Wednesday’s Sports In Brief
CLEVELAND (AP) — Browns star left tackle Joe Thomas retired after 11 seasons in the NFL, ending a career in which he exemplified durability, dependability and dominance.
A 10-time Pro Bowler with Cleveland, Thomas announced his decision after spending several months contemplating whether to come back following a season-ending injury.
Thomas never missed a snap before tearing his left triceps during an Oct. 22 game against Tennessee. His streak of 10,363 consecutive plays is believed to be the longest run in pro football history.
LAKE FOREST, Ill. (AP) — The Chicago Bears agreed to a contract with former Jacksonville Jaguars receiver Allen Robinson, hoping he can form a dynamic tandem with quarterback Mitchell Trubisky and help energize a stagnant passing game.
The Bears announced the move a day after Robinson told ESPN he was planning to sign a $42 million, three-year deal.
Chicago also announced agreements with Philadelphia Eagles tight end Trey Burton ($32 million, four years), Atlanta Falcons receiver Taylor Gabriel, Miami Dolphins kicker Cody Parkey and New Orleans Saints backup quarterback Chase Daniel.
The Bears are coming off their fourth straight last-place finish in the NFC North and fourth straight season with 10 or more losses. They are banking on Robinson to recover from a torn ACL in his left knee and regain the form that made him a Pro Bowl pick in 2015.
TEMPE, Ariz. (AP) — The Arizona Cardinals released safety Tyrann Mathieu after the two sides couldn’t rework his contract.
Mathieu was due for $18.75 million of his contract to be guaranteed when the league year officially began. By cutting him, Arizona saved close to $5 million in cap space.
Mathieu became a star in the Arizona secondary after being selected in the third round of the 2013 draft following a troubled college career at LSU. He was an All-Pro in 2015, when he had five interceptions and 17 passes defensed. But he also has been plagued by injuries and only last season did Mathieu appear in all 16 games.
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — The Buffalo Bills took the first step in restocking their quarterback position by agreeing to a two-year contract with A.J. McCarron. The 27-year-old spent the past four seasons backing up Andy Dalton in Cincinnati after being selected by the Bengals in the fifth round of the 2014 draft.
MEMPHIS, Tenn. (AP) — Tubby Smith was fired as Memphis basketball coach after two seasons amid dropping attendance and donations to the athletic department.
Smith told reporters he was no longer coach as he left a meeting with Memphis President M. David Rudd and athletic director Tom Bowen.
Smith went 40-26 at Memphis, including 21-13 this season. The Tigers won seven of their final nine games before losing Saturday to No. 8 Cincinnati in the American Athletic Conference Tournament semifinals, their third loss to the AAC champs this season.
Smith came to Memphis in April 2016 as one of only two coaches to lead five different schools to the NCAA Tournament. Now 66, he leaves without taking Memphis to any postseason tournament in his two seasons. Smith is 597-302 with a national title at Kentucky in 1998.
ATHENS, Ga. (AP) — Former Ohio State coach Thad Matta withdrew from the Georgia coaching search after becoming the first known candidate to interview for the job.
Georgia fired Mark Fox on Saturday, and Matta was in Athens only two days later.
Lingering back problems were an issue in Matta’s 13 years at Ohio State. His $9 million buyout includes a stipulation that he must make “reasonable and diligent efforts” to find another coaching job. He also reportedly interviewed at Mississippi.
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. (AP) — Extra innings throughout the minor leagues will start with a runner at second base.
In addition, the pitch clock that began at Triple-A and Double-A in 2015 will be lowered from 20 seconds to 15 when there are no runners on base, the National Association of Professional Baseball Leagues said. The timer will remain at 20 seconds with runners on.
Looking to speed up the pace of play, Major League Baseball had hoped to have a similar rule for spring training and starting in the 11th inning of the All-Star Game but was stymied by the Major League Baseball Players Association, which refused to agree.
New limits on mound visits without pitching changes also will be added, the minor league governing body said.
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. (AP) — Roger Federer defeated Jeremy Chardy of France 7-5, 6-4 in the fourth round of the BNP Paribas Open, and at 15-0 the world’s top-ranked men’s player is off to his best start since 2006.
The 36-year-old Swiss superstar can equal his season-best start of 16-0 with a win in the quarterfinals, where he will meet Chung Hyeon of South Korea in a rematch of their Australian Open semifinal.
Federer advanced to the final in Melbourne when Chung retired in the second set trailing 6-1, 5-2 because of blisters on his left foot. Federer went on to win a five-set final against Marin Cilic for his 20th Grand Slam title.
Chung, seeded 23rd at Indian Wells, beat 30th-seeded Pablo Cuevas of Uruguay 6-1, 6-3.
FAR HILLS, N.J. (AP) — Ernie Els and Jim Furyk received a special exemption to play in the U.S. Open this year at Shinnecock Hills on Long Island, New York.
Els is a two-time U.S. Open champion who would have faced qualifying because his five-year exemption from winning the 2012 British Open ran out last year. Els won the U.S. Open at Oakmont in 1994 and at Congressional in 1997. This will be his 29th consecutive U.S. Open.
Furyk won the 2003 U.S. Open at Olympia Fields.
They received the first U.S. Open exemptions since Retief Goosen in 2016. Goosen is a two-time Open champion, including 2004 when it was last held at Shinnecock Hills.
AUSTIN, Texas (AP) — Sergio Garcia now has more than a green jacket to remind him of his victory at the Masters.
He has a daughter .
Garcia’s wife, Angela, gave birth to a girl in Texas. They named her Azalea Adele.
Augusta National is known for its spring beauty, particularly the azaleas. One of the more pivotal moments in his victory last year was at the 13th hole — named “Azaleas” because of its 1,300 bushes on the par 5 — when Garcia hooked his tee shot beyond the hazard, took a penalty drop, chipped out and still managed to save par and not lose any ground. He followed with a birdie and an eagle and wound up winning in a playoff over Justin Rose.
Adele is his wife’s middle name.
CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) — Lowe’s, one of the last remaining corporate giants in NASCAR, announced it will not sponsor seven-time champion Jimmie Johnson after this season, an ominous sign for the nation’s top racing series.
For Johnson and Hendrick Motorsports, it means the best NASCAR driver of his generation has a blank slate of “inventory” for the first time in nearly two decades.
ANCHORAGE, Alaska (AP) — Joar Ulsom of Norway won the world’s most famous sled dog race after a grueling dash across Alaska’s rough terrain, but he earned tens of thousands of dollars less than last year’s top musher at the struggling Iditarod.
After nearly 1,000 miles, Ulsom and the eight dogs on his team came off the Bering Sea ice onto Nome’s main street. He slapped hands with fans who lined the streets and went under the finish line at 3 a.m. local time.
Ulsom’s victory generated heavy media attention in Norway, a winter sports nation still basking in the glory of winning the most medals at the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea.