<![CDATA[NBC Chicago - Sports]]> Copyright 2015 http://www.nbcchicago.com/news/sports http://media.nbcbayarea.com/designimages/5-Chicago-Blue.png NBC Chicago http://www.nbcchicago.com en-us Sun, 30 Aug 2015 04:54:41 -0500 Sun, 30 Aug 2015 04:54:41 -0500 NBC Owned Television Stations <![CDATA[Bengals Beat Bears 21-10 ]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 21:51:26 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+bengals+3.jpg

With injuries and poor play taking a serious toll, the Chicago Bears couldn't get things going in the right direction on Saturday night as they lost by a score of 21-10 to the Cincinnati Bengals in the third week of the preseason. 

The Bears got the game started with a three-and-out on offense, and the Bengals promptly came onto the field and scored on their first drive. The Bears did a nice job of making a couple key stops at the goal line, but on fourth and goal Andy Dalton was able to dive across the line to give Cincinnati a 7-0 lead. 

Three straight Matt Forte runs gave the Bears their first first down of the game on Chicago's next possession, but the drive sputtered to a halt as the team's offense continued to struggle. On third and long, Jay Cutler dropped back into the pocket and immediately had to throw the ball away as he was under quick durress, forcing the Bears to punt early in the second quarter. 

Even without Dalton on the field, the Bengals' offense continued to churn, and they scored another touchdown with A.J. McCarron at the helm. Marvin Jones made a couple of nice plays (including a long catch that was wiped out by a penalty), and he ultimately scored a touchdown as he beat Shea McClellin and Antrel Rolle on a deep pass to give Cincinnati a 14-0 lead. 

After the Bears' offense was forced to punt the ball away again, the Bengals used their running game to score yet again. Jeremy Hill had a huge gain after both McClellin and Christian Jones were pushed out of their gaps, and a few plays later he scored as he beat out Brock Vereen to the edge and cruised across the goal line to make it a 21-0 game. 

The Bears were able to get their offense going a bit late in the half, with Rashard Lawrence and Martellus Bennett making some key catches. Jay Cutler went 6-for-6 on the drive, but the Bears had to settle for a field goal that made it a 21-3 contest at halftime. 

The third quarter wasn't much better for the Bears as their offense continued to struggle, but they did end up getting a good special teams play early in the fourth quarter. On a Bengals punt attempt, Ify Umodu broke through the D-gap on the line, blocked the kick, and returned the ball eight yards for a touchdown to make it a 21-10 game. 

Unfortunately for the Bears, that was as close as they could get in the game, and they lost for the first time in the preseason. 

The Bears will finish off the preseason on Thursday night when they welcome the Cleveland Browns to Soldier Field. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears vs. Bengals: 5 Players to Watch]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 17:49:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/bears+bengals+1.jpg

The Chicago Bears have won two consecutive preseason games under new head coach John Fox, but the team will be in for its biggest test of the exhibition slate on Saturday as they take on the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.

The Bears are facing a variety of obstacles in the game, and to help dissect some of those, we are highlighting five key players that will help tell us a lot about what we can expect from this team when the regular season begins in two weeks.

Josh Bellamy

The Bears are likely going to be missing their top four wide receivers when they take the field on Saturday night, but with the team wanting to get work in installing a game plan, expect to see plenty of throws, and Bellamy should be a big beneficiary.

The receiver has had a solid camp for the Bears, but this will be a big test against a tough secondary. If he can excel, the Bears will likely give him more snaps with the first team squad when they take on the Packers at Soldier Field in two weeks.

Jay Cutler

Cutler is going to have a difficult time getting into an offensive rhythm without some of his key targets on the field Saturday night, but it will still be worth watching to see if he can execute Adam Gase’s offensive game plan in the team’s final full-scale dress rehearsal before the regular season.

Cutler has said all of the right things and has made it a point to converse with Gase on the practice fields on numerous occasions, but all of that work will be tested once the coin is tossed in Cincinnati. This may not be a regular season game, but it is one that the Bears are going to treat like a serious test.

Kyle Fuller

Players going into their second year in the NFL are generally expected to make strides forward, but one could make a compelling case that Fuller has regressed during training camp and the preseason. He hasn’t successfully defended a pass so far in the preseason, and he’s routinely being beaten off the line of scrimmage by every receiver that he faces.

The road will not get easier for Fuller as he goes up against A.J. Green on Saturday night, but the Bears’ defense still needs the cornerback to step up. The team can’t afford to constantly drop safeties into coverage to help him out, and he’ll have to start winning some one-on-one battles if he’s going to have a bounceback season.

Eddie Goldman

With Jeremiah Ratliff suspended for the first three games of the regular season, Goldman is going to have a big test on his hands as he slides into the nose guard position for Vic Fangio’s defense. He dealt with some conditioning issues early on in the preseason, but he has recovered nicely and has played some solid football in game action.

