NEW ORLEANS (AP) — Finding fault with nearly everyone tied to the New Orleans Saints' bounty case, from the coaches to Roger Goodell, former NFL Commissioner Paul Tagliabue tossed out the suspensions of four players Tuesday and condemned the team for obstructing the investigation.
In a surprising rejection of his successor's overreaching punishments, Tagliabue wrote that he would "now vacate all discipline to be imposed upon" two current Saints, linebacker Jonathan Vilma and defensive end Will Smith, and two players no longer with the club, Browns linebacker Scott Fujita and free-agent defensive lineman Anthony Hargrove.
Tagliabue essentially absolved Fujita, but did agree with Goodell's finding that the other three players "engaged in conduct detrimental to the integrity of, and public confidence in, the game of professional football."
It was a ruling that allowed both sides to claim victory: The NFL pointed to the determination that Goodell's facts were right; the NFL Players Association issued a statement noting that Tagliabue said "previously issued discipline was inappropriate."
Vilma has filed a defamation lawsuit against Goodell, and his lawyers said by email to The Associated Press that they would "pursue the defamation action vigorously."
WASHINGTON (AP) — A lack of action by the NFL and players' union in the two years since they signed a labor deal paving the way for testing for human growth hormone has prompted Congress to look at the science behind the tests.
The NFL Players Association won't concede the validity of a test that's used by Olympic sports and Major League Baseball, and the sides haven't been able to jointly pick a scientist to help resolve that impasse.
The House Oversight and Government Reform Committee is holding a hearing Wednesday to take a look at the science behind tests for human growth hormone, a substance that is hard to detect and believed to be used by athletes for a variety of benefits, whether real or only perceived — such as increasing speed or improving vision.
PITTSBURGH (AP) — The Steelers suspended the running back Rashard Mendenhall for their game Sunday at Dallas for conduct detrimental to the team. Pittsburgh promoted running back Baron Batch from the practice squad to take his place.
FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) — The New England Patriots placed wide receiver Donte' Stallworth on injured reserve with an ankle injury.
The move ended his season after just one game, a 42-14 win over the Houston Texans on Monday night in which he scored on his only reception, a 63-yarder from Tom Brady. The Patriots, who had released Stallworth following training camp, re-signed him on Dec. 4 after wide receiver Julian Edelman went on injured reserve with a foot injury.
The Patriots did not give details of Stallworth's injury and he did not mention it as he talked with reporters after the game.
DALLAS (AP) — The Dallas Cowboys paid tribute to Jerry Brown at a private memorial that included Josh Brent, the player charged with intoxication manslaughter in the one-car accident that killed his teammate.
Quarterback Tony Romo, owner Jerry Jones and other players, executives and staff members arrived at the service on a sunny but chilly afternoon at Oak Cliff Bible Fellowship in Dallas. Brent arrived earlier than most in a van with several other people and hugged an unidentified woman before walking into the building.
NEW YORK (AP) — Braylon Edwards is back with the New York Jets — a week after bashing them.
The veteran wide receiver was awarded to New York off waivers from Seattle as the Jets try to bolster their injured receiving corps with a familiar face. Edwards, waived by Seattle on Monday, developed a good rapport with Sanchez in helping New York to consecutive trips to the AFC title game in 2009 and 2010.
Edwards reiterated his feelings for Sanchez last week when he took to Twitter and criticized the Jets organization.
NEW YORK (AP) — Kevin Youkilis is about to get a different look at the Red Sox-Yankees rivalry.
The hard-nosed Youkilis, who helped personify Boston's championship teams over the past decade, became the latest former Red Sox star to switch sides and land in Bronx. The free agent reached a deal that filled New York's immediate need for a third baseman to fill in for injured Alex Rodriguez.
The one-year contract for $12 million is pending a physical. A person familiar with the deal told The Associated Press about the agreement under condition of anonymity because no announcement had been made.
Youkilis, who turns 34 in March, is expected to play third base while Rodriguez recovers from hip surgery. A-Rod plans to have the operation in mid-January and could be sidelined until the All-Star break or beyond.
