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Colorado Coach Gary Barnett Steps Down (AP)
Former Colorado coach Gary Barnett, right, walks with his wife Mary Barnett, left, and Colorado Athletic Director, Mike Bohn, center, to a news conference Thursday night, Dec. 8, 2005, in Boulder, Colo.  Barnett reluctantly stepped down as football coach of Colorado on Thursday, accepting a $3 million settlement and ending a tenure that was riddled by off-the-field problems but ultimately done in by recent bad results on the field. (AP Photo/Bill Ross)AP - Gary Barnett's tumultuous stay at Colorado ended Thursday when the coach reluctantly stepped down, accepting a $3 million payment to sever a tenure riddled by off-the-field problems and finally done in by bad results on the field.


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Orioles' Tejada Wants to Be Traded (AP)
Baltimore Orioles' Miguel Tejada leans on second base after being tagged out in the sixth inning against the Oakland Athletics Thursday, Aug. 26, 2004, in Oakland, Calif. Tejada said Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, he's unhappy with the team's direction and wants to be traded.  'I've been with the Orioles for two years and things haven't gone in the direction that we were expecting, so I think the best thing will be a change of scenery,' Tejada told The Associated Press during a telephone interview in his native Dominican Republic.  (AP Photo/Ben Margot)AP - Baltimore Orioles shortstop Miguel Tejada said Thursday he's unhappy with the team's direction and wants to be traded.


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A Flurry of Deals Before Teams Head Home (AP)
Boston Red Sox'  Edgar Renteria watches his three-run home run off Los Angeles Angels pitcher Paul Bryd in the eighth inning in Anaheim, Calif., in this Aug. 21, 2005 photo. The Red Sox gave up on Renteria just one year after lavishing a four-year, $40 million contract on him, trading the shortstop to the Atlanta Braves on Thursday Dec. 8, 2005, for third baseman Andy Marte, a baseball official told The Associated Press. (AP Photo/Francis Specker)AP - Baseball executives finished the winter meetings with a flurry of deals before heading home, with the Boston Red Sox giving up on shortstop Edgar Renteria and the New York Yankees getting rid of second baseman Tony Womack.


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Young, Bush Big Winners at Awards Show (AP)
Heisman Trophy candidates, from left, Southern California quarterback Matt Leinart, Texas quarterback Vince Young and Southern California tailback Reggie Bush, pose together at the close of the Home Depot 2005 College Football Awards, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, at the Walt Disney World Boardwalk Resort in Orlando, Fla. The Heisman Trophy will be awarded Saturday night in New York. (AP Photo/Brian Myrick)AP - Texas quarterback Vince Young and Southern California tailback Reggie Bush each took home two awards Thursday night, one as best player in the nation and one for being the best at his position, as college football honored its stars.


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Penguins Say Lemieux Cheerful, Upbeat (AP)
Pittsburgh Penguins owner-captain Mario Lemieux talks to reporter in this  June 10, 2004 file photo  before teeing off in the Mellon/Mario Lemieux Celebrity Invitational golf tournament in Pittsburgh. Lemieux was hospitalized Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005 for observation of an irregular heartbeat, general manager Craig Patrick said. (AP Photo/Gene J. Puskar)AP - Pittsburgh Penguins general manager Craig Patrick knew owner-captain Mario Lemieux was feeling much better after yet another medical scare when he heard laughter in the team's executive offices Thursday morning.


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Tomlinson Misses Practice, Plans to Play (AP)
AP - LaDainian Tomlinson didn't practice again on Thursday due to bruised ribs but still plans to play in Sunday's home game against Miami.

Jackson's 30 Helps Pacers Best Wizards (AP)
Indiana Pacers forward Stephen Jackson, center, hits a bucket and is fouled between Washington Wizards' Gilbert Arenas, left, and Brandon Haywood during the fourth quarter in Indianapolis Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005. Jackson led the Pacers with 20 points in the 111-87 win over the Wizards.  (AP Photo/Michael Conroy)AP - The Indiana Pacers had plenty of reasons to play poorly on Thursday night. Defensive stopper Ron Artest was injured and didn't play. Starting forward Austin Croshere got caught in a winter storm and missed the first half. Then, Washington jumped out to a 16-point lead in the second quarter.


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Indians Face Long Odds to Sign Millwood (AP)
Cleveland Indians manager Eric Wedge chats with reporters at the winter baseball meetings, Wednesday, Dec. 7, 2005, in Dallas.  (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)AP - Unless the Indians suddenly unearth a buried treasure chest full of cash under Jacobs Field, free agent starter Kevin Millwood has likely made his last pitch for the club.


