Stunning new development in Sandusky trial

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Stunning new development in Sandusky trial

From Comcast SportsNet
BELLEFONTE, Pa. (AP) -- As jurors deliberated for more than eight hours on charges Jerry Sandusky sexually abused 10 boys over a 15-year period, new accusations of abuse were leveled against the former Penn State assistant coach by a pair of new accusers, including his adopted son. Just a few hours into deliberations, Matt Sandusky -- one of Sandusky's six adopted children -- came forward for the first time to say in a statement that his father had abused him. The statement didn't detail the abuse allegation. Meanwhile, Travis Weaver, a man suing Jerry Sandusky, told NBC's "Rock Center with Brian Williams" that Sandusky abused him more than 100 times over four years starting in 1992, when he was 10. Weaver, 30, was named as John Doe in the lawsuit filed in Philadelphia in November. Sequestered during deliberations, the jury was under orders from Judge John Cleland to ponder only the case placed in their hands Thursday afternoon after hearing starkly different portrayals of the case's facts during closing remarks. Deliberations were scheduled to resume at 9 a.m. Friday. Prosecutors have called the 68-year-old Sandusky "a serial, predatory pedophile" whose charity for at-risk youth, The Second Mile, was his source of likely victims who would be dazzled by gifts, grateful for his attention and -- perhaps most importantly -- unlikely to speak up. His arrest in November ignited a scandal at Penn State that led to the dismissals of beloved Hall of Fame coach Joe Paterno and the university's president. "He molested and abused and hurt these children horribly," Senior Deputy Attorney General Joseph McGettigan III told the jury in closing statements Thursday. "He knows he did it and you know he did it. "Find him guilty of everything." The defense portrayed Sandusky as the hapless victim of a conspiracy to convict him of heinous crimes. They explain the 48 charges against him as the result of an investigatory team out for blood and accusers who willingly played along in hopes of securing a big payday. "They went after him, and I submit to you they were going to get him hell or high water, even if they had to coach witnesses," defense attorney Joe Amendola said in his animated and impassioned closing remarks. The elder Sandusky, who faces life in prison if convicted of the allegations, smiled and chuckled to himself as prosecutors wrapped up closing remarks. His wife, Dottie, leaned forward in her seat with a concerned look, resting her chin in her hands. Some of the eight accusers who testified described showering with the longtime assistant; others spoke of lengthy relationships featuring lavish gifts and out-of-state trips. One testified he felt at times like Sandusky's son, at others his "girlfriend." A second accuser -- a foster child at the time authorities say he was abused -- said Sandusky threatened he would never see his biological family again if he told anyone he was forced to perform sex acts but later took it back and claimed to love him. One accuser testified to receiving what he called "creepy love letters" from Sandusky. "I know that I have made my share of mistakes," read one handwritten note. "However, I hope that I will be able to say that I cared. There has been love in my heart." The defense said the longwinded letters were simply the manifestation of a personality disorder characterized by excessive emotionality and attention seeking. Two people who prosecutors say were sexually abused by Sandusky haven't been identified. The charges related to them come through other witnesses, including Mike McQueary, a former assistant coach who said he saw Sandusky having anal sex with a boy in a football facility shower. It was McQueary's testimony that touched off the massive scandal that rocked Penn State and forced a re-examination of the role of college administrators in reporting abuse allegations. After more than eight hours of deliberations Thursday night, the jury returned briefly to the courtroom to ask Cleland if they could rehear testimony from McQueary and Dr. Jonathan Dranov, a friend of the McQueary family who testified that McQueary gave him a different account of what he saw. Cleland told the jurors that McQueary's testimony was about two hours in length and Dranov's was about 20 minutes long and suggested they revisit the McQueary testimony Friday. Sandusky has denied the allegations, but did not testify in his own defense. Jurors are aware, however, of the denials he gave "Rock Center" just after his arrest. In it, Sandusky seemed to stumble at times and struggled to give direct answers to questions about his conduct. Asked if he was sexually attracted to boys, Sandusky told NBC's Bob Costas: "Sexually attracted, you know, I, I enjoy young people. I, I love to be around them. ... No, I'm not sexually attracted to young boys." McGettigan seized on that in closing arguments, saying: "I would think that the automatic response, if someone asks you if you're a criminal, a pedophile, a child molester, or anything along those lines, would be: You're crazy. No. Are you nuts?'" Prosecutors said Sandusky used gifts and the allure of Penn State's vaunted football program to attract and abuse vulnerable boys who came from troubled homes, often ones without a father figure in the house. As during his opening statements, McGettigan during his closing arguments put up smiling pictures of eight accusers when they were children; all testified at trial that Sandusky molested them. Standing behind Sandusky, McGettigan implored the jury for a conviction. "What you should do is come out and say to the defendant that he molested and abused and give them back their souls," McGettigan told jurors. "I give them to you. Acknowledge and give them justice." Amendola argued that Sandusky was targeted by investigators who coached accusers into making false claims about a generous man whose charity gave them much-needed love. "So out of the blue (after) all these years, when Jerry Sandusky is in his mid-50s, he decides to become a pedophile? Does that make sense to anybody?" Amendola asked rhetorically. Closing arguments came after seven days of testimony, some of it explicitly describing abuse suffered at the hands of Sandusky, including touching in showers, fondling and in some cases forced oral or anal sex. The jury, which includes nine people with ties to Penn State, had already begun deliberating when Matt Sandusky's attorneys issued a statement alleging that Sandusky abused one of his six adopted children. "During the trial, Matt Sandusky contacted us and requested our advice and assistance in arranging a meeting with prosecutors to disclose for the first time in this case that he is a victim of Jerry Sandusky's abuse," Andrew Shubin and Justine Andronici said in the statement. "At Matt's request, we immediately arranged a meeting between him and the prosecutors and investigators. "This has been an extremely painful experience for Matt and he has asked us to convey his request that the media respect his privacy. There will be no further comment." Karl Rominger, one of Jerry Sandusky's lawyers, declined to comment. Matt Sandusky went to live with Sandusky and his wife as a foster child and was adopted by them as an adult. Shortly after Jerry Sandusky's arrest, Matt Sandusky's ex-wife went to court to keep her former father-in-law away from their three young children. Jill Jones successfully obtained a restraining order forbidding the children from sleeping over at their grandparents' home. Around the same time, details emerged that Matt Sandusky had attempted suicide just four months after first going to live with the couple in 1995. He had come into the home through The Second Mile. Shortly after the suicide attempt, Sandusky's probation officer wrote, "The probation department has some serious concerns about the juvenile's safety and his current progress in placement with the Sandusky family," according to court records supplied to The Associated Press by his birth mother, Debra Long. Despite those concerns, probation and child welfare officials recommended continued placement with the Sandusky family, and the judge overseeing his case agreed. During testimony last week, an accuser known as Victim 4 said Matt Sandusky was living at the Sandusky home at the time he stayed there overnight and testified that Jerry Sandusky came into the shower with the two boys and "started pumping his hand full of soap." Matt Sandusky shut off the shower and left, appearing nervous, the witness said.