Saturday will pose a real test as he takes his place in the middle of the defensive line against a tough Cincinnati running attack. Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard are both excellent backs, and Goldman will have his hands full trying to provide solid defense up the middle of the field.

Shea McClellin

We have been targeting McClellin as a player to watch throughout the preseason, but this will be the ultimate test as he looks to solidify his position as the starting middle linebacker for the Bears. He has done a nice job early in the preseason in both coverage and pass rush, but the Bengals’ offense should give him an excellent test of his all-around ability.

Will he be able to keep an eye on Andy Dalton and the passing game? Can he help fill in gaps and stop big gains from Hill and Bernard in the running game? Those questions will tell us plenty about what we can expect from McClellin this season, and from the defense as a whole.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[IndyCar Racer Justin Wilson Remembered at Race]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 15:11:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/gettyimages-170552690-justin-wilson-dies.jpg

A moment of silence was observed in memory of Justin Wilson prior to the start of the NASCAR Xfinity race at Road America.

Wilson died Monday from a head injury sustained when he was struck by debris during an IndyCar Series race at Pocono Raceway in Pennsylvania.

Many drivers at Road America placed decals on their cars in memory of Wilson. The rear bumper of the No. 52 car driven by Joey Gase, an organ donation advocate, featured a large picture of Wilson and a testimonial from his brother and fellow racer, Stefan.

Justin Wilson's organs were donated.



Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Dodgers' Vin Scully Will Return ]]> Sat, 29 Aug 2015 23:18:51 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/215*120/Screen+Shot+2015-08-28+at+7.49.21+PM.png

It happened in an instant, but it may just be the best news Dodgers fans have received in quite some time.

In between the top and bottom half of the second inning of the opening game between the Chicago Cubs and Los Angeles Dodgers at Chavez Ravine, team owner Magic Johnson appeared on the jumbotron in a prepared video stating that he had an announcement for the fans.

Suddenly, Johnson's image gave way to ABC Late Night host Jimmy Kimmel who revealed cue cards that read, "Vin Scully will be back for at least one more season."

The crowd at Dodger Stadium immediately erupted as the Hall of Fame broadcaster was shown on the screen.

Scully, who turns 88 in November, has been calling Dodgers games since 1950 and next season will be his 67th with the team. Scully currently holds the longest streak of any broadcaster in all of sports to be with one team.

"I talked it over with my wife, Sandi, and my family and we've decided to do it again in 2016," Scully said. "There's no place like home and Dodger Stadium and we look forward to being a part of it with all our friends.

There was much speculation over the past few weeks as to whether or not Scully would return. Scully has taken a lesser role with the team in recent years, opting to not travel to the east coast and on most away games.

However, Scully has always said that if he was healthy enough to call the games and felt like he was still effective, then he would continue to remain in the booth.

Scully's year-by-year announcement means he will return to the booth in 2016, and beyond will still be in question. More than likely, Scully will continue to call games in Los Angeles, San Francisco, San Diego, and Arizona for SportsNetLA.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[University of Illinois' Head Football Coach Fired]]> Fri, 28 Aug 2015 16:24:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/GettyImages-458251988+%281%29.jpg

University of Illinois' head football coach Tim Beckman was dismissed Friday following allegations of player mistreatment. 

The news comes just one week before the beginning of the team's season.

Univeristy of Illinois Athletics Director Mike Thomas said the move was "in the best interests of student-athletes."

“The preliminary information external reviewers shared with me does not reflect our values or our commitment to the welfare of our student-athletes, and I’ve chosen to act accordingly,” Thomas said in a statement. “During the review, we have asked people not to rush to judgment, but I now have enough information to make this decision in assessing the status and direction of the football program.”

Thomas said the findings, which have not yet been released in a report, included efforts to deter injury reporting and influence medical decisions that pressured players to avoid or postpone medical treatment or continue to play despite injuries. He also said in some instances student-athletes were treated inappropriately and told they couldn't remain on scholarship during the spring semester of their senior year if they weren't on the team. 

“Both of those findings are unsettling violations of University policy and practice and do not reflect the culture that we wish to create in athletic programs for our young people,” Thomas said. “I expect my coaches to protect players and foster their success on and off the field.”

Earlier this year, former Illinois football player Simon Cvijanovic said Beckman and his staff pressured him to play hurt and misled him about an injury. The university hired a Chicago law firm to investigate those allegations and other, similar charges raised by another former player, Nick North.

Beckman will not receive the $3.1 million remaining on the last two years of his original five-year contract or the $743,00 called for if his contract had been bought out.

Beckman’s record in three years as head coach was 12-25 overall, 4-20 in Big Ten Conference games. He led Illinois to the Zaxby’s Heart of Dallas Bowl in December 2014.

Thomas said Bill Cubit, who joined the Illini coaching staff as offensive coordinator in 2013, has been named interm coach for the 2015 season. Thomas said the external review did not indicate any findings related to Coach Cubit.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Acquire Fernando Rodney in Trade]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 22:12:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/170*120/GettyImages-454740592.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are looking to bolster their bullpen heading into the stretch run, and on Thursday they acquired a veteran arm as they received Fernando Rodney in a trade with the Seattle Mariners.

