The New Orleans Hornets plan to announce the official change of their nickname to the Pelicans and unveil their new colors and logo during a news conference Thursday, sources told Yahoo! Sports.
The new nickname, colors and logo will be used during the 2013-14 season. The colors will be blue, gold and red. Yahoo! Sports first reported the expected change Dec. 4. The Hornets had been expected to change their identity since being purchased by Tom Benson on April 14.
Benson owns the rights to the nickname Pelicans. It has not been determined when Pelicans merchandise will be available.
The Pelican is the state bird of Louisiana, which is known as the Pelican State. The Pelican is also on license plates, the state flag, the state seal and the state painting. The bird symbolizes Louisiana's environmental recovery from oil spills. There was also a minor-league baseball team in New Orleans called the Pelicans from 1887-1959 and 1977 of which Benson was fond.
READ MORE: Yahoo! Sports
CHICAGO (AP) _ Lance Armstrong confessed to using performance-enhancing drugs to win the Tour de France during an interview with
Oprah Winfrey, reversing more than a decade of denial.
``Yes,'' Armstrong said when Winfrey asked if he used a series of drugs to help his record run.
Said Armstrong: ``I made my decisions. They are my mistake.''
Sitting in a chair across from Winfrey, Armstrong said he could not have won the race seven times without the drugs and gave a small smile.
Armstrong was stripped of all his titles in the wake of a U.S. Anti-Doping Agency report last October and banned for life from competing in triathlons and other sanctioned events. He also lost nearly all his sponsors and left the Livestrong cancer charity he founded in 1997.
The interview was taped Monday.
Tim Brown caught a lot of long bombs as a receiver for the Oakland Raiders. On Monday, he dropped a bomb on Bill Callahan, his former coach and current Dallas Cowboys offensive coordinator during an interview with SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Brown retold a story, which he first spoke of on FOX Sports Net's "Pro Football Preview" show in 2006, saying Callahan essentially threw Super Bowl XXXVII by changing the offensive game plan the Friday before the game.
Brown, a Heisman Trophy winner at Notre Dame, suggested that Callahan made the change to help then-Tampa Bay coach Jon Gruden.
Gruden was the Raiders' head coach four years prior to taking over the Buccaneers in 2002 and leading them against his former team in Super Bowl XXXVII, a 48-21 Tampa Bay win.
Brown, a standout at Dallas' Woodrow Wilson High, also said Callahan had a grudge against the Raiders.
"We all called it sabotage . . . because Callahan and Gruden were good friends," Brown said. "And Callahan had a big problem with the Raiders, you know, hated the Raiders. You know, only came [to Oakland] because Gruden made him come.
"It's hard to say the guy sabotaged the Super Bowl. You know, can you really say that? That can be my opinion, but I can't say for a fact that that's what his plan was, to sabotage the Super Bowl. He hated the Raiders so much that he would sabotage the Super Bowl so his friend can win the Super Bowl. That's hard to say, because you can't prove it.
"But the facts are what they are, that less than 36 hours before the game we changed our game plan. And we go into that game absolutely knowing that we have no shot. That the only shot we had [was] if Tampa Bay didn't show up."
Callahan was in Mobile, Ala. on Monday with the rest of the Cowboys coaching staff to scout the Senior Bowl and was not available for comment. It has been speculated that Callahan could take over play-calling duties from head coach Jason Garrett. Callahan currently coaches the offensive line in addition to holding the coordinator title.
Brown said Callahan switched at the last minute from a run-heavy game plan, one that took advantage of a size advantage up front, to a passing-heavy plan.
The Raiders attempted 44 passes and ran the ball just 11 times for 19 yards, although the Raiders likely abandoned the run trailing 20-3 at halftime. Quarterback Rich Gannon threw five interceptions and was sacked five times.
Brown said the last-minute change affected center Barret Robbins, who would have to make new line calls without practicing them. Robbins, who was later diagnosed with bipolar disorder, disappeared two days before the game and did not play.