CLEVELAND (AP) — The Indians traded outfielder Shin-Soo Choo to the Cincinnati Reds and acquired prized pitching prospect Trevor Bauer from the Arizona Diamondbacks in a three-team deal.
Center fielder Drew Stubbs was sent from Cincinnati to Cleveland as part of the nine-player swap.
In addition to Stubbs, the Indians received Bauer, the No. 3 pick in the 2011 draft, and right-handers Matt Albers and Bryan Shaw from the Diamondbacks.
Cleveland shipped Choo, infielder Jason Donald and about $3.5 million to the Reds, while sending left-handed reliever Tony Sipp and first baseman Lars Anderson to Arizona.
The Diamondbacks also received shortstop prospect Didi Gregorius from Cincinnati.
NEW YORK (AP) — Second-ranked Alabama placed four players on The Associated Press All-America team. Among them was center Barrett Jones, who became a two-time first-team selection.
No other team had more than one player selected to the first team. The Tide also led with six players chosen to all three teams.
Notre Dame and Texas A&M were second with four players on the three teams, though linebacker Manti Te'o was the only Fighting Irish player to make the first team. Texas A&M Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel was the first-team quarterback.
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Wisconsin athletic director Barry Alvarez will earn $118,500 for returning to the sidelines to coach the Badgers in the Rose Bowl and a win against Stanford will mean a $50,000 bonus.
The executive committee of the university Board of Regents on Tuesday agreed to the terms following the surprise departure last week of head coach Bret Bielema to take the same job at Arkansas.
TORONTO (AP) — NHL labor negotiations will resume Wednesday, with mediators rejoining the talks at an undisclosed location in an effort to save the hockey season.
The Canadian Press reported the restart of bargaining between the league and union, citing unidentified people on both sides of the lockout.
U.S. federal mediators Scot Beckenbaugh and John Sweeney are to return to the process. They took part in sessions Nov. 27 and 28 before deciding they couldn't help.
The PGA of America is bringing a mystery guest to the "Today" show — its next Ryder Cup captain. Golf Digest reported on its website Tuesday night that it would be Tom Watson.
An organization that is not shy about giving rock-star treatment to the Ryder Cup, the PGA of America said it would reveal the next U.S. captain during a segment Thursday of NBC's morning show, followed by a news conference in the Empire State Building. NBC is the longtime broadcast partner of the Ryder Cup.
Golf Digest cited sources it did not identify in reporting the PGA of America planned to pick Watson.
DAYTONA BEACH, Fla. (AP) — Colleen Walker, the former LPGA Tour player who won nine times during her 23-year career, died Tuesday night after her second battle with cancer. She was 56.
The LPGA Tour said Walker died at her home in Valrico.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Lance Armstrong resisted turning over records sought by U.S Postal Service investigators, then tried to keep the inquiry under seal and out of the public eye, according to recently released court documents.
In 2011, Postal Service officials investigating Armstrong and his teams for doping wanted records from his team management groups, financial statements, training journals and correspondence with former training consultant Michele Ferrari. Armstrong eventually complied with the subpoena but as recently as October was still asking the courts to keep the inquiry private.
The Postal Service was Armstrong's main sponsor when he won the Tour de France from 1999-2004. The team was sponsored by the Discovery Channel for Armstrong's seventh victory in 2005. Armstrong was stripped of those titles this year.
Last week, federal Magistrate Judge Deborah Robinson in Washington ordered the subpoena and Armstrong's efforts to keep it private released to the public. But by Tuesday night, the federal court's online case tracking system was again showing the case as sealed from public view. The documents Robinson had ordered released had been available online for several hours earlier in the day.
LONDON (AP) — Arsenal was eliminated in the League Cup quarterfinals with an embarrassing loss to fourth-tier Bradford, falling 3-2 in a penalty shootout.
MADRID (AP) — Rafael Nadal confirmed that he'll return to tennis at an exhibition tournament in Abu Dhabi at the end of the month following a six-month break to recover from a knee injury.