The Mariners will receive a player to be named later or cash considerations in the deal. To make room on the roster, the Cubs optioned pitcher Zac Rosscup to triple-A Iowa and designated relief pitcher Brian Schlitter for assignment to clear a spot on the 40-man roster.

Rodney began the season as the closer for the Mariners, but he lost the job after blowing numerous save opportunities and putting up some of the worst numbers of his career. When he was designated for assignment by the team last week, he was sporting a 5.68 ERA in 54 games pitched, with 16 saves and 43 strikeouts for Seattle.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon has experience with Rodney already, having managed him in two seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays as the closer racked up 85 saves for the organization.

“I know he had trouble or struggled a bit this year, but I’m eager to see him in person and find out what’s going on,” Maddon told the media after the Cubs’ 9-1 loss to the San Francisco Giants on Thursday.

Rodney is not the first reliever the Cubs have taken a risk on this season. The team brought relievers Phil Coke and Jason Motte into the mix before the season started, and they also took a midseason gamble on former big league closer Rafael Soriano in July.

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<![CDATA[Woman Files Suit Against Bulls Star Derrick Rose]]> Thu, 27 Aug 2015 20:17:25 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/GettyImages-458331240.jpg

A woman has filed a lawsuit against Chicago Bulls star Derrick Rose, claiming he and two friends drugged and gang-raped her.

The unidentified woman, who says she dated Rose from 2011 to 2013, says she was drugged at a Beverly Hills home and later attacked at her apartment.

Rose denied the woman's claims in a statement he released late Thursday.

"I am just focusing on staying healthy and getting ready for the season," he said. "I am not going to comment other than to say - I know the truth, and am confident I will be proven innocent.”

The lawsuit, which was first reported by TMZ Wednesday and made public Thursday, says the incident took place in August of 2013.

Rose’s spokesperson, Lisa Cohen, said on behalf of his legal team that the lawsuit is “nothing more than a desperate attempt to shake down a highly respected and successful athlete" and called the claims "outrageous."

"Two years have passed since Mr. Rose ended the consensual relationship with the plaintiff, and her claims are as meritless now as they were two years ago," she said. "We have complete confidence that the case will be dismissed and that Mr. Rose will be vindicated."

Cohen also claimed this is the third attorney the woman has hired in an attempt to sue Rose.

The Chicago Bulls released a statement on the issue Wednesday.

"We just learned about this matter and do not know all the facts,” the team said. “It would be inappropriate to comment further at this time.”

Rose’s agent could not immediately be reached for comment.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: McDonald Indicted on Rape Charges]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 19:03:12 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/th-may-25-ray-mcdonald-mug.jpg

Former San Francisco 49’ers and Chicago Bears defensive end Ray McDonald was indicted on Wednesday on one count of rape and on one count of violating a restraining order by a Santa Clara County Grand Jury, the San Jose Mercury News reports.

McDonald, who was signed by the Bears in March and released by the team after new domestic violence allegations surfaced against him a few months later, was accused of raping an intoxicated woman at a party in December 2014. The incident caused the 49’ers to release him, with the team citing a series of poor decision-making as the reason for the decision.

McDonald’s former teammate Ahmad Brooks was also indicted for his role in an incident at the same party, the newspaper reported.

If convicted on the rape charge, McDonald faces a maximum of eight years in prison, with another year possible with the restraining order violation charges.

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<![CDATA[Royal, Wilson Miss Bears Practice ]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 15:58:05 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/wilson+and+jeffery.jpg

The Chicago Bears saw their 2014 season derailed by injuries, and it appears that they could head down a similar path this year as the 2015 campaign approaches.

On Wednesday afternoon, the team gathered at Halas Hall to practice ahead of their Saturday game against the Cincinnati Bengals, and they played without their top four wide receivers in the workout. Alshon Jeffery has been out for two weeks with a calf issue, and Kevin White recently had surgery to repair a stress fracture in his shin.

On Wednesday, the duo was joined on the shelf by two more of their teammates as Eddie Royal and Marquess Wilson both missed practice with injuries.

“It won’t be real long-term,” Bears head coach John Fox told media members when asked about the avalanche of wide receiver injuries.

Wilson left Saturday’s game against the Indianapolis Colts after suffering a hamstring injury, and he has yet to practice this week. Royal is dealing with a hip issue, but Fox insists that, like Jeffery, the injury is day-to-day.

The Bears have been questioned in recent weeks after their handling of White’s shin injury, with the team insisting the injury wasn't serious before the rookie underwent surgery and found out that he will miss at least the first six weeks of the regular season. 



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Break Out Rally Helmets in Win Over Giants ]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 14:09:35 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+helmet.jpg

Baseball players may be required by the rules to wear helmets when they step to the plate, but in the case of the Chicago Cubs, they’ve decided that helmets are necessary in the dugout as well.

