NFL admits officiating mistake
NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The National Football League admitted Monday that game officials had botched a call at the end of Sunday's wild card playoff game between San Francisco and the New York Giants, thus costing the Giants a chance to win the game.
The Giants, having lost a 24-point lead and trailing by one point, attempted a 41-yard field goal with six seconds remaining. But the snap was bad and holder Matt Allen wound up throwing a desperation pass that headed in the direction of New York guard Rich Seubert.
Just before the ball arrived, however, Seubert was hit by San Francisco defensive end Chike Okeafor in what appeared to be obvious pass interference.
No flag was thrown for interference. Instead, the Giants were flagged for having an ineligible receiver downfield, thus ending the game. If interference had been called, there would have been offsetting penalties and the Giants would have had a second chance to kick the field goal.
Commentators on radio and television indicated that because Seubert was an ineligible receiver, no interference could be called. The league said Monday, however, that Seubert was, indeed, an eligible receiver.
"The New York Giants and San Francisco 49ers were informed today that
a defensive pass interference penalty should have been called on the final
play of Sunday's game," the league said in a statement.
"A videotape review by NFL Director of Officiating Mike Pereira of
the final play -- the Giants' 41-yard field goal attempt with six seconds
remaining -- determined the following:
"Tam Hopkins of the Giants lined up as the left guard and was illegally downfield on the pass attempt. The three flags thrown on this play were for this penalty.
"Guard Rich Seubert was an eligible receiver on Giants field goal attempts. This was reported to the officiating crew prior to the game as is routinely done prior to every game.
"49ers defensive end Chike Okeafor interfered with Seubert downfield when he was attempting to catch Giants holder Matt Allen's pass. This defensive pass interference penalty against the 49ers was not called.
"If defensive pass interference had been called, there would have been offsetting penalties (ineligible receiver against the Giants and pass interference against the 49ers) with the down replayed at the original line of scrimmage, the San Francisco 23-yard line.
"Although time had expired, a game cannot end with offsetting penalties. Thus, the game would have been extended by one untimed down."
The league also said that Allen did not have the option of spiking the ball to stop the clock once he fielded the poor snap.
"That only can be done by taking a hand-to-hand snap directly from the center," the league said. "If Allen had spiked the ball, it would have been a penalty for intentionally grounding the ball and the game would have ended due to a 10-second runoff of the clock."
Brian Jordan rescinds trade demand
LOS ANGELES, Jan. 6 (UPI) -- Veteran outfielder Brian Jordan Monday told the Los Angeles Dodgers he is dropping his trade demand.
MLB.com, the official Web site of Major League Baseball, reported that Jordan kicked off ceremonial workouts Monday by also endorsing management's offseason moves, and doing what's expected from a team leader.
The Dodgers have made major roster changes this offseason, including the signing of veteran first baseman Fred McGriff and the trade of his counterpart, Eric Karros.
"I've rescinded my trade demand because I want all of us to go into spring training with no negative vibes, all positive and no clouds over our heads," said Jordan, who will turn 36 before Opening Day. "The moves (General Manager Dan Evans) is making really impressed me and I ain't lying. To get that done, it's amazing to me."
Jordan has underdone knee surgery since the end of last season. Also in 2002, he said he was not always comfortable in Los Angeles, and it took some time to adjust.
"It was a tough year for me and a lot to get used to -- the trade, the fans, playing hurt, the family stuff (his wife was pregnant), looking for a place to live," he said. "I got hurt a lot and tried to play through it and it didn't turn out so good. I'd hold back and not play like myself. But I hope I proved I belonged in September (30 RBI). I expect to perform like that all season. This year, I'm coming in with a relaxed attitude and nothing to worry about. Last year it took me all season. I'm finally letting it go and moving forward."
In 2002, the former Atlanta Brave batted .285 with 18 home runs and 80 RBI. For his career, he has batted .287 with 167 home runs and 736 RBI in 1,205 games and 4,402 at-bats.
The former Atlanta Falcons defensive back also has played with St. Louis, where his baseball career began in 1992.
Steelers place Mike Morgan on IR
PITTSBURGH, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Pittsburgh Steelers safety Mike Logan will miss the rest of the postseason with a right knee injury.
