Carolina Panthers Quarterback Cam Newton Named NFL MVP

Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been named the National Football League's Most Valuable Player of 2015.

The 26-year-old received the honor on Saturday night at the NFL Honors show.

Out of a panel of 50 sports journalists who cover the NFL, 48 votes went to Newton while quarterbacks Tom Brady and Carson Palmer each got one vote, according to ESPN.

Newton's coach, Ron Rivera, was also honored Saturday night and received coach of the year honors for the second time in three seasons.

Both Newton and Rivera were unable to attend the event in San Francisco as they were preparing to face the Denver Broncos in Super Bowl 50 at Levi's Stadium the next day.

Newton holds 45 total touchdowns with 3,837 passing yards and 636 rushing yards. He led the Panthers to a 17-1 record this season with 35 touchdown passes and 10 rushing touchdowns.

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Brett Favre Leads 2016 Pro Football Hall of Fame Induction Class

Nick Cammett/Diamond Images/Getty Images(CANTON, Ohio) -- The Pro Football Hall of Fame announced its induction class for 2016 on Saturday, starring legendary quarterback Brett Favre.

Also selected for the honor were Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Tony Dungy, linebacker Kevin Greene, wide receiver Marvin Harrison, and tackle Orlando Pace.

Dick Stanfel and Ken Stabler, two nominees from the seniors committee (both ended their playing careers over 25 years ago), will be inducted as well as former San Francisco 49ers owner Edward DeBartolo Jr.

The Hall of Fame's selection committee met Saturday morning to discuss the 18 finalists. In the end, the eight nominees received the requisite 80 percent of the vote.

Favre will be inducted in his first year on the ballot. He played 20 seasons for the Atlanta Falcons, Green Bay Packers, New York Jets and Minnesota Vikings. He finished his career as the all-time record holder in passes completed and attempted, passing touchdowns and interceptions. He has since been surpassed for the passing touchdown record by Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame's Class of 2016 will be inducted in Canton, Ohio on August 6. 

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USC AD Pat Haden to Retire in June

Al Seib / Los Angeles Times via Getty Images(LOS ANGELES) -- University of Southern California Athletics Director Pat Haden announced Friday that he would retire from that role in June, after six years at his alma mater.

Haden's announcement came in the form of a letter released by school president Max Nikias. "It has been a tremendous honor serving my alma mater, a school I love so much," Haden said in the letter. "I am proud of what has been accomplished here the past six years and knowing that USC Athletics is on an upward trajectory."

Haden will remain at the school for another year, helping to guide the renovations of the Los Angeles Coliseum, where the Trojans play football.

Haden, 60, played football at USC, and was a member of the school's Board of Trustees from 1991 through 2010.

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Raiders Owner Mark Davis Says Las Vegas Is 'Absolutely An NFL City'

Photo by Jared Wickerham/Getty Images(SAN FRANCISCO) -- The Oakland Raiders believe that Las Vegas is a viable city if the team should decide to move.

In an interview with USA Today, Raiders owner Mark Davis said that Sin City is "absolutely an NFL city." Calling Las Vegas an "international city" and his team "a global brand," he said a marriage between the two has "potential."

Davis has visited Las Vegas and San Antonio in recent weeks after his bid to move the team to Los Angeles was put off by the NFL. The league decided to allow the Saint Louis Rams to move to Los Angeles, and to give the San Diego Chargers the option to follow suit.

No major American sports team plays in Las Vegas, and the leagues have historically opposed sports gambling, meaning there would be at least one complication. The league would most likely have to reach an agreement involving the team and the city's casinos if a move were to happen.

The Raiders have been unhappy with the current stadium situation in Oakland. This year, the team will play one fewer home game and play in Mexico City this November.

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Scoreboard Roundup - 2/6/16

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the latest sports scores and winners.

