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National

  • N.J. football-picking camel dies

    LACEY TOWNSHIP, N.J. (AP) — New Jersey’s pigskin-prognosticating camel has died just weeks before the state is set to host its first Super Bowl.
    Princess was a fixture at the Popcorn Park Zoo for 10 years. Zoo manager John Bergmann said the 26-year-old camel was euthanized after arthritis made it impossible for her to stand.
    Princess’ made her picks with graham crackers. Bergmann would hold one in each hand, marked with the names of the competing teams. Whichever hand she chose was her prediction.
    Princess correctly picked the Baltimore Ravens in last year’s Super Bowl. Her best run came in the 2008 season, when she picked 17 of 22 games correctly, including the Pittsburgh Steelers to win Super Bowl XLIII.

  • VIDEO: Manning explains his "Omaha" call
  • Tennessee hires Ken Whisenhunt

    NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — The Tennessee Titans have wrapped up their coaching search by hiring San Diego offensive coordinator Ken Whisenhunt as their new head coach and 17th in franchise history.
    Titans president and CEO Tommy Smith called the hiring a big day in announcing the hiring Monday.
    “Ken is a well-respected coach in this league and I am looking forward to seeing his vision become reality for this team,” Smith said in a statement. “He has a history of building successful offenses and took Arizona to a Super Bowl as a head coach. We all share a common goal for this team and that is to build a consistent winner.”
    The Titans flew to San Diego on Friday and interviewed Whisenhunt, who started his coaching career in Nashville at Vanderbilt. He was the fourth person interviewed by the Titans, who fired Mike Munchak on Jan. 4.
    But the Titans had competition for Whisenhunt, who also interviewed with Detroit and Cleveland last week.
    The Tennessean reported the Titans interviewed Cincinnati defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer for a second time Monday in Houston before hiring Whisenhunt.

  • Glavine, Maddux, Big Hurt picked for Hall of Fame

    NEW YORK (AP) — Greg Maddux, Tom Glavine and Frank Thomas were elected to baseball's Hall of Fame on Wednesday, while Craig Biggio fell two votes short and tainted stars of the Steroids Era remained far behind.

    Maddux was picked on 555 of 571 ballots by senior members of the Baseball Writers' Association of America. His 97.2 percentage was the eighth-highest in the history of voting.

    Glavine, Maddux's longtime teammate in the Atlanta rotation, appeared on 525 ballots and received 91.9 percent. Thomas, the first Hall of Famer who spent the majority of his career as a designated hitter, was at 483.

    The trio will be inducted in Cooperstown on July 27 along with managers Bobby Cox, Joe Torre and Tony La Russa, elected last month by the expansion-era committee. Maddux and Glavine played under Cox for most of their careers.

    "It's exciting for me to go in with my teammate," Maddux said.

    Writers had not elected three players in one vote since Nolan Ryan, George Brett and Robin Yount in 1999.

    Biggio received 427 votes and 74.8 percent, matching Nellie Fox in 1985 and Pie Traynor in 1947 for the smallest margin to just miss. Biggio appeared on 388 ballots in his initial appearance last year and appears to be on track to gain election next year.

  • Vonn is a scratch for Sochi Games

    Lindsey Vonn will miss the Sochi Olympics because of a right knee injury, leaving the Winter Games without one of its biggest stars.
    The 29-year-old skier from Vail, Colo., announced her decision Tuesday, exactly one month before the opening ceremony in Russia. Her personal publicist, Lewis Kay, said in a statement Vonn will have surgery “shortly.”
    In a Facebook posting, Vonn said she is “devastated” to miss the Olympics, “but the reality has sunk in that my knee is just too unstable to compete at this level.”
    She took home two medals from the 2010 Vancouver Games, including becoming the first American woman to win an Olympic gold in the downhill. Vonn is also a four-time overall World Cup champion, the most recognized name in Alpine skiing — and the girlfriend of Tiger Woods.
    Add it all up, and she would have been the focus of plenty of media coverage in Sochi, and certainly a main character in NBC’s coverage for a U.S. audience.

  • Winston engineers late TD drive

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — After a regular season filled with blowout victories and easy fourth quarters, Jameis Winston and Florida State showed they could close like champions, too.
    No. 2 Auburn wobbled the top-ranked Seminoles by jumping out to an 18-point lead in the first half, and then put Florida State on the brink of defeat for the first time this season.
    Winston responded with the drive of his life and a game-winning touchdown pass with 13 seconds left that topped everything else he has done in one of the most sensational debut seasons a college quarterback has ever had.
    The Heisman Trophy winner led the Seminoles 80 yards in the final 79 seconds, flicking a 2-yard TD pass to Kelvin Benjamin to give No. 1 Florida State a 34-31 victory against Auburn in the last BCS championship game Monday night.
    “The last drive, that’s a great way to cap off our season,” Winston said. “That’s the way we wanted to cap off our season.”
    The Bowl Championship Series went out with a bang, too, with one of the best title games in its 16-year history, right there with Texas 41, USC 38 at the Rose Bowl in 2006. That night it was Vince Young leading the Longhorns and capping a comeback by scooting into the end zone with 19 seconds left.
    Now Winston is the Prince of Pasadena.