"Barret Robbins begged Coach Callahan, ‘Do not do this to me. I don't have time to make my calls, to get my calls ready. You can't do this to me on a Friday."
Brown said the players knew that Robbins was unstable, although he stopped short of saying Callahan's decision triggered Robbins' manic episode that caused him to abandon the team.
Robbins' disappearance has been a major focus of blame ever since the loss.
"All I'm saying is those are the facts of what happened Super Bowl week. So our ire wasn't towards Barret Robbins, it was towards Bill Callahan. Because we feel as if he wouldn't have did what he did, then Barret wouldn't have done what he did," Brown said.
"I played 27 years of football. The coaches never changed the game plan the Friday before the game. I'm not trying to point fingers at anybody here, all I'm saying is those are the facts of what happened. So people look at Barret and they say all these things, but every player in that locker room will tell you, ‘You'd better talk to Bill Callahan.' Because if not for Coach Callahan, I don't think we're in that situation."
New York, NY (Sports Network) - NFL commissioner Roger Goodell has reinstated New Orleans Saints head coach Sean Payton, effective immediately.
Payton was suspended for the entire 2012 season for his role in the Saints' bounty scandal.
Goodell and Payton met Monday in New York.
"We had a very productive discussion," said Goodell in a statement Tuesday. "Sean fully complied with all the requirements imposed on him during his suspension. More important, it is clear that Sean understands and accepts his responsibilities as a head coach and the vital role that coaches play in promoting player safety and setting an example for how the game should be played at all levels. We are committed to delivering football that fans love and the safety players deserve. Coach Payton agrees and I look forward to working with him going forward to do that."
Payton can now attend the Super Bowl in the Superdome next week and can resume his duties with the Saints.
"I am thankful today commissioner Goodell has granted me reinstatement," said Payton in a statement Tuesday. "As I stated back in March, I, along with (general manager) Mickey Loomis, take full responsibility for all aspects of our football program.
"I clearly recognize that mistakes were made, which led to league violations. Furthermore, I have assured the commissioner a more diligent protocol will be followed.
"Lastly, I feel we have learned from our mistakes and are ready to move forward. I want to thank our owner, Mr. Benson and all of our great fans for the overwhelming support throughout this past year.
"I am excited to be back as head coach of the New Orleans Saints!"
Without Payton this season, the Saints struggled to a 7-9 record under interim coaches Joe Vitt and Aaron Kromer. Vitt was suspended for the first six games of the season for his role in the scandal.
In six seasons at the helm of the Saints, Payton has guided New Orleans to a 62-34 record and four playoff appearances, including the franchise's only championship when it defeated the Indianapolis Colts in Super Bowl XLIV.
"We are all thankful that Sean Payton has been reinstated," said Saints owner Tom Benson in a statement. "We have a lot of work to do and we are in the middle of it right now. He is our head coach and we welcome him back. We look forward to a great 2013 season and making another run at a World Championship for our fans!"
Payton and the Saints worked out a five-year contract extension through the 2017 season earlier this month. The two sides had originally agreed to an extension last year, but the league rejected the initial agreement due to unspecified language in the contract.
SOUTH BEND, IND. (AP) - Notre Dame says a story about Manti Te'o's girlfriend dying, which he said inspired him to play better as he helped the Fighting Irish get to the BCS title game, turned out to be a hoax apparently perpetrated against the linebacker.
The university issued a news release Wednesday after Deadspin.com reported it could find no record of Lennay Kekua existing.
The university says that Notre Dame coaches were informed by Te'o and his parents on Dec. 26 that Te'o had been the victim of what appeared to be a hoax. Someone using a fictitious name ''apparently ingratiated herself'' with Te'o, the school said, then conspired with others to lead him to believe she had died of leukemia.
The university said ''the proper authorities'' are investigating a ''very cruel deception.''