Only they aren’t just wearing blue helmets emblazoned with “C”’s anymore:

Here is another view of the helmets, courtesy of the Cubs’ Twitter account:

According to Cubs manager Joe Maddon, the team didn’t actually bring the helmets with them to San Francisco for their series against the Giants, but the home team dutifully provided the Cubs with the specialized headwear.

“It’s a pretty good clubhouse when they have that kind of head gear around,” Maddon told Carrie Muskat of MLB.com.

This isn’t the first time that the Cubs have donned interesting headwear in the dugout this season. Earlier in the year in a game against the Pittsburgh Pirates, rookie third baseman Kris Bryant took the idea of a rally cap to a whole new level:



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Cubs Look to Make Statement on West Coast Trip]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 18:59:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*129/GettyImages-485132672.jpg

After a stretch of 17 consecutive games in the city, the Chicago Cubs will hit the road this week as they face down their final West Coast road trip of the regular season.

In the six games that they will play, the Cubs will be taking on two teams with big-time October aspirations, with the defending World Series champion San Francisco Giants first up on the docket and the NL West-leading Los Angeles Dodgers to follow over the weekend.

The Cubs have put themselves into great position with their recent winning ways, building up a six and a half game lead over the Giants for the second wild card spot in the National League heading into Tuesday night’s game. Their series against San Francisco not only gives them a chance to prove that they can continue to win games in tough road environments, but more importantly it gives them the opportunity to drive a nail into the Giants’ postseason chances.

The road to get to that point won’t be easy.

The Cubs were able to avoid facing Giants ace Madison Bumgarner when the two teams met at Wrigley Field earlier this season, but they won’t be as lucky this time as they will face the 15-game winner on Thursday afternoon at AT&T Park. They will also face a struggling Matt Cain and a streaky Jake Peavy in the series, but with the GIants playing desperate baseball as they try to keep their postseason hopes alive, things will be extra tough for the Cubs.

Complicating matters in the series are the cavernous dimensions that the Giants’ home stadium possesses.

The Cubs’ outfield defense was already suspect before Jorge Soler went down with an oblique injury earlier this week, and things don’t improve much with Kyle Schwarber still learning the ropes in left field and Chris Coghlan taking over duties in right. Having Dexter Fowler in center field does help to a degree, but the Cubs are going to have a difficult time hiding their lackluster outfield defense away from the cozy confines of Wrigley Field.

Despite those obstacles, the Cubs do have a few advantages going into the series.

Their offense is getting contributions from all over the place in recent games, with guys like Coghlan and Anthony Rizzo picking up the slack for a struggling Schwarber at the plate. Add to that the exploits of Kris Bryant in recent games (he has hit three home runs over the Cubs’ last two contests), and the team is in prime position to make some noise against the Giants.

The Cubs will also get some favorable conditions for two pitchers that sorely need a boost.Kyle Hendricks is an ineffective hurler when he can’t locate his pitches, but pitching at AT&T Park will give him significantly more wiggle room than Wrigley Field has offered of late, and fly ball-heavy hurler Dan Haren will get a similar edge when he pitches on Thursday.

When the Cubs head down to Dodger Stadium for a weekend set, they will not only be looking to keep winning ball games, but they could also be looking at knocking off a team that could potentially serve as an obstacle to winning the wild card this season.

The Dodgers’ lead over the Giants in the NL West has shrunk to just one and a half games, and if they are overtaken, they could be looking to crawl back into the race against the Cubs.

In terms of pitching matchups, the Cubs will get to avoid Zack Greinke, who is slated to pitch Thursday in Cincinnati, but they will likely have to face Dodgers’ ace Clayton Kershaw, who is putting together a Cy Young-caliber season. The Cubs will get to counter with their two workhorses in the rotation however, as Jon Lester will pitch on Saturday for the north siders and Jake Arrieta will pitch the road trip finale on Sunday.

The Cubs are also catching the Dodgers at a good time in the schedule, as Los Angeles has been struggling to put runs on the board in recent games.

During their ongoing five game losing streak, the Dodgers have scored just nine runs, and they’ve had to make some drastic changes as starting center fielder (and potential rival of Bryant in Rookie of the Year balloting) Joc Pederson has been benched by manager Don Mattingly.

With all of those things going on in Chavez Ravine, the Cubs could be looking to take advantage of a reeling Dodgers team when they head down the California coast for the weekend.

Neither series will be easy for the Cubs by any stretch, but the mission is crystal clear: if they can come out of the road trip with a .500 record, and especially if they can win at least one game against the Giants in their series in San Francisco, then they will make it incredibly difficult for either team to catch them in the wild card standings.

