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1990 basketball card appears to show Menendez brothers in background 

A sports card that has been practically worthless for more than 25 years has suddenly become a sensation in the collectibles hobby.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s because the two men in the background of a 1990-91 Hoops basketball card of Mark Jackson look like the infamous Menendez brothers, the New York Daily News reported.

While there has been no confirmation that the two men pictured are indeed Lyle and Erik Menendez, it is possible that the brothers, convicted in 1996 for their parents' murders in 1989, could have been sitting courtside at Madison Square Garden, Sports Collectors Daily reported.

Neither the brothers nor Jackson have commented about the card.

Twitter user John Rosenberger tweeted Friday that a poster on the Reddit website named Pirate_Redbeard wrote that Lyle and Erik Menendez appear to have been sitting in front-row seats when Jackson's card photo was taken during the 1989-90 NBA season.

Which game was it? The Knicks played 28 home games before the brothers were arrested in March 1990, and no opposing players are included in the photo, so it’s difficult to say.

The Reddit entry echoed an Aug. 9 Instagram post by jgold50, a self-described “collector of random things, mostly mortality subject matter.”

Lyle Menendez, now 50, and Erik Menendez, who turned 48 on Nov. 27, are now serving life sentences without parole after fatally shooting Jose and Mary “Kitty” Menendez on Aug. 20, 1989. Both men are currently serving time at the R.J. Correctional Facility in San Diego, according to CBS News.Before the brothers were arrested in Beverly Hills, California, on March 8, 1990, they spent a large amount of their parents’ money, according to court records. The brothers took trips and bought cars. Lyle Menendez bought a chicken wing restaurant in New Jersey, the Los Angeles Times reported in 1994.

Darren Rovell, a sports business reporter for The Action Network, tweeted that the Jackson card was selling on eBay for as much as $30

“This checks out,” Rovell wrote in a different tweet. “Menendez murder happened Aug. 20, 1989. Brothers were apprehended March 1990. Photo was taken at MSG in 1989-90 season and set came out before 1990-91 season.”

Jackson played seven of his 17 seasons in the NBA for the Knicks and coached the Golden State Warriors from 2011 to 2014. He is currently a commentator for ESPN.

By Sunday night, Amazon had eight cards for sale. One seller jokingly referred to it as the “Menendez Brothers rookie card.”

Rob Veres, the owner of Burbank Sportscards in Southern California, told Sports Collectors Daily he sold 130 of the Jackson cards recently. 

“We knew about it a few months ago and bought up a few hundred of them thinking it could be something special if the general public discovered it,” Veres told the collectibles website. “Those cards, along with 100 cards we had in regular stock, gave us a nice quantity. We started selling them at $7.99 months ago and they moved all right, but when the Reddit post went viral and it hit Bleacher Report as well as the hobby sites, things got crazy.” 

Even after raising prices, Veres told Sports Collectors Daily said he was able to sell the cards for as much as $24.99 apiece.

“The mind-blowing stat is the 8,349 page views for this single listing, 7,000 of which have been in the past 36 hours,” Veres said. “I can’t recall ever seeing anything like that.”

It’s not the first time infamous persons have appeared in the background of a photograph. A photograph exists of John Wilkes Booth in attendance at the second presidential inauguration of Abraham Lincoln on March 4, 1865, History.com reported in 2015. Six weeks later, Booth would assassinate Lincoln at Ford’s Theatre in Washington.

The Jackson card now becomes an oddity among sports cards, to be placed next to the 1989 Fleer baseball card of Billy Ripken with an obscenity written on the bat knob and the 1994-95 Pinnacle hockey card of Sylvain Turgeon, which featured future Chicago Blackhawks star Patrick Kane watching from the stands as a child.


Heisman Trophy winner Kyler Murray apologizes for anti-gay tweets

Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback Kyler Murray issued an apology Sunday after coming under fire for years-old anti-gay tweets.

