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NFL notebook: Murray commits to NFL, gives up baseball

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NFL notebook: Murray commits to NFL, gives up baseball

Kyler Murray announced on social media Monday that he is giving up baseball and will pursue his dreams of being an NFL quarterback.

FILE PHOTO: Dec 29, 2018; Miami Gardens, FL, USA; Alabama Crimson Tide quarterback Tua Tagovailoa (13) hugs Oklahoma Sooners quarterback Kyler Murray (1) after the 2018 Orange Bowl college football playoff semifinal game at Hard Rock Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

“Moving forward, I am firmly and fully committing my life to being an NFL quarterback,” the reigning Heisman Trophy winner from Oklahoma stated in the post. “Football has been my love and my passion my entire life.”

That shuts the door on the possibility he will play for the Oakland Athletics, who made him the No. 9 overall pick in last June’s MLB draft. After the draft, Murray signed with the A’s and received a $4.66 signing bonus.

According to published reports, Murray will return $1.29 million of the original $1.5 million he received last year. He will forfeit the remaining $3.16 million due March 1.

—Controversial running back Kareem Hunt signed a one-year deal with the Cleveland Browns, the team announced.

Hunt, a Pro Bowl pick as a rookie in 2017 on his way to a repeat in 2018 with the Kansas City Chiefs, is currently on the exempt list while the NFL investigates an assault captured on video last February. The incident prompted his immediate release by the Chiefs in November.

Hunt would become a restricted free agent in March 2020, with the Browns retaining rights of first refusal if another team signs Hunt to an offer sheet. ESPN’s Adam Schefter reported Monday that Hunt faced a “10 or 12 game” suspension and could even be suspended for the “majority or the entire 2019 season.”

—The Carolina Panthers re-signed veteran safety Eric Reid to a three-year contract after he fit in well when he was added to the team during the 2019 season.

Reid, 27, confirmed in a conference call with reporters that the deal is worth more than $22 million. Reid had 71 tackles and one interception in 13 games for Carolina.

Reid remained on the free-agent market last offseason for six months, and he was convinced it was because of his activism against social injustice. Formerly of the San Francisco 49ers, he was one of the first to join former 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick in taking a knee during the national anthem.

—The Atlanta Falcons have re-signed linebacker Bruce Carter to a one-year extension, the team announced.

Carter, who turns 31 on Feb. 19, played 11 games with the Falcons in a backup role after joining the team in September after Atlanta’s defense became riddled with injuries. He recorded 21 tackles.

In his eight career seasons, Carter has 327 tackles, 5.0 sacks and five interceptions in 101 games (36 starts) with the Cowboys (2011-14), Tampa Bay Buccaneers (2015), New York Jets (2016-17) and Falcons.

—The New Orleans Saints have hired Darren Rizzi as special teams coordinator, head coach Sean Payton announced.

Rizzi, 48, has 26 years of college and NFL coaching experience, most recently with the Miami Dolphins from 2009-18. He spent his final two years with the Dolphins as associate head coach/special teams coordinator.

Over his eight seasons as coordinator, the Dolphins were first in the NFL with 11 blocked punts and second with 22 total blocked kicks.

—Field Level Media

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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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