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Friday’s Sports in Brief

December 30, 2017

PRO FOOTBALL

HOUSTON (AP) — The NFL and the players’ union announced a series of changes to the way potential concussions are handled during games following an ugly incident in which Texans quarterback Tom Savage was allowed to return to the field after a hit left him on the ground, arms shaking.

Among the changes is the addition of an expert watching games from a central location with the authority to alert sideline medical teams to look into an incident. And if a player shows signs of a seizure or similar responses, as Savage did, they will be removed from the game and cannot return.

The NFL has been under increased scrutiny the past several years over player safety when it comes to head injuries. A $1 billion settlement of concussion-related claims from more than 20,000 former players took effect earlier this year, resolving thousands of lawsuits that accused the NFL of hiding what it knew about the risks of repeated concussions.

The jarring injury to Savage prompted a joint review of concussion protocol by the NFL and the NFL Players Association. He was hurt in the second quarter of Houston’s 26-16 loss to San Francisco on Dec. 10 when he was driven to the ground on a hit by Elvis Dumervil. Replays showed Savage looking dazed after his head hit the ground with both of his arms shaking and lifted upward. He was taken to the medical tent where he stayed for less than three minutes before returning to the bench and going back in for the next series.

FLORHAM PARK, N.J. (AP) — The New York Jets are choosing stability over a shake-up.

The team announced Friday it extended the contracts of general manager Mike Maccagnan and coach Todd Bowles, keeping the pair for at least the next three seasons through 2020.

The extensions are for two years each, according to a person with direct knowledge of the contracts. The person spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity because the team did not announce terms.

“During their time here, they have worked together to help the organization build a foundation on which to grow,” acting owner and CEO Christopher Johnson said in a statement. “They are identifying, developing and getting productivity out of our players.

“I believe we are headed in the right direction.”

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

ARLINGTON, Texas (AP) — If Sam Darnold returns to the home of the Dallas Cowboys in four months, he figures to leave feeling a bit better than after a rough night in the Cotton Bowl.

Darnold threw an interception that was returned for a touchdown , lost two fumbles on sacks and misfired on several other throws in No. 8 Southern California’s 24-7 loss to fifth-ranked Ohio State on Friday night.

A third-year sophomore, Darnold is projected as a possible top overall pick in the NFL draft, which will be held at AT&T Stadium in late April. If he’s the first one on stage with NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, that’ll be a better look than a quiet walk off the field as Ohio State players celebrated.

In the locker room, Darnold hugged cornerback-receiver Keyshawn “Pie” Young after signing Young’s No. 15 jersey, which had other signatures as well. The 20-year-old Darnold remained noncommittal on his future.

PRO BASKETBALL

JERUSALEM (AP) — The NBA has apologized and removed wording from its website referring to “Palestine-occupied territory” on Friday after complaints by an Israeli minister.

Israeli sports minister Miri Regev had sent a letter to NBA Commissioner Adam Silver calling Palestine “an imaginary ‘state’,” and asking for the reference to be removed from the basketball league’s website.

“We do not produce the country listings for NBA.com and as soon as we became aware of it, the site was updated,” said Kathy Behrens, the NBA’s President for Social Responsibility. “We apologize for this oversight, and have corrected it.”

The U.N. along with most of the international community considers the West Bank and east Jerusalem, areas Israel captured in the 1967 war that the Palestinians claim for a future state, as occupied territory.

HOCKEY

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The NHL isn’t going to get drawn into any discussions about participating in future Winter Olympics until after the Pyeongchang Games are complete.

Deputy Commissioner Bill Daly said that’s the answer he provided to International Ice Hockey Federation general secretary Horst Lichtner on Friday. Daly and Lichtner happened to sit together during the first period of the world junior hockey championship outdoor game between the United State and Canada being played at New Era Field.

Daly said the two talked little business, though he noted Lichtner did ask when the NHL might be ready to discuss its plans regarding the 2022 Games at Beijing.

Daly said his response was: “Certainly not any time before Pyeongchang.”

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