With the way this team has responded to these types of opportunities in recent weeks, it wouldn’t be surprising to see the Cubs immediately go for the jugular in this crucial six-game stretch.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[ESPN Pulls Former Red Sox Star From Air After Posts Compare Muslims Extremists to Nazis]]> Wed, 26 Aug 2015 09:50:08 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/138886369.jpg

ESPN has pulled Curt Schilling from the air after the former Red Sox and Phillies star posted a photo comparing Muslim extremists to Nazis on his social media accounts.

The photos, posted Tuesday, were deleted and Schilling apologized. ESPN announced that the company has removed Schilling as a broadcaster for the Little League World Series "pending further consideration.”

"Curt's tweet was completely unacceptable, and in no way represents our company's perspective," ESPN said in a statement.

Schilling issued an apology on Twitter, saying he understands his suspension and that the situation is "100% my fault." 

 

 He has also apologized to some online commenters individually.



Photo Credit: Bloomberg via Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Video: Cubs, "Perfect Strangers" Unite in Brilliant Mash-Up]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 13:23:20 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*128/GettyImages-484657382.jpg

What do you get when you mix an iconic 90’s show set in Chicago with the roster of the 2015 Chicago Cubs?

You get this incredible mash-up of the Cubs with the TV show “Perfect Strangers.” This is some truly stellar work by YouTube user Joe Lee:

[[322847721, C]]

 

The video works for plenty of reasons, including the footage of Starlin Castro mimicking Kris Bryant on a throw to first, but the big similarity is that both the Cubs and “Perfect Strangers” are about a seemingly disjointed pair (or group) of people that end up hitting it off.

h/t to Chicago Style Sports for tipping us off to this video.



Photo Credit: Getty Images
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<![CDATA[Kris Bryant, Cubs Grace Cover of Sports Illustrated]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 12:31:30 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+celebrate.jpg

Looks like Sports Illustrated has jumped on the Cubs bandwagon.

The Chicago Cubs are one of baseball’s hottest stories as a talented crop of rookie stars and first-year manager Joe Maddon have turned the team from doormats to serious playoff contenders, and this week, they were recognized by more than just die-hard fans at Wrigley Field. 

Sports Illustrated will feature the Cubs on their regional cover this week as they celebrate the team’s recent run of 20 wins in 24 games. The cover image features third baseman Kris Bryant as he heads for home (escorted by reliever Pedro Strop) after hitting a walk-off home run against the Cleveland Indians on Monday afternoon.

Here is the picture from the magazine’s cover:

Whether the cover jinxes the Cubs remains to be seen (although this cover from 2004 certainly didn’t do the team any favors), but it’s apparent that the team is forcing people to take notice on a national scale.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Bears, Urlacher Donate $50K to Coal City High School]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 15:57:18 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/187*120/134266764.jpg

After a tornado devastated the school in June, Coal City High School got a welcomed gift on Monday afternoon as the Chicago Bears presented the institution with a check for $50,000.

To make things even more memorable for the school and its football team, the Bears sent a special ambassador to give them the gift: former linebacker Brian Urlacher. The team had known the Bears were making a donation, but they didn't realize that Urlacher would be making the trip from Chicago to deliver the check personally. 

Here is more from Chicago Football

“They didn’t know former Bears linebacker and future National Football League Hall of Fame inductee Brian Urlacher would be there to answer their questions and present the donation. The money is helping to cover the noninsured repair costs the school was left with following the devastation of an EF3 tornado June 22.”

The Coalers will begin their football season on Friday night when they host the Reed-Custer Comets.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[NFL Files New Argument in Tom Brady Appeal]]> Tue, 25 Aug 2015 05:47:07 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/tom-brady-patriots-nfl.jpg

The NFL filed a new argument Monday in the Tom Brady appeal.

The letter, sent to Judge Richard Berman, questions the NFL Player's Association presentation during a hearing last week in which the NFLPA submitted a list of 19 examples of rulings in which a court vacated an arbitration award.

The NFLPA suggested those cases set legal precedent for the judge to throw out the NFL's decision to suspend Tom Brady for four games in response to his alleged role in Deflategate.

The NFL says those cases are not similar to the Tom Brady case.

Another hearing is set for next week in Brady's appeal. 



Photo Credit: WHDH]]>
<![CDATA[Toyota Logo Added to Iconic Wrigley Field Sign]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 19:15:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/WMAQ_000000013902159_1200x675_512338499820.jpg There was a big change made Monday to one of the most iconic signs in Chicago: The marquee at Wrigley Field now has a Toyota logo underneath it. NBC 5's Allison Rosati reports.]]> <![CDATA[Olympic Gymnastics Coach Suspected of Molestation]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 18:55:23 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/GettyImages-149434037.jpg

An Olympic gymnastics coach was arrested early Monday morning in Indianapolis on suspicion of child molestation, a spokeswoman for an Indiana prosecutor's office told NBC News.

Marvin Sharp has not formally been charged, said Marion County Prosecutor's Office spokeswoman Peg McLeish, adding that her office is sharing its investigation with federal authorities.