>> On Fox23.com: Kyler Murray becomes 7th Sooner to win Heisman

"I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15," Murray, 21, tweeted Sunday, just one day after the University of Oklahoma junior won the award. "I used a poor choice of word that doesn't reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group."

>> See the tweet here

CNN reported that Murray deleted "many, although not all" of the tweets, which were posted in 2011 and 2012.

>> Read more trending news 

Murray, who beat out Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State to win the Heisman, also excels at baseball and recently signed with the Oakland Athletics, The Associated Press reported.

Read more here.

– The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray wins Heisman Trophy

Kyler Murray has won the Heisman Trophy, becoming the University of Oklahoma's seventh Heisman winner, beating fellow finalists Tua Tagovailoa of Alabama and Dwayne Haskins of Ohio State on Saturday. Murray gives the Sooners back-to-back years with Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks (Baker Mayfield, 2017), something no school has done before.

>> Watch the news report here

It's the latest award of the week for Murray, who on Thursday was named the AP Player of the Year and won the Davey O’Brien Award given to the nation’s top quarterback.

Murray leads the nation in total yards (school-record 4,945), points responsible for (306), passing efficiency rating (205.7; FBS record is 198.9), yards per pass attempt (11.9; FBS record is 11.1) and yards per completion (16.8; tied). He also ranks second in completion percentage (.709; first among Power Five players).

>> Read more trending news 

The Allen, Texas, product has completed 241 of 340 passes this year for 4,053 yards and 40 touchdowns against seven interceptions. He has also rushed for 892 yards and another 11 scores. He needs 108 rushing yards to become just the second player in FBS history to throw for at least 4,000 and run for at least 1,000 in a season (Clemson's DeShaun Watson did it in 2015 with 4,109 passing and 1,105 rushing in 15 games).

Murray has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 12 of 13 games this season, and has thrown at least three TD passes in 10 contests. He had his school- and Big 12-record streak of eight games with at least three TD passes snapped in a win against Oklahoma State on Nov. 10.

No. 4-ranked OU, which behind Murray leads the nation in points per game (49.5), yards per game (577.9) and yards per play (8.7; FBS record is 8.6), will make its 52nd bowl appearance when it takes on No. 1 Alabama in the College Football Playoff Semifinal at the Capital One Orange Bowl on Dec. 29.

Read more here.

Atlanta United wins MLS Cup, beats Portland 2-0

The Kings of the South are the Kings of MLS.

>> Watch the news report here

Behind goals from Josef Martinez and Franco Escobar, Atlanta United defeated Portland 2-0 to win the MLS Cup in front of record announced attendance of more than 73,000 on Saturday at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta.

>> On AJC.com: PHOTOS: Atlanta United brings home the MLS Cup

No one, from owner Arthur Blank to the players, were shy in the past few weeks about expressing their ambition to win the MLS Cup for manager Gerardo Martino, who is leaving the club, for themselves and the supporters. It was the 17s, as the team nicknamed its supporters, who embraced the Kings of the South nickname and who turned their home into a cauldron of noise throughout the season by setting numerous attendance records.

>> On AJC.com: Atlanta United victory parade planned for Monday

“These are always special moments, to culminate this amazing process we’ve had in Atlanta,” Martino said.

The city pulsed with anticipation throughout the week about the opportunity to break a title drought in the major pro sports leagues dating to the Braves winning the 1995 World Series.

The crowd was whipped into a frenzy early by Blank, who hammered the Golden Spike in the ceremony that Atlanta United performs just before the start of every home game. 

By kick-off, the stadium was packed. Those in the Supporters’ Section swayed back and forth while singing “We Ready” by Archie Eversole, who was on hand to lead the vocals.

The game started slowly.

As expected, Portland focused on defense, trying to absorb Atlanta United’s pressure in order to counterattack.

Atlanta United thought it had a case for a penalty kick in the 16th minute after Martinez appeared to be tripped by Larrys Mabiala, but referee Alan Kelly consulted with the Video Assistant Referee and denied the pleas.

