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    Seahawks coach Pete Carroll wanted to be talking about football matters — Seattle's recommitment to the run game, the addition of two new coordinators, almost anything to do with what happens between the lines. Instead, the league's oldest coach has spent the past few days processing and discussing the league's new mandate that players on the field stand for the national anthem. Carroll, his players and those around the NFL are now trying to figure out how to tackle the polarizing topic in the locker room. 'We're going to have to deal with that,' Carroll said. 'I was kind of liking the way it was going and so now it's kind of taken out of the control from the coach and the players and the locker room to a certain extent, so we're going to have to deal with that. In time, we'll figure it out.' Players from Seattle, Buffalo, Denver and New Orleans were among those grappling with how to move forward following the league's announcement Wednesday of a new national anthem policy, which will fine teams if players on the field are not standing for the anthem. Players wishing to continue demonstrations like the kneeling movement sparked by Colin Kaepernick to protest social injustice will be allowed to remain in the locker room during the anthem. Seattle's Doug Baldwin had the most striking comments, directed at both the league and President Donald Trump after his remarks to 'Fox & Friends' on Thursday saying 'maybe you shouldn't be in the country' if you don't stand for the anthem. 'He's an idiot. Plain and simple,' Baldwin said. 'I respect the man because he's a human being first and foremost, but he's just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn't follow his viewpoints or his constituents viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It's not very American like, actually, to me. It's not very patriotic. It's not what this country was founded upon. It's kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.' Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners' decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet. 'Pretty much. I think that's part of it. It seems that way,' Wilson said. 'But I think a policy right or wrong is not going to fix our problems.' The new policy allows teams to adopt their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests. Players are also frustrated the league didn't consult with the players' association before announcing the policy. 'I mean, they weren't ever going to engage us anyway. When you really think about it, why would we have a say-so?' Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall said. 'I think they should have, right, but I guess they don't look at us like that, to have a say-so or input in this policy.' Others around the league didn't see the policy as a potential issue. 'I'm really not too worried about it. I would expect that everybody's gonna be out there with their hand over their heart, showing respect to the flag and to the country,' New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy. His father served in the military, but he also understands why players have been protesting. 'I just think that when you love something — you care about it — you want to work to get it right. I love my children. When they do wrong things, I'm going to let them know they're doing wrong things. I'm not just going to sweep it under the rug because I love them,' Davis said. 'I think that's the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it's right or wrong, you're going to take the side of your country. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it (out) when it's wrong. 'The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. That's kind of gotten misconstrued at times. But it's important for people to understand that.' The decision by the owners was an attempt to quell a firestorm by moving protests away from the public eye and potentially lure back disgruntled fans. But in the process they may have disgruntled their employees and rekindled what appeared to be an issue that was dying down. 'With this policy, with the inflammatory statement that Roger Goodell put out (Wednesday) again you opened the door for response and again to my point earlier, I think they missed it on that one,' Baldwin said. ___ AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report. ___ For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • The Houston Rockets are so full of physical defenders that Golden State coach Steve Kerr said many look like they could play football. And with three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year J.J. Watt watching from a courtside seat Thursday night, this team long known for its powerful offense relied again on its defense to beat the Warriors 98-94 and take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals. 'Both teams are playing their guys heavy minutes so shots will fall or not,' James Harden said. 'But I think whoever can buckle down and get stops consecutively and create opportunities with their defense is going to win or have a chance at winning games. 