NBC affiliate WTHR reported that the investigation began with a complaint from a female gymnast at Sharp's Gymnastics Academy, and that USA Gymnastics is cooperating with the investigation. On Sunday evening, detectives searching for child pornography removed computers and other electronic devices from Sharp's home, the station reported.



Photo Credit: File - Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Report: Patrick Kane Meets With Investigators]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 20:38:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/patrick+kane88.jpg

The Buffalo News reports that sources tell them investigators with the Erie County District Attorney's office have met with Patrick Kane as part of an investigation into allegations of a sexual assault.

Several media outlets in Buffalo have reported that a woman accused Kane of assaulting her at his home early this month, but the Hamburg Police Department will only confirm that they are investigating an alleged incident at Kane's home.

When NBC Chicago reached out to Kane’s attorney Monday, he had no comment on the report of a meeting between Kane and investigators.

Hamburg police and the district attorney have not returned out calls for comment on the reported meeting.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[3 Facts That Hint at a Cubs World Series Berth ]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 16:33:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+celebrate.jpg

Amid all the talk about whether the "Back to the Future Part II" prediction could come true (we’re still waiting for the Miami Marlins to switch to the American League), the Chicago Cubs just keep winning as Kris Bryant’s walk-off home run delivered a 2-1 win over the Cleveland Indians on Monday afternoon.

With the team a season-high 21 games over .500 and holding a 6.5 game lead over the San Francisco Giants for the second wild card spot in the National League, it's a good time to remind fans of some positive signs that the Cubs could be in line to make a deep postseason run in 2015.

No DeLoreans or hover boards are needed to appreciate these three facts:

— Monday’s win over the Indians gives the Cubs a 20-4 record over their last 24 games. The last time the Cubs had a run like this? In 1945, the last season in which they reached the World Series.

— On Sunday, the Cubs cranked out five home runs and thrashed the Atlanta Braves by a score of 9-3 to secure their fourth four-game sweep of the season. The last season in which the Cubs had at least four sweeps of four game series? You guessed it: 1945.

— In case you had forgotten, the Chicago Blackhawks clinched the Stanley Cup on home ice back in June. The last time the Blackhawks did that? All the way back in 1938, which also happened to be a year that the Cubs appeared in the World Series.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Watch: Rizzo Makes Spectacular Play vs. Indians ]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 15:32:10 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/cubs+anthony+rizzo.jpg

The Chicago Cubs have been hitting the cover off the ball in recent weeks, but in Monday’s game against the Cleveland Indians, their defense took center stage as first baseman Anthony Rizzo made a remarkable play.

In the top of the third inning with the game tied at 0-0, Indians pitcher Corey Kluber attempted to lay down a bunt to move Urshela over to second base. Rizzo had other ideas:

Rizzo, unable to catch the popped-up bunt, slid along the first base line to keep the ball in fair territory, and he initiated a 3-6-4 double play to end the inning.

That type of heads-up play is one that Rizzo is becoming known for (just reference his incredible catch in the first base stands a few weeks ago), but he’s also become known for his clutch hitting. His triple in the bottom of the seventh inning broke a scoreless tie and gave the Cubs the lead.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[How Will Bears React to Ratliff Suspension?]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 14:33:15 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jeremiah+ratliff+2.jpg

The Chicago Bears have been dealing with questions about their depth on defense all offseason long, and they will be put to a stern early test this season as defensive tackle Jeremiah Ratliff has been suspended for the first three games of the campaign.

Ratliff is a veteran leader among a group of players that is primarily young, and his absence will hurt the Bears. The line has several players who are entering their rookie (Eddie Goldman) and second years (Will Sutton, Ego Ferguson) in the league, and losing an anchor like Ratliff is going to hurt the team immensely.

The question for the Bears moving forward is this: Who will step up in Ratliff’s absence, and how will it affect Vic Fangio’s desire to move the team into a primarily 3-4 defensive front?

To answer the first part of the question, a look at the roster doesn’t provide a lot of optimism. Goldman is likely going to get the bulk of the snaps at nose tackle while Ratliff is out, but he has shown an inability to stay on the field during training camp workouts and hasn’t looked all that great in preseason games either.

The Bears could also opt to put a player like Will Sutton or Ego Ferguson at the position, but doing the former would lead to questions over whether Sutton can effectively stop the run at the position and the latter would lead to questions about which player should fill in at defensive end, where Ferguson has looked really solid this preseason.

The more likely scenario for the Bears is to run more 4-3 plays than they had originally anticipated running. Sutton and Goldman would likely strengthen one another up the middle in that type of formation, and one would think that Ferguson and Jarvis Jenkins would be just fine on the ends in that scheme. Jared Allen and Lamarr Houston could also potentially slide back into the mix at end if the Bears end up going that route.

Whatever the case may be, losing Ratliff hurts, but losing him against three of the better offenses in the league hurts even worse. The Bears are already dealing with integrating players into new positions and a new scheme, and losing a veteran presence that was going to help anchor everything into place makes things even tougher.



