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NFL boss Goodell to Louisiana governor: ‘Would be wrong’ for me to overturn call against Saints

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NFL boss Goodell to Louisiana governor: 'Would be wrong' for me to overturn call against Saints

NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell told Louisiana Gov. John Bel Edwards in a letter made public Monday that a penalty should have been called against the Los Angeles Rams following a crucial play in last month’s NFC Championship game against the New Orleans Saints but added that “it would be wrong for me” to overturn the game’s outcome “because of an officiating error.”

“I fully understand your personal disappointment, and the disappointment and frustration of Saints fans throughout the country, over the outcome of the NFC Championship Game,” Goodell said in the Feb. 6 letter.

On the play in question, Rams defensive back Nickell Robey-Coleman delivered an helmet-to-helmet hit on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis while a Drew Brees pass was in the air with less than two minutes remaining. A penalty for pass interference or unnecessary roughness would have given the Saints a first down and a chance to run down the clock before kicking a potential game-winning field goal. The Saints did kick a field goal to take a 23-20 lead, but the Rams had time to kick a game-tying field goal of their own before winning the game in overtime, 26-23.

SAINTS FAN’S OBIT SAYS HE WAS ‘DETERMINED NOT TO WATCH THE SUPER BOWL

Edwards, a Democrat, wrote to Goodell two days after the game, saying the Saints “deserved better. Saints fans deserved better. The City of New Orleans and the State of Louisiana deserved better.” The governor added that Goodell and the 31 team owners “should make sure that by next season there is some recourse on the field when such a clear [officiating] error is made … If the NFL fails to act, the very integrity of the game will be called into question — something that no football fan wants to see.”

In Goodell’s response to Edwards’ letter, which the commissioner said reached him after he returned from this month’s Super Bowl in Atlanta, he said that “it is incumbent on us to review this issue closely to determine if there are changes in our rules or procedures that would prevent a similar occurrence in the future. While there will always be mistakes in any game played, coached, and officiated by humans, we do not want officiating to be the topic of discussion after any game.”

In his annual “state of the league” news conference the Wednesday before the Super Bowl, Goodell declined to rule out making pass interference and helmet-to-helmet penalties reviewable via the league’s instant replay “challenge” system, but did not endorse such a move either.

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“There have been a variety of proposals over the last — frankly 15 to 20 years — of should replay be expanded? It does not cover judgment calls. This was a judgment call,” Goodell said at the time of the Robey-Coleman play. “The other complication is that it was a no-call. And our coaches and clubs have been very resistant and there has not been support to date about having a replay official or somebody in New York throw a flag when there is no flag. They have not voted for that in the past. It doesn’t mean that we won’t. It’s something that we’re going to put to the competition committee to see if there’s an answer to that, but the reality is that’s been at least an opposition philosophically for many clubs.”

In a series of tweets, Edwards said he applauded Goodell’s “willingness to review the officiating error closely to determine if similar errors can be prevented in the future through rule or procedure changes.” The governor also promised that the state would be “hospitable” to the NFL when New Orleans hosts Super Bowl 58 in February 2024. It will be the 11th time the city has been the site of the Super Bowl — as Goodell pointed out in his response to Edwards, no city has hosted it more.

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

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Reports: Bears to cut K Parkey in March

After a difficult season culminated by a crucial missed field goal on a potential game-winning field goal in the NFC playoffs, kicker Cody Parkey will be released by the Chicago Bears when the new league year begins in March.

FILE PHOTO: Sep 17, 2018; Chicago, IL, USA; Chicago Bears kicker Cody Parkey (1) watches his field goal during the first half against the Seattle Seahawks at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Patrick Gorski-USA TODAY Sports

According to multiple reports on Friday, the team intends to cut ties with Parkey once the NFL free agency period begins on March 13.

Parkey, who turned 27 on Tuesday, endured an inconsistent season in Chicago after inking a four-year, $15 million contract last winter following the team’s release of Robbie Gould, the Bears’ all-time leading scorer who moved on to the San Francisco 49ers.

Parkey, a five-year veteran, not only missed a career-high seven field-goal attempts and three extra points during the regular season, but his 43-yard attempt in the final seconds of the NFC wild-card round against the Philadelphia Eagles first hit the upright then the crossbar before bouncing back on the field.