  • Manning is unanimous choice for All-Pro

    NEW YORK (AP) — Peyton Manning has responded to a lost season the way he reacted to all of his great seasons.
    By having more great seasons.
    Manning was the only unanimous choice for the 2013 Associated Press NFL All-Pro team Friday. It was his seventh time as a first-teamer, tying Hall of Famer Otto Graham for the most by a quarterback.
    The Denver star set NFL records this season with 55 touchdown passes and 5,477 yards through the air.
    He was chosen on all 50 ballots from media members who regularly cover the NFL. Manning also was an All-Pro for Indianapolis in 2003, ’04, ’05, ’08 and ’09 and last season made it as a Bronco. He’s been on the All-Pro team in both seasons since missing 2011 after several neck surgeries.
    “I think it’s well documented that this is the second chapter of my career, and didn’t know what to expect off that injury and new team, new players and new physical state after an injury,” said Manning, a four-time league MVP who never missed a pro start before 2011. “So I had no idea what to expect, and I’ve put a lot of time and a lot of hard work in to it. But I’ve received a lot of help along the way from coaches and trainers and strength coaches and teammates. So I’m very grateful.”

  • Maple Leafs win sloppy Winter Classic

    ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) — A lot of winter. Very little classic hockey.
    Light snow swirled down in the Big House, making it tough to push the puck through piles of the white stuff on a sheet of ice where football is usually played.
    Teeth-chattering temperatures and a brisk wind were factors, too, that made the NHL’s Winter Classic much more of an event than a game.
    Tyler Bozak scored the winning shootout goal and Jonathan Bernier made two saves in the heart-pounding final moments, lifting Toronto to a 3-2 victory over Detroit on Wednesday in front of 105,591 fans — the largest crowd to watch a hockey game.
    “I was just lucky to get a stick on it and keep it low enough,” Bozak acknowledged.
    The Red Wings were not as fortunate in the closely contested spectacle that was altered in a lot of ways because of the conditions.
    Detroit captain Henrik Zetterberg appeared to have good chance in overtime with the puck in the Maple Leafs’ end and defenseman Cody Franson on his left side. The horn, however, sounded to stop play at the 2:30 mark of the extra period so that both teams played into a 10-plus mph wind for an equal amount of time.
    “I think I would have had a clear breakaway,” Zetterberg said.

  • Defense comes up roses for Michigan State

    PASADENA, Calif. (AP) — When Kyler Elsworth soared over the pile to deliver the final hit of Michigan State’s season, the storybook ending came with a moral.
    After so many years outside the spotlight, the Spartans are in nobody’s shadow anymore. And for the first time in 26 years, they’re Rose Bowl champions.
    Connor Cook passed for a career-high 332 yards and hit Tony Lippett with a tiebreaking 25-yard touchdown pass early in the fourth quarter, leading No. 4 Michigan State to a 24-20 victory over No. 5 Stanford on Wednesday night.
    Cook also threw a TD pass to Trevon Pendleton, and Jeremy Langford rushed for 84 yards and a score for the Big Ten champion Spartans (13-1), who finished their season with 10 straight wins and their first Rose Bowl victory since 1988.
    Michigan State overcame its first double-digit deficit of the entire season along the way, and the Spartans’ FBS-best defense capped a dominant season with one more old-school, smash-mouth performance befitting the centennial celebration of the Granddaddy of Them All.
    “It’s a special time for all Spartans, and we came here in force,” coach Mark Dantonio said. “I’m very happy for our football team, the resilience we showed all season long.”

  • Russian attacks worry athletes heading to Sochi Winter Games

    The suicide bombings in Russia serve as a chilling reminder of what the Winter Olympics represent to terrorists: A high-profile target with more than 2,500 athletes, some of them world-famous, waving the flags of nearly 90 nations.
    So, while many Olympic leaders offered reassurance on the day after two bombings 400 miles from Sochi killed at least 31 people, some of those getting ready to compete in the Games spoke of a different reality. They know their security is never a sure thing.
    “I am concerned,” said U.S. speedskater Jilleanne Rookard. “I’m scared their security may be involved. I don’t know if I necessarily trust their security forces. But they don’t want a national embarrassment, either. I use that thought to relieve some of my worry. I’m sure they want to save their image and their pride.”
    Indeed, the Russians vow the athletes will be safe, even though they will be competing in a city 300 miles away from the roots of an Islamic insurgency that has triggered security concerns for the Games, which start Feb. 7.
    The country has spent a record $51 billion preparing for its first Winter Games and has promised to make the Games “the safest in Olympic history.”