the ATP Tour, to regain confidence.

Something magical happened. Blake rejoined the tour and in August, reached a final in Washington D.C. At the Pilot Pen Tournament in his backyard of New Haven, Conn., Blake won a title. He took a No. 49 ranking into the U.S. Open, of which he received a wild-card invitation. Blake reached the quarterfinals with a trip that included a win over second-ranked Rafael Nadal in the third round and ended with a loss to Andre Agassi.

"James was one of the more charismatic players on tour," Nadal said after his own three-set victory over Ryan Harrison on Monday. "His style of the game was spectacular a lot of days. He was able to play winners on the return with great first serves and his forehand was one of the best on tour."

From 2005-2008, Blake's prime included three Grand Slam quarterfinal appearances, a fourth-place finish at the Olympics and a high ranking of No. 4 in the world. During his career, he earned more than $7.8 million in prize money and ten career titles.

On paper, Blake's statistics do not rightfully portray one of the most influential men in American tennis history.

"I don't kid myself," Blake says. "I know I've had a great career in my eyes, but it's not one that's going to go down in the history books and end in Newport, but it's one that I'm proud of."

Maybe not, but maybe it will. During his prime, Blake appeared to be a player on the cusp. In that 2005 U.S. Open quarterfinal, he fell to Agassi after winning the first two sets. In his two other Grand Slam quarterfinals, he lost to Roger Federer. When Blake finally beat Federer at the quarterfinals in the 2008 Olympics (Blake is 2-10 vs. Federer, including a walkover win), he lost a three-set semifinal thriller to Fernando Gonzalez, with an 11-9 third set.

James Blake's career went beyond the court. In a world of egos and cheaters in sports, Blake took a different route.

"My goals when I was playing tennis were one, to keep getting better, to try to improve every day in practice," he said. "And two, when I'm done playing, when I put my rackets down, be content with what I did and happy I did everything the right way. That's not saying I didn't make any mistakes. I'm sure I made plenty. But I did the best of what I could. That's where I'm at today."

After her 6-1, 6-2 upset of number 12 Kirsten Flipkens, Venus Williams took time to reflect on Blake's legacy.

"I think he brought a lot of people into tennis," she said. "It's always great and also sad to lose someone who helps grow the game. People are always interested in James, so that's what I'm going to miss."

Blake fought through injuries as a teenager, 24-year-old in his prime and most recently, veteran in his 30s (Blake had knee surgery in November 2011). Every time he did not make excuses, but instead worked hard to return to form. He made himself an ally to fellow players on tour, especially the Americans. He played on Davis Cup and Olympic teams for his country.

Blake said his proudest moment was being part of the 2007 Davis Cup championship team.

"We had so many good memories," Blake said. "Even when we lost, we had fun together. Those weeks are something I'll never forget. Some of my best memories are just playing cards, shooting the breeze with those guys."

Off the court, Blake developed the Thomas Blake Sr. Memorial Research Fund with Sloan-Kettering in 2008. Blake holds fundraisers for the organization and also has the help of the "J-Block." The Blake fan club, which started with hometown friends during his 2005 New Haven title and has expanded across the nation, also contributes to the fund.

"What I admired period about him was how he gave back, obviously using his tennis career and celebrity to give back, especially to cancer because his dad passed," Williams said.

Blake's retirement does not mean the end for his mark on American tennis. His time and ears are still open to the next crop of U.S. stars.

"Hopefully younger Americans can know that my phone is always by my side, my door is always open," Blake said. "If they want to ask me questions or for any sort of advice from what I've learned, doing things the right way, the wrong way, any mistakes I've made, anything I did right. Hopefully, it will help the young American guys to learn from why I did. And know that it's not always one way. I've always said it's an individual sport. What worked for me may not work for some of these young guys."

Harrison, 21, is one of them.

"Whenever you ask anyone about James, he's left a great impression and just a great impact on everybody that he's known in the game," Harrison said. "His career is one thing. He obviously has results. I think something far more important that he's leaving behind is the fact he left a really positive impact on tennis and the people he was around."

