In Brief

FOOTBALL

NFL players wrap up meetings, look toward April 6 court date

NFL players concluded their annual meetings Thursday while receiving words of support from former players.

The NFL Players Association dissolved as a union hours before being locked out by the league March 11. Now it looks toward April 6, when a lawsuit filed by 10 players requesting an injunction to end the lockout will be heard in U.S. District Court in St. Paul, Minn.

Nolan Harrison, the director of former player services for the NFLPA, said 215 former players spoke with members of the organization’s executive board, executive director DeMaurice Smith and current players during the last few days.

“Letting our guys know what the course is from here and where we are as an association, that’s one of the main things this was about,” Harrison said, adding the former players have been briefed on the lawsuit.

“All of us realize we are teammates, from the guys who play today to the guys who wore leather helmets. Every generation was represented, from guys my dad watched play to my former teammates to guys who were in preschool when I played.”

Smith met with leaders of the former players, held a question-and-answer session with all the veterans and gave a speech encouraging unity, Harrison said.

Also: Lions quarterback Matthew Stafford has started throwing again.

Stafford posted a message to his Twitter account indicating he felt good throwing in Athens, Ga., two months after having surgery on his right shoulder.

He tweeted that he was heading to “rehab, lift and run” during the NFL lockout.

Stafford played in just three games last season.

Philadelphia Eagles Hall of Famer Chuck Bednarik is in serious condition in a hospital near his Pennsylvania home.

A nursing supervisor at St. Luke’s Hospital in Bethlehem, Pa., would not provide additional information on the condition of the 85-year-old former star.

Bednarik played linebacker and center for the Eagles long after the heyday of two-way players. He was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1967.

miscellaneous

Nader seeks elimination of college athletic scholarships

Consumer advocate Ralph Nader is calling for the elimination of college athletic scholarships, saying the move is necessary to “de-professionalize” college athletes.

“As we near the exciting conclusion of ‘March Madness’ — which would more accurately be described as the 2011 NCAA Professional Basketball Championships — it’s time we step back and finally address the myth of amateurism surrounding big-time college football and basketball in this country,” said Nader, whose League of Fans is proposing that the scholarships be replaced with need-based financial aid. The Associated Press obtained a copy of the proposal Thursday, ahead of its official release.

NCAA spokesman Bob Williams said referring to college athletes as professionals defies logic.

“They are students, just like any other student on campus who receives a merit-based scholarship,” he said.

Nader, a former presidential candidate, argued that his plan would also help reduce the “win-at-all-costs” mentality in high schools, by reducing the incentive of college scholarships.

Also: Minnesota Timberwolves coach Kurt Rambis said there’s a chance that All-Star forward Kevin Love could miss the rest of the season because of a strained left groin.

Love sat out Thursday night’s 104-96 loss to Dallas after he was hurt in a 127-95 home loss to Sacramento on Sunday.

The Timberwolves have 10 games left. Love is averaging 20.3 points and an NBA-high 15.4 rebounds per game.

Three days into the Sony Ericsson Open, only one American tennis player remains in the women’s draw — Uzbekistan-born Varvara Lepchenko.

Three U.S. women lost in the second round at Key Biscayne, Fla., including Bethanie Mattek-Sands, who was eliminated by No. 1-ranked Caroline Wozniacki, 6-2, 7-5. Mattek-Sands was the highest-ranked American in the draw at No. 43.

American qualifier Jamie Hampton lost to No. 21-seeded Andrea Petkovic 6-2, 7-5, and Melanie Oudin was beaten by No. 29 Daniela Hantuchova, 6-1, 6-3.

The lone American left is the No. 82-ranked Lepchenko, who has lived in the United States since 2000 and became a citizen this year. She plays a second-round match today.

Amanda Blumenherst birdied the final four holes for a 7-under 66 and a one-stroke lead over Germany’s Sanda Gal in the Kia Classic at Industry, Calif.

Blumenherst, a former Duke star seeking her first LPGA Tour victory, had nine birdies and two bogeys in her opening round.

Michelle Wie birdied the par-5 18th for a 68.

Moscow has been chosen as the replacement venue for this year’s figure skating world championships, which were originally to be in Tokyo.

The International Skating Union announced that the championships will be April 24 to May 1 at the Russian capital’s Megasport arena.

UNLV’s 400-yard medley relay team of David Seiler, Andrew Morrell, Cody Roberts and Calan Eldridge placed eighth at the NCAA Men’s Swimming and Diving Championships at Minneapolis.

UNLV is in 15th place with 28 points. Texas leads the event with 139 points.

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