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

Brady-Ryan marks rare case of NFL's top two quarterbacks meeting in Super Bowl

For all the flack that Matt Ryan got heading into this season, he’s been a damn good quarterback. Is his career on the same level as Tom Brady’s? Of course not, but this regular season saw him stand as Brady’s peer, making him an MVP favorite.

One of Ryan’s biggest challengers for that hardware is the same man who stands in the way of him winning his first Super Bowl. Though he missed the first four games of the season due to suspension, Brady finished second in the league in passing yards per game and threw just two picks in 12 games while tossing 28 touchdowns.  

So Super Bowl LI will pin the quarterback with the best numbers overall (Ryan finished two touchdowns behind Aaron Rodgers for the league lead but threw for 516 more yards and had a higher completion percentage) against the quarterback with the best touchdown/interception ratio ever for a single season. 

In other words, this is a Super Bowl that puts what one could argue are the season’s two best quarterbacks each other. That’s pretty rare. 

Going back the last 25 years, there are four candidates for such meetings: Manning vs. Brees in Super Bowl XLIV, Favre and Elway in Super Bowl XXXII (this one is a stretch), Favre and Bledsoe in Super Bowl XXXI and Kelly and Rypien in Super Bowl XXVI.. 

Why haven’t the two best quarterbacks squared off in the Super Bowl more often? Because Brady and Peyton Manning played their entire careers in the same conference, silly. It’s taken other players entering their echelon to even set up such a scenario, and that’s why Brees’ Saints beating Manning’s Colts serves as the only example during Manning or Brady’s career. 