Jamie Hampton, the 23-year-old American and the No. 23 seed in the women's draw, will remember Blake for both his on and off-the-court characteristics.

"He was good-looking," she laughed. "He could crush returns, super competitive, super fast and quick. Great forehand. He's a great guy. Everyone's going to miss him. He's had a fantastic career."

Blake's press conference was attended by his 36-year-old brother Thomas, a former player, and his wife, Emily Snider. Blake said he did not make his retirement decision on a whim. He has been thinking about it for a year and wanted to retirement at the U.S. Open in his home region. He also said spending so much time away from his family and his one-year-old daughter, Riley Elizabeth, contributed to the decision.

"I get more of adrenaline rush seeing my daughter wake up in the morning and that's something I'm truly looking forward to, being able to spend more time with my wife and daughter," Blake said as he tried to fight back tears. Then the waterworks came.

"I never expected this to happen," he said through tears.

Former player-turned-commentator Justin Gimelstob tossed Blake a towel to wipe away the tears. Family, friends, media and USTA officials applauded.

"He's one of the greatest guys out here on tour," Harrison said. "He's into the next stage of his life, which is being the family man, having the baby, having his wife and kid, just going that route."

One of the good guys of tennis is on his way out. One of the guys who Americans pulled for day-in and day-out is on his way out for good.

James Blake is OK with that. He has no regrets and has a legacy to be proud of.

"I'm going out on my own terms," he said.

He is not out yet. The 100th-ranked Blake has a date with 78th-ranked Croatian Ivo Karlovic in the first round of this week's U.S. Open. He will also be playing men's doubles with Jack Sock (Blake is ranked #61 in doubles).

"Hopefully I'll be here for more than a match or two. I want to give it my all still this year and have more of those moments."

There is no reason to not to believe him. Blake has always been one for the theatrical.

One thing is for sure. When James Blake leaves Flushing Meadows for the final time as a player, he will be a content man.

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So Major League Baseball has devised a plan, to start next season, to allow managers to challenge three plays per game. They have exempted balls and strikes and hit batters as calls that can be challenged, but they claim that 89 percent of other plays will be included. They claim that this will actually make games shorter. The average review now lasts 3 minutes and 4 seconds, and MLB says the new reviews have been tested at 1 minute and 15 seconds. They say this will shorten on field arguments.

As much as I admire Tony LaRussa and Joe Torre, former managers on the replay committee, this proposal will not help baseball.

The most excruciatingly boring aspect of NFL games is the replay. An exciting play like a touchdown occurs and the endless challenges threaten the spontaneous enjoyment and fan reaction. Instead the fan in the stands and viewer at home sits through interminable dead time. Nothing of interest is occurring. Instead of being able to react enthusiastically to plays, fan temper their reaction, because the play may not stand.


The most critical aspect of a baseball game is the interaction between pitcher and batter. Umpires have subjective and differing views of what a strike zone is. We trust them to use their best judgment, but they make mistakes every game. It is accepted that calls tend to even out. But this whole category is being excluded and then the new rule demands a level of visual scrutiny and accuracy that has never been part of the game. The reality of replay is that even with multiple camera angles the play may not be totally clear, which is why baseball has always factored in human judgment, not the charade of mechanical review perfection.

Baseball already fights the perception by potential fans that it is too slow, with too little action. The NFL and college football have vaulted way ahead in terms of television audience and other revenue. This is because there is collision and action on each play and an event feel to the spacing of the games.

I love baseball, the heritage, the statistics, the sights and smells of the ballpark -- part of its appeal has always been its unique traditions. Why tamper with a formula that works? Notwithstanding the popularity of football, the years since the 1994 strike have seen a virtual quadrupling of revenues from television, gate, social media and marketing. The endless complaints of owners of poverty in the prior years have disappeared. This has all occurred without replay.