The Steelers on Monday placed Logan on injured reserve and signed rookie safety Erik Totten from the practice squad.
The Cleveland Browns were leading 24-7 in the third quarter Sunday when Logan intercepted a pass by Kelly Holcomb and returned it 14 yards to the Pittsburgh 39. Tommy Maddox then directed a 10-play, 71-yard touchdown drive and the Steelers went on to rally for a 36-33 victory.
Logan is the top backup at the safety position and is often used in nickel and dime packages.
Pittsburgh is in the divisional playoff round for the seventh time in 11 years under coach Bill Cowher and will visit the Tennessee Titans on Sunday.
Favre will play next season
GREEN BAY, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Long-time Green Bay quarterback Brett Favre Monday said he would play again in 2003.
Favre hinted at retirement before the Packers' surprising 27-7 loss to Atlanta Saturday night in the NFC wild-card game, the first home-field setback in franchise history, and he stormed out of the stadium without talking to the media.
"As I said during the season, I have every intention of coming back and want to be back," Favre said Monday. "I see no reason why this team shouldn't compete for a Super Bowl next year, or why I shouldn't be a part of it. Hopefully, we'll leave it at that and next year you all can start asking me the same (retirement) questions again. In my opinion we have nothing but great things to look forward to here."
The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel reported Friday that the Packers would take a $3.5 million salary cap hit if Favre retired, and the Packers would have to absorb about $9.3 million of his pro-rated signing bonus.
Favre still has eight years left on his current contract. He admits that he has been hampered by nagging injuries this season and that it is getting more difficult to bounce back.
Favre is a threat to win an unprecedented fourth MVP award. He was 325-of-518 (62.3 percent) for 3,486 yards, with 26 touchdowns and 15 interceptions this season. His quarterback rating in the NFC was No. 4.
In Saturday's loss, Favre was 20-of-42 for 247 yards, with one touchdown and two interceptions.
Duke remains No. 1 in Coaches' Poll
ARLINGTON, Va., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Unbeaten Duke, which thrashed Clemson in its Atlantic Coast Conference opener on Sunday, remained atop the latest College Coaches baskerball poll released Monday.
Duke (9-0) posted a pair of easy victories and received 28 first-place votes and 769 points from a panel of Division I coaches. The Blue Devils routed Fairfield by 28 on Thursday and kicked off conference play with an 18-point victory over Clemson.
Arizona, which posted three wins during the week, received two first-place votes and is second with 736 points. The Wildcats (9-1) were fourth last week.
Also moving up was Connecticut (9-0), which went from fifth to third after winning its only game of the week.
Alabama (10-1), which lost on the road to Utah but beat Xavier, fell from third to fourth and received a first-place vote.
Pittsburgh (10-1), which dropped from the second spot after a loss to Georgia, rounds out the top five.
Notre Dame (12-1), which faced Pittsburgh on Monday, Texas (9-2), Mississippi State (10-1), Oklahoma (8-2) and Oregon (10-2) round out the top 10. Oregon lost to Arizona on Thursday.
Illinois (10-1) is 11th, followed by Florida (11-2). Missouri (8-1), which won twice, including a victory over Iowa, jumped from 16th to 13th. Kansas (9-3) climbed from 17th to 14th after a pair of victories but will have to make do for a while without leading rebounder and second-leading scorer Wayne Simien, who dislocated his right shoulder in a rout of Missouri-Kansas City on Saturday.
Indiana (10-2) moved up three spots to 15th. Creighton (11-1), defending national champion Maryland (7-3), Wake Forest (9-0), Kentucky (9-3) and Michigan State (8-4) round out the top 20.
Texas Tech (9-1), Xavier (9-3), Marquette (8-3), Georgia (9-3) and Louisville (8-1) complete the top 25. Georgia and Louisville entered the rankings while North Carolina State and Louisiana State dropped out after losses.
Jordan NBA Player of Week
NEW YORK, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Michael Jordan's throwback effort on Friday earned him the nod as the NBA's Eastern Conference Player of the Week on Monday.
Jordan, who posted season highs with 41 points and 12 rebounds, was honored along with the Dallas Mavericks' Dirk Nowitzki, who was named the top player in the Western Conference for the seven-day period ending Sunday.
