"I've told my guys to take the letter and set it on fire. We're not that stupid," said Seahawks guard Chester Pitts.

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Goodell e-mails all active NFL players: Commissioner Roger Goodell wrote NFL players Thursday, outlining the league’s last proposal to the union and cautioning that “each passing day puts our game and our shared economics further at risk.”

Goodell ended the letter, a copy of which was obtained by The Associated Press, by telling players: “I hope you will encourage your union to return to the bargaining table and conclude a new collective bargaining agreement.”

Talks between the teams’ owners and the NFL Players Association broke off last Friday, the 16th day of federal mediation. The union dissolved that afternoon, allowing players to file a class-action antitrust suit in federal court. Hours later, owners locked out the players, creating the NFL’s first work stoppage since 1987.

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“I’ve told my guys to take the letter and set it on fire. We’re not that stupid,” said Seahawks guard Chester Pitts, whose reaction was relayed by NFLPA assistant executive director George Atallah.


Wozniacki, Sharapova advance at Indian Wells: Top-ranked Caroline Wozniacki advanced to the BNP Paribas Open semifinals when Victoria Azarenka retired with a hip injury while trailing 3-0 in the first set. Wozniacki next plays Maria Sharapova, who outlasted Peng Shuai 6-2, 5-7, 6-3 to reach her first semifinal of the year after missing the last five weeks with a viral illness.

Venus Williams withdraws: Venus Williams withdrew from the upcoming Sony Ericsson Open, citing an abdominal injury that has sidelined her for nearly two months. Her sister Serena also is missing from the field, having been out of action since winning Wimbledon for the fourth time in July. She underwent surgery twice for a cut on her foot and last month had a pulmonary embolism and was hospitalized to remove a hematoma.


Teams threaten boycott over radio feud: The professional cycling teams’ association is threatening to boycott the Tour of Beijing in October if the sport’s governing body doesn’t withdraw its proposed ban on radio communication during races by May 1. The UCI says radio communication on the road distorts the nature of the sport, however most teams say the use of earpieces makes riders safer.

UCI, cyclists want four-year bans to become norm: Four-year bans for doping appear likely to become the norm in cycling following recommendations from both the UCI-endorsed Professional Cycling Council and the Association of Professional Cyclists. The move from two- to four-year bans would be for serious doping offenses, such as use of EPO, growth hormones or blood transfusions.

Winter sports

Cancellation foils Vonn’s chance to extend lead: Lindsey Vonn’s quest for a fourth overall World Cup title became more challenging after the cancellation of Thursday’s final super-G of the season as a result of fog, rain and wet snow in Switzerland. Vonn was counting on the race to increase her 27-point lead over her friend and rival Maria Riesch of Germany in the race for the overall title.


NCAA championships Day 1: Penn State continued its impressive late-season surge, and several upsets caught the attention of the impressive 17,289 that turned out for the opening two rounds of the NCAA wrestling championships in Philadelphia. The Nittany Lions advanced seven wrestlers into the quarterfinals. North Carolina State’s Darrion Caldwell, the top seed at 149, suffered a separated shoulder and had to stop his match.

Mixed Martial Arts

UFC continues push to legalize MMA in NYC: The UFC is returning to New Jersey this weekend, which means officials for the mixed martial arts promotion have been spending most of their time in New York City. UFC president Dana White has been working hard the last few years to get MMA sanctioned in New York, one of the only states that still bans it. The main event Saturday night in Newark, N.J., features light heavyweight champion Mauricio “Shogun” Rua defending his title against Jon Jones.


Liverpool, Man City eliminated from Europa League: Liverpool and Manchester City were eliminated from the Europa League Thursday and Giuseppe Rossi scored his tournament-high eighth goal to help Villarreal advance to the quarterfinals.

College football

NCAA denies OSU appeal of suspensions: The NCAA denied Ohio State’s appeal on behalf of five Buckeyes football players who will be suspended for the first five games of the 2011 season for selling autographed memorabilia and receiving discounted tattoos. In response, coach Jim Tressel said he wants the same five-game punishment. He had been handed a two-game suspension in a separate investigation. The athletes were also forced to repay $1,000 to $2,500.


Thrashers owners talking with two possible buyers: Thrashers co-owner Bruce Levenson said talks are continuing with two potential buyers who would keep the team in Atlanta. Levenson said prospective buyers have shown increased interest in the past month.

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