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Pro Football

OWINGS MILLS, Md. — The NFL fined Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis $25,000 today for two separate plays, including a helmet-to-helmet hit on Cincinnati Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco.

The Ravens said Lewis will appeal the fine.

Both plays occurred in the fourth quarter of Baltimore's 17-14 loss on Sunday. The league deemed that Lewis "unnecessarily kicked the opponent" and later "unnecessarily struck a defenseless receiver."

During the latter play, Lewis hit Ochocinco after a pass from Carson Palmer sailed incomplete, and the 15-yard penalty for unnecessary roughness helped set up the winning touchdown with 22 seconds remaining.

Ochocinco lost his helmet during the collision, but immediately popped up from the turf. After the game, the boisterous receiver used his Twitter account to ask NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for leniency.

ST. LOUIS — Conservative radio personality Rush Limbaugh lashed out at NFL union leader DeMaurice Smith, Al Sharpton, Jesse Jackson and the media a day after being dropped from a group trying to buy the St. Louis Rams.

On his syndicated show, Limbaugh said he was approached by St. Louis Blues chairman Dave Checketts earlier this year about participating in a Rams bid. Checketts assured him his involvement as a minority investor had been vetted by the NFL, he said.

Limbaugh said that Checketts had told him his involvement had been cleared at the "highest levels of the NFL" but NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Colts owner Jim Irsay each expressed misgivings this week at a league-wide meeting about Limbaugh's involvement.

College Football

LOS ANGELES — Injured tailback Stafon Johnson made a surprise appearance at Southern California's team meeting before the sixth-ranked Trojans' trip to Notre Dame.

Johnson was released from the hospital on Wednesday, just 16 days after his neck and throat were crushed in a weightlifting accident. The senior won't play again this season, but is continuing his rehabilitation at home.

After a quick introduction from coach Pete Carroll, Johnson dropped in on the Trojans' meeting at Heritage Hall, exchanging high-fives with his teammates amid applause and cheers.

Johnson scored the go-ahead touchdown in USC's victory at Ohio State in its last trip back East last month. The Trojans (4-1) left later for Indiana.

Pro Basketball

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio — LeBron James and teammates Darnell Jackson and Coby Karl have tested positive for Influenza A, and are being treated as if they have the H1N1 virus.

H1N1, also known as swine flu, is a strain of Influenza A, and though the Cavaliers have not gotten back H1N1 test results on the three, the team said it is being proactive in treating players and staff. The Cavs play at San Antonio on Friday and in Dallas on Saturday.

James, who will travel with the team, returned to practice after spending two days resting at home. Six Cleveland players have had flu-like symptoms. Guard Andre Barrett and forward J.J. Hickson are not making the Texas trip.

Auto Racing

CONCORD, N.C. — NASCAR champion Jimmie Johnson is opening his life for HBO Sports' award-winning "24/7" program.

HBO is already following the defending three-time champion to collect video for a four-episode, all-access series. The show will air beginning in January and focus on Johnson's preparation for the 2010 season-opening Daytona 500.

It is HBO's first venture into NASCAR, and marks the first time its "24/7" franchise will stray from boxing.

Johnson and his wife, Chandra, wanted to do the show after they became hooked on the boxing series. They'll allow cameras to capture several aspects of their lives, as will Hendrick Motorsports and Johnson's entire team.


LONDON — American businessman Stan Kroenke increased his stake in Premier League club Arsenal, edging closer to a full takeover.

The Gunners announced that Kroenke bought 90 more shares for $1.2 million, increasing his holding from 28.7 to 28.9 percent. That's just short of the 29.9 percent threshold that would trigger a mandatory offer for the remaining shares.

The 62-year-old Kroenke has already been praised as a "model owner" by Arsenal chief executive Ivan Gazidis. Kroenke also owns the Colorado Rapids, Denver Nuggets and the Colorado Avalanche.

If Kroenke became Arsenal owner he would be the latest American to run a Premier League club. He would follow Tom Hicks and George Gillett Jr. at Liverpool, Randy Lerner at Aston Villa, Ellis Short at Sunderland and Malcolm Glazer at Manchester United.

CAIRO — Diego Maradona could be disciplined by soccer's governing body for his profanity-filled tirade on live television after Argentina qualified for the 2010 World Cup.

FIFA president Sepp Blatter said Friday from the Under-20 World Cup that it is "my duty and my obligation" to refer the matter to his organization's disciplinary committee.

"The reports we have received so far leave us no other alternative," he said.

Maradona's expletives were mostly directed at his critics and reporters following the 1-0 victory over Uruguay on Wednesday.

Maradona, who led Argentina to the 1986 World Cup title and the 1990 final, has been under intense pressure during Argentina's erratic qualifying campaign, which included a 6-1 loss in Bolivia and a 3-1 loss to Brazil at home.

"The qualification of Argentina has been expected everywhere in the world," Blatter said. "Argentina is a powerhouse in football and always has been. Therefore, we welcome the team of Argentina."

Winter Sports

SAAS-FEE, Switzerland — After two years away, Bode Miller is back training with the U.S. Ski Team. The two-time World Cup overall champion said he's happy to be skiing with the team again.

Miller is fine-tuning his equipment ahead of the World Cup season — and what he hopes will be a trip to the Vancouver Olympics.

Miller left the U.S. squad and raced independently for two seasons, but is working with the group again, including Olympic champion Ted Ligety.

Miller made his remarks in a statement released by the team. The men's World Cup starts Oct. 25. Miller hasn't said when he'll join the circuit.


LAS VEGAS — Professional poker player Mike Sexton was picked for the Poker Hall of Fame after a 30-year career including one World Series of Poker tournament and about $3.7 million in winnings.

Series officials say the 62-year-old Sexton will be honored during the final table of the World Series of Poker main event next month in Las Vegas.

Sexton placed 420th among almost 6,500 players in the $10,000 no-limit Texas Hold 'em tournament this year. He won more than $27,000.

He has finished in the money 46 times at series events, and won the $1 million top prize at the series' 2006 Tournament of Champions.

Sexton is one of the game's most visible ambassadors as a color analyst for World Poker Tour television coverage.

— The Associated Press

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