'The last two games, we've done that.' Indeed. The Rockets bounced back from an embarrassing 41-point loss in Game 3, when Golden State scored 126 points, to hold the Warriors to fewer than 100 points in two straight wins. Houston's stingy defense helped the Rockets come out on top on a night when Harden, the MVP front-runner, was 0 for 11 on 3-pointers. Critics of Mike D'Antoni's teams often said they were too focused on offense and not good enough on defense. It looks like that's changed now — against a team with four All-Stars in its starting lineup. 'Ninety-four points for a team like that, the guys are trying to find a way and they did,' D'Antoni said. The Rockets have kept the Warriors from moving the ball the way they're accustomed to, crowding them and forcing them into playing more isolation- style. They've also been relentless at throwing bodies at their shooters, and have often used bigger players to harass Stephen Curry to try and wear him down. Houston has forced the Warriors into 34 turnovers combined and limited them to 19 total 3-pointers in the last two games. The Warriors and Rockets were first and second in the NBA in points per game during the regular season, averaging 113.5 and 112.4, respectively. Golden State has managed just over 107 points a game in this series, and Houston has held the defending champions to 97 points in its three wins. Curry noted that both teams have elevated their defenses in this series. 'It's been high level,' he said. 'Nothing's easy out there on either side.' He shook his head at the fact neither team has broken 100 points in the last two games. 'I think (if you) guessed what the final score would be between the Rockets and Warriors, and neither team getting to 100 two straight games, don't know what the odds (would be) on that,' he said. 'Defense is high right now.' While everyone has been pitching in, the tone on defense, especially in these last two games, has been set by the aggressive play of P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza, and Clint Capela's presence at the rim. Tucker knows that most people believe the way to beat the Warriors is to outscore them in a shootout. The Rockets have shown that energy and effort on the defensive end are a better formula for getting it done. 'Anybody says to beat Golden State they talk about scoring 120, 130 points,' Tucker said. 'We just feel like we play defense, (lock) down and make it tough for them.' And if the Rockets are able to do that in Game 6 on Saturday night they'll be on the way to their first NBA Finals since winning consecutive titles in 1994-95. ___ More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • President Donald Trump has granted a rare posthumous pardon to boxing's first black heavyweight champion, clearing Jack Johnson's name more than 100 years after what many see as his racially charged conviction. 'I am taking this very righteous step, I believe, to correct a wrong that occurred in our history and to honor a truly legendary boxing champion,' Trump said Thursday during an Oval Office ceremony. He was joined by WBC heavyweight champion Deontay Wilder, retired heavyweight titleholder Lennox Lewis and actor Sylvester Stallone, whom Trump credited with championing the pardon. Trump said Johnson had served 10 months in prison 'for what many view as a racially-motivated injustice.' 'It's my honor to do it. It's about time,' the president said. Johnson, a prominent athlete who crossed over into popular culture decades ago with biographies, dramas and documentaries, was convicted in 1913 by an all-white jury for violating the Mann Act for traveling with his white girlfriend. That law made it illegal to transport women across state lines for 'immoral' purposes.' Trump had tweeted in late April that Stallone, a longtime friend, had brought Johnson's story to his attention in a phone call. 'His trials and tribulations were great, his life complex and controversial. Others have looked at this over the years, most thought it would be done, but yes, I am considering a Full Pardon!' Trump wrote then. The Oval Office ceremony was a celebratory scene, bringing together boxing greats past, present and fictional. The guests brought with them a colorful boxing championship belt, which sat front and center on the president's Resolute Desk as he spoke. At one point, Trump jokingly asked Lewis whether he could 'take Deontay in a fight' if he really started working out. Lewis said Johnson had been an inspiration to him personally, while Stallone said Johnson had served as the basis of the character Apollo Creed in his 'Rocky' films. 