Goodell: Expanding playoffs offers many positives

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

FOOTBALL

Goodell: Playoff expansion offers many positives

NEW YORK -- NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says the possibility of adding two teams to the playoffs will "continue to get serious consideration."

Goodell said Friday at his annual pre-Super Bowl news conference that he sees many positives to the proposal. He believes it will make for more meaningful games later in the season, keeping fans engaged.

The league's competition committee is expected to look into the issue this offseason. Each conference would add one playoff team, bringing the total from 12 to 14.

FBI: Powder found near Super Bowl appears harmless

NEWARK, N.J. -- The FBI says a powder mailed to several locations in New York and New Jersey, including at least five hotels near the site of Sunday's Super Bowl, appears not to be dangerous.

The agency says further testing is being conducted on the substance. It says it is "within normal values."

It was also sent to former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani's business in Manhattan.

At the Homewood Suites in East Rutherford, General Manager Thomas Martucci said when he opened up a letter sent to the motel, yellow powder fell out.

He says a typed letter inside referenced al-Qaida and the Dallas FBI.

OLYMPICS

Obama says Sochi Games are safe

WASHINGTON -- President Barack Obama says he believes the Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, will be safe and is not discouraging Americans from attending.

Obama says Russian authorities "understand the stakes" involved in securing the games and the potential threats against the events. He says the U.S. is coordinating with Russia and officials have looked at the Russian security plans.

Still, Obama says there are "always some risks" involved with large international gatherings like the Olympics. And he says he feels better when those types of events are held in the United States because American officials have full control over what happen.

Obama spoke in an interview with CNN.

GOLF

Ex-Auburn, LPGA player Downey killed in car crash

AUBURN, Ala. -- Former Auburn and LPGA player Danielle Downey has died in a single-car accident. She was 33.

The coroner says Downey lost control on Lee Road 57, the car overturned several times and she was ejected at about 10 p.m. Thursday. Lee County Coroner Bill Harris says she was pronounced dead on arrival at the hospital.

Downey was in her second season as Auburn's director of golf operations. She filled in for coach Kim Evans during the 2012-13 season after Evans was diagnosed with ovarian cancer.

Evans says Downey "meant so much to me, the girls and this program."

A native of Rochester, N.Y., Downey was a three-time All-American who finished second in the NCAA tournament as a junior. She finished in the money at 15 LPGA tournaments.

BASEBALL

Rangers hits leader Young retires

ARLINGTON, Texas -- Michael Young is retiring after only one season away from the Texas Rangers.

Young formally announced his retirement Friday at Rangers Ballpark. That was his baseball home for all but the last of his 13 major league seasons.

The seven-time All-Star is the Rangers' career leader with 2,230 hits. The 37-year-old Young finished as a career .300 hitter in 1,970 games for Texas, Philadelphia and the Los Angeles Dodgers.

Young made his major league debut playing twice the final weekend of the 2000 season, and became a regular in the Rangers lineup early the next season. He started all four infield positions for Texas, which went from being a last-place team to consecutive World Series in 2010 and 2011.

Texas traded Young last winter to the Phillies.

Marlins minor leaguer gets susp.

NEW YORK -- A minor league pitcher in the Miami Marlins' organization has been given a 50-game drug suspension.

The commissioner's office said Friday that right-hander Ronny Fermin had been penalized. Fermin is on the roster of the Marlins team in the rookie-level Gulf Coast League.

Fermin was banned after testing positive for metabolites of Stanozolol, a performance-enhancing substance in violation of the minor league drug program.

There have been 11 suspensions this year under the minor league program.

Royals sign reliever Crow to 1-year deal

KANSAS CITY, Mo. -- The Royals have agreed to terms with reliever Aaron Crow on a $1.475 million, one-year deal that leaves Greg Holland as their only unsigned arbitration-eligible player.

The deal includes a $50,000 bonus if Crow is an All-Star, which he was in 2011. Crow had asked for $1.7 million and the Royals offered the same $1.28 million he made last year.

Crow went 7-5 with a 3.38 ERA in 57 games last season. The former first-round pick is 14-10 with a 3.19 ERA in his three-year career.

Holland, coming off his first All-Star appearance, asked for $5.2 million and the Royals offered $4.1 million. He made $539,000 last year, when he was 2-1 with a 1.21 ERA and 47 saves. Arbitration hearings begin this weekend and run through Feb. 21.

AUTO RACING

Turner Scott says sponsor defaults on payment

CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- Turner Scott Motorsports said Friday that primary sponsor Arrowhead has defaulted on payment for Jeb Burton's team in the Truck Series.

Without the money, the team said, it will not be able to field Burton and the No. 4 truck in 2014. It also means that up to 20 percent of its workforce -- around 35 employees out of 185 -- could be laid off.

Burton scored one win, at Texas, and had 11 top-10 finishes while placing fifth in the final standings last season. He also won seven poles.

Team co-owner Harry Scott said Burton's breakout success made it an "especially painful" decision not to run the No. 4 team.

Arrowhead is a disposable electronic cigarette company based in South Boston, Va., which is also Burton's hometown.

Red Bull sputters out of Jerez test

JEREZ, Spain -- Red Bull's frustrating start to the Formula One calendar came to a sputtering halt as car problems forced it out of the opening test session early.

Daniel Ricciardo managed just seven laps around Jerez Circuit before pulling out of the afternoon session to focus on getting the RB10 ready for the next preseason test in Bahrain.

Red Bull says "a mechanical issue" was discovered that could not be fixed in time for the afternoon session.

Team principal Christian Horner says "it's been a very difficult test. We have had numerous Renault issues as well as chassis cooling issues, which have affected our progress."

But Horner was confident the F1 champions would solve the issues in time for Bahrain, which runs from Feb. 19-22.

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