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49ers Sign Rugby Star Jarryd Hayne

49ers Sign Rugby Star Jarryd Hayne

Thearon W. Henderson/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- Thinking outside the box, the San Francisco 49ers have signed Australian National Rugby League star Jarryd Hayne to a futures/reserves contract.

Other than rugby, Hayne has no football experience.

Hayne, who was the NRL's Player of the Year in 2014, turned down deals with the Seattle Seahawks and Detroit Lions to sign with the 49ers.

The 49ers guaranteed Hayne $100,000 whether he ever makes the field or not.

He has been training since October in the United States with former NFL receiver Tim Dwight.

"He's going to have to come in and play special teams. He's going to have to learn how to rush the punt and then get back and block for a return," Dwight told ESPN.com last week. "He's going to have to learn how to cover a punt, but that should be pretty instinctive to him. We were trying to look at what positions he would play on the field, either offensively or defensively. Rugby, especially being a forward, you're pretty much an offensive-minded guy."

At his Pro Day, Hayne measured in at 6-foot-2, 226 pounds.

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Report: Clippers’ Blake Griffin Set to Return Next Week

Report: Clippers’ Blake Griffin Set to Return Next Week

NBA via Los Angeles Clippers(NEW YORK) -- As the Los Angeles Clippers begin to climb the standings in the Western Conference, they're bracing for the return of forward Blake Griffin.

According to ESPN's Arash Markazi, Griffin is expected back as soon as next week.

Griffin has missed the last ten games after undergoing surgery to treat a staph infection in his right elbow. Despite his absence, the Clippers have gone 7-3.

The timeline for Griffin's return was initially in the 4-6 week range. He last played on Feb. 6.

Markazi also reports that Griffin's conditioning and cardio is back to normal and he's expected to start shooting this week.

Even though DeAndre Jordan and Chris Paul have been carrying the Clippers the last month, Griffin is still one of the team's best players. Now in his fifth NBA season, the 25-year-old is averaging 22.5 points and 7.5 rebounds per game.

Entering Tuesday, the Clippers sit at 40-21, fifth in the Western Conference.

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Titans Release Safety Bernard Pollard

Titans Release Safety Bernard Pollard

NFL via Getty Images(NASHVILLE, Tenn.) -- Coming off an injury-riddled 2015 season, the Tennessee Titans have released veteran safety Bernard Pollard.

"Nashville it's been so much fun. Thank you to all the fans and people I've been blessed meet. Great city, fans and food! #31 is out" Pollard tweeted.

Pollard told The Tennessean that he asked the team to release him, and his request was granted.

"I am a little ticked off to be honest because we didn't do as well as anyone wanted," Pollard told the newspaper. "I wish we could have won more games and made the playoffs. When I came here, I wanted to be a part of a turnaround, so it is a letdown. But I don't have that much time left, and for the time I do have left, I want to go out with a bang."

The 30-year-old Pollard suffered an Achilles injury during the fifth game of the season in 2014, and missed the remainder of the season. He spent two seasons in all in Nashville.

A nine-year veteran, Pollard has played for the Chiefs, Texans, Ravens, and Titans during his career.

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Kurt Busch Agrees to NASCAR Reinstatement Terms

Kurt Busch Agrees to NASCAR Reinstatement Terms

(CHARLOTTE, N.C.) -- After an extremely heated court battle with an ex-girlfriend, Kurt Busch was suspended indefinitely from the NASCAR circuit.

NASCAR has put forth a set of terms that Busch must complete in order to compete for the chase once again. According to NASCAR spokesman David Higdon, Busch has agreed to the stipulations.

Busch was suspended on Feb. 20 after a Delaware Judge ruled that Busch must cease all contact with his former paramour, Patricia Driscoll and undergo psychiatric counseling. 

Stewart Haas Racing, Busch's employer, released the following statement:

"We understand Kurt Busch has begun the process for reinstatement as a NASCAR member. NASCAR has laid out its expectations for Kurt, and while there is no timetable to meet those expectations, Kurt's willingness to embrace the conditions set forth by NASCAR is a positive step that we support." 

The timetable for Busch's return is currently unknown.