'This has been a long time coming,' he said. Trump has a personal history with the sport, and hosted matches in the 1990s at his hotels. After Johnson's conviction, he spent seven years as a fugitive, but eventually returned to the U.S. and turned himself in. He served about a year in federal prison and was released in 1921. He died in 1946 in an auto crash. His great-great niece, Linda E. Haywood, had pressed Trump for a posthumous pardon, and Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and former Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., had promoted Johnson's case for years. The son of former slaves, Johnson defeated Tommy Burns for the heavyweight title in 1908 at a time when blacks and whites rarely entered the same ring. He then beat a series of 'great white hopes,' culminating in 1910 with the undefeated former champion, James J. Jeffries. McCain previously told The Associated Press that Johnson 'was a boxing legend and pioneer whose career and reputation were ruined by a racially charged conviction more than a century ago.' McCain, who is often at odds with Trump, praised him late Thursday for the pardon. 'I applaud President Trump for issuing a posthumous pardon of boxing legend Jack Johnson, whose reputation was ruined by a racially charged conviction over a century ago,' he said in a tweet. 'For years, Congress has overwhelmingly supported legislation calling on multiple U.S. presidents to right this historical wrong and restore this great athlete's legacy. President Trump's action today finally closes a shameful chapter in our nation's history and marks a milestone that the American people can and should be proud of.' Haywood, who joined Trump in the Oval Office, said her great-great uncle's conviction had led her family members to live in shame of his legacy. 'For so long, my family was deeply ashamed that my uncle went to prison,' she told Trump, adding that she didn't find they were related until she was 12 years old. 'By this pardon being issued, that would help to rewrite history and erase the shame and the humiliation that my family felt for my uncle, a great hero,' she said. Posthumous pardons are rare, but not unprecedented. President Bill Clinton pardoned Henry O. Flipper, the first African-American officer to lead the Buffalo Soldiers of the 10th Cavalry Regiment during the Civil War. President George W. Bush pardoned Charles Winters, an American volunteer in the Arab-Israeli War convicted of violating the U.S. Neutrality Acts in 1949. Haywood had wanted Barack Obama, the nation's first black president, to pardon Johnson, but Justice Department policy says 'processing posthumous pardon petitions is grounded in the belief that the time of the officials involved in the clemency process is better spent on the pardon and commutation requests of living persons.' The Justice Department makes decisions on potential pardons through an application process and typically makes recommendations to the president. The Justice Department's general policy is to not accept applications for posthumous pardons for federal convictions, according to the department's website. But Trump has shown a willingness to work around the DOJ process in the past. ___ Associated Press writer Zeke Miller contributed to this report.
  • Chris Paul's grit and veteran leadership have pushed the Golden State Warriors to the brink of elimination. Now the Houston Rockets must wait to see if his injured leg is strong enough to help them take one last step to the NBA Finals. Eric Gordon came off the bench to score 24 points and his steal on Golden State's last possession secured a 98-94 victory Thursday night that gave the Rockets a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference finals. But the victory came with a cost, as Paul had to leave the game in the final minute with a right hamstring injury that could keep him out of Game 6. 'His spirits aren't great,' coach Mike D'Antoni said. 'He wanted to be out there, and for sure he's worried ... we'll see tomorrow how it goes.' Paul was receiving treatment after the game and did not speak to reporters. The Rockets head to Oakland for Game 6 on Saturday night a win away from knocking off the defending champions and advancing to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning back-to-back titles in 1994-95. Kevin Durant scored 29 points for the Warriors, who lost in Game 5 of a playoff series for just the second time since 2015. Just like Cleveland in the East, a run of three straight trips to the championship round is on the verge of ending. 'We haven't been in this position before ... so it's a chapter we need to figure out and finish the story,' Stephen Curry said. The Rockets won a second straight defensive struggle between the two potent offenses, leaving the Warriors a loss from missing the NBA Finals for the first time since 2014. Draymond Green made a 3-pointer with just over minute left to get Golden State within one. Harden, who was 0 for 11 on 3s, missed his last one with less than 30 seconds left, giving the Warriors the ball back. Curry missed a floater and Trevor Ariza grabbed the rebound and was fouled with 10 seconds left. But he made just one of two free throws to give the Warriors another chance. But Gordon came up with his steal when Green lost control in the lane and added two free throws with 2.4 seconds left to put it away. Green was asked what was supposed to happen on the play. 'We was supposed to score,' he said. 