Disgraced Olympian quits the sport

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Disgraced Olympian quits the sport

From Comcast SportsNet
LONDON (AP) -- A Chinese badminton star is apparently quitting the sport after she was one of eight players disqualified from the doubles tournament at the London Olympics for trying to lose. A comment on a verified account for Yu Yang on the Tencent microblogging service late Wednesday read: "This is my last game. Farewell Badminton World Federation. Farewell my dear badminton." Yu's retirement could not be immediately confirmed with Chinese badminton officials. In China, the lives of top athletes are closely controlled by sports officials, including decisions on retirement. Yu and Wang Xiaoli were one of four doubles teams which appeared to play poorly on purpose to secure a more favorable position in the next phase of the event. Two teams from South Korea and another from Indonesia were disqualified from competition but allowed to stay at the games -- a step lighter than expulsion, the penalty for positive drug tests. It appeared to be the first mass disqualification in Olympic history. The feeble play was obvious to fans who attended the matches Tuesday night at Wembley Arena -- they chanted, "Off! Off! Off!" -- and to incredulous television broadcasters and viewers watching around the world. "They're serving fault and fault! They are just hitting the ball into the net!" the BBC's David Mercer said in disbelief. "They are both trying to lose, and that is unforgivable. This is the Olympic Games." The Chinese players set off a domino effect when they tried to rig the draw after China's second-seeded pair unexpectedly lost to a Danish team in the morning. The South Koreans and Indonesians, wanting to avoid a tough opponent as well, followed suit in later matchups. Teams blamed the introduction of a round-robin stage rather than a straight knockout tournament as the cause of the problem. The round-robin format can allow results to be manipulated to earn an easier matchup in the knockout round. None of the players was made available for interviews. Yu went on state television in China to apologize "to all the badminton fans and friends over yesterday's game, because we did not comply with the Olympic spirit, and did not deliver a match with our true level to the audience, the fans and the friends." In a statement released to Xinhua, the Chinese Olympic delegation criticized its players' actions. "The behavior by Yu Yang and Wang Xiaoli on court violated the Olympics ideal and the spirit of fair play. The Chinese delegation feels distressed over this matter," the delegation said. Xinhua also reported Chinese badminton coach Li Yongbo apologized and accepted blame for the scandal. "As the head coach, I owe the fans and the Chinese an apology," Li said. "Chinese players failed to demonstrate their fighting spirit of the national team. It's me to blame."

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

Report: Patriots, Gronkowski restructure contract for 2017 season

The Patriots and Rob Gronkowski have restructured the tight end’s contract for the coming season, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. 

The reworked deal can bump Gronkowski’s salary for the 2017 season from $5.25 million to $10.75 million, according to Schefter. 

Gronkowski was limited by injury to just eight games last season. He had 25 receptions for 540 yards and three touchdowns, all of which were career lows. 

The 28-year-old is entering his eighth NFL season since being selected by the Pats in the second round of the 2010 draft. He has played played in at least 15 regular-season games in four of his first seven season, though he’s twice played fewer than 10. 

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Brandin Cooks ready to bring back arrow celebration after NFL rule change

Tuesday’s announcement from Roger Goodell that the NFL is “relaxing” its rules on celebrations is good news for at least one Patriot. 

That would be Brandin Cooks, who began celebrating the rule change on Twitter not long after the league made its announcement. 

Cooks, whom the Patriots acquired from the Saints this offseason in a trade that sent first and third-round picks to New Orleans, lost his favorite celebration last season when it was made clear that miming archery was off-limits. Josh Norman was fined $10,000 last season for such a celebration. 

Following Norman’s fine, Cooks lamented the league’s decision to punish what Cooks had previously done in reference to a Bible verse (Psalms 144:6). 

"Send forth lightning and scatter your enemy, and shoot your arrows and rout them," Cooks told the New Orleans Advocate. "I just remember it sticking with me for such a long time, I remember thinking, maybe I can do something with this."

Added Cooks: ”I’ve been doing it for three years now, and there was never a complaint about it. Now, all of a sudden, there is. It just reminds me that, it's almost as if they try to take so much away from us, but for something like this, that means so much to someone that has nothing to do with violence, it's frustrating. I'll definitely continue to speak my opinion about it, and if they have a problem with it, so be it."

When Tuesday’s news emerged, Cooks and former Saints teammate Mark Ingram were quick to react.