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<![CDATA[Bears' Ratliff Suspended for 3 Games]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 14:39:43 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/180*120/458724726.jpg

Chicago Bears nose tackle Jeremiah Ratliff was suspended for three games by the NFL after violating the NFL’s Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse, the league announced in a statement Monday.

Ratliff will miss the Bears’ first three games of the season, and will be eligible to return to the lineup for the team’s Week 4 game against the Oakland Raiders.

Here is the full statement issued by the NFL:

“Jeremiah Ratliff of the Chicago Bears has been suspended without pay for the first three games of the 2015 regular season for violating the NFL Policy and Program for Substances of Abuse. Ratliff will be eligible to return to the Bears’ active roster on Monday, September 28 following the team’s September 27 game against the Seattle Seahawks.

“Ratliff is eligible to participate in all preseason practices and games.”

Ratliff will miss the Bears’ games against the Packers, Cardinals, and Seahawks to start out the season.



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<![CDATA[Is Kris Bryant the Rookie of the Year Favorite?]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:25:31 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/kris+bryant+cubs+braves.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are one of the best teams in baseball this season, and a big part of their success has been the emergence of several key youngsters in their lineup.

Kyle Schwarber and Addison Russell have both garnered plenty of headlines, with Schwarber’s prodigious power helping spark the Cubs’ recent winning streak and Russell’s glove helping anchor down the middle of the infield for the team, but the most heralded rookie of the bunch has been third baseman Kris Bryant.

Bryant has been a hero to Cubs fans since his spring training home run binge this year, and while he hasn’t continued to club dingers at that rate, he has still had a solid season. After his two home run game against the Atlanta Braves on Sunday (his third multi-home run contest of the season), Bryant currently sits at 19 home runs and 74 RBI on the season, and he improved his batting average to .262 on the year.

With his stellar play as of late and the Cubs’ surge into serious playoff contention, there are plenty of fans and baseball experts wondering whether or not he is the favorite to win National League Rookie of the Year honors. After all, Bryant has been right in the middle of the team’s recent offensive success, and his numbers across the board certainly qualify him as a candidate.

As is usually the case, there are plenty of rookies who can make a case that they are more deserving candidates than Bryant. Los Angeles Dodgers outfielder Joc Pederson is one of the biggest contenders, with 23 home runs and a Gold Glove-caliber season in center field on his resume. His candidacy is being hampered right now with reports that he is going to be a platoon player for the time-being, as well as his anemic .214 batting average on the season.

Two other players also have good arguments to overtake Bryant in the balloting for the award. Matt Duffy of the San Francisco Giants is having a stellar year, with a .308 batting average and 59 RBI to his credit. He is also striking out at a much lower rate than Bryant, and he is a better defensive third baseman than the Cubs’ rookie.

Jung Ho Kang of the Pittsburgh Pirates is another viable candidate, with a .290 batting average, 12 home runs, and 46 RBI on the season. He has also shown some serious ability at both shortstop and third base for the Pirates as they continue to lead the Cubs by three games for the NL’s top wild card seed.

Even with those numbers in mind, we’ll have to go with Bryant as the current favorite for Rookie of the Year honors. His strikeout totals are worrisome, and he isn’t the best defensive third baseman in the league, but his power numbers have been solid, and the way he has adjusted to big league pitchers has been hope-inspiring for Cubs fans.

There are still 40 games or so left in the year for him to make his case, but judging by his current resume, he has just as good a shot as anyone to become the Cubs’ first Rookie of the Year since Geovany Soto won the award in 2008.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Motte, Soler Placed on Disabled List]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 11:06:00 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/soler.jpg

The surging Chicago Cubs got some unwelcome news Monday morning as two important contributors will be missing time as the team tries to make the postseason. 

That’s because relief pitcher Jason Motte has been placed on the 15-day disabled list with a shoulder strain, and starting right fielder Jorge Soler will join him on the DL with a strained oblique muscle. 

Motte will miss 3-4 weeks according to the team, and Soler will be out for at least a month. 

Both injuries come at a tough time for the Cubs, as they have won 19 of their last 23 games and have opened up a significant six game lead in the wild card race. The team they are leading in that race is the San Francisco Giants, and the two teams will open up a three game series in the Bay Area on Tuesday night.

To compensate for the injuries, the Cubs made a couple of call-ups, with Zac Rosscup coming up to replace Motte in the bullpen and Tommy La Stella returning to replace Soler.

The Cubs are entering what could be their toughest stretch of the season, playing 16 of their next 22 games away from Wrigley Field. Four of those road series will be played against teams in playoff contention, with the Giants, Dodgers, Cardinals, and Pirates all awaiting the Cubs as the schedule shifts to September.



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<![CDATA[Top Sports Photos 2015]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 07:12:22 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/topSports-AP_815986155748.jpg Click to see dramatic game action photos from professional football, hockey, basketball, baseball and more.

