By TOM HAYS, Associated Press
NEW YORK (AP) — A federal judge cleared the way Monday night for the NFL to enforce a six-game suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott over domestic violence allegations.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Polk Failla denied the request for a preliminary injunction from players’ union attorneys working for Elliott. Failla put the ruling on hold for 24 hours to give Elliott’s legal team time to appeal, a likely move.
It’s the second time a federal ruling has overturned a reprieve that kept Elliott on the field. Earlier this month, a federal appeals court threw out a Texas court’s injunction and ordered the dismissal of Elliott’s lawsuit there.
The NFL briefly enforced Commissioner Roger Goodell’s suspension before a judge sitting in for Failla in the Southern District of New York issued a temporary restraining order that blocked the punishment for the second time.
If the suspension holds this time, Elliott will be out starting Sunday at home against Kansas City. He will be eligible to return for the final three games, starting Dec. 17 at Oakland. The Cowboys (4-3), defending NFC East champions, are in second place in the division.
Elliott attended the roughly two-hour hearing in New York on Monday, a day after rushing for 150 yards and two touchdowns in a 33-19 win at Washington. Last year’s NFL rushing leader left court without speaking to reporters.
One of Elliott’s lawyers and an NFL spokesman didn’t immediately respond to requests for comment after the ruling.
The 22-year-old Elliott was suspended in August after the league concluded following a yearlong investigation that he had several physical confrontations in the summer of 2016 with Tiffany Thompson, his girlfriend at the time.
Prosecutors in Columbus, Ohio, decided not to pursue the case in the city where Elliott starred for Ohio State, citing conflicting evidence. Elliott denied the allegations under oath during his NFL appeal.
The suspension’s announcement led to weeks of court filings, with NFL Players Association lawyers contending league investigators withheld key evidence from Goodell and that the appeal hearing was unfair because arbitrator Harold Henderson refused to call Goodell and Thompson as witnesses.
Unlike three federal judges before her, Failla rejected most of those claims and backed the NFL’s contention that it followed the collective bargaining agreement in suspending Elliott, and that those procedures were supported by federal labor law.
“Having negotiated with the NFLPA over the terms of a particular CBA, the NFL has an interest in obtaining the benefit of its bargain — an interest that might well be eroded if courts such as this one were permitted to micromanage the disciplinary decisions of the commissioner,” Failla wrote.
The judge also said some of the reasons for Elliott’s claim that he would suffer irreparable harm with a suspension were speculative.
“And any individual honors Elliott might attain absent suspension depend on countless variables — such as the Cowboys’ overall offensive performance, his opponents’ defensive performance, and Elliott’s health — that together render this alleged harm far too speculative to justify injunctive relief,” Failla wrote.
Failla based some of her rulings on the NFL’s successful appeal in the same jurisdiction in the Deflategate case that ended with New England quarterback Tom Brady serving a four-game suspension. Brady delayed the punishment more than a year by winning a district court ruling.
NFLPA lawyer Jeffrey Kessler argued before Failla that the hearing was “fundamentally unfair” because it downplayed the conclusion by an internal investigator that Thompson wasn’t credible in her account.
Failla disagreed, writing that testimony from the NFL appeal hearing made it clear that Goodell was aware of the investigator’s views.
She also backed the NFL’s interest in timely penalties under its personal conduct policy, which three years ago was changed to stiffen penalties in domestic cases.
Elliott is third in the NFL in rushing with 690 yards in seven games. He’s tied for the league lead with six rushing touchdowns.
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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. (AP) — Newly acquired defensive tackle Marcell Dareus has passed a physical with the Jacksonville Jaguars, completing his trade from the Buffalo Bills.
The Jaguars (4-3) gave the Bills (4-2) a sixth-round pick in the 2018 draft for Dareus, a two-time Pro Bowl selection.
The 27-year-old Dareus passed a physical Saturday. The Jaguars released linebacker Jonathan Freeny to make room on the 53-man roster.
Jaguars czar Tom Coughlin says Dareus “will be a good fit with our team and our defense. We expect him to be stout against the run and to be able to put pressure on opposing quarterbacks. This was a great opportunity to acquire a proven player who can come in and help us immediately.”
Dareus had 300 tackles and 35 sacks in seven seasons with the Bills.
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By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Nothing about the Buffalo Bills’ impressive start to the season comes as a surprise to cornerback Leonard Johnson.
Though new to Buffalo, Johnson is no stranger to Sean McDermott. And Johnson says the Bills’ first-year coach deserves much of the credit for instilling a winning mentality with his team-first approach in a bid to resurrect a franchise in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports leagues.