The strong performances of those who dominated the regular season have often carried over into their Super Bowl meetings, but not always. Drew Bledsoe and Jim Kelly (both throwing two touchdowns and four picks in Super Bowl losses) are examples of the wheels falling off in the final game. 

Here’s a breakdown of past occurrences. Note that all four of them saw the winning team score at least 30 points, something the Pats have done just once in Brady's four Super Bowl wins: 

Super Bowl XLIV: Brees vs. Manning

Brees led NFL with 34 touchdowns in regular season; Manning finished tied for second with 33

Final score: Saints 31, Colts 17

Brees: 32/39, 288 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Manning: 31/45, 333 yards, 1 TD, 1 INT

Brees completed a postseason in which he had no turnovers and did so in a nearly exactly average game for him that season, as e averaged 292.5 yards, 2.26 touchdowns and less than one interception per game in the regular season. The two quarterbacks also combined for just one sack. 
 
Super Bowl XXXII: Favre vs. Elway

Favre led NFL with 35 TDs in regular season, Elway finished second in TD/interception ratio

Final score: Broncos 31, Packers 24

Favre: 25/42, 256 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT, fumble lost 
Elway: 12/22, 123 yards, 0 TD, 1 INT

Again, this is the forced one because Jeff George (3,917 passing yards, 29 touchdowns, nine interceptions) had the better regular season than Elway (3,635 passing yards, 27 touchdowns, 11 picks). Elway may have been the winning quarterback, but he didn’t have anything to do with the win. Terrell Davis carried the Broncos, playing through a migraine and rushing for 157 yards with three touchdowns en route to Super Bowl MVP honors. 

Super Bowl XXXI: Favre vs. Bledsoe

Favre led NFL with 39 TDs, Bledsoe third with 27

Final Score: Packers 35, Patriots 21

Favre: 14/27, 246 yards, 2 TD, 0 INT
Bledsoe: 25/48, 253 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT

Both quarterbacks took five sacks in this game. For Bledsoe, it was the most he took all season. The game was the third four-pick performance of his NFL career. 

Super Bowl XXVI: Kelly vs. Rypien

Kelly led NFL with 33 TDs, Rypien second with 28

Final score: Redskins 37, Bills 24

Rypien: 18/33, 292 yards, 2 TD, INT
Kelly: 28/58, 275 yards, 2 TD, 4 INT, fumble lost

Turns out five turnovers (and being sacked four times) is not a recipe for winning the Super Bowl. Kelly’s 58 passes thrown set a Super Bowl record.
 

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Dimitroff, Pioli the first Belichick defectors to lead new team to Super Bowl

Working for the Patriots makes you attractive to other teams. Many have left, but Thomas Dimitroff and Scott Pioli are finally showing that major success can be attained in the process. 

Dimitroff and Pioli have built a team in Atlanta that will play for the franchise’s first Super Bowl title on Feb. 5. While many have been hired away from Bill Belichick's Patriots to lead other organizations, Dimitroff is the first of the defectors to get to the Super Bowl on his own. Adding an old friend in Pioli has played a part in that. 

Dimitroff served as New England’s director of college scouting from 2003 through 2007 before becoming Atlanta’s general manager in 2008. He hired Pioli in 2014 as an assistant GM after the longtime Patriots director and vice president of player personnel had a messy stint as the Chiefs’ GM. 

Executives and coaches (even Field Yates; yes, the fair-haired boy from the television) leaving the Patriots for better positions with other organizations has been common, but with the new positions have often come diminished success compared to New England. 

Romeo Crennel, Eric Mangini, Bill O’Brien, Charlie Weis (in his brief return to the NFL in 2010) and Josh McDaniels make up the list of coordinators who have left winning with the Patriots to experience a dropoff without Brady and Belichick. John Robinson (Titans), Jason Licht (Buccaneers) and Bob Quinn (Lions) currently serve as GMs elsewhere, while former Pats secondary coach Joe Collier works with Dimitroff and Pioli as the Falcons’ director of pro personnel. 

It’s only fitting that Dimitroff and Pioli will have to go through Belichick in order to secure a title on their own. Winning without Belichick has proven hard enough for his former colleagues; winning against him will be even harder.