Despite the NFL later ruling that the kick was partially blocked, Parkey took much of the public blame for the Bears’ season ending.

Parkey began his career with the Eagles in 2014 when he made the Pro Bowl as a rookie, scoring a franchise-record 150 points while making 32 of 36 field-goal tries. In two seasons with the Eagles, Parkey never missed an extra point.

Parkey later kicked for the Cleveland Browns in 2016 and Miami Dolphins in 2017.

In January, the Bears signed Tulsa product Redford Jones after conducting a workout that reportedly included multiple hopefuls. Jones made 50 of his 67 field-goal attempts at Tulsa from 2015-17, and he does have a kick on his resume where he hit both uprights. Unlike Parkey’s double-doink, though, that 2016 attempt against Cincinnati ended up going over the crossbar for three points.

“We need more production out of that position,” Bears general manager Ryan Pace said last month after signing Jones. “We know we need to get better there, and it will be an area of focus.”

—Field Level Media

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

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WTA roundup: Bencic upsets Svitolina to reach Dubai final

Belinda Bencic secured a spot in the final by stunning two-time champion Elina Svitolina 6-2, 3-6, 7-6 (3) on Friday at the Dubai Duty Free Championships in the United Arab Emirates.

Tennis – WTA Premier 5 – Dubai Tennis Championships – Dubai Duty Free Tennis Stadium, Dubai, United Arab Emirates – February 22, 2019 Switzerland’s Belinda Bencic in action during the Semi Final against Ukraine’s Elina Svitolina REUTERS/Satish Kumar

Bencic trailed 5-3 in the final set before recovering to defeat the sixth-seeded Svitolina. She will face second-seeded Petra Kvitova in the championship match after the Czech Republic star defeated Taiwan’s Su-Wei Hsieh 3-6, 6-2, 6-4.

“I think I’m always the most proud of how I fight,” Bencic said after posting the victory. “Even when I lose, I learned myself to just look in the mirror and be proud of myself when I’m fighting, when I’m giving my all, when I’m trying to do what I have to do.”

Bencic won eight consecutive points after Svitolina was in position to close out the match. Then the Switzerland native carried the momentum into the tiebreaker to notch one of the biggest victories of her career by outdueling the Ukrainian.

“Basically, I stayed in the zone, even in (the) tiebreak,” Bencic said. “I was barely breathing, just playing automatic. You are not thinking any more. It’s where the instincts just guide you through it.”

Bencic will be seeking her third career title when she squares off with Kvitova, who will be shooting for her 27th.

Kvitova dropped the first set on Friday before recovering to win the last two.

“It was a tough one today, for sure,” Kvitova said. “She really didn’t give me anything for free. It was a tough first set. I’m glad that I was able to came back in the second. I didn’t play great at the end of the first.

“I think I’m pleased with my kind of mental focus after losing the first set, that I was calmer when I came back and played from the beginning of the second set. I still kind of felt that I can do that somehow. I don’t know. It was something weird.”

Kvitova overcame eight double faults to claim the victory.

Hungarian Ladies Open

Top-seeded Alison Van Uytvanck defeated Ukraine’s Kateryna Kozlova 3-6, 6-1, 6-4 to advance to the semifinals in Budapest.

Van Uytvanck, of Belgium, will face fifth-seeded Ekaterina Alexandrova in the semis. The Russian dispatched third-seeded Frenchwoman Pauline Parmentier 6-3, 6-2.

Eighth-seeded Marketa Vondrousova of the Czech Republic will face Russian Anastasia Potapova in the other semi. Vondrousova outlasted Romania’s Irina-Camelia Begu 5-7, 6-1, 6-3 while the 17-year-old Potapova fought past Romania’s Sorana Cirstea 6-4, 6-7 (5), 7-5 in 2 hours, 50 minutes.

—Field Level Media

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

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Patriots owner Robert Kraft facing charges of solicitation of prostitution

New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft is facing charges of misdemeanor solicitation of prostitution after he was twice videotaped paying for a sex act at an illicit massage parlor, police in Florida said Friday.

The 77-year-old Kraft was one of 25 people involved in the alleged solicitation at the Orchids of Asia Day Spa in Jupiter.

Michael Edmondson, spokesman for the state attorney’s office in Palm Beach County, told ESPN that the nature of any charges that the 25 people face will not be released until next week.

Kraft has denied wrongdoing.

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