Jordan recorded his first double-double of the season in the Washington Wizards' 107-104 win over the Indiana Pacers on Friday. He averaged 22.3 points, 8.0 rebounds, 5.3 assists and 2.3 steals per game as the Wizards went 3-1 last week.
Nowitzki averaged a double-double - 29.7 points and 10.7 rebounds - over three games last week as Mavericks, went 2-1.
His best effort of the season came in a rare Dallas home loss, as he scored a career high-tying 40 points and added 14 rebounds, five assists and two steals in a 110-107 setback against Milwaukee on Monday.
15 finalists named for Hall of Fame
CANTON, Ohio, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame Monday put 15 finalists on its list for 2003.
Among the 15 is Marcus Allen, the first player in NFL history to rush for 10,000-plus yards and catch passes for 5,000 more. He is one of two first-time eligibles among the 15.
Seven previous finalists -- wide receivers Art Monk and James Lofton, quarterback Ken Stabler, guard Bob Kuechenberg, linebacker Harry Carson, cornerback Lester Hayes, and Buffalo Bills owner Ralph Wilson -- qualified as finalists again this year.
Linebacker Randy Gradishar and former general manager George Young are among six that had been eligible for Hall of Fame election prior to this year but had not been finalists. The others are defensive ends Elvin Bethea and Claude Humphrey, guard Joe DeLamielleure, and coach Hank Stram, the recommended nominee of the Hall's Seniors Committee.
Tackle Gary Zimmerman joins Allen as the only first-time eligibles under consideration.
The modern era finalists were determined by a vote of the Hall's 39-member Board of Selectors. The Class of 2003 will be announced on Jan. 25, the day before Super Bowl XXXVII in San Diego. A minimum of 80 percent of the voting is required for election.
Enshrinement of the Class of 2003 will take place at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton on Sunday, Aug. 3.
Allen, a six-time Pro Bowler, rushed for 12,243 yards, added 5,411 yards in receptions, and totaled 145 touchdowns in 16 years with the Los Angeles Raiders (1982-92) and Kansas City Chiefs (1993-97). He rushed for a career-high 1,759 yards in 1985 and was named the MVP of Super Bowl XVIII, rushing for 191 yards and two touchdowns in the Raiders' 38-9 rout of Washington.
Monk played 14 of his 16 seasons with the Washington Redskins, and ranks fifth all time with 940 receptions.
Lofton is third all time with 14,004 receiving yards on 764 receptions.
Stabler, a four-time Pro Bowler, played 10 of his 15 seasons with the Raiders. At the time of his retirement in 1984, his 59.9 career pass completion percentage was second to Hall of Famer Joe Montana.
Stram led Kansas City to a Super Bowl title, one other Super Bowl appearance, and three AFL championships.
Iowa State coach gets new contract
AMES, Iowa, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Dan McCarney, who coached the Iowa State football team to an unprecedented third straight postseason game, has been given a new contract through 2010, the school announced Monday.
McCarney's previous contract ranked him near the bottom of the Big 12 Conference, where the median compensation is $1.078 million. He will earn an annual base salary of $925,000 through 2010.
Athletic Director Bruce Van De Velde said McCarney's compensation will be funded entirely without using state tax dollars. Iowa State's football revenue went from $9.1 million in 1999 to $14 million in 2002.
McCarney's 2000 team was the first at Iowa State to win nine games since 1906, the only other nine-win campaign in program history. The Cyclones ended the season with a win over Pittsburgh in the Insight.com Bowl, the school's first bowl victory.
Iowa State went to the Independence Bowl in 2001 and the Crucial.com Humanitarian Bowl this season, despite playing the toughest schedule in school history. The Cyclones played nine bowl teams with a combined record of 75-19.
The 2002 season ended with a 34-16 loss to Boise State, which dropped the Cyclones to 7-7. McCarney, who was an assistant under Hayden Fry at Iowa and Barry Alvarez at Wisconsin, is 36-57 in eight years at Iowa State.
Woods wins fourth consecutive award
PONTE VEDRA BEACH, Fla., Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Tiger Woods on Monday was named Player of the Year for the fourth consecutive season, extending his own PGA Tour record.
In a vote of the member players, Woods took home the Jack Nicklaus Trophy as Player of the Year for the fifth time in the last six years. He is the only golfer to earn the honor more than twice.