The arguments over calls are part of the charm and appeal of baseball. Unlike a replay, a manager's drama and gesticulations provide interesting moments. This is a change, which is not needed.

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ThePostGame caught up with former NFL quarterback Chad Pennington at MetLife's "Road To MetLife Stadium" to talk about his past in Professional Bull Riding, the woes of the Jets and what he's up to now.

ThePostGame: The last time I saw you was at a Professional Bull Riding event a few years ago. Do you still own a bull?
CHAD PENNINGTON: No, I got out of the Professional Bull Riding in 2009, I believe. But I still talk to some of the cowboys a little bit and keep up with it.

TPG: How did you get into that in the first place?
PENNINGTON: You know, one day the professional bullriders came out to Nassau Coliseum on [Long Island] and a bunch of the Jets' players, including myself, went out and I just got the fever and bought a bull.

TPG: How did your bull end up doing?
PENNINGTON: He was top 50 in the world. The problem is I thought the next one I would buy would be the same [level] and he wasn’t.

TPG: So what are you up to now?
PENNINGTON: I'm a professional part-timer now: part-time coach, part-time consultant, full-time dad

TPG: Would you ever think about coaching full-time in college or the pros?
PENNINGTON: It's certainly a passion of mine, but it's so much time and with three boys I just I don't know if I can do it. But we'll see. Right now I'm coaching middle schoolers, so I'm getting a little bit of it but not too much.

TPG: Do you have any concerns about your kids playing football with the news of head injuries, etc?
PENNINGTON: I don't because I think as long as you teach the correct fundamentals, statistics say there are more concussions on the playground and riding a bike than there are in youth football. So it's all about teaching them fundamentals, so I feel good about it. Although I am waiting a little bit later [for tackle football], I like the flag game when they're younger. Then once they're in sixth grade, then they start tackling.

TPG: We've all seen the Yankee-Red Sox highlights from Sunday night by now. As an athlete, though not a baseball player, is there a code that you're supposed to follow when your teammate gets attacked like that?
PENNINGTON: The code is to stick up for your teammate. Now whatever that means, there's different ways to stick up for your teammate. But regardless, whether you agree or disagree with how someone handled the situation you don't take it into your own hands.

TPG: Do you think CC Sabathia should have beaned someone?
PENNINGTON: No, I mean two wrongs don't make a right. I always think class beats lack of class any day of the week, so I don't think retaliation serves its purpose and really what you're showing is you're showing the youngsters it's OK to retaliate and that’s wrong.

TPG: Have you ever been on a team where you're in that situation?
PENNINGTON: I've certainly been around and had teammates that were outspoken maybe seen as controversial but when they're your teammate its different you play together you develop a different type of relationship.

TPG: What do you think about the Jets this year?
PENNINGTON: I think they're going to do better than what people think. For some reason the Jets have always been a team when the odds are stacked against them, they always do better than people think.

TPG: If you could pinpoint one thing that's wrong with Mark Sanchez, what is it?
PENNINGTON: I just think you're just seeing a young quarterback who came into the league at a young age mature in front of your eyes so he’s having to make all of his mistakes on and off the field with all eyes on him. So where a lot of us we made those mistakes with nobody knowing, there's a huge difference.

TPG: Any truth to the random Internet rumor we read that you're coming out of retirement to help them out?
PENNINGTON: I would love to but this shoulder will not allow me to. Mentally I'm ready, but physically I’m not.

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The lawsuit by former NFL players against the league claiming lack of warnings to players about the dangers, and alleging studies showing damage were covered up, has generated massive public focus. There is a lawsuit in early stages brought by former college football players alleging that the NCAA failed in its duty to protect athletes that has an even more viable chance of success.

When athletes, who are in the 17-21 year age range suffer a concussion, the ramifications can far exceed those of older athletes. The brain may be still in the process of formation. Recovery time is as much as three times longer than for older athletes. And athletes at this age are still students, required to maintain a full academic schedule and maintain a minimum grade point average. So stronger preventive methods and higher barriers for return to play are needed to guard against the greater threat. The four named plaintiffs, led by former Eastern Illinois football player Adrian Arrington, allege that the opposite is taking place.