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Even Brazil Hopes for Easy World Cup Draw (AP)
World famous Brazilian soccer player Pele, left, and Brazilian minister of culture Gilberto Gil balance a soccer ball head to head during a press conference in Leipzig, eastern Germany, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005. On the occasion of the FIFA WC final draw the movie 'Pele forever' was shown for the first time in Germany. (AP Photo/Eckehard Schulz)AP - Brazil has arguably its strongest squad and is the favorite to win soccer's top title for the sixth time. Still, coach Carlos Alberto Parreira is hoping to avoid some of the toughest teams in Friday's draw.


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Sharks Stay Unbeaten With Thornton (AP)
San Jose Sharks center Alyn McCauley, right, is congratulated by center Patrick Marleau, left, after McCauley scored past Florida Panthers goalie Jamie McLennan, left, in the first period, Thursday, Dec. 8, 2005, in San Jose, Calif. In foreground is Panthers defenseman Steve Montador.  Marleau assisted on the score. (AP Photo/Paul Sakuma)AP - Patrick Marleau had his fourth straight three-point game, Mark Smith scored two goals, and the San Jose Sharks remained unbeaten with Joe Thornton in the lineup, trouncing the weary Florida Panthers 6-2 Thursday night.


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The People's Voice is caught in a perfect storm
Should the '72 Dolphins root against the Colts' bid for history? The readers debate.

Bills suspend Moulds for Pats game (AP)
Bills receiver Eric Moulds was suspended without pay for Sunday's game against the Patriots, apparently for a sideline dispute with an assistant coach during last week's loss to Miami. "Eric hasn't practiced this week so he won't be ready to play Sunday. He is suspended for one game without pay," owner Ralph Wilson said Thursday after a meeting with Moulds and head coach Mike Mularkey.

Davis hands starting job over to Foster (AP)
It wasn't exactly a concession speech, nor was it an official changing of the guard. But a proud running back stepped aside Thursday, admitting his understudy was the best man for the job. Stephen Davis has vacated his throne as the centerpiece of the Carolina Panthers' offense, gracefully handing it over to DeShaun Foster.

Chargers' L.T. sits out second practice (AP)
LaDainian Tomlinson didn't practice again on Thursday due to bruised ribs but still plans to play in Sunday's home game against Miami. Tomlinson plans to practice on Friday, when there will be less contact. "I was able to run, but that was about it," said Tomlinson, who came out of Sunday's 34-10 win over the Oakland Raiders with the injury, but then returned.

Steel Curtain architect Bud Carson dies (AP)
Bud Carson, the innovative architect of Pittsburgh's "Steel Curtain" defense who later coached the Cleveland Browns, died Wednesday. He was 75. Carson, who had been ill with emphysema, died at his home. Carson was the Steelers' defensive coordinator from 1972-77, and shaped a defense led by Joe Greene, Jack Ham and Jack Lambert into one of the best in NFL history.

Ray Lewis has season-ending surgery (AP)
Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis underwent season-ending surgery on his torn right hamstring Wednesday, concluding a frustrating year in which he played in only six games. Lewis has been sidelined since Oct. 23, when he left in the fourth quarter of a loss to the Chicago Bears. The two-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year worked hard to return from the injury, but finally decided surgery was...

Raiders to start Tuiasosopo over Collins (AP)
Marques Tuiasosopo will start at quarterback for the Oakland Raiders, who benched regular Kerry Collins. With no postseason to play for, the Raiders (4-8) are casting an eye toward the future. Oakland coach Norv Turner gave Tuiasosopo the nod on Wednesday and announced that he will start Sunday on the road against the New York Jets.

Jaguars C Meester out for season (AP)
Jacksonville Jaguars center Brad Meester will have season-ending surgery to repair a torn left biceps. Meester, who has started a franchise-record 92 consecutive games, injured the muscle Sunday at Cleveland. He stayed in the game, and tests later revealed the tear. Meester considered playing with the injury -- and risking permanent damage -- but decided Thursday to have surgery.

Roethlisberger plans to play out season (AP)
Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger plans to play out the rest of the season despite a thumb injury so severe it may need surgery, partly because "it's not over for us yet" despite three consecutive losses. The injury is causing last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year visible pain and is affecting his ability to throw some passes, but Roethlisberger said a protective splint he...

Jags ready for hyped rematch with Colts (AP)
Most of the Jacksonville Jaguars have downplayed their matchup against the unbeaten Indianapolis Colts on Sunday, saying it's merely the next one on the schedule and it's important mostly because it's a division game. Defensive end Paul Spicer was refreshingly more candid. "It's going to be a game for the ages around here," he said Wednesday.

