BELICHICK QUESTIONS NFL OFFSEASON WORKOUT LIMITS: Patriots coach Bill Belichick is blaming recently instituted NFL rules shortening offseason practice time for what he claims to be an increasing number of player injuries.
"I'm in favor of total preparation for the players for the season," Belichick said during a conference call with Buffalo reporters this week in leading up to New England's home game against the Bills on Sunday. "And I think that's been changed significantly and, I would say, not necessarily for the better when you look at the injury numbers."
Belichick said players are more vulnerable to being hurt because they're less prepared, and described the limits placed on offseason workouts — including training camp — as being counterproductive.
Belichick was specifically challenging several new rules negotiated into the NFL labor deal that ended an offseason-long lockout in 2011.
Teams were prevented from holding two-a-day practices during training camp. Limits were also placed on how many times players practiced in pads throughout the year. In the spring, offseason team activity time was reduced from 14 to nine weeks (10 if the team changed head coaches).
HAWKS, BLUES ALUMNI PLAY FOR TORNADO RELIEF: One-time professional hockey players for the Blackhawks and St. Louis Blues will face off on the ice next month in a charity game to raise money for tornado relief efforts.
The (Peoria) Journal Star reports the exhibition game called "Skate Strong" will be held at Carver Arena in Peoria on Jan. 15. It's being organized in part by the Peoria Rivermen Alumni Association.
Proceeds from the game will go toward cleanup efforts following the Nov. 17 tornado outbreak in Illinois. The bad weather spawned two dozen tornadoes and is blamed for killing seven people.
Hardest hit was the central Illinois community of Washington near Peoria where about 1,000 homes were destroyed.
Organizers are requesting a $10 donation at the door and say they'll also auction player jerseys.
RUSSIA EARMARKS EXTRA $50 MILLION FOR SOCHI OLYMPICS: Russia's Cabinet has approved the allocation of nearly $50 million in extra subsidies for the organizers of the Sochi Olympics.
The Cabinet's decision, reported by the RIA Novosti news agency on Wednesday, takes the total number of subsidies for the Sochi Organizing Committee to the equivalent of more than $420 million.
The Cabinet said without elaboration that the extra money would help finance the committee's activities.
The allocations for the organizing committee are a small share of the total Sochi Games costs that amount to $51 billion, making them the most expensive Olympics in history.
The games will take place from Feb. 7-23.
FORMER IOC EXEC ERICSSON DIES AT 94: Gunnar Ericsson, a long-time International Olympic Committee executive and former member of the executive committee, has died. He was 94.
The IOC says on its website that the former Swedish parliamentarian died Tuesday but did not provide a cause of death.
IOC President Thomas Bach says Ericsson "personified the Olympic values and was a true Olympic gentleman. The IOC will always remember him with deep gratitude and great respect."
An IOC member from 1965, Ericsson served on the executive board from 1988-92, and headed the inspection team for 2000 Summer Games bidding.
FORMER NBA PLAYER PROPOSES NEW VEGAS STRIP ARENA: A former NBA player says he wants to build a $1.3 billion arena and hotel on the Las Vegas Strip.
Las Vegas basketball player and businessman Jackie Robinson announced the project this week.
It's tentatively called the All Net Arena and Resort, and would be built on the site of a former water park near the renovated SLS Las Vegas hotel-casino and the Fontainebleau tower.
Robinson says the project is privately funded. He says construction could begin next spring and be completed in 2016.
The 22,000-seat stadium would be the second new arena on the tourist corridor.
MGM Resorts International is partnering with sports and entertainment promoter AEG on another arena on the other side of the Strip.
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