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Thursday’s Sports In Brief

January 28, 2022 GMT

FOOTBALL

WASHINGTON (AP) — The U.S. House Oversight Committee will hold a roundtable discussion next week with former Washington Football Team employees about workplace misconduct and sexual harassment.

The discussion is set for Feb. 3, a day after Washington reveals its new name. The committee announced the roundtable Thursday.

Five former employees are scheduled to be a part of the roundtable.

The NFL oversaw an independent investigation into Washington’s workplace misconduct and fined the team $10 million last year after it was completed. A written report was never released.

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Ben Roethlisberger’s NFL career is over.

The longtime Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback announced his retirement on Thursday, saying it was “time to clean out my locker, hang up my cleats” after 18 years, two Super Bowls, countless team records and a spot in the Hall of Fame all but secure.

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“I don’t know how to put into words what the game of football has meant to me and what a blessing it has been,” Roethlisberger, 39, said in a video message. “But I know with confidence I have given my all to the game, I am overwhelmed with gratitude for what it has given me.”

The much-anticipated decision came less than two weeks after Pittsburgh’s lopsided loss to Kansas City in the first round of the postseason, the 12th time in Roethlisberger’s career the Steelers reached the playoffs.

CHICAGO (AP) — Matt Eberflus is the new coach of the Chicago Bears, tasked with turning around a franchise mired in mediocrity for much of the past decade.

The Bears announced Eberflus’ hiring on Thursday night. He spent the past four years as Indianapolis’ defensive coordinator.

The 51-year-old Eberflus called his new job a “once-in-a-lifetime opportunity.”

“I am truly humbled and honored to be named your head coach and together we will do everything in our power to bring a Super Bowl championship back to Chicago,” he said in a statement.

TENNIS

MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Rafael Nadal is now within one victory of a record 21st Grand Slam singles title.

The 35-year-old Spaniard advanced to the Australian Open final for a sixth time with a 6-3, 6-2, 3-6, 6-3 win Friday over Matteo Berrettini.

He arrived in Australia not knowing how long he’d last after months off the tour recovering from injuries and then a bout of COVID-19.

He won a title at a tune-up tournament and now has won six matches at the first Grand Slam tournament of the year.

One more and he’ll break record of 20 majors he shared with Roger Federer and Novak Djokovic. He’ll also become just the fourth man in history to win all four of the Grand Slam titles at least twice.

In the championship match on Sunday, he will play the winner of the later semifinal between U.S. Open champion Daniil Medvedev and Stefanos Tsitsipas.

SOCCER

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COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — Antonee Robinson broke through a freeze in the air and the U.S. offense, scoring a big goal in the 52nd minute that lifted the Americans over El Salvador 1-0 on Thursday night and kept them on track for a return to the World Cup.

The narrow victory on a 29-degree night that tied the record low temperature for a home American qualifier boosted the U.S. to 18 points with five games left.

The U.S. has two more matchups in the next week and can move to the verge of a berth with victories on Sunday against Canada in Hamilton, Ontario, and Wednesday against Honduras at St. Paul, Minnesota. The final three qualifiers are in March.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) — LeBron James will return to Cleveland as an All-Star Game captain, with another former Cavaliers No. 1 pick joining him as this season’s surprise selection.

Golden State’s Andrew Wiggins was voted to his first All-Star Game, with Memphis guard Ja Morant also set for his debut.

MVP Nikola Jokic of the Denver Nuggets and Warriors superstar Stephen Curry joined those three Thursday as the other players voted as starters from the Western Conference.

The starters from the East were Brooklyn’s Kevin Durant, Milwaukee’s Giannis Antetokounmpo and Philadelphia’s Joel Embiid in the frontcourt, along with Atlanta’s Trae Young and Chicago’s DeMar DeRozan.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

There are a lot of old newcomers making a splash this season in college basketball.

ACC top scorer Alondes Williams for Wake Forest and Pac-12 leader Terrell Brown Jr. at Washington are both senior transfers who joined their new teams this season. The same goes for the leading scorers for four of the 10 teams in the Big 12.

With the extra season of eligibility available to everyone because of the pandemic and players being able to go into the transfer portal and play right away elsewhere, there were a lot of changes on rosters across the country. About 1,700 players went into the portal last offseason.

COLLEGE SPORTS

Male athletes are leading the way six months after the NCAA cleared the way for college athletes to earn money on their celebrity.

They lead in total name, image and likeness compensation and have more NIL deals than women, according to third-party data from July 1 through Dec. 31 for some 125,000 athletes — about a quarter of the nearly 500,000 in the NCAA’s three divisions.

Men’s sports make more money — often enough to help fund other sports — and have a much larger presence on TV and in media, so it’s natural that businesses look to those athletes for the best return on investment, sports management experts say.

BASEBALL

PITTSBURGH (AP) — Gene Clines, part of the first all-minority lineup in Major League Baseball history and a line drive-hitting outfielder for the 1971 World Series champion Pittsburgh Pirates, died Thursday. He was 75.

Clines’ wife, Joanne, told the Pirates that Clines died at his home in Bradenton, Florida, site of the team’s longtime spring training home. No cause of death was given.

On Sept. 1, 1971, Clines batted second and played center field for the Pirates in a starting lineup comprised entirely of players of Black and Latino descent. He doubled, singled and scored twice as Pittsburgh beat Philadelphia 10-7 at Three Rivers Stadium.

Clines was at PNC Park last September when the Pirates celebrated the 50th anniversary of the occasion, with fellow starters Al Oliver, Dave Cash and Manny Sanguillen joining the festivities.

Roberto Clemente, Willie Stargell, Rennie Stennett, Jackie Hernández and Dock Ellis also started for the Pirates on that historic night in 1971. A month later, they won the World Series, beating the Baltimore Orioles in seven games.

NEW YORK (AP) — An advocacy group for minor leaguers says Major League Baseball’s new housing policy is an improvement but still inadequate.

The player steering committee of Advocates for Minor Leaguers issued a statement Thursday objecting to housing two players per bedroom and not accommodating spouses and children.

“While the new policy represents a massive player victory, the specifics of the policy were determined unilaterally by MLB, which neither asked for nor received our input,” the group said. “Every player deserves the privacy of his own room. ”

MLB said in November it will require teams to provide furnished accommodations, with a single bed per player and no more than two players per bedroom. Teams will be responsible for basic utility bills.