The NFL, under the leadership of Commissioner Roger Goodell, has tried to respond to the findings indicating that multiple concussions lead to an exponentially higher risk of dementia, premature senility, chronic traumatic encephalopathy, Parkinson’s and Alzheimer's disease as well as elevated rates of depression. The NFL has a "whistleblower edict" asking players to report their peers they suspect of being concussion impaired on the field. It has mandated baseline testing, the IMPAACT protocol developed by Dr. Mark Lovell, which is a cognitive test, administered pre-season that can be compared with a post-concussion test to dictate when a player is ready to return.

The NCAA has done very little.

Rachel Axon's article in the July 26 edition of the USA Today cites plaintiff allegations that the NCAA displayed a "casual attitude towards concussions." The players allege, based on emails, that "when David Klossner, the NCAA's director of health and safety, pushed in early 2010 for stronger guidelines regarding concussions. Ty Halpin, the director of playing rules administration, wrote a colleague 'Dave is hot/heavy on the concussion stuff. He's been trying to force our rules committees to put in rules that are not good-I think I have finally convinced him to calm down."

Axon reports that in response to an inquiry about concussion standards, David Klossner wrote ,"Well since we don't currently require anything, all steps are higher than ours."

The NCAA certainly has a responsibility to protect the health and safety of college athletes. When its own director of health and safety, trying to remedy the situation, admits that "we don't require anything" by way of warning or return to play requirements, it failed that duty. Hopefully this lawsuit will lead the way to a new demanding protocol that protects these athletes.

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When Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel became the first freshman in history to win the coveted Heisman Trophy in New York City in December, his mythic season should have faded to black. In the movies, the next scene would have had him charging onto the field for his eagerly awaited sophomore year. In an era of nonstop celebrity media coverage, Manziel has been presented to the country in one misadventure after another this offseason. He has been demonized and held up as a symbol of superstar status gone wrong. The final blow is the allegation that Manziel violated NCAA rules by accepting payment for signing autographs.

This allegation puts Texas A&M, Manziel and the NCAA in a difficult situation. The school runs the risk of losing its most critical player for part or all of the season. If the Aggies play him, they run the risk of school sanctions by the NCAA. Their third game of the season is against Alabama, viewed by many as a contest to decide who finishes the season ranked No. 1. The NCAA will be disciplining its biggest star with major ramifications to college football, Texas A&M, the television networks that fund much of the sport, and Manziel himself.

A rule is a rule, and each school has compliance courses that explain prohibited behavior. If the allegation is true, Manziel did not display Heisman-like judgment. The system, however, is in major need of overhaul.

College players live on scholarship checks that barely cover basic necessities. They cannot work like non-athletes to supplement their income. If they come from disadvantaged backgrounds (which was not the case with Manziel) they may be living at a standard below the non-athletes on the same campus. These same athletes have rigid in-season demands on their time, and now participate in rigorous off-season training programs and have the double burden of academics. They see their jerseys sold in the student store, their likeness used in video games, the massive crowds in stadia -- and see no revenue in return.

Many feel exploited. League rules require them to spend a year on campus in basketball and three in football even though they may have no interest. Of course, I wish every athlete would see the benefit of a college education --but many universities have a low graduation rate for athletes spending four or five years on the campus. Let's fix that.

Athletes are already resentful at being forced to be on campus are prime targets to accept monies from agents and alums, and don't see it as a moral issue. A system of supplementing their income with shared returns from licensing and marketing needs to be designed. The professional leagues that benefit from this "farm system" also could contribute.

Finally, Manziel has been subject to a ridiculous amount of hysterical scrutiny this offseason. He showed as much self-discipline as any student on the campus throughout the training camp and 2012 season. He is a college sophomore who needed a respite from endless pressure in the offseason. He is still growing and maturing. Did any of us ever attend a party on another campus? Have an episode with alcohol? Or oversleep while we were students? Did he make some mistakes? Maybe.

