Thursday, April 26, 2018
Sports

Panthers spur NFL memo: No bats allowed on field

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — In the end, Panthers coach Ron Rivera didn't have a choice about whether his players could continue to take baseball bats on the field before games.

The NFL on Tuesday sent a memo all 32 teams reminding them that "no foreign objects unrelated to the uniform or playing equipment are permitted on the playing field and sidelines on game day," spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email to the Associated Press.

The Panthers' baseball bat, which they say is a motivational prop, has garnered much attention in the fallout of Sunday's win against the Giants, mainly because of confrontations involving New York wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. and Carolina cornerback Josh Norman. Beckham was assessed three personal four penalties in the game and Monday was suspended for Sunday's game against the Vikings for his behavior. He has appealed.

Rivera said earlier Tuesday the Panthers had done nothing wrong but he had decided to ban the bat "because I'm going to hear it if I don't. … It's the No Fun League for a reason."

Rivera didn't say if he had received a league memo.

Rivera also said he was upset about what he called untrue reports that some of his players had taunted Beckham with physical threats and homophobic slurs before the game. Rivera said the Panthers wouldn't stand for that and the team found no evidence it had occurred.

Neither the Giants nor Beckham had accused the Panthers of that kind of taunting.

Beckham appeal set: Odell Beckham's appeal of his suspension will be heard by former Redskins and Eagles wideout James Thrash, the league said. The hearing is at noon today, ESPN reported. Thrash and Bucs Hall of Famer Derrick Brooks are the hearing officers jointly appointed by the NFL and the players association.

Brain study controversy: An ESPN report that said the NFL is withholding funding of a study of brain trauma and football touched off controversy when the league called it "not accurate."

ESPN's Outside the Lines said the league "backed out" of the planned seven-year, $16 million research project to attempt to diagnose in living patients chronic traumatic encephalopathy (CTE), a degenerative brain disease linked to repeated head hits in contact sports that has been found in several former players after their deaths. The study was to have been funded by a $30 million grant the NFL made to the National Institutes of Health (NIH) in 2012. Instead, the NIH will fund the study itself, it said Tuesday.

ESPN said the NFL didn't want its money used because the study involves Boston University researchers who have been critical of it and the way it has handled concussions. The NFL influenced the foundation administering the funds, ESPN said.

The NFL said its grant was still available and the NIH decided to not use the money, which the NIH confirmed, noting its intent to use the grant on a different project.

Jets: Receiver Joe Anderson was signed to the practice squad and practiced, about six weeks after he stood outside the Texans' stadium for a few days with a sign asking for an NFL job.

Patriots: Veteran free agent running back Steven Jackson, 32, signed. He hasn't played an NFL game all season. Jackson helps to bolster a depleted backfield after season-ending injuries to LeGarrette Blount and Dion Lewis.

Saints: Quarterback Drew Brees tore the plantar fascia in his right foot in Monday night's loss to the Lions but hopes to play in the final two regular-season games, ESPN reported.

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