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League lifts cap on damages from concussion lawsuit

The NFL agreed Wednesday to remove a $675 million cap on damages from thousands of concussion-related claims after a federal judge questioned whether there would be enough money to cover as many as 20,000 retired players.

A revised settlement agreement filed in federal court in Philadelphia also eliminated a provision that barred anyone who gets concussion damages from the NFL from suing the NCAA or other amateur football leagues.

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In January, U.S. District Judge Anita Brody had denied preliminary approval of the deal because she worried the money could run out sooner than expected. The settlement is designed to last at least 65 years and cover retired players who develop Lou Gehrig’s disease, dementia or other neurological problems believed to be caused by concussions suffered during their pro careers.

More than 4,500 former players have filed suit, some accusing the league of fraud for its handling of concussions. They include former Dallas Cowboys running back Tony Dorsett and Super Bowl-winning Chicago Bears quarterback Jim McMahon, who suffers from dementia.

The original settlement included $675 million for compensatory claims for players with neurological symptoms, $75 million for baseline testing and $10 million for medical research and education. The NFL would also pay an additional $112 million to the players’ lawyers, for a total payout of $870 million.


U.S. will talk to Solo

U.S. Soccer president Sunil Gulati said the federation plans to speak with Hope Solo and her representatives by Thursday regarding the goalkeeper’s weekend domestic-violence arrest in Kirkland.

“We’ll be talking with Hope in the next 24 hours and her representatives, and I think it would be inappropriate for me to say anything else until some of these processes play out,” Gulati said at U.S. training camp in Brazil.

The host Vancouver Whitecaps and Montreal Impact tied 0-0 in the first Major League Soccer game after the World Cup break. Vancouver (5-2-7) pushed its unbeaten streak to eight, while Montreal (2-7-5) remained winless on the road.

The Portland Timbers signed veteran English Premier League defender Liam Ridgewell to a multiyear contract.

Ridgewell will be Portland’s third designated player and will join the team once he obtains his visa. Ridgewell, 29, is a veteran of 11 EPL seasons, including stints with Aston Villa, Birmingham City and West Bromwich Albion.


Diggins lifts Shock

Skylar Diggins scored 32 points in her return to Indiana to help the Tulsa Shock beat the Fever 107-102 in overtime.

The South Bend native and former Notre Dame star hit a three-pointer with 2.8 seconds left in regulation to force overtime. Diggins’ three-point play midway through the overtime period gave Tulsa (6-7) a 102-96 advantage.

Shavonte Zellous led Indiana (6-7) with 33 points.

In another game, rookie Alyssa Thomas scored 12 of her 23 points in the third quarter and had 11 rebounds to lead the host Connecticut Sun (8-6) to its sixth straight victory, 79-69 over the Chicago Sky (6-8).


Penguins hire coach

The Pittsburgh Penguins hired the well-traveled Mike Johnston to replace Dan Bylsma as coach, charging the hockey lifer with creating the right system for stars Sidney Crosby and Evgeni Malkin to thrive in both the regular season and beyond.

Johnston, 57, spent the past six years with the Portland Winterhawks of the Western Hockey League.

Johnston’s hiring ends a tumultuous six weeks in which the Penguins were bounced from the Eastern Conference semifinals by the New York Rangers after blowing a 3-1 lead, fired Bylsma and general manager Ray Shero, and brought in longtime Carolina Hurricanes executive Jim Rutherford to clean up the mess.


• Reigning NASCAR Sprint Cup champion Jimmie Johnson visited the White House where President Obama called Johnson “pretty much the Michael Jordan of NASCAR.”

• American sprinter Allyson Felix, still working her way back from a torn hamstring, won’t run in her signature event, the women’s 200, at this week’s U.S. outdoor track and field championships in Sacramento, Calif. Instead, she will focus on her footwork and speed in the 100.

• Los Angeles Kings right wing Marian Gaborik agreed to a seven-year contract to stay with the team. Terms weren’t disclosed, but it’s believed the contract is worth about $35 million.

• The Tampa Bay Lightning signed free-agent right wing Ryan Callahan to a six-year contract.

• The Columbus Blue Jackets traded defenseman Nikita Nikitin to the Edmonton Oilers for a fifth-round draft pick.

Michael Block, head professional at Arroyo Trabuco Golf Club in Mission Viejo, Calif., won the PGA Professional National Championship in a playoff in Myrtle Beach, S.C.. to lead the 20 qualifiers for the PGA Championship.

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