Miguel Almiron put a charge into the crowd in the 29th minute when he attempted a flying side volley off a cross from Greg Garza. His shot, which wasn’t hit as well as he would have liked, was palmed away by Jeff Attinella.

>> On AJC.com: Euphoric fans: ‘We did it. We really did it.’

Atlanta United broke through in the 39th minute on a goal by Martinez. The play started with a sliding tackle by Michael Parkhurst of Jeremy Ebobisse that forced the ball back toward Portland’s goal. Parkhurst said that Brad Guzan told him that when Ebobisse moves toward the ball, he likes to go to his right to set play inside of his left foot. Parkhurst said he saw him starting to do that, so he slid to try to bock the pass.

“Josef did the rest from there and did what he always does and it ended up in the back of the net,” Parkhurst said.

Timbers centerback Liam Ridgewell reached out his right leg to try to stop the ball from rolling past but couldn’t. As he has done often the past two seasons, Martinez pounced. He dribbled to his right and waited on Atinella to commit before taking one more dribble to his right and scoring with his right foot. It was Martinez’s 35th goal this season, extending his MLS record for scoring.

As they have done throughout the playoffs, the Timbers fought back and almost tied the score in the 42nd minute, but Brad Guzan dove to his right to stop Ebobisse’s point-blank header in the 42nd minute.

Portland kept applying pressure, but it was Atlanta United which broke through for a crucial second goal.

A free kick whipped in by Almiron skimmed off the top of Martinez’s head and to the foot of Escobar, whose sliding one-timer gave the Five Stripes a 2-0 lead in the 54th minute. It was Escobar’s second goal in the playoffs and third this season. Almiron and Martinez were given assists. Martinez was named the game’s MVP.

“You started to sense that they tossed in the towel a little bit,” Guzan said. “The first goal is always going to be massive one way for another. To get the first one was big. To get the second one, the second one really broke their backs.”

>> Read more trending news 

The title was secured by a dominating series of performances in the playoffs, culminating with Atlanta United’s third shutout in five postseason games. The team finished the season by going 11-2-4 at home during the regular season and 3-0-0 in the postseason with just two goals allowed.

“We never suffered, we were never uncomfortable,” Martino said. 

Atlanta United’s players sensed that the Timbers weren’t going to be able to recreate the road magic that carried them in the knockout round game at Dallas, and the series against Seattle and at Sporting KC.

“I thought we were the better team,” Atlanta United’s Julian Gressel said. “We were in the game more than Portland was.”

Now, Atlanta United is a champion.

“If I had to choose a way to leave somewhere, this is the best way,” Martino said.

Titans RB Derrick Henry ties NFL mark with 99-yard touchdown run 

Tennessee Titans running back Derrick Henry set a team record and tied a National Football League mark with a 99-yard touchdown run during Thursday night’s game against the Jacksonville Jaguars, The Tennessean reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Henry, who ran for a franchise-record 238 yards and four touchdowns in the Titans’ 30-9 victory against the Jaguars, tied the NFL mark for the longest touchdown run from scrimmage, set Jan. 3, 1983, by Dallas Cowboys star Tony Dorsett against the Minnesota Vikings. 

After the Titans stopped Jacksonville on a goal-line stand in the second quarter, Henry took a handoff at the 1-yard line and broke through the middle. He veered to his left, stiff-arming a pair of Jaguars defenders as he rumbled down the sidelines. 

Henry’s 238 yards rushing broke the franchise record set on Nov. 1, 2009, when Chris Johnson gained 228 yards against Jacksonville. His 99-yard run broke the team mark set by Johnson, who broke off a 94-yard run against the New York Jets on Dec. 17, 2012, The Tennessean reported.