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<![CDATA[Pearl Harbor Vet Throws 1st Pitch]]> Mon, 24 Aug 2015 09:46:56 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/160*120/WW+II+Veterans+1st+Pitch.jpg

The oldest survivor of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor threw the ceremonial first pitch Sunday before the San Diego Padres game at Petco Park.

Raymond Chavez, 103, who served on the U.S. Navy coastal minesweeper USS Condor, was joined by Jack Paris, who served on the U.S. Navy battleship USS Colorado and was on it in Tokyo Bay when Japan surrendered to end World War II.

Chavez threw his pitch to reliever Kevin Quackenbush while Paris threw his to coach Dave Roberts. The crowd of more than 30,000 gave both men a standing ovation for their effort and to thank them for their service.

The Padres have a longstanding tradition of honoring the Military at home games on Sundays.

The St. Louis Cardinals beat the Padres 10-3, hampering their attempt to sweep their third series this season and second in a row.

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<![CDATA[Report: Packers' Jordy Nelson Tears ACL ]]> Sun, 23 Aug 2015 14:36:52 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/jordy+nelson+1.jpg

The Green Bay Packers possess one of the best offenses in football, but on Sunday afternoon their Super Bowl chances took a huge shot as a key member of that group reportedly suffered a season-ending injury.

That player is wide receiver Jordy Nelson, who was injured in the Packers’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Nelson left the field after making a cut on a route, and even though it was a non-contact injury, the initial diagnosis was horrible news for the Packers:

If Nelson’s ACL is torn, and an MRI will confirm whether that’s the case in the next day or two, then the receiver will likely be done for the season.

The injury will mean that the Packers’ depth at the receiver position will be sorely tested, but they do have several players who could step up in a big way. Randall Cobb was retained during the offseason, meaning he’ll likely ascend to the top receiver spot in the lineup. Davante Adams will also be looked at as a potential option, and youngsters like Ty Montgomery will see more targets in Nelson’s absence, too.

With all that said, the door does open a bit for the rest of the NFC North to take a step forward. There are still questions about Green Bay’s offensive line, and if a team like the Detroit Lions or Chicago Bears can get off to a good start, the division race could be a lot closer than it would have appeared to be heading into the season.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>
<![CDATA[Which Cubs Players Will Return When Roster Expands? ]]> Sun, 23 Aug 2015 14:29:44 -0500 http://media.nbcchicago.com/images/213*120/javier+baez+1.jpg

The Chicago Cubs are one of the hottest teams in baseball and have an extensive lead in the wild card race in the National League, but the team will soon have an opportunity to shore up their roster even more.

That’s because Major League Baseball rosters can expand from 25 players to up to 40 on Sept. 1. The roster expansion is routinely used by teams to add in extra pitchers to work from the bullpen, players that can be used as pinch runners late in games and also young players.

For a team like the Cubs, the roster moves will be used for all of those reasons, but also for one more critical one: to help bolster the team’s chances of making the postseason for the first time since 2008.

While there are plenty of players who could potentially make the jump to the big league club, there are a couple of elements to consider. First and foremost, the Cubs have an obstacle in their way that most teams don’t have to deal with: a tiny and cramped clubhouse that makes adding more than a handful of players difficult logistically. That won’t be an issue next season when the team opens their new clubhouse, which will be the second largest in MLB, but for now, giving players enough space to relax and prepare for games is important.

The other issue that the Cubs have to deal with is one of chemistry. The team has found a great blend of talented youngsters and savvy veterans as they’ve firmly cemented themselves as a playoff contender, and adding a bunch of new players to the mix could potentially alter the good vibes and good mojo the Cubs have going in their post All-Star Game run.

Even with those two things in mind, there are a handful of players that the Cubs will likely call up as soon as they are able to. In terms of hotshot young prospects that could make the jump, relief pitcher Carl Edwards Jr. could be looked to as a bullpen insurance policy, and infielder Javier Baez will more than likely be heading to Wrigley next week. Utility player Tommy La Stella is another player who is just about a shoe-in for a call-up as the Cubs look to give themselves more options at second and third base.

Several pitchers could also find themselves heading back to Wrigley Field, with Yoervis Medina and Zac Rosscup heading to the bullpen and Tsuyoshi Wada potentially joining Clayton Richard and Travis Wood as long relievers who can also make a spot start if necessary.

If the Cubs bring up every one of those players, they would still have nine roster spots they could utilize, but they would probably choose to only bring up another player or two so as not to have too many guys around. Arismendy Alcantara could potentially get a call-up because of his versatility as a center fielder and second baseman, and Mike Olt could come up as a guy who could spell Kris Bryant at third base.

However many players the Cubs decide to keep, this September will be a much different animal for them than the past few seasons. They will be looking for players to act as insurance policies and added depth pieces instead of youngsters looking to make a splash for a team out of playoff contention, and that is welcome news for the organization as they continue to make strides forward.



Photo Credit: Getty Images]]>