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Scoreboard Roundup – 3/1/15

Scoreboard Roundup – 3/1/15

Hemera/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- NBA: Los Angeles Clippers 110 (40-21) - Minnesota Timberwolves 105 (13-46)

Dallas Mavericks 102 (40-22) - New Orleans Pelicans 93 (32-28)

Miami Heat 115 (26-33) - Phoenix Suns 98 (31-30)

Brooklyn Nets 110 (25-33) - Golden State Warriors 108 (46-12)

Toronto Raptors 114 (38-22) - Philadelphia 76ers 103 (13-47)

NHL: New York Rangers 4 (39-17-6, 84 pts) - Nashville Predators 1 (41-16-7, 89 pts)

Chicago Blackhawks 5 (38-21-5, 81 pts) - Carolina Hurricanes 2 (24-31-7, 55 pts)

San Jose Sharks 4 (31-25-8, 70 pts) - Montreal Canadiens 0 (41-17-5, 87 pts)

NCAAM: (2) Virginia 59 (28-1) - Syracuse 42 (18-12)

Texas 61 (18-12) - (14) Baylor 59 (22-8)

(17) Iowa State 77 (21-8) (15) Oklahoma 70 (20-9)

 

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Report: Texans Grant WR Johnson Permission to Seek Trade

Report: Texans Grant WR Johnson Permission to Seek Trade

Rob Tringali/SportsChrome/Getty Images(HOUSTON, Tx) -- The face of the Houston Texans offense wants out.

Wide receiver Andre Johnson has been granted permission to seek a trade, according to ESPN.  The news was first reported by the Houston Chronicle and KRIV.

Johnson, 33, has also demanded that if a trade partner cannot be found that he be released from the team he has spent all 12 seasons of his career with.

Last year, Johnson threatened to hold out in hopes of being traded or released but played through the 2014 season. With a revolving door at quarterback, that included Ryan Fitzpatrick, Ryan Mallett and Case Keenum, Johnson posted 85 catches for 936 yards and three touchdowns. 

Johnson's impact on the team began to diminish as second year wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins became the prime target on offense.

The Texans selected Johnson third overall in the 2003 NFL draft out of the University of Miami.

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Harden Suspended One Game for Kick

Harden Suspended One Game for Kick

Al Bello/Getty Images

(HOUSTON, Tx) -- Rockets point guard James Harden has been suspended one game by the NBA after receiving a flagrant foul for kicking LeBron James in the groin.

In a heated game between Houston and Cleveland, Sunday evening, James and Harden entered into a scrum for the ball. Harden fell to the ground and extended his leg into James's "man region."

In all, five technical fouls were issued in the game that saw Houston come away with the 105-103 overtime victory. 

"It was a pretty intense game that started off with a little scrum on the floor in front of our bench with Pat and LeBron," said Rockets coach Kevin McHale. "It just kind of stayed kind of chippy all game long, which is fine. Some games are chippy like that."

Harden will miss Tuesday's game against the Atlanta Hawks.

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Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler Out 3-6 Weeks with Elbow Injury

Bulls Guard Jimmy Butler Out 3-6 Weeks with Elbow Injury

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- The hits keep coming for the Chicago Bulls as the team announced that guard Jimmy Butler will miss the next 3-6 weeks with an elbow injury.

Butler suffered the injury on Sunday during the team's game against the Los Angeles Clippers.

Butler underwent an MRI on Monday that revealed a Grade 2/3 ulnar ligament sprain and small bone impaction injury to his left elbow, the team announced in a statement.

Fortunately for Butler, he will not need to undergo surgery, and is hoping to be back in time for the playoffs.

Now in his fourth NBA season, Butler has emerged as the leading scorer for the Bulls this season. In 55 games this season, Butler is averaging 20.2 points, 5.9 rebounds, and 3.3 assists per game.

This is yet another tough blow for the Bulls who are already dealing with injuries to Derrick Rose and Taj Gibson.

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Lightning Acquire Defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Flyers

Lightning Acquire Defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Flyers

Len Redkoles/Getty Images(NEW YORK) -- As the Tampa Bay Lightning enter the stretch run of the NHL season, the team went out and made their team stronger before the trade deadline as they acquired defenseman Braydon Coburn from the Philadelphia Flyers.

 

In order to acquire Coburn's services, the Lightning had to give up their 2015 first- and third-round draft picks along with defenseman Radko Gudas.

 

The Lightning also shipped Brett Connolly to the Boston Bruins for a second-round pick in 2015 and another in 2016.

Coburn led the Flyers this season in average shifts per game at 27.9 and is still a solid defenseman. He had been with the Flyers since the 2006-2007 season. He was also third among Flyers' defensemen in average ice time at 20:14. Coburn has one goal and eight assists in 39 games this season.

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Derrick Rose Begins Rehab on Knee One Day After Surgery

Derrick Rose Begins Rehab on Knee One Day After Surgery

NBA via Chicago Bulls(CHICAGO) -- Just one day after undergoing surgery to repair a torn medial meniscus in his right knee, Chicago Bulls point guard Derrick Rose has already began his rehab for the injury.

Rose suffered yet another setback on the court that has derailed his career, but he's determined to remain a key player.

"He's been through two tough ones," Bulls head coach Tom Thibodeau said. "I think he's gained confidence from that. The ACL knee is great and he knew [a re-tear] was a possibility going in. He's in a good place and he'll deal with it. He'll get past this."