But we all did in those years. We weren't trailed around 24/7 by paparazzi, cellphone photographers and gossip seekers. If Aaron Rodgers, RG III, Tom Brady or any other superstar had been hounded this way in their early collegiate off-seasons, what would we think of them? The NCAA allegation is different, but he deserves a first presumption of innocence.

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The mysterious and tragic death of legendary Grand Valley State University quarterback Cullen Finnerty was due to complications from pneumonia due to chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a condition that is related to multiple concussions, WBBZ reported.

Finnerty's body was found in a wooded area in May two days after he disappeared while on a solo fishing trip.

The three-time Division II national champion often complained of headaches and issues sleeping, according to a New York Times report in June.

"For real serious concussions, I'd have to guess and say maybe four or five," his younger brother, Brendan, told the Times. "But realistically, it was probably dozens. You know, football. Hard impacts to the head."

His family told the Times in June that they did not want to blame football for their son's death, but his death is just one of the many of former football players that has sparked a debate and concern over brain damage possibly caused by the sport. It also comes as the NCAA is facing a lawsuit over head injuries.

"Some people like to speculate," Finnerty's father, Tim Sr., told the Times at the time. "This and that. This and that. It’s meaningless. I come in the door at his home, and I see his son, and he's looking for his daddy. I lost my son. My wife lost her son. It's devastating."

According to the report, the medical examiner also believes a build-up of Oxycodone, a painkiller, played a role in Finnerty's death.

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Major League Baseball issued its long awaited suspensions for 13 players for violation of the drug program's protocols. Yankee third baseman Alex Rodriguez was suspended for 211 games by Commissioner Bud Selig by his power under the Basic Agreement to act in the best interest of baseball. A-Rod was found to have engaged "in conduct to frustrate the commissioner's investigation." A New York Daily News story from April linked him to two men who attempted to broker a deal to purchase incriminating documents that connected A-Rod and others to the Biogenesis Clinic.

If his appeal is unsuccessful, It is unlikely to see Rodriguez return to play baseball again. He will be 40 years old when his suspension ends after the 2014 season and has been plagued with injuries. His performance when healthy has dramatically declined since his heyday as the best player in baseball. He may be able to play games during his appeal. The chances for its success are slight. Remember that MLB has an exemption from NLRB antitrust regulation, which was granted to them uniquely by Congress.

Some of the other players such as Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz are productive stars and All-Stars, and their suspension will likely alter the results of the ongoing pennant races. Everth Cabrera of the Padres was selected to the most recent All-Star squad as was Jhonny Peralta from the Tigers. Commissioner Selig deserves heavy praise for vigorously pursuing the violators in baseball.

Does the current policy go far enough? It is clear to every single player involved in organized baseball that steroids and HGH are banned. There is no chance that anyone could have missed the news. It is also clear that when some players use these substances it gives them a competitive advantage over others. It is cheating. It is clear that their use creates an uneven playing field, with some players able to hit the ball farther and pitch with more speed than others.

This leads to a lack of legitimacy to every single statistic achieved by a substance-aided player. No stat is equal, nor is any record. Moreover, team achievement is tilted by this practice. There is a rough equivalence in the talent level of players at a elevated level. Ten extra feet on a hit ball puts it out of the park rather than having it caught on the warning track. Four mph on a fastball may be enough to alter reaction time. Teams playing with steroid players have an unfair advantage and their record is suspect.

The reason that professional sports are so vigilant about gambling is the fear of player's with large debt shading their performance to repay the gamblers. This goes to the very integrity of the sport, and makes team records suspect. Athletes are role models to younger players and this usage may signal high school and college players that it is acceptable or necessary to use the substances.

With a practice this harmful, and the policy so clear, to really rid baseball of performance enhancing substances, shouldn't there be zero tolerance. What's wrong with one strike and a lifetime ban? This would send a deterrence shock wave that would rid the sport of this scourge.

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