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Dec. 6, 2012 at 11:16 PM
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NHL labor talks break off

NEW YORK, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- A contract proposal from NHL players was rejected by club owners Thursday and talks aimed at saving the hockey season came to at least a temporary end.

After more than 20 hours of negotiations over the previous two days, including a late-night session on Wednesday, the optimism that had been generated faded away.

Union chief Donald Fehr said a message had been sent from the owners that the most recent offer by the players' association had not been accepted and that the message indicated there was no use in holding more talks on Friday.

The players had asked for the talks to continue with federal mediators present, but both sides must agree to that before outside representatives can enter the negotiations. Fehr said the owners had not agreed to having the mediators present.

The talks that took place Tuesday and Wednesday involved only a group of owners and players. Neither Fehr nor NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman were present during those sessions.

Representatives from both sides met for an hour Thursday before the talks came to an end.

Among the owners who had been present for the talks on Tuesday and Wednesday were Pittsburgh's Ron Burkle, Toronto's Larry Tanenbaum and Boston's Jeremy Jacobs.

The players involved have included Sidney Crosby, Shane Doan, Martin St. Louis and Manny Malhotra.

NHL owners locked out the players Sept. 16 after no new collective bargaining agreement could be reached. Games through Dec. 14 have been canceled, as has the Winter Classic and the 2013 All-Star Game.

Notre Dame's Manti Te'o wins Maxwell Award

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla., Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Notre Dame's Manti Te'o Thursday won the Maxwell Trophy as college football's best player and dominated the annual presentation of the sport's top honors.

The senior linebacker walked away with four awards during the gathering of the sport's elite players at the Walt Disney World Resort.

The Maxwell Trophy is voted on by a panel of media members and coaches. Te'o also won the Bednarik Award (top defensive player), Butkus Award (top linebacker) and Lombardi Award (top lineman).

Te'o is one of three finalists for the Heisman Trophy, which will be awarded on Saturday in New York and is the most coveted of all the individual college football trophies. Quarterbacks Collin Klein of Kansas State and Johnny Manziel of Texas A&M are the other Heisman finalists and they were also finalists for the Maxwell Trophy.

The Maxwell Trophy had gone to a quarterback for nine straight years with Stanford's Andrew Luck winning it last year. The Heisman Trophy, however, went to Baylor's Robert Griffin III in 2011.

Te'o would become the first defense-only player to win the Heisman and Manziel would be the first freshman to capture the honor.

Both Manziel and Klein earned one trophy each during Thursday's ceremony. Manziel took home the O'Brien Award, which goes to the leading quarterback, and Klein earned the Unitas Award, which is given to the top senior quarterback.

Other awards and their winners included:

-- Doak Walker Award (top running back): Montee Ball, Wisconsin.

-- Biletnikoff Award (top receiver): Marquis Lee, USC.

-- Jim Thorpe Award (top defensive back): Johnthan Banks, Mississippi State.

-- Lou Groza Award (top place kicker): Cairo Santos, Tulane.

-- Outland Trophy (top interior offensive lineman): Luke Joeckel, Texas A&M.

-- Ray Guy Award (top punter): Ryan Allen, Louisiana Tech.

-- Mackey Award (top tight end): Tyler Eifert, Notre Dame.

Report: Chargers to fire Turner, GM Smith

SAN DIEGO, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- The San Diego Chargers will fire General Manager A.J. Smith and head Coach Norv Turner at the end of the current disappointing season, U-T San Diego said.

The newspaper Thursday cited sources who said team President Dean Spanos had made up his mind at least a month ago to terminate Turner and had more recently determined Smith had to go as well because of the Chargers struggles on the field and growing unrest among the team's fans.

Spanos told the U-T in a written statement the idea he had made up his mind about Smith and Turner was "pure speculation."

"There is only one person in this organization who will make those decisions, and that's me, and I haven't shared my thoughts with anyone," Spanos said. "I will make evaluations at the end of the season."

The Chargers began the season with high hopes of at least winning the wobbly AFC West. While they are in second place, they are an anemic 4-8 and have gone 1-4 in their last five games.

The team's travails in 2012 coupled with a disappointing 8-8 mark in 2011 had Turner and Smith in the crosshairs of frustrated Chargers fans from the start of the season. Disappointing drafts and a banged-up offensive line raised fears the chance of parlaying the prime years of quarterback Philip Rivers would slip away before San Diego won its first Super Bowl.

Turner has a 56-44 record with the Chargers and a year remaining on his contract. Smith has two years left on his contract.

The U-T said potential replacements for Turner included Philadelphia Eagles Coach Andy Reid, former NFL coaches Mike Holmgren and Jon Gruden, Stanford head Coach Drew Shaw and Oregon head Coach Chip Kelly.


Roethlisberger returns for Steelers

PITTSBURGH, Dec. 6 (UPI) -- Ben Roethlisberger, who has been sidelined for three weeks with injuries, will start Sunday at quarterback for Pittsburgh, Steelers Coach Mike Tomlin said.

Roethlisberger was able to practice Wednesday and Thursday, the team said. After Thursday's workout Tomlin said Roethlisberger was returning to the starting position.

"He's been above the line in all areas," Tomlin said of Roethlisberger. "Really, the only question we can't answer is taking a hit. Obviously that will be answered in the stadium on Sunday."

The Steelers play the San Diego Chargers in Pittsburgh Sunday.

Roethlisberger suffered rib and shoulder injuries against Kansas City on Week 10. That started a quarterback carousel for the Steelers. Byron Leftwich replaced Roethlisberger that game and again the following week but was injured.

Charlie Batch, a 15-year pro was inserted in the lineup and delivered an emotional win at Baltimore last week.

The Steelers (7-5) were 1-2 in the games Roethlisberger missed.

Roethlisberger has completed 209-of-316 passes for 2,287 yards, 17 touchdowns and four interceptions this season.

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