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The Boston researcher who examined the brain of former football star Aaron Hernandez says it showed the most damage her team had seen in an athlete so young.

Hernandez, whose on-field performance for the New England Patriots earned him a $40 million contract in 2012, hanged himself in a prison cell earlier this year while serving a life sentence for murder. He was 27 years old.

Football Legend Y.A. Tittle Dies At 90

Oct 10, 2017

Yelberton Abraham Tittle, better known as Y.A. Tittle, has died at age 90. He passed away Sunday night at Stanford Hospital near his home in Atherton, Calif.

Tittle was a great quarterback for Louisiana State University and went on to play 17 seasons of pro football. His greatest success was in New York when he led the Giants to three division titles in four years. In 1954, he became the first pro football player to be featured on the cover of Sports Illustrated.

Tittle never won a championship, but as The Associated Press reports:

Two weeks ago he locked arms and knelt with his players before the national anthem, then stood with them as it played. Now, Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones says players who "disrespect the flag," won't take the field.

Frankie Graziano / WNPR

A Killingly High School football player returned to the field last week, one year after cancer took away what was supposed to be his senior season.

Editor's note: This story contains language that some might find offensive.

Seattle Seahawks star defensive end Michael Bennett says he is considering filing a civil rights lawsuit against Las Vegas police after a harrowing encounter last month.

Frankie Graziano / WNPR

A study published last month in the Journal of the American Medical Association found chronic traumatic encephalopathy in 48 of 53 -- 91 percent -- of the donated brains of deceased college football players.

Jeffrey Beall / Wikimedia Commons

Former University of Connecticut quarterback Dan Orlovsky is going back to the National Football League for a 13th season.

A Massachusetts judge has thrown out the murder conviction of Aaron Hernandez because the former NFL star died in prison before his appeal could be heard. The ruling comes nearly three weeks after Hernandez killed himself.

Arturo Pardavila III / flickr creative commons

On May 2, 2016, with a 2-2 draw between Tottenham and Chelsea, Leicester City clinched the league title for the first time in their 132-year history. The BBC called it "one of the greatest sporting stories of all time." Leicester were 5,000-to-1 underdogs before the Premier League season started.

Family and friends of former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez gathered for a private funeral in his hometown of Bristol, Connecticut, on Monday.

Confronting Youth Homelessness

Feb 6, 2017
Steve Hardy / Creative Commons

Year after year, hundreds of thousands of people find themselves homeless in the United States — including the young.

This hour, we explore local efforts to help homeless youth in Connecticut. What kinds of programs are out there to help them to not only find housing but employment, too?

After three quarters, this game looked for all the world like a rout by the Atlanta Falcons. They were up 28-9. Their quarterback Matt Ryan, who just won the regular season MVP on Saturday night, was playing like an unstoppable Super Bowl MVP, too.

Then, something unbelievable happened: The New England Patriots came back.

Ryan Caron King / WNPR

For senior high school football players, National Signing Day is a big deal. It's the day they make a binding commitment to an NCAA program. And this week, WNPR was there as three Connecticut students made their choices known. 

Frankie Graziano

Four days after Bob Diaco was relieved of his head coaching duties as head coach of UConn's football team, the University of Connecticut introduced his replacement at Pratt and Whitney Stadium in East Hartford on Friday. The program’s winningest coach, Randy Edsall, officially returned for a second stint as head coach of UConn Football.

Alexander Jonesi / Creative Commons

The University of Connecticut has found a replacement for former coach Bob Diaco less than two days after the school announced he was relieved of his duties. Randy Edsall will return to navigate the program in 2017, according to a Wednesday news release. 

UConn will not be moving to the Big 12 after all. After months of speculation, the athletic conference decided Monday to nix plans for expansion, dashing the hopes of UConn and 10 other schools who were under consideration to join.

Saying it wants to make football safer for current and future athletes, the NFL is pledging to spend $100 million for "independent medical research and engineering advancements." A main goal will be to prevent and treat head injuries.

Announcing the pledge Wednesday, NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said it is in addition to the $100 million the league already committed toward medical research of brain injuries and chronic traumatic encephalopathy, the progressive degenerative disease that has been found in football players.