Atlanta 102, Indiana 96
L-A Clippers 107, Orlando 93
Miami 98, Charlotte 95
Washington 106, Philadelphia 94
Boston 104, Cleveland 103
Memphis 91, New York 85
Brooklyn 128, Sacramento 119
Denver 115, Chicago 110
Utah 84, Milwaukee 81
San Antonio 116, Dallas 90

Tampa Bay 6, Pittsburgh 3
Carolina 5, Winnipeg 3
Columbus 2, Calgary 1
Anaheim 5, Arizona 2

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Dallas Police Open Criminal Investigation Into Johnny Manziel

Peter G. Aiken/Getty Images(DALLAS) -- Dallas police have opened a criminal investigation into Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel after a domestic violence dispute.

In a statement Friday, the Dallas Police Department said police "received a complaint of a domestic violence assault that occurred in Dallas on January 30, 2016" involving the 23-year-old football player.

"Detectives will thoroughly investigate the case to determine what criminal charges, if any, will be filed and victim services will be offered," said the statement.

On Thursday, police had said Manziel would not face charges for a domestic violence incident that happened on Saturday in which he allegedly hit his former girlfriend Colleen Crowley at a downtown Dallas hotel.

The news comes the same day a protective order was signed by a judge that stated the quarterback was not permitted to see his ex-girlfriend for two years. The order also required that Manziel pay $12,500 in legal fees.

Manziel and his girlfriend have been involved in previous allegations of domestic violence disputes before, including an incident in Ohio in October.

Manziel's agent announced on Friday as well he would be dropping the quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner as a client.

Paul Manziel, "Johnny Football's" father, told the Dallas Morning News, "I truly believe if they can't get him help, he won't live to see his 24th birthday."

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Louisville Announces Self-Imposed One-Year Ban for Men's Basketball

Andy Lyons/Getty Images(LOUISVILLE, Ky.) -- As the NCAA investigates a potential scandal involving the University of Louisville's recruiting, the school has decided to impose a one-year post-season ban on its men's basketball team.

The ban comes after former escort Katina Powell claimed in a book that she and others were hired by former men's basketball staffer Andre McGee to strip and sleep with recruits and players at an on-campus dorm.

The decision was announced at a news conference on Friday afternoon when University president James R. Ramsey said it was "reasonable to conclude violations [had] occurred in the past."

"While this was a difficult decision, it was made in the best interest of the university," Ramsey said Friday.

Louisville head coach Rick Pitino said the news was "painful" and it came to him as a "complete shock" because he had been "kept in the dark" regarding details in the investigation.

"Painful probably would, I could characterize it is one of the best understatements I could make," he said.

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Meet Carolina Panthers Mascot 'Sir Purr'

Brian A. Westerholt/Getty Images)(SANTA CLARA, Calif.) -- The spirited mascot for the Carolina Panthers, “Sir Purr,” makes his way to Super Bowl 50 this Sunday, where he will meet his match in Thunder III, the mascot for the Denver Broncos.

The feline will cheer on his team along with fans in Santa Clara -– purr-haps with plenty of hugs and belly shakes.

Watch the video below to learn about Sir Purr in a minute.

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Colorado, North Carolina Governors Make Bet over Super Bowl Predictions

Jason O. Watson/Getty Images(DENVER) -- Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper is willing to put some products made in Colorado on the line in a friendly Super Bowl 50 bet with North Carolina Gov. Pat McCrory.

In a statement made by the governor’s office, Hickenlooper is offering to give the state of North Carolina the following products should the Broncos lose to the Panthers on Sunday:

  • 50 Osprey backpacks filled with school supplies that will be donated to a North Carolina shelter
  • 50 cases of Pueblo Salsa provided by Milberger Farms, Musso Farms, Pueblo County, and the Pueblo Chamber of Commerce
  • 500 boxes of crackers from 34 Degrees Crackers
  • 500 packages of sausages from Continental Sausage that will be donated to a food bank in North Carolina
  • Dog food that will be donated to an animal shelter

If the Panthers should lose, McCrory has offered to donate 50 cases of turkey burgers and turkey sausages, provided by North Carolina-based Butterball, LLC, to a Colorado food bank. He will also donate dog food to an animal shelter in Colorado.