'I lost the ball ... not much more to it than that.' Harden scoffed at a reporter who questioned him about his struggles from long range in the last two games, where he's gone a combined 3 for 22. 'Who cares,' he said. 'I'm just missing shots, but we're winning.' Klay Thompson shook off a knee injury that had his status for this game in question to score 23 points and Curry added 22. A bruised left knee kept Andre Iguodala out for the second straight game, and Kevon Looney started in his place. After losing Game 1 of the series, the Rockets made the best of home-court advantage this time, thrilling a sellout crowd that included Justin Timberlake, Houston Texans star J.J. Watt and rapper Travis Scott. It's Houston's second straight win in the series after snapping Golden State's NBA playoff-record, 16-game home winning streak with a 95-92 victory on Tuesday night. Golden State led by one to start the fourth before Paul got going, scoring seven points to power a 10-5 run that gave the Rockets an 81-77 lead with about 9 1/2 minutes left. Thompson made a 3-pointer after that and then officials reviewed Paul's first basket of the quarter and ruled he got it off after the shot clock expired, leaving the Warriors ahead 80-79. The Rockets were clinging to a one-point lead with about seven minutes left when Durant fouled Gordon on a 3-point attempt, losing one of his shoes in the process. Gordon made all three free throws to start a 7-2 spurt that extended the lead to 88-82 midway through the quarter. TIP-INS Warriors: Coach Steve Kerr was unsure Thursday if Iguodala would be able to return for Game 6. 'He's dying to play, but he's not healthy enough,' Kerr said. 'We'll just continue to take it day to day.'... Curry made four free throws to tie Rick Barry for most free throws made in the playoffs in franchise history with 378. ... Golden State had 18 turnovers. Rockets: Clint Capela had 12 points and 14 rebounds for his seventh double-double this postseason. ... Houston made 13 of 43 3-pointers, led by four from Gordon. SANTA FE STRONG The Rockets honored the 10 people killed in last week's school shooting in Santa Fe, Texas, before the game, with the school's choir singing the national anthem and team owner Tilman Fertitta wearing a 'Santa Fe Strong' T-shirt, before Houston scored the game's first six points in a first half where the team led by as many as 11. Houston also wore rectangular patches on its jerseys that read: 'Santa Fe HS,' to remember those affected by the tragedy. 'We wanted to come out and give them light, put smiles on their faces (and) clear their minds a little bit,' Harden said. UP NEXT After Game 6 on Saturday, the Rockets would host Game 7 on Monday if necessary.
  • Charlie Morton remained unbeaten this season — and knew where to place the credit for his latest victory. Morton (7-0) pitched six solid innings, Alex Bregman and Jake Marisnick hit three-run homers and the Houston Astros defeated the Cleveland Indians 8-2. 'I felt like I was along for the ride,' Morton said. 'It was just one of those days for me. They picked me up all night.' The right-hander allowed two runs and five hits while extending his career-best winning streak to 10 games. Morton, who moved into a tie for the AL lead in wins, hasn't lost since Sept. 9, 2017 against Oakland. He walked three and struck out five. Morton fell behind after Michael Brantley's two-run single in the third, but his offense gave him plenty of support. Houston scored three runs in the fifth and added five in the sixth to put the game away. 'It was an absolute team win,' said Morton. 'It's pretty fun to be a part of this special team.' The defending World Series champions have won four straight and taken three of four from Cleveland this season. 'These guys are really good,' Indians manager Terry Francona said. 'Even last year, before they won the World Series, the way they played the game really stood out. They're fun to play, not because you think you're going to push them around, but because they play so well.' Mike Clevinger (3-2) opened with four scoreless innings, but couldn't hold a 2-0 lead in the fifth. Bregman capped the inning with his fifth homer over the 19-foot high wall in left field that put Houston ahead. He added an RBI double in the sixth. Marisnick, recalled from the minors Wednesday, homered to straightaway center in the sixth off Neil Ramirez. Marisnick was sent to Triple-A Fresno on May 15 and called up again when outfielder Josh Reddick went on the 10-day disabled list with a leg infection. Marisnick, batting .141 going into the game, also singled in the fifth but was picked off first by Clevinger. Houston's go-ahead rally came with two outs in the fifth. Clevinger hit Tony Kemp with an 0-2 pitch and George Springer drew a four-pitch walk. Pitching coach Carl Willis visited Clevinger, but Bregman then jumped on a hanging breaking pitch and Houston had the lead. Clevinger allowed five runs in 5 1/3 innings. The right-hander was pulled with two on in the sixth, but pinch-hitter Max Stassi's single off Tyler Olson drove in a run before Marisnick homered. Brantley singled up the middle in the third to give Cleveland a 2-0 lead. Roberto Perez led off with a single and took third on Francisco Lindor's double. Brantley is second in the AL in batting with a .335 average and extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He began the season on the disabled list following ankle surgery in October. VISIONARY Astros manager A.J. Hinch said Springer predicted a home run when Marisnick came up in the sixth. 