Both Johnson and Dorsett paid tribute to Henry’s effort on Twitter:

Former MLB players Jose Castillo, Luis Valbuena die in car crash 

Two former major-league baseball players were killed in an automobile accident Thursday night after playing a winter league game in Venezuela, the Los Angeles Times reported.

>> Read more trending news 

Cardenales de Lara teammates Jose Castillo, 37, and Luis Valbuena, 33, were returning to Barquisimeto with another former major-leaguer, Carlos Rivero, after a game in Caracas when their car collided with a sliding rock, ESPN reported.

Rivero's chauffeur veered off the road while trying to avoid the rock, according to an article from BeisbolPlay.com. While Rivero and the driver survived the wreck, a police report said Castillo and Valbuena died after being ejected from the vehicle, the Times reported.

Castillo played in the majors from 2004 to 2008 with the Pittsburgh Pirates, San Francisco Giants and Houston Astros. Valbuena played 11 seasons with the Seattle Mariners, Cleveland Indians, Chicago Cubs, the Astros and the Los Angeles Angels.

Ex-NFL player Brandon Browner gets 8 years in prison in attempted murder case

Former Seattle Seahawks and New England Patriots cornerback Brandon Browner was sentenced to eight years in state prison after pleading no contest to one count of attempted murder and two misdemeanor counts of cruelty to a child in a negotiated plea agreement, KIRO-TV confirmed with the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office on Tuesday. 

>> On KIRO7.com: Former Seahawks' CB Brandon Browner sentenced to 8 years in state prison

The District Attorney's Office told KIRO that in addition to the sentence, Los Angeles County Superior Court Judge Bruce F. Marrs issued a 10-year protective stay-away order for the victim and her two children. 

>> Read more trending news 

Browner's arrest

Browner was arrested in July near Azusa, California, and charged with attempted murder, first-degree residential robbery and other counts, according to the La Verne Police Department. 

Police said they originally responded to reports of a male who broke into a residence through a locked window

The 33-year-old Browner was identified as the suspect, and police said he fled the scene before officers arrived. 

"The investigation determined Browner physically forced the victim back into her residence when she attempted to flee. He then physically harmed and made threats to kill the victim while in the residence," according to the La Verne Police Department. 

Police also said Browner took a Rolex watch, valued at approximately $20,000, from the victim before fleeing the residence. 

Browner was located within hours of the incident and taken into custody, authorities said.

Browner's background

Browner, a Los Angeles native, played college football at Oregon State. After going undrafted in 2005, Browner spent the 2005 NFL season on injured reserve with the Denver Broncos. 

From 2007-2011, Browner played for the Calgary Stampeders in the Canadian Football League. 

In 2011, Browner returned to the NFL and signed with the Seattle Seahawks. Browner started 36 games for the Seahawks from 2011-2013. 

Browner left Seattle to join the New England Patriots, where he won Super Bowl XLIX over the Seattle Seahawks.

In 2015, Browner joined the New Orleans Saints where he started 16 games at cornerback. 

Browner signed a one-year deal to return to Seattle in April 2016, but he was released during training camp. 

NHL approves expansion team for Seattle

The National Hockey League officially approved an expansion team for Seattle on Tuesday, but the first game at KeyArena may happen a year later than first thought.

>> Read more trending news 

As expected, the NHL Board of Governors, made up of 31 team owners from the United States and Canada, voted for Seattle to get the NHL’s 32nd franchise.

A year ago this week, Seattle Mayor Jenny Durkan announced the NHL would consider taking an expansion application from Seattle.

Ten months after that, NHL Commissioner Gary Bettman and an executive committee recommended Seattle be approved for a team. The deal was officially sealed in a Tuesday morning board vote in Sea Island, Georgia.

Durkan led the city's pitch for the NHL to choose Seattle, and it worked. 

The mayor said her effort came from her heart as a hockey fan. She was one of the 25,000-plus fans who scrambled to put a down payment on tickets online.