John Morgan / Creative Commons

The presidential debates are scheduled to begin this month with the first scheduled for September 26 at Hofstra University in Long Island. Donald Trump announced this weekend that yes, he would participate -now that he approves of the moderators chosen to referee the debates. 

The University of Connecticut appears to be on the short list of schools being considered to join the Big 12 Athletic Conference. Since the Big 12 voted earlier this summer to explore an expansion, 20 schools have emerged as possible candidates, including Brigham Young University, the University of Cincinnati, Boise State, and UConn.

A federal appeals court has reinstated Tom Brady's four-game suspension over his involvement in the "Deflategate" scandal.

In a 2-1 decision, a three-judge panel of the 2nd U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals overturned a lower court ruling that found NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell was not fair when he handed down the suspension.

frankieleon / Creative Commons

It's been almost a year and a half since the "Deflategate" scandal emerged as a national sports storyline. And while punishments have been handed down, appealed, and seemingly resolved, a group of New England Patriots fans say the story isn't over yet.

A discussion on Capitol Hill about concussion research brought a startling moment Monday, as an NFL executive acknowledged for the first time that football has been linked to a degenerative brain disease.

Jeff Miller, the NFL's executive vice president for health and safety, admitted the connection when he was asked about research by Boston University neuropathologist Dr. Ann McKee, who has reported finding signs of chronic traumatic encephalopathy in the brains of 90 out of 94 former pro football players — and 45 out of 55 former college players.

Mtn Dew / YouTube

You may have heard there was some big football game on Sunday. You may have heard that the Denver Broncos won, 24 to 10. You may have heard that Beyoncé upstaged Coldplay's halftime show or that Lady Gaga’s national anthem was "fabulous."

But our guess is you've also probably now heard of something called a, um, puppymonkeybaby.

It was a tale of two defenses — and two very divergent outcomes — in the NFL's conference championship games Sunday.

In the NFC, the Carolina Panthers stormed their way to a commanding victory over the Arizona Cardinals. Earlier in the day, in the AFC, the Denver Broncos narrowly survived a late-game push from the New England Patriots to emerge with a win.

The victories mean conference titles for the Panthers and the Broncos — and, more importantly, a trip to the Super Bowl for both teams.

Wikimedia Commons

How disgraceful was last weekend's Cincinnati Bengals/Pittsburgh Steelers game? Well, Boomer Esiason, a former Bengals quarterback, used that word - disgraceful - to describe his old team and its fans. Rush Limbaugh, not a noted opponent of violence, used the word "disgrace" twice to describe the flagrant thuggery on the field.

Alabama beat Clemson 45-40 in Monday night's College Football Playoff National Championship, giving the Crimson Tide their fourth title in seven seasons. Heisman-winning running back Derrick Henry ran for 158 yards and scored three touchdowns for Alabama.

It was a remarkably high-scoring game for the teams — Alabama had allowed an average of 13.4 points coming into the game, while Clemson had allowed 20 points per game.

It's unusual to hear a current NFL player criticize the league, let alone talk frankly about its handling of concussions or its response to domestic violence scandals.

But a new book does just that. It's called NFL Confidential, a memoir of the 2014 football season written by a player who goes only by Johnny Anonymous.

The player spoke with All Things Considered host Audie Cornish this week, after NPR confirmed his identity before the interview.

He says he loves playing the game but thinks the NFL is manipulative and exploitative.

Bill Streicher / USA TODAY Sports

The University of Massachusetts has announced a deal that will have New England's three FBS football programs facing each other several times over the next five seasons. 

Minutes after hitting one of the biggest field goals of his career, Patriots kicker Stephen Gostkowski stood at his postgame press conference and revealed his secret to staying calm under pressure.

Well, part of his secret:

“I sing a song in my head,” he said.

“What song?” reporters asked.

Updated 6:10 p.m. ET

Amid continued pressure, the University of Missouri System President Tim Wolfe and the chancellor of the Columbia campus, R. Bowen Loftin, both tendered their resignations on Monday.

Wolfe announced his resignation this morning and by late afternoon, Loftin had followed suit, saying he would leave his post as chancellor at the end of this year.

"I take full responsibility for this frustration, and I take full responsibility for the inaction that has occurred," Wolfe said.

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