'There was a big roar in the dugout when Jake did that because George called it,' Hinch said. 'Now, George makes a whole lot of other calls that don't come close to happening, but that one he got right.' BRIEF SUMMATION Clevinger's description of the home run pitch he threw to Bregman was short and to the point. 'Not going to look too deep into it besides I made a really bad pitch in a really bad spot,' he said. HE'S SAFE A batboy tripped and fell as he neared home plate with extra baseballs for umpire Bill Welke in the second inning. Welke quickly gave the safe sign and the crowd laughed as the batboy went back to the dugout. TRAINER'S ROOM Astros: OF Derek Fisher (gastrointestinal discomfort), who has been on the 10-day disabled list since May 19, could begin a minor league rehab assignment this weekend. Indians: Cleveland has four outfielders on the 10-day DL. Lonnie Chisenhall (strained right calf) will continue his minor league rehab assignment Friday. He's played two games at Triple-A Columbus. ... Bradley Zimmer (left rib contusion) is expected to begin a rehab assignment this weekend. ... Brandon Guyer (strained neck) could join a minor league team soon before being activated. ... Tyler Naquin (strained left hamstring) has resumed baseball activities. UP NEXT LHP Dallas Keuchel (3-6, 3.43 ERA) takes on RHP Corey Kluber (7-2, 2.36 ERA) in a rematch of their May 19 game in Houston. Kluber became the first AL pitcher to reach seven wins this season in Cleveland's 5-4 victory while Keuchel got the loss, allowing four runs in five innings. ___ More AP baseball: https://apnews.com/tag/MLBbaseball
  • Amy Olson crossed paths with her coach, Ron Stockton, on her walk to the 18th tee at the Volvik Championship. 'Make it another even $20,' Stockton said. The coach was already prepared to give his client $35 for making seven birdies — $5 each — and wanted to take her mind off the bogey she just had at 17. Olson closed the first round with a 6-under 66, putting her into the lead she ended up sharing later Thursday with Moriya Jutanugarn , Caroline Masson and Danielle Kang. Do small, cash incentives really help a professional golfer? 'Absolutely,' said Olson, who graduated from North Dakota State with an accounting degree. 'He'll tell you I'm a little bit of a hustler there.' Olson will have to keep making birdies — and petty cash — to hold her position at Travis Pointe Country Club. Jessica Korda, Minjee Lee, Nasa Hataoka, Lindy Duncan, Morgan Pressel, Megan Khang and Jodi Ewart Shadoff were a stroke back at 67 and six others were to shots back. Ariya Jutanugarn, the Kingsmill Championship winner last week in Virginia, opened with a 69. The Jutanugarn sisters are Korda are among six players with a chance to become the LPGA Tour's first two-time winner this year. Moriya Jutanugarn won for the first time in six years on the circuit last month in Los Angeles. 'What I feel is more relaxed now,' she said. 'And, of course I like looking forward for my next one.' Olson, meanwhile, is hoping to extend the LPGA Tour's streak of having a new winner in each of its 12 tournaments this year. She knows how to win. It just has been a while since it has happened. Olson set an NCAA record with 20 wins, breaking the mark set by LPGA Hall of Famer Juli Inkster, but has struggled to have much success since turning pro in 2013. She has not finished best finish was a tie for seventh and that was four years ago. She was in contention to win the ANA Inspiration two months ago, but an even-par 72 dropped her into a tie for ninth place. If the North Dakota player wins the Volvik Championship, she will earn a spot in the U.S. Open at Shoal Creek in Alabama. If Olson finishes second or lower in the 144-player field, she will enjoy an off week with her husband, Grant, who coaches linebackers at Indiana State. 'I'll make the best of it either way,' she said. Olson was at her best in the opening round on the front nine, closing it with four birdies in a six-hole stretch. Her ball rolled just enough to slowly drop in the cup for birdie on the par-3, 184-yard 13th. She had three birdies in five-hole stretch on the back, nearly making her second hole-in-one of the year at the par-3, 180-yard 16th. A short putt gave her a two-stroke lead, but it was cut to one after pulling and misreading a 6-foot putt to bogey the 17th. Even if she doesn't hold on to win the tournament, Olson is on pace to have her best year on the LPGA Tour. She is No. 39 on the money list after finishing 97th, 119th, 81st and 80th in her first four years. 'Two years ago, I started working with Ron Stockton and whenever you make a change, it doesn't show up right away,' Olson said. 'That first year was tough, but we've turned a corner and I've just found a lot of consistency in the last year. And, it's a lot of fun to go out there and play golf a little more stress free.' Stockton helped her stay relaxed, walking along the ropes during her morning round. 'Maybe some people feel a little more pressure when their coach is there,' she said. 'I'm like, 'Great. If he sees the mistake, he knows what can go wrong and we can go fix it.' So, I like having his eyes on me.' ___ More AP golf: https://www.apnews.com/tag/apf-Golf ___ Follow Larry Lage on Twitter at http://twitter.com/larrylage