“If there’s one person I believe in, it’s him,” said Johnson, who spent last season in Carolina, where McDermott served as the Panthers defensive coordinator.
Turning down an offer to re-sign with Carolina last spring, Johnson instead called McDermott to see if he had a spot for him in Buffalo.
“I told coach, ‘Hey, man, I want to be part of what you’ve got going on. I know it’s going to be special,'” Johnson said. “And that’s what’s happening. I’m proud of the success we’ve had as a team. And it doesn’t surprise me one bit where we stand.”
Look up. Way up.
At 5-2, the Bills are a half-game behind New England in the AFC East following a 34-14 win over Oakland on Sunday. And Buffalo heads into its game at the New York Jets (3-5) on Thursday night with an opportunity to enjoy its best first half since opening the 1993 season at 7-1.
The Bills are succeeding despite a revamped roster with just 24 holdovers from last season, a new coaching staff and front office, led by general manager Brandon Beane, and despite continuing a yearlong purge of under-achieving stars.
The overhaul began in March, when Buffalo cut ties with most of its entire defensive backfield, including not re-signing cornerback Stephon Gilmore.
In August, receiver Sammy Watkins, selected fourth overall in the 2014 draft, was traded to the Los Angeles Rams.
Defensive tackle Marcell Dareus became the latest subtraction on Friday, when he was dealt to Jacksonville for a conditional sixth-round draft pick.
The Bills responded to Dareus’ departure with their most lopsided win of the season, and with starting defensive backs Jordan Poyer (right knee) and E.J. Gaines (hamstring) sidelined by injury.
The defense forced a season-best four turnovers, including rookie linebacker Matt Milano scoring on a 40-yard fumble return, while LeSean McCoy led the offense with a season-high 151 yards rushing and a touchdown.
“We’ve been doing that all year,” linebacker Lorenzo Alexander said of Buffalo overcoming adversity. “We believe in ourselves.”
The Bills’ two losses have been decided by a combined 10 points. And they’ve won twice when tied or trailing in the fourth quarter, something Buffalo managed just twice over the previous two years under former coach Rex Ryan.
McDermott arrived in January with “stick to the process” and “next man up” messages, which have thus far been validated by how players — rookies, veterans and journeymen — have bought in and contributed in the clutch.
McCoy might be the focal point of the offense, but others have made impacts. Andre Holmes has scored three times on just 11 catches.
Receiver Deonte Thompson was signed on Oct. 17 after being cut by Chicago, and five days later led Buffalo with 107 yards receiving in a 30-27 win over Tampa Bay.
On defense, safety Micah Hyde leads the NFL with five interceptions. And yet, others have made valuable contributions, such as Milano.
Aside from scoring a touchdown, the fifth-round pick has forced a fumble and has an interception in two games since starter Ramon Humber broke his right thumb.
McDermott refuses to get caught up in the team’s record by saying: “No one gives out awards for 5-2.”
And yet he briefly let down his guard Monday in reflecting on how the Bills have outperformed preseason expectations.
“I’m extremely proud of them and I’m happy for them,” he said.
“I’m happy for the fans of this team, that they’ve gotten what they so long have desired and yearned for, for so long,” McDermott added. “I know I don’t show that emotion all the time up here but, yeah, I’m pumped up about that.”
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By LUKE MEREDITH
AP Sports Writer
AMES — Iowa State’s rise to the top of the Big 12 standings has been one of the nation’s biggest surprises this fall. The Cyclones can thank their vastly improved defense.
No. 14 Iowa State (6-2, 4-1 Big 12) has the league’s top-rated defense through five games, allowing just 13.6 points in league outings and holding each of its opponents to at least 10 points below their season average. Iowa State put forth one of the best defensive efforts in school history last weekend, holding TCU’s offense scoreless in a 14-7 win.
The Cyclones, who are in a four-way tie for first place in the Big 12, will face another potent offense during a visit to West Virginia on Saturday.
“I always tell our kids, ‘Be who you say you are.’ And eventually you’ve got to stop saying and start doing,” coach Matt Campbell said. “We are having some of those moments where we are doing some positive things. You hope those things continue.”
Hardly anyone outside of Iowa State’s football facility thought the Cyclones would be this good on that side of the ball.
The Cyclones ranked just 86th nationally in scoring defense in 2016, allowing 31.3 points a game, and their start to 2017 didn’t suggest they had improved all that much. Iowa State gave up 24 points to Northern Iowa of the FCS and 44 in a loss at home to Iowa. But after allowing 14 points in the second quarter at Akron, the Cyclones defense found itself.