After Notre Dame upset Michigan State in East Lansing on September 16, Te'o spoke to FOXSportsDetroit.com about losing Kekua a few days earlier.
"It was hard," he said. "I lost a woman who I truly love, but I have a family around me and my football family. At the end of the day, families are forever and I will see them again someday.
"It is a great escape. I will be honest, throughout the game, you are thinking about it. But football allows me to be in a little realm, a little world that I know. I can honor them by the way I played.
"It was for them — for my girl and grandma — and for all my loved ones who have passed on. They are all watching. It was a happy moment."
On Tuesday afternoon, Te'o issued a statement:
"This is incredibly embarrassing to talk about, but over an extended period of time, I developed an emotional relationship with a woman I met online. We maintained what I thought to be an authentic relationship by communicating frequently online and on the phone, and I grew to care deeply about her.
"To realize that I was the victim of what was apparently someone's sick joke and constant lies was, and is, painful and humiliating.
"It further pains me that the grief I felt and the sympathies expressed to me at the time of my grandmother's death in September were in any way deepened by what I believed to be another significant loss in my life.
"I am enormously grateful for the support of my family, friends and Notre Dame fans throughout this year. To think that I shared with them my happiness about my relationship and details that I thought to be true about her just makes me sick. I hope that people can understand how trying and confusing this whole experience has been.
"In retrospect, I obviously should have been much more cautious. If anything good comes of this, I hope it is that others will be far more guarded when they engage with people online than I was.
"Fortunately, I have many wonderful things in my life, and I'm looking forward to putting this painful experience behind me as I focus on preparing for the NFL Draft."
Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - Chip Kelly had a change of heart and the Philadelphia Eagles got the guy they wanted all along.
The Eagles named Kelly their new head football coach on Wednesday.
Kelly, who went 46-7 and led Oregon to a BCS bowl game in each of his four years with the school, will become the 21st head coach in Eagles history.
The 49-year-old Kelly will bring his innovative mind, lightning fast paced offense -- which averaged 44.7 points per game at Oregon -- and aggressive play calling to the NFL for the first time. He has no prior coaching experience in the NFL.
"Chip Kelly will be an outstanding head coach for the Eagles," Eagles owner Jeffrey Lurie. "He has a brilliant football mind. He motivates his team with his actions as well as his words. He will be a great leader for us and will bring a fresh, energetic approach to our team."
DENVER (AP) _ Sometime after the season is over, Peyton Manning will sit down with Ray Lewis and congratulate him on a job well done.
During Lewis' 17-year career, he redefined his position and cemented himself as one of the most fearsome players in the game.
What Manning hopes to avoid is congratulating Lewis on winning a second Super Bowl.
In what could be the last game for Baltimore's seven-time All Pro linebacker, who is retiring after this season, the Broncos and Ravens meet Saturday in the AFC divisional playoffs. Two NFL icons, each three wins away from a second championship.
``I've addressed it every time I've played against him. He's an excellent player,'' said Manning, who'd rather share his most heartfelt praise for Lewis with the man himself than with the media. ``He's special. That's all you can say.''
Special as Lewis may be, Manning has won his last nine games against the Ravens.
Befitting a player who thinks about Super Bowls above all else, only one of the defeats really sticks with Lewis: a 15-6 loss to the Colts in the 2006 divisional playoffs. Indianapolis then won the Super Bowl.
``We gave up five field goals to him and they went on to win the Super Bowl,'' said the inside linebacker, who returned from a biceps injury last week and finished with 13 tackles in a 24-9 win against the Colts. ``That hurts to lose to somebody you thought you had beat and then they go on to win the Super Bowl. All the other times, whether you win or not, there's only one champ at the end of the day, and if that isn't you or the team that beat you, then so be it.''
The Broncos (13-3) are nine-point favorites against the Ravens (11-6) and the odds-on favorite, at 3-1, to win the title.