The Hot-lanta seat
Sooner or later, a NBA head coach will be axed. Standing at the front of the firing line is Atlanta's Mike Woodson.

Artest sits as Pacers blow by Wizards (AP)
The Indiana Pacers showed they can play stifling defense without their stopper. With Ron Artest sidelined by a right wrist injury, the Pacers responded by holding the Washington Wizards to 34-percent shooting in a 111-87 victory Thursday night. Anthony Johnson and Fred Jones shared the responsibility of guarding Washington star Gilbert Arenas, the NBA's fourth-leading scorer.

T-Mac, Rockets drop slumping Kings (AP)
Starting a long road trip at an arena where they have experienced very little success did not bother the Houston Rockets. Tracy McGrady scored 28 points, and the Rockets used a dominating fourth quarter Thursday night to beat Sacramento 106-95 and extend the Kings' losing streak to five. Houston, which opened a six-game, 11-day trip, had lost nine of its previous 10 games at Arco Arena, where the...

Duncan leads Spurs past Shaq-less Heat (AP)
With Shaquille O'Neal dressed in a white suit and sitting on the bench, the Miami Heat had nobody to stop Tim Duncan inside. Duncan had 28 points and 16 rebounds, Manu Ginobili added 27 points, and the Spurs dominated in the paint in a 98-84 victory over the Heat on Wednesday night. "We have to attack down low, especially with Shaq out," Duncan said.

Suns win eighth straight, top Warriors (AP)
Even when Phoenix blew an eight-point lead in the fourth quarter at a raucous road arena, Shawn Marion wasn't worried. The Suns have been honing their teamwork and poise longer than the Golden State Warriors -- and that growing tenacity showed in Phoenix's impressive finish. Steve Nash had 28 points and 14 assists, and Marion added 27 points and 14 rebounds as the Suns ended their eighth straight...

Keady to accept job with Raptors (AP)
Former Purdue basketball coach Gene Keady has decided that nine months away from basketball is long enough, and he's coming out of retirement to take a position with the Toronto Raptors. Keady, who retired in March after going 512-270 in 25 seasons with the Boilermakers, said he had not been looking for another job in basketball before Raptors executive Wayne Embry called him last month to talk...

Brand, Mobley rally Clippers past Knicks (AP)
The Los Angeles Clippers turned up the defense in the fourth quarter and kept the New York Knicks 0-for-Staples Center against them. Elton Brand had 24 points and 11 rebounds, Cuttino Mobley scored eight of his 24 points in the final 2 minutes and the Clippers beat the Knicks 84-79 on Wednesday night.

Bogut's putback lifts Bucks over 76ers (AP)
Milwaukee sank all the free throws, grabbed all the rebounds and made the smart plays in the final minutes that Philadelphia simply couldn't convert. That's why everyone was talking about the Bucks' impressive comeback at the end, instead of the one the slumping 76ers made earlier. Andrew Bogut's go-ahead putback with 10.7 seconds left capped a frantic fourth-quarter rally and led the Bucks over...

Three charged in Richardson shooting (AP)
Three Chicago men were charged Wednesday in the shooting death of the brother of New York Knicks guard Quentin Richardson. Lee Richardson Jr., 31, was shot outside the family's Chicago home Monday during a robbery, police said. His father, Lee Richardson, Sr., 62, was with him at the time but was not injured, family members said.

Hurting Carter powers Nets past Bobcats (AP)
Vince Carter didn't have a miraculous recovery from the sore ankle and knee that hobbled him last time out. His reason for a better performance was much simpler than that. "They took the lid off the basket," he quipped. Carter showed no signs of his injuries Wednesday night, scoring 23 points to lead the New Jersey Nets over the Charlotte Bobcats 97-84.

Power rankings
Will the arrival of Joe Thornton in San Jose rescue the Sharks from the bottom third of the Power Rankings?

Pens lose to Wild without Lemieux (AP)
For the first time in a season in which rookie Sidney Crosby has exceeded all expectations and his Pittsburgh Penguins have met none of theirs, Crosby is questioning his teammates' lack of effort. Marian Gaborik stole the puck from forward Shane Endicott and scored barely a minute into the game, setting the tone for the Minnesota Wild's 5-0 rout Thursday night that ran the Penguins' losing streak...

Moreau goals spark Oilers past Flyers (AP)
One man up or one down, the Edmonton Oilers were superb on special teams. Ethan Moreau scored two short-handed goals, leading the Edmonton Oilers to a 3-2 victory over the undermanned Philadelphia Flyers on Thursday night. Jarret Stoll also scored for the Oilers, who won for the fifth time in seven games.