Iowa State has allowed just two offensive touchdowns— and one was by Texas Tech after the Red Raiders returned an interception to the Iowa State 7-yard line — in its last three games. TCU’s only points came on a kickoff return, which allowed the Cyclones to win despite being shut out in the second half.
“I was never worried about my defense. My defense always holds it down,” sophomore running back David Montgomery said.
Perhaps the biggest area of improvement for the Cyclones has come at linebacker.
Even though converted quarterback Joel Lanning (second in the Big 12 with 87 tackles) has gotten most of the attention, all three starters are playing at an all-conference clip.
Marcel Spears, a sophomore, was named the Big 12’s defensive player of the week twice in a row after sealing his team’s last two wins with interceptions in the fourth quarter. Spears ranks fourth in the Big 12 with 70 total tackles.
“You’re starting to see a steady progression going forward, and it’s really fun to watch,” Campbell said. “He’s really talented, has great athleticism, great balance and is a really good tackler. Now you’re starting to see his awareness (increase).”
Junior Willie Harvey is having his best season with 49 tackles, six tackles for loss, three sacks, a forced fumble, an interception and three pass breakups.
But the success of the unit hasn’t been a surprise for Campbell, who expected his linebackers to take a leap forward in 2017 — in part because he expected the linemen in front of them to improve as well.
“I really, really thought that that group had a chance to be really special, and not because they’re just great players but because of who those guys are,” Campbell said. “That linebacking corps is getting a lot of positive attention because of what that defensive line is doing as well.”
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Copyright 2017 The Associated Press.
By JOHN WAWROW, AP Sports Writer
ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP) — Bills defensive tackle Kyle Williams isn’t into making predictions.
No matter how good it feels for Buffalo’s 12-year veteran and elder statesman to be part of a team that’s off to a 5-2 start, Williams would rather stay in the moment.
“I don’t know what the next nine more weeks hold, win-loss wise,” Williams said following a 34-14 win over Oakland on Sunday. “There’s a whole lot in front of us, a whole lot of work to be done. And before we start hugging, like, ‘Oh, man, this feels so good,’ we’ve got a quick turnaround right in our face.”
He was referring to Buffalo facing a short week in having to play at the New York Jets on Thursday night.
Williams also can appreciate knowing a 5-2 start is no guarantee for anything for a franchise in the midst of a 17-year playoff drought — the longest active streak in North America’s four major professional sports.
Williams was a member of the two teams that won five of the first seven during the drought, before finishing 6-10 in 2011 and 7-9 in 2008.
“We’re just going to stick to our process and what we do,” Williams said. “We’re going to compete on Sunday or Thursday in New York or Buffalo or in the parking lot or wherever it may be. And we’re going to enjoy playing together.”
The Bills have shown great resolve so far.
Rookie linebacker Matt Milano capitalized on DeAndre Washington’s fumble by scoring the go-ahead touchdown on a 40-yard return on a rain-slick field. And the Bills injury- and star-depleted defense forced four turnovers while playing without two starters in the backfield and two days after trading their highest-paid player, defensive tackle Marcell Dareus, to Jacksonville.
LeSean McCoy had a season-best 151 yards rushing and scored on a 48 yard run in a game the Bills scored 27 consecutive points.
The Raiders (3-5), by comparison, unraveled in losing for the fourth time in five games and failing to carry over any of the momentum they generated following a 31-30 come-from-behind victory over Kansas City on Oct. 19.
Rather than return home, the Raiders traveled directly to Florida, where they’ll spend the week preparing to play at Miami next Sunday before entering their bye week.
“I probably won’t shut up all week about how hard we need to go in practice. We’re at that point,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “Each man needs to look at it and keep working, because that’s the only way you get out of this.”
Raiders defensive end Khalil Mack wasn’t very much interested about talking about his ties to Buffalo before the game nor after.
“Buffalo is just a part of who I am, went here for college and all that stuff,” said Mack, who played college at the University at Buffalo before being selected by Oakland with the No. 5 pick in the 2014 draft. “I don’t want to talk about it too much. I wanted to come here and play a football game.”
Aside from scoring on a fumble return, Milano forced a fumble by knocking the ball loose during Jalen Richard’s punt return to open the second half. Safety Micah Hyde had his fifth interception of the season by picking off Carr, who was also intercepted by Trae Elston.
Buffalo has forced three or more turnovers in each of its past four.
NO BEAST MODE
Raiders running back Marshawn Lynch will rejoin the team in Florida after serving a one-game suspension for coming off the bench and shoving an official during the game against Kansas City.