Hale Irwin was honored for the Senior PGA Tour while Patrick Moore was lauded for the previously named Buy.com Tour. The circuits have changed to the Champions Tour and Nationwide Tour, respectively.
Also, Jonathan Byrd was named PGA Tour Rookie of the Year and Morris Hatalsky was honored as the top rookie on the Champions Tour. Gene Sauers and Hubert Green were named Comeback Players of the Year on their respective circuits.
Woods won five titles, including two major tournaments, and collected more than $6.9 million, taking home the Arnold Palmer Award as top money winner for the fourth straight season. That tied Tom Watson for the most in tour history.
In leading the tour with a 68.56 scoring average, Woods also won his fourth consecutive Byron Nelson Award. He also led the tour in greens in regulation and birdie average.
"It's always special to have the votes of the other players," said Woods, who turned 27 on Dec. 30. "I'm especially proud to have won this award (Player of the Year) four consecutive times."
Woods is skipping this week's season-opening Mercedes Championships in Hawaii after undergoing knee surgery.
Irwin won his third Jack Nicklaus Trophy after claiming four titles in 2002. He and Lee Trevino are the only players from the Champions Tour to win the honor three times.
The 57-year-old Irwin became the first player on the elder circuit to top $3 million in season earnings, breaking his own record with more than $3.028 million. He also collected his fourth Byron Nelson Trophy with a 68.93 scoring average.
Irwin won the second annual Charles Schwab Cup, which comes with a $1 million annuity.
Moore began the 2002 season with conditional status on the Nationwide Tour but won three times to a earn a promotion to the PGA Tour. He led the tour with $381,965 and a 69.86 scoring average.
Byrd won the Buick Challenge and nearly $1.5 million. Hatalsky began the season with no status but earned a win and almost $1.4 million.
More than 13 years after his last win, Sauers won the Air Canada Championship. Green went from 51st to 16th on the money list and won his fourth career Champions Tour title.
The 2003 Champions Tour season gets under way Jan. 31 in Hawaii with the Mastercard Championship. The Nationwide season stars Feb. 27 in Australia with the Jacob's Creek Open Championship.
Four seeds advance at Sydney
SYDNEY, Jan. 7 (UPI) -- Juan Carlos Ferrero Monday won his first round match at adidas international tennis harcourt event.
He beat Australian qualifier Jaymon Crabb, 5-7, 7-5, 6-3.
Ferrero, whose greatest success has come on clay courts, won a title on clay at Monte Carlo and reached the final at the French Open in 2002. He reached the final on clay at the Generali Open, but also won his second career hardcourt title at Hong Kong last September.
The Spaniard lost to world. No. 1 Lleyton Hewitt in the season-ending Tennis Masters Cup, which also was played on hard courts.
"It was my first match of the year and I need some rhythm," said Ferrero. "There were a lot of rallies and I played a good, solid match. On hard courts, I think you need to be more aggressive and hit more winners. Reaching the finals of the Tennis Masters Cup Shanghai has given me a lot of confidence on hard courts."
The eighth seed, Gaston Gaudio of Argentina, also moved into the second round, posting a 6-7 (5-7), 6-2, 7-5 victory over Todd Reid of Australia.
In matches involving unseeded players, Jarkko Nieminen of Finland recorded a 6-0, 3-6, 7-5 win over Peter Luczak of Australia, and Wayne Ferreira of South Africa beat Sweden's Thomas Enqvist, 6-2, 6-4.
On the women's side, eighth-seeded Magdaleena Maleeva of Bulgaria made her 2003 debut with a 3-6, 7-5, 6-0 victory over Silvia Farina-Elia of Italy. Maleeva improved to 4-3 lifetime against Farina-Elia.
No. 5 Anastasia Myskina of Russia was upset by countrywoman Elena Bovina, 6-3, 7-5. Bovina will face qualifier Olga Barabanschikova of Belarus. She upset Conchita Martinez of Spain, 6-2, 2-6, 6-4.
Wild card Tamarine Tanasugarn of Thailand also advanced with a 6-2, 3-6, 6-2 victory over Czech qualifier Klara Koukalova.
The $932,000 event is a tune up for the Australian Open, which begins Jan. 13.