  • From across the diamond, Kansas City closer Kelvin Herrera marveled at the oldest player in the major leagues — Texas pitcher Bartolo Colon, who turned 45 Thursday. 'I used to have pictures of him in my bedroom,' Herrera recalled of his countryman, from his teenage days in the Dominican Republic. 'He was my idol.' Colon is pitching for his 11th big league club, having signed a minor league free-agent contract with Texas during spring training. He has made 10 appearances with the Rangers, including eight starts, and is 2-2 with a 3.51 ERA. Colon's 242 career wins rank 55th all time. He's one win short of tying Juan Marichal for the most career victory for a pitcher from the Dominican Republic. 'He's 45 and he's pitching and he does it very well,' Rangers manager Jeff Banister said. Colon's practice is to speak to the media only after his starts. He's scheduled to start Saturday night against the Royals. Listed at 5-foot-11 and 280 pounds, Colon was given the nickname 'Big Sexy' by Mets teammate Noah Syndergaard. 'I know that he keeps himself in much greater shape that most everybody thinks,' Banister said. 'There's a certain grace about him that you just don't expect, and humility that's just off the charts. I walk into the dugout after I've taken him out of the game, and every time he thanks me,' he said. Colon's first win for Texas was a 3-1 victory at Houston on April 15 in which he took a perfect game into the eighth inning before allowing a walk to Carlos Correa and a double to Josh Reddick. Rangers teammate Mike Minor, 15 years younger, notes that Colon has mastered one pitch — the sinker. 'He keeps throwing it over and over,' Minor said. 'It's not as easy as it sounds.
  • Golden State's Andre Iguodala will miss Game 5 of the Western Conference finals against the Houston Rockets on Thursday night. It will be the second straight game Iguodala has missed after he bruised his left knee in the fourth quarter of Sunday's game. Houston got a 95-92 win in Game 4 on Tuesday to even the series at 2-2 heading in Thursday's game. While Golden State will be without Iguodala, the Warriors will have Klay Thompson. Thompson had been listed as questionable leading up to the game because of a strained left knee. But coach Steve Kerr says that Thompson will play. ___ More AP basketball: https://apnews.com/tag/NBAbasketball
  • Seattle Seahawks wide receiver Doug Baldwin had harsh words for the comments made by President Donald Trump regarding the NFL's new national anthem policy on Thursday, as players began to process the new mandate from the league's owners. Baldwin has been a leading voice from the players' perspective for why there were protests last season even though Baldwin never participated in kneeling or sitting on the sidelines during 'The Star-Spangled Banner.' He spoke passionately after the Seahawks concluded their offseason workout and sounded offended by the president's comments to 'Fox & Friends' in an interview that aired Thursday saying, 'maybe you shouldn't be in the country' if you don't stand for the anthem. 'He's an idiot. Plain and simple,' Baldwin said. 'I respect the man because he's a human being first and foremost, but he's just being divisive, which is not surprising. It is what it is. But for him to say anybody who doesn't follow his viewpoints or his constituents viewpoints should be kicked out of the country is not very empathetic. It's not very American like, actually, to me. It's not very patriotic. It's not what this country was founded upon. It's kind of ironic to me the President of the United States is contradicting what our country is really built on.' Baldwin was among a handful of players that have expressed frustration and disappointment with the NFL mandating players must stand for the national anthem if they're on the field, though they now have the option of remaining in the locker room for the playing of the anthem and carry on the campaigns against social injustice. Even normally reserved Seattle quarterback Russell Wilson agreed with the sentiment that the owners' decision was a message to players to essentially be quiet. 'Pretty much. I think that's part of it. It seems that way,' Wilson said. 