Prucha, Rucchin lead Rangers over Preds (AP)
The New York Rangers know firsthand that it's hard to win if you don't take advantage on the power play. They learned the hard way in a loss at Chicago on Wednesday but then turned the trick on the Nashville Predators in a 5-1 victory Thursday night. New York went 0-for-9 on power plays in falling 2-1 in overtime to the Blackhawks.

Streaking Sharks win fourth straight (AP)
The San Jose Sharks are starting to think they got two superstars in last week's big trade with Boston. Joe Thornton has been even better than his teammates imagined -- and his arrival also has spurred Patrick Marleau to the best hockey of his NHL career. Marleau had his fourth straight three-point game, Mark Smith scored two goals, and the Sharks remained unbeaten with Thornton in the lineup,...

Senators' Havlat out for regular season (AP)
Senators forward Martin Havlat will have surgery on his dislocated right shoulder and is expected to miss the rest of the regular season. Havlat was examined at the Cleveland Clinic and decided Wednesday to have surgery on the recommendation of specialist Dr. Anthony Miniaci. "It's really disappointing," Havlat said in a conference call from Cleveland.

Grahame ties team record in Bolts win (AP)
The struggling St. Louis Blues keep finding ways to lose. John Grahame tied a Lightning record with his eighth consecutive win, and Martin St. Louis scored a tiebreaking goal with 6:30 left in Tampa Bay's 5-4 victory against the Blues on Thursday night. Grahame made 18 saves in equaling the top Tampa Bay winning streak set by Nikolai Khabibulin in 2004.

Vyborny wins shootout for Blue Jackets (AP)
If only the Columbus Blue Jackets could play the New York Islanders more often. David Vyborny used a wrist shot to score the only goal in the shootout and lifted the Blue Jackets to a 4-3 win over the Islanders on Thursday night. "I knew I was going to shoot, Vyborny said. "I know him (goaltender Rick DiPietro) from the world championships.

Afinogenov lifts Sabres to OT victory (AP)
The Buffalo Sabres have loftier goals than just a quick start. "We all really want to go all the way," said forward Ales Kotalik, who scored the tying goal in the Sabres' come-from-behind 3-2 overtime victory against the Anaheim Mighty Ducks on Thursday night. Maxim Afinogenov scored 2:11 into the extra session, and Thomas Vanek added a penalty-shot goal to rally Buffalo to its 10th win in 12...

Cole scores twice as Hurricanes win (AP)
The Carolina Hurricanes have won all 11 games they've led after two periods, not without getting a big scare from the Los Angeles Kings. Erik Cole snapped a 13-game goal drought by scoring twice, Justin Williams also scored and Martin Gerber made 35 saves to lead the Southeast Division-leading Hurricanes to a 3-2 victory on Thursday night.

Trading Paint: That's a wrap
NASCAR fans look back at the '05 banquet and season, and ahead to 2006.

NASCAR agrees to eight-year television package with five networks (AP)
When no one else wanted NASCAR on its networks, ESPN was thrilled to air everything it could as an eager partner in the grass-roots effort to build stock car racing into a major sport.

NASCAR signs deals with ABC, ESPN, FOX, TNT, SPEED (SportsTicker)
BRISTOL, Connecticut (Ticker) - NASCAR soon will be all over the dial.

Toro Rosso makes Speed first US F1 racer since 1993 (AFP)
Scott Speed will become the first American to race in Formula One since Michael Andretti's ill-fated 1993 flop when he takes the wheel in 2006 for Scuderia Toro Rosso, the team confirmed.

NASCAR annoyed with drivers who skipped New York ceremonies (AP)
NASCAR officials are ``extremely disappointed'' in Jeff Gordon, Dale Earnhardt Jr. and other drivers who failed to attend the season-ending awards ceremonies.

Stewart cashes in on record year (AP)
Tony Stewart's best year in NASCAR's Nextel Cup series reached the bottom line Friday, with the two-time champion setting a record for single-season earnings.

Earnhardt named most popular once again (AP)
Dale Earnhardt slipped this season in the points standings, but not in the popularity department.

Humbled Busch on hand for season-ending ceremonies (AP)
It took two quiet weekends out of a race car for Kurt Busch to realize he needed an attitude adjustment.

NASCAR champion ready to get in shape (AP)
Tony Stewart went on a shopping spree last week that he hopes will lead to a new and improved Nextel Cup champion.

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