Now that the decision is official, the Seattle ownership group will need to wire a $100 million down payment to the NHL league office in New York, but that's only part of the record $650 million the group will have to pay the NHL as a franchise fee to get a team.

“The money is sitting in an outbox in the back, and there’s a big red button next to it, and the second the Board of Governors says yes, we get to hit send, and they get their money,” Len Potter with Seattle NHL joked.

But fans should not save the date for the puck to drop at the KeyArena in 2020, as NHL Seattle had projected.

The arena could not legally be renovated until the NHL voted yes, and even if crews work around the clock starting Wednesday, officials say the arena might not be NHL ready until 2021.

If the league forced Seattle to play in 2020, the team would have to start the first few weeks on the road.

"There's some pretty smart hockey advisors saying, 'If you can get an additional year to build this, you'll do right by your fans.' So, we're really good with any outcome, and I think the key issue is convincing the other owners that 2020 is practical," said NHL Seattle CEO Leiweke.

Waiting to start until 2021 would give workers more time to finish and polish the $700 million renovation. Officials say it would also give owners extra time to scout which NHL players they'd want to draft.

Meanwhile, in October, NHL Seattle outlined plans for a 180,000-square-foot practice facility on the property of Northgate Mall.

It will have team offices and a practice rink, plus two more rinks for community events such as youth hockey.

Leiweke said practice facilities matter for recruiting top players and winning championships.

"The ultimate dream of this facility is bringing the Cup back to Seattle," Leiweke said.

Like the $700 million rebuild of KeyArena, the $70 million practice facility will be privately financed.

It's planned for the east side of the Northgate Mall property and is slated to be completed in 2021.


Violent confrontation between Pittsburgh Steelers fans goes viral

A violent confrontation between two Pittsburgh Steelers fans at Sunday night's game against the Los Angeles Chargers at Heinz Field has gone viral. 

>> Read more trending news 

The video, captured by another Steelers fan, shows two men exchanging words and one of the men head-butting the other. 

Kate Brendel, who recorded the video on Facebook and also posted it on Twitter, said she couldn’t believe how awesome her seats were, so she was documenting her view throughout the game.

She noticed the two men started arguing with one another, and it got worse as the night progressed.

She said she never thought it would reach the point it did, but Heinz Field security did an incredible job removing all of the people involved in the fight by acting fast and effectively.

She said fans around the fight laughed it off. Brendal said it’s not a true representation of all Steelers fans.

“I didn’t expect this ... it was two Steelers fans. If it was the opposite team maybe it would’ve been better ... not better ... but like more understanding ... two Steelers fans going at it?! Like what?” Brendel said.

Brendel said the incident wasn’t scary but it was shocking.

Pittsburgh public safety officials said there were no reports or arrests as a result of this incident. If citations were given, that information may not come out for a while.

Nelly meets Bryce Harper, urges slugger to sign with Cardinals

Nelly tried his legendary rap to convince free-agent slugger Bryce Harper to sign with the St. Louis Cardinals, the Post-Dispatch reported.

>> Read more trending news 

The rapper, from St. Louis, held a concert in Las Vegas that was attended by the Washington Nationals star and his wife. 

Nelly and Harper met after the concert, and Nelly recorded a video on Instagram with the most coveted free agent of the baseball offseason, the Post-Dispatch reported.

“Cardinal fans, yo, I'm here with the hottest free agent to be, my man Bryce Harper,” Nelly said. “Listen, Bill, Mr. DeWitt (president of the Cardinals), call me! I got this! I'm doing all the negotiations! He just needed a little convincing, man!”

Then Harper chimed in: “They don't know!”

Nelly responded by saying: “He know!”

Harper and the Nationals agreed on a $21.65 million deal in 2018, MLB.com reported. Harper reportedly rejected a 10-year deal worth $300 million, according to Bleacher Report. Teams mentioned as having interest in Harper include deep-pocket franchises such as the Cubs, Dodgers, Yankees, Angels and Phillies, MLB.com reported.

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