A former league MVP, Rose is expected to miss 4-6 weeks and both he and the team are optimistic he'll be able to return for the playoffs.

The 26-year-old Rose has appeared in 46 games this season, his most since the 2010-2011 season. Prior to the injury, he was averaging 18.4 points, 5.0 assists, and 3.2 rebounds per game.

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ESPN: Sixers Waive Center JaVale McGee

ESPN: Sixers Waive Center JaVale McGee

NBA via Denver Nuggets(NEW YORK) -- Despite letting it be known that he had hoped to stay in Philadelphia, the Philadelphia 76ers have waived center JaVale McGee after just six games with the team.

McGee was acquired during the trade deadline in a trade with the Denver Nuggets.

The Sixers waived McGee prior to the midnight deadline that makes McGee eligible to appear in the playoffs this season with another team.

Not only will McGee now have a chance to sign with a contending team, he will still earn next season's $12 million salary as well as the remainder of his $11.25 million salary this season.

"I don't want to get bought out," McGee told local reporters shortly after the trade. "That's not a positive thing. When you think about it, you don't get all of your money when you get bought out."

The 27-year-old McGee is in the midst of his seventh NBA season. In six games with the Sixers, he averaged 3.0 points and 2.2 rebounds in 10.2 minutes per game.

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Jaromir Jagr Ties Phil Esposito on NHL Scoring List

Jaromir Jagr Ties Phil Esposito on NHL Scoring List

Glenn James/NHLI via Getty Images(SUNRISE, Fl.) -- Jaromir Jagr tied Phil Esposito for fifth on the all-time scoring list in NHL history on Sunday against the Tampa Bay Lightning.

"I watched many times this year the series between the Russians and Canada in 1972, and he was a dominating player there," Jagr said of Esposito. "After I watched the tapes, I respect him a lot more because he turned the series around. He was the guy. In that time, he was the best in the world. It’s a big honor for me to tie him."

At 10:24 into the first period, Jagr beat Lightning goalie Ben Bishop over his stick-side shoulder to score his 717th career goal.

Jagr was traded to the Panthers on Feb. 26 from the New Jersey Devils for a pair of draft picks.

He now trails Marcel Dionne (731 goals) for fourth all-time.

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Report: Broncos Will Franchise Tag Demaryius Thomas

Report: Broncos Will Franchise Tag Demaryius Thomas

Dustin Bradford/Getty Images(DENVER, Co.) -- The Denver Broncos will not allow their leading receiver of the past three seasons to see the light of free agency.

The Broncos are expected to use the franchise tag on Demaryius Thomas, according to the Denver Post. Furthermore, the team will use the "nonexclusive" tag, which means Thomas is free to negotiate with other teams, but the Broncos can match any offer or the signing team must compensate Denver with two first-round picks.

Under the franchise tag, Thomas is expected to be paid $12.797 million. Thomas had been receiving an average of $2.8 million per year under his rookie contract.

Thomas, 27, has caught at least 92 passes each of the last three seasons while totaling at least 1,400 yards through the air. He has also posted double-digit touchdowns in all three years. Last season, he set the Bronco's single-season record with 1,619 yards receiving.

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Report: Raiders Will Cut LB Woodley

Report: Raiders Will Cut LB Woodley

Al Bello/Getty Images(OAKLAND) -- The Oakland Raiders made a gamble last year that LaMarr Woodley would bring a strong veteran presence to the middle of their defense.

It went bust. The Raiders are expected to cut Woodley this week, according to CSN Bay Area.

Woodley, 30, signed a two-year $12 million dollar contract with the Raiders after spending the first seven seasons of his career with the Pittsburgh Steelers.

However, Woodley missed 10 games last season due to a biceps injury. Even when he did play, he failed to make an impact as he recorded five tackles for the 3-13 Raiders.

Oakland will likely have the second most cap space heading into free agency with over $60 million available. In addition, to comply with the CBA rules for minimum cash spending, the Raiders must spend at least $20 million dollars this season towards their salary cap.

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NY Rangers Complete Mega Deal for Yandle

NY Rangers Complete Mega Deal for Yandle

Jupiterimages/Thinkstock

(NEW YORK) -- The New York Rangers have completed a deal to acquire one of the top scoring defenseman in the NHL.

The Rangers have acquired Keith Yandle, as well as defenseman Chris Summers and a 2016 fourth-round pick from the Arizona Coyotes in exchange for defenseman John Moore, top prospect Anthony Duclair, a 2016 first-round pick, and a 2015 second-round pick.

Yandle has had two 50+ point seasons in his career and recorded at least 30 points over the last seven seasons, including 41 so far this season.

The Coyotes will assume 50% of the salary remaining on Yandle’s contract. He has one year remaining on his deal; he's scheduled to make $5.75 million next season.