'But I think a policy right or wrong is not going to fix our problems.' The new policy allows teams to adopt their own workplace rules, which many players interpreted as a backhanded way of subjecting them to fines, suspensions or loss of jobs should they carry on with the protests. For Baldwin, who is among the players to have worked with the league on addressing social concerns and community programs, the anthem decision felt like a step back. 'If you're asking my opinion, I think that in conjunction with the NFL, the way that things were going, I felt on the Players Coalition side of things we were coming to an amicable agreement and relationship and working toward initiatives and causes that we wanted to see as players addressed, I thought that you would see the demonstrations and the issues within the NFL dissipate,' Baldwin said. 'But again, when you stoke the fire and inflame a gap that was really dissipating at the time, diffusing, you cause more problems. That's why I say I think the NFL missed it.' Others around the league didn't see the policy as a potential issue. 'I'm really not too worried about it. I would expect that everybody's gonna be out there with their hand over their heart, showing respect to the flag and to the country,' New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees said. But teammate Demario Davis had mixed emotions about the policy. His father served in the military, but he also understands why players have been protesting. 'I just think that when you love something — you care about it — you want to work to get it right. I love my children. When they do wrong things, I'm going to let them know they're doing wrong things. I'm not just going to sweep it under the rug because I love them,' Davis said. 'I think that's the difference between patriotism and nationalism. Nationalism is loving your country just to love it, you know, even when it's right or wrong, you're going to take the side of your country. Patriotism is loving it enough to sacrifice for it, but also to call it (out) when it's wrong. 'The people who are speaking up for the people who are hurting have a deep love and devotion for our country. That's kind of gotten misconstrued at times. But it's important for people to understand that.' The decision by the owners was an attempt to quell a firestorm by moving protests away from the public eye and potentially lure back disgruntled fans. But in the process they may have disgruntled their employees and rekindled what appeared to be an issue that was dying down. 'I feel like it might want to make people just want to rebel, just like when Trump said what he said last year,' Denver linebacker Brandon Marshall said. 'People rebelled. And let's be clear. I know they say they'll fine the team, but players don't care about that. Players don't care about the teams get fined.' ___ AP Pro Football Writer Arnie Stapleton and AP Sports Writer Brett Martel contributed to this report. ___ For more NFL coverage: http://www.pro32.ap.org and http://www.twitter.com/AP_NFL
  • A look at what's happening around the majors today: WELCOME BACK Star second baseman Dustin Pedroia is set to be activated by the Red Sox after missing Boston's first 50 games while recovering from knee surgery. Manager Alex Cora says Pedroia will come off the disabled list for a weekend series at Fenway Park against Atlanta and will start one of the first two games. Pedroia's return to the AL East leaders will come exactly seven months after cartilage-restoration surgery on his left knee. The 34-year-old former AL MVP went 1 for 14 in a five-game rehab assignment at Triple-A Pawtucket. SKIDDING The Diamondbacks have lost seven in a row and 13 of 14, scoring a total of just 26 runs in that span and dropping out of the NL West lead. Slugger Paul Goldschmidt, an All-Star in each of the last five seasons, is batting .200 and has only four RBIs in his last 34 games. Arizona hopes for better results all around when Patrick Corbin (4-1, 2.60 ERA) starts a weekend series at Oakland. FAST START Pittsburgh outfielder Austin Meadows is 11 for 25 in his first six major league games, including three home runs, two doubles and five RBIs. The 23-year-old rookie will aim to keep it going when the Pirates host St. Louis. WHAT A RELIEF Tampa Bay manager Kevin Cash is ready to try his relievers-as-starters approach again. All weekend, in fact. Cash says he'll go in reverse when Sergio Romo comes out of the bullpen to start the series opener at home vs. Baltimore. Reliever Ryne Stanek will start Saturday and Romo will be begin Sunday's game. Romo had only pitched in relief for 588 games before starting twice last weekend against the Angels, throwing a total of 2 1/3 innings, for the rotation-thin Rays. 'We're not trying to do anything that's cute,' Cash said. 'We're trying to do something that's right for us to win games.' KEEP TRYING Miami right-hander Jose Urena (0-7, 4.55 ERA) pitches at home against three-time Cy Young Award winner Max Scherzer (7-1, 1.78) and the Nationals. Urena went 14-7 with a 3.82 ERA last season and was the Marlins' opening day starter this year. But Miami has lost all 10 of his starts, and 12 straight dating to last September — tying Brian Moehler's dubious club record set from 2005-06.