And while Lewis may carry the baggage from the game six years ago, it's the meeting between these teams a mere four weeks ago in Baltimore that holds the most weight in the respective locker rooms this week.
Denver won that game 34-17, though it really wasn't that close. Manning threw for only 204 yards, but Knowshon Moreno rushed for 115 as the Broncos built a 31-3 lead. The Ravens, playing without Lewis that day, got a couple courtesy scores at the end.
For Denver, it was supposed to be the first truly stern test during what has become an 11-game winning streak, compiled mostly against teams with losing records that were out of the playoff picture.
For Baltimore, it was a humbling comedown, but one the Ravens have spent this week excusing, going with a variety of explanations: Lewis and several others were out of the lineup, Broncos receivers pushed off too much, etc.
``We'll make it different,'' said Ravens receiver, Anquan Boldin, in a tone-setting statement that came after Baltimore's win in the wild-card round. Boldin got shut out in the first meeting against the Broncos.
The Broncos have not been big on bravado all season and they're not changing a thing for the playoffs. With Manning setting the tone, they remain focused and sound very much like a team that isn't taking anything for granted _ not even a rematch against a team Denver beat by 17 on the road.
``That was then and we're getting ready for now,'' defensive coordinator Jack Del Rio said. ``It was almost a month ago. We had a plan, went up there and we played pretty well. Each week we start fresh and talk to our guys about the things that they're good at, the things we need to be able to limit.''
In addition to Boldin, who had 145 yards receiving against the Colts, the Broncos must keep tabs on versatile running back Ray Rice. They did that well in the first meeting, when Rice finished with 38 yards rushing and 3 receiving. Baltimore was trailing 10-0 late in the second quarter when Chris Harris picked off Joe Flacco's pass and returned it 98 yards for a touchdown.
``Before that turnover, that's when the turn of events happened with guys out,'' Rice said. ``We aren't going to make any excuses, but I don't want to go into that game letting their defense dictate how we play ball. We have a certain way we play around here. It's playoff football.''
The Broncos like to think they've been playing playoff football for a while. Manning certainly has. All the doubts about his throwing motion, the strength of his neck and the chemistry with his receivers have pretty much been erased over a season in which he threw for 4,659 yards and 37 touchdowns.
One of the few remaining question marks is Manning's 0-3 playoff record in games played when the temperature is below 40 degrees. The high in Denver on Saturday is forecast to be 20. Manning has been practicing and playing with a glove on his throwing hand for the last few weeks _ a nod to the reality of the changed feel of his grip since his neck surgeries. Everything else, however, remains the same concerning his preparation.
``I had an old coach who used to always say, `If all of a sudden you have to do something different in the postseason to get ready to play, that means you probably haven't been doing the right things during the regular season to get ready to play,''' Manning said. ``So I've always tried to prepare every single week as if it was a playoff game or the Super Bowl, whatever it is. That's your job as an NFL player.''
If Manning does his job this week, he will bring Lewis' career to an end with only one Super Bowl title while the quarterback will remain in line for his second. Lewis insists the Ravens are ready.
``Arguably, they are the best team in football,'' he said. ``If that's what it is, then let's line up and let's be who we are, and let's get ready to play the best team in football.''
DanPatrick.com - Alabama coach Nick Saban joined the show to talk about winning the national title.
Saban explained why he was so intense up until the end of the game. “I’m one of those guys, I coach the game until the game’s over regardless who’s playing,” Saban said.
Saban weighed in on Alabama quarterback A.J. McCarron. He said that he didn’t need to throw that much this season, but that could change next season. He said they were built to run with a great offensive line and great running backs this year.
“Guys like A.J., when they come back next year, that’s when they get recognized for their accomplishments,” Saban said.
Saban told Dan that he has to focus on recruiting now. He can’t go to the lake house and relax. When he’s done recruiting, he’s back into 1970s and ’80s rock.