The Rangers are 38-17-6, 82 pts, sitting at 3rd in the Eastern Conference.

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Angels’ Richards Won’t Be Ready For Season Opener

Angels’ Richards Won’t Be Ready For Season Opener

Rob Carr/Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- Los Angeles Angels starting pitcher Garrett Richards will not be ready to pitch Opening Day for the team according to manager, Mike Scioscia.

Richards is expected to begin pitcher fielding drills in a week as he continues to make progress from August knee surgery.  The Angels remain hopeful he could be pitching in games two or three weeks into the season.

"It's not going to be Opening Day, let's put it that way," Scioscia said Sunday. "He knows it, and it's great that he's not going to be able to rush it because our medical staff's not going to let him. There's a progression. He has to pass every plateau. It's great that he's going to shoot for being ready. He's working very hard to be ready Opening Day, but he's not going to be ready Opening Day."

Before the injury, Richards was 13-4 with a 2.61 ERA in 28 starts for the team.

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LeBron Misses Two Big Free Throws in OT, Rockets Beat Cavs 105-103

LeBron Misses Two Big Free Throws in OT, Rockets Beat Cavs 105-103

Ronald Martinez/Getty Images(HOUSTON) -- LeBron James missed two free throws with under five seconds remaining in overtime and James Harden missed his second one on purpose in the Rockets 105-103 win over Cleveland on Sunday.

Harden led the way with for Houston with 33 points, eight rebounds, and five assists.

"That's a very good team over there," Harden told ABC after the game.  "We were battling through injuries all season.  We wanted to come out here and prove that we were a good team."

James, who finished with 37 points in the loss, could have given the Cavaliers the lead, but missed both free throws.

"There is no excuse. I missed free throws," James said. "I missed the two biggest ones of the game to put us up with seconds on the clock and I didn't come through. I failed my teammates."

The game featured some shoving from both sides and players scrambling on the court for loose balls, but James said that he wasn't bothered by it.

"It was old-school basketball," James said. "When you have two teams with the same aspirations and trying to get better every day, it can get like that."

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Cowboys to Franchise Dez Bryant

Cowboys to Franchise Dez Bryant

Doug Pensinger/Getty Images(IRVING, Texas) -- The Dallas Cowboys have informed the agent of Dez Bryant that the team will place the franchise tag on the All-Pro wide receiver, Vice President Stephen Jones confirmed.

The Cowboys have to notify the league by 4 p.m. ET Monday, which will guarantee Bryant roughly $13 million in 2015. The Cowboys will not use the exclusive franchise tag on Bryant, but if a team wants to take Bryant away from the Cowboys, they would have to give up two first-round picks if Dallas decides to not match an offer sheet.

In five seasons with Dallas, Bryant has caught 381 passes for 5,424 yards and 56 touchdowns. No player in team history has more catches, yards or touchdowns than Bryant in the first five years of his career.

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Jimmie Johnson Wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Jimmie Johnson Wins at Atlanta Motor Speedway

Jerry Markland/Getty Images(HAMPTON, Ga.) -- The pressure is off Jimmie Johnson early this season after he took home the checkered flag at Atlanta Motor Speedway on Sunday at the Folds of Honor QuikTrip 500.

Johnson held off Kevin Harvick and Dale Earnhardt Jr. to win the second Sprint Cup race of the year.

"I'm just so excited that the guys — we have new guys — could understand what I was complaining about and the things I didn't like about my race car," said Johnson, who started 38th. 

"This thing was just bad fast. I had a blast racing with the 4. He was awfully strong today. I think track position there at the end set things in place," Johnson continued.  "We had the restart we needed to, cleared the 88 and off we went."

Johnson increased his chances of making the Chase this year with the win as well.

"Takes pressure off in some ways," Johnson said.  "We don't have the questions of are you going to win this year.  It's nice to dodge that."

Last weekend's Daytona 500 winner Joey Logano finished in fourth and was followed by Matt Kenseth.

“We raced hard," Logano said. "We raced up toward the front all day, just those Hendrick cars are fast."

"I did everything I could to maintain on restarts and being aggressive," Logano continued.  "Overall we're still having a good start to the season."

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Minoso, Chicago’s 1st Black MLB Player Dies

Minoso, Chicago’s 1st Black MLB Player Dies

Mike McGinnis/Getty Images(CHICAGO) --  Minnie Minoso, Chicago's 1st African-American Major League Baseball player has passed away.  

Minoso established himself in his first at-bat in the majors in 1951 by hitting a two-run home run.

"We have lost our dear friend and a great man," White Sox owner Jerry Reinsdorf said in a release. "Many tears are falling."

The medical examiner's office did not offer details right away, however, there is some question about his age, but the White Sox say he was 90.

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