Though Washington scored on a 4-yard catch and fullback Jamize Olawale scored on a 1-yard run, the Raiders were limited to just 54 yards rushing.
The Bills have won their first four games at Orchard Park, New York, for the first time since going 5-0 in 1995. Buffalo won its first “home” games in 2011, but one was at Toronto. The Bills have also scored 20 or more points in 13 consecutive home games, the NFL’s longest active streak.
HONORING THOMAS’ DAUGHTER
The Bills awarded a game ball to tight end Logan Thomas, whose daughter died the day she was born last week. Thomas rejoined the team for practice on Thursday, and had one catch for 7 yards.
“When a player is going through something so serious, we’re going through it also,” McCoy said. “Prayers to him and his family. And he knows that we’re behind him 110 percent.”
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By ERIC TUCKER and CHAD DAY of The Associated Press
WASHINGTON (AP) — President Donald Trump’s former campaign chairman, Paul Manafort, and a former business associate, Rick Gates, were indicted Monday on charges of conspiracy against the United States, money laundering and several other financial charges.
The charges were the first stemming from special counsel Robert Mueller’s probe into possible ties between Trump’s presidential campaign and Russia. The indictment filed in federal court in Washington accused both men of funneling tens of millions of dollars in payments through foreign companies and bank accounts.
Manafort and Gates surrendered to federal authorities, and were expected in court later Monday to face charges brought by Mueller’s team.
The indictment lays out 12 counts including conspiracy against the United States, conspiracy to launder money, acting as an unregistered foreign agent and several charges related to failing to report foreign bank and financial accounts. The indictment alleges that they moved money through hidden bank accounts in Cyprus, St. Vincent and the Grenadines and the Seychelles. In total, more than $75 million flowed through the offshore accounts. Manafort is accused of laundering more than $18 million, according to the indictment.
Manafort, 68, was fired as Trump’s campaign chairman in August after word surfaced that he had orchestrated a covert lobbying operation on behalf of pro-Russian interests in Ukraine. The Associated Press reported that Manafort also represented a Russian billionaire a decade ago with the goal of advancing the interests of Russian President Vladimir Putin.
The White House declined to comment. A spokesman for Manafort did not immediately return calls or text messages requesting comment.
Mueller was appointed as special counsel in May to lead the Justice Department’s investigation into whether the Kremlin worked with associates of the Trump campaign to tip the 2016 presidential election.
The appointment came one week after the firing James Comey, who as FBI director led the investigation, and also followed the recusal months earlier of Attorney General Jeff Sessions from the probe.
Investigators have focused on associates including Manafort, whose home was raided in July by agents searching for tax and international banking records, and ex-national security adviser Michael Flynn, who was forced to resign in February after White House officials said he had misled them about his conversations with the Russian ambassador to the United States.
Manafort joined Trump’s campaign in March 2016 and oversaw the convention delegate strategy. Trump pushed him out in August amid a steady stream of negative headlines about Manafort’s foreign consulting work.
Trump’s middle son, Eric Trump, said in an interview at the time that his father was concerned that questions about Manafort’s past were taking attention away from the billionaire’s presidential bid.
Manafort has been a subject of a longstanding FBI investigation into his dealings in Ukraine and work for the country’s former president, Viktor Yanukovych. That investigation was incorporated into Mueller’s broader probe.
Previously, he denied any wrongdoing related to his Ukrainian work, saying through a spokesman that it “was totally open and appropriate.”
Manafort also recently registered with the Justice Department as a foreign agent for parts of Ukrainian work that occurred in Washington. The filing under the Foreign Agents Registration Act came retroactively, a tacit acknowledgment that he operated in Washington in violation of the federal transparency law.
Mueller’s investigation has also reached into the White House, as he examines the circumstances of Comey’s firing. Investigators have requested extensive documents from the White House about key actions since Trump took office and have interviewed multiple current and former officials.
Mueller’s grand jury has also heard testimony about a June 2016 meeting at Trump Tower attended by a Russian lawyer as well as Manafort, Donald Trump Jr., and the president’s son-in-law, Jared Kushner.
In Gates, Mueller brings in not just Manafort’s chief deputy, but a key player from Trump’s campaign who survived past Manafort’s ouster last summer. As of two weeks ago, Gates was still working for Tom Barrack, a Trump confidant, helping with the closeout of the inauguration committee’s campaign account.
GARY, Ind. (AP) — Singer Janet Jackson and her brother Randy Jackson have visited their childhood home in Gary, Indiana, and talked with local high school students.
