AP Sports SummaryBrief at 11:57 p.m. EST

Atlanta will be site if Bills, Chiefs meet for AFC title

NEW YORK (AP) — Atlanta’s Mercedes-Benz Stadium will be the neutral site if Buffalo and Kansas City meet in the AFC championship game. The NFL decided to put that potential matchup in a neutral city after the Bills’ Week 17 game against Cincinnati was canceled when Damar Hamlin went into cardiac arrest on the field. The Chiefs are the No. 1 seed in the AFC, but played one more game than the second-seeded Bills. The league brokered the neutral site deal because Buffalo could have been the top seed with a victory over the Bengals.

McDermott hailed for leading Bills through emotional week

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Buffalo Bills coach Sean McDermott is drawing praise for the vulnerability and poise he showed in helping guide his team through an emotionally draining week. McDermott became the face and voice of the franchise in the aftermath of safety Damar Hamlin going into cardiac arrest and needing to be resuscitated on the field in Cincinnati. Those who know McDermott are not surprised. Former William & Mary coach Jimmye Laycock knew the Bills were in good hands under his former player.

Lamar Jackson says in tweet he’s suffered grade 2 PCL sprain

OWINGS MILLS, Md. (AP) — The Baltimore Ravens are still practicing without Lamar Jackson. But Thursday did include one significant development. There was an update from the star quarterback’s Twitter account. Jackson tweeted that he’s suffered a grade 2 PCL sprain. He says there’s still inflammation surrounding his knee and his knee remains unstable. Jackson hasn’t practiced since injuring his knee in a Dec. 4 win over Denver. He missed the final five games of the regular season. Now the Ravens face the prospect of playing their postseason opener at Cincinnati without him Sunday night.

QB Derek Carr says he embraces challenge of new city, team

LAS VEGAS (AP) — Las Vegas Raiders quarterback Derek Carr posted on Twitter that he is ready for the challenge of playing in a new city. Those were his first public comments since being benched by coach Josh McDaniels with two weeks left in the season. Carr was the Raiders QB for nine seasons. He owns multiple team records, including most career passing yards with 35,222 and passing touchdowns with 217. The Raiders have until Feb. 15 to release Carr or his $32.9 million salary for 2023 will be guaranteed.

NCAA board approves recommendations for Division I reform

SAN ANTONIO (AP) — At the NCAA convention, outgoing President Mark Emmert said goodbye, incoming President Charlie Baker introduced himself and the state of college sports was declared unstable. Baylor President Linda Livingstone says college sports is “both thriving and threatened.” Livingstone is chairwoman of the NCAA’s Board of Governors. Earlier in the day the Division I Board Division I Board of Directors approved a host of recommendations intended to reform the top-tier of college sports, from membership standards to the size of championship brackets. But Livingstone re-iterated federal intervention is needed to help preserve college sports.

Jordan Spieth part of 3-way tie for the lead at Sony Open

HONOLULU (AP) — Jordan Spieth is playing about how he expects, and that’s a good thing. Spieth opened with a 64 and shares the lead in the Sony Open with Chris Kirk and PGA Tour rookie Taylor Montgomery. Spieth says he is feeling more confident that has swing changes are now becoming routine. The conditions are ideal for scoring at Waialae with a moderate breeze and plenty of sunshine. Harris English and Slovakian silver medalist Rory Sabbatini are among those at 65. The first round did not finish because of darkness at Waialae Country Club.

Bauer released by Los Angeles Dodgers after suspension cut

NEW YORK (AP) — Trevor Bauer was released by the Los Angeles Dodgers, who cut ties after the pitcher’s unprecedented 324-game suspension over sexual misconduct allegations was reduced by an arbitrator. Los Angeles designated Bauer for assignment on Jan. 6, the last day to restore him to the roster, after arbitrator Martin Scheinman cut the suspension imposed by baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred to 194 games. The Dodgers placed the pitcher on waivers Thursday and any team can claim Bauer by Friday. Bauer is owed about $22.5 million from the remainder of his $102 million, three-year contract, making a waiver claim unlikely.

NBA updates All-Star vote numbers; LeBron, Durant still lead

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James of the Los Angeles Lakers is well on his way to catching Kareem Abdul-Jabbar on more than the NBA’s career scoring list. James is still on pace to be an All-Star for the 19th time. The NBA says he remains the overall leading vote-getter for the Feb. 19 game in Salt Lake City. Abdul-Jabbar is the only 19-time All-Star in NBA history. Kevin Durant has the second-most votes and is on pace to be a captain against James for the third year in a row. James and Kobe Bryant are 18-time All-Star selections, and James entered Thursday 423 points away from passing Abdul-Jabbar as the NBA’s all-time scoring leader.

Elliott has revamped role in 4th playoff trip with Cowboys

FRISCO, Texas (AP) — Ezekiel Elliott is no longer the lead running back for the Dallas Cowboys. The two-time rushing champ shares the backfield role with Tony Pollard. The understudy is the team’s leading rusher going into a wild-card playoff game at Tampa Bay on Monday night. Elliott’s teammates and coaches grade his value on a scale beyond production on the field. Quarterback Dak Prescott is the leader among Elliott’s supporters. They’ve been the face of the Dallas offense since their remarkable rookie season together in 2016.

Bears hire Big Ten Commissioner Warren as team president

CHICAGO (AP) — The Chicago Bears have hired Big Ten Commissioner Kevin Warren as their president and CEO, bringing him back to the NFL to help lead a founding franchise after three years running one of college athletics’ marquee conferences. Warren replaces the retiring Ted Phillips and becomes the Bears’ fifth president.  His biggest task is helping the Bears finalize the purchase of a 326-acre tract of land in suburban Arlington Heights that could become the site of a new stadium. Warren became the first Black commissioner of a Power Five conference when the Big Ten hired him in June 2019 out of the Minnesota Vikings’ front office to replace the retiring Jim Delany. Now, the conference is searching for a new leader again.

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