"This Broncos team has proven time and time again that they know how to overcome challenges,” Hickenlooper said in the statement. “The Carolina Panthers are certainly a formidable foe, but they will simply be another challenge that our Broncos will overcome in Super Bowl 50. Peyton Manning, DeMarcus Ware, Pat Bowlen and the entire Broncos team deserve a championship to cap a season that will be remembered as nothing short of magical."

“I predict the Panthers will win 33-10,” predicted McCrory. “The Broncos may have one of the best defenses in the league, but they haven’t faced Cam Newton and his offense yet.  I fully expect the Carolina Panthers to be Super Bowl 50 Champions.  I am good friends with Governor Hickenlooper, but his team will be on the losing end this time.”

Hickenlooper and McCrory will both be at the game at Levi’s Stadium cheering on their respective teams on Sunday.

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Roger Goodell Speaks Out on Concussions, 'Rooney Rule' for Women

ABC News(SAN FRANCISCO) — NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell says there is a “culture change” in the NFL when it comes to concussions and, if he had a son, would have no problem allowing him to play the sport.

“The number of concussions went up this year and they're going to go up and they're going to go down in any given season, but screenings went up by 108 percent and also we saw more self-reporting in the players and teammates,” Goodell told Good Morning America co-anchor Robin Roberts. “That’s what I call the culture change.”

“It used to be, as you know, ‘It’s just a ding.’ Those days are long gone and that's a positive thing for our game,” Goodell said.

Goodell, who has two daughters, said he would encourage a son to play the sport because of the "tremendous values" that come from playing football.

"I would not only want him to play football, I would certainly encourage him to do it and I would let him do it," he said. “There is risk involved in anything in life but what we need to do is to make sure we show people how to get the most out of playing sports and do it safely.”

This week, as buzz for Sunday’s Super Bowl was building, it was announced that former Oakland Raiders quarterback Ken Stabler, who died last year, also suffered from the effects of chronic traumatic encephalopathy, or CTE.

The issue of CTE has also been put in the public spotlight with the Will Smith-starring movie Concussion. Goodell says the league is now “leading the way” in protecting its players and investing in research.

“If I had known that I could have we could have done things different we could have made more changes but the league has a history of changing the game,” he said. “We're over 100 million dollars in research going not just to make football safer, this is going to make all sports safer, the military safer, and quite frankly will probably have an impact on brain disease in general.”

Goodell has also navigated the NFL in recent years through a series of high-profile domestic violence charges against some players, an issue Goodell says the league is addressing.

“When our policies haven't met the types of standards that we think should be upheld, we acknowledge that [and] in the domestic violence, and sexual assault area, we changed that,” Goodell said. “In this past 12 month cycle, we had the lowest amount of arrests in the history of the NFL.”

Super Bowl 50 will be played on Sunday at Levi's Stadium with the Carolina Panthers facing the Denver Broncos. Goodell sat down with Roberts Thursday in the San Francisco area just after attending the NFL’s first-ever “Women’s Summit.”

The commissioner announced Thursday the league will institute a “Rooney Rule” for women, meaning NFL teams will be required to interview women for executive positions.

The rule has previously been applied to minorities and the NFL now has five African-American coaches and one Latino coach, the Panthers Ron Rivera, who led his team to the Super Bowl this year.

“We want to make sure that when we have an opening we're making sure we not only have a diverse slate of candidates but we also have women we believe can do this job and give them the opportunity,” Goodell said. “I always think diversity is still an issue we're not finished we're not done and so much of what we do is incomplete so we're going to continue to make progress here.”

When the Panthers and Broncos kick off at Levi's Stadium in Sunday's Super Bowl, Goodell says he hopes the game can bring everyone together.

"When I see a world that we live in right now, there's so much division. There's so much discourse and concern," Goodell said. "The whole world is going to gather around their television sets this weekend, around NFL football and Super Bowl and celebrate the game, and celebrate everyone coming together."

"When you can be involved with that, that's a good moment."

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