The (Northwest Indiana) Times reports that the Jacksons made the visit Friday, a day after Janet Jackson’s concert in the Chicago area. Janet Jackson told students at Roosevelt High School that she started crying when she saw the small house. She said, “me and my family are so blessed. I’m so thankful.”
The 51-year-old said she was 8-years-old the last time she was in Gary. The family moved out of the industrial city about 30 miles (50 kilometers) southwest of Chicago after the Jackson 5 recorded their first album in 1969, when Janet Jackson was a toddler.
She also told students she misses performing with her siblings.
NEW CASTLE, Ind. (AP) — Authorities say a police officer shot and wounded a man who was stabbing a woman in eastern Indiana.
State police say officers responded Sunday night in New Castle following a report that a man with a large knife was chasing a woman around the yard of a home.
One New Castle officer went to the front of the home and another went to the rear, where he encountered the woman as she fled from the man. Police say the officer shot the 41-year-old man after he stabbed the woman in the neck. The man was hospitalized with life-threatening injuries.
The 38-year-old woman was taken to a hospital with serious injuries.
Police say they believe the man and woman were acquaintances and were involved in a domestic dispute before officers arrived.
By MATTHEW KENTThe (Columbus) Republic
COLUMBUS, Ind. — The owners of a new hotdog restaurant at the FairOaks Mall hope to make a difference in the community by providing employment opportunities for individuals with special needs.
Special Dogs & More, which serves gourmet hot dogs, ribbon fries and other food items, began in concept three years ago, said Randy Lapidus, who co-owns the business with his wife, Robin.
The restaurant opened Oct. 15.
Lapidus said the idea of a gourmet hot dog business originated a few years after his daughter, Rachel, went into cardiac arrest and later underwent treatment at a rehabilitation center in Indianapolis.
Rachel went into cardiac arrest on July 27, 2011. Her heart stopped beating for more than eight minutes. She had to relearn how to read, write, count and even comprehend the concept of time.
“We just thought what we could do to help open the door for those that are intellectually challenged,” Lapidus said.
The Lapidus family might be best known for its ice cream truck, Neat Treats, started to help with their daughter’s recovery through vocational rehabilitation. Lapidus believes his restaurant, which also serves New York egg cream sodas, is unlike any other in Columbus.
“I have yet to see a good hot dog in this town,” he said.
The seven employees at the business were hired through a partnership with Developmental Services Inc., LifeDesigns and Stone Belt, which all serve people with disabilities.
Rachel Lapidus, 25, who is among those who pitch in with the family business, said she enjoys being able to talk to customers.
Columbus resident Jason Harris, 36, also works at the restaurant by helping wash dishes and sweep floors.
He is enjoying his new job as well.
“Everybody’s real nice,” Harris said.
Columbus resident Roana Huntsman recently stopped by the business with her husband Terry.
Roana Huntsman said she supports the Lapidus’ family efforts to employ those with special needs, noting that her son Josh is also disabled.
“We know there’s a need to be filled for that,” Huntsman said. “I think it’s a wonderful thing they’re doing.”
Lapidus said he considered several locations for his business, but settled on the mall since the location for his place was already set up as a restaurant. He has signed a one-year lease, but eventually hopes Special Dogs & More will grow on a much larger scale.
“I’m hoping this place is too small a year from now,” he said.
Lapidus also said he’s pleased with how the business has gone so far, noting that he enjoys seeing the smiles on workers’ faces, their willingness to work and their desire to prove themselves.
“You don’t get that type of eagerness off the street,” he said.
He added that he is glad to be able to provide employment opportunities for individuals wanting to work.
“For a lot of them, this is the first job they’ve ever had,” he said.
However, Lapidus said he doesn’t expect all of his employees to stay forever, adding that he wants them to get experience and develop self-confidence so they are able to move on to a different position elsewhere.
“Our goal is to utilize this as a training restaurant,” Lapidus said. “Those that know us know that we care about the community and always have.”
INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — State officials say 111 Indiana law-enforcement agencies will receive more than $375,000 in federal funds to help purchase ballistic or stab-resistant body armor.
The Indiana Criminal Justice Institute announced the funding last week from the Justice Department’s Bureau of Justice Assistance. Funding priority was given to cities, towns and counties with less than 100,000 residents. The 50-50 matching funds reimburse the purchase of approved vests that are made in the U.S. and ordered after this past April 1.
Law enforcement agencies in the cities of Franklin, Jeffersonville, Lawrenceburg and East Chicago and Harrison County each received more than $11,000 in funding. Other communities received smaller amounts.