Bills agree to re-sign CB McKelvin to 4-year deal
BUFFALO, N.Y. — Cornerback Leodis McKelvin is staying in Buffalo after the Bills reached an agreement to re-sign their 2008 first-round draft pick on Saturday.
A person familiar with the negotiations said McKelvin agreed to a four-year contract worth a little over $20 million. The person spoke on condition of anonymity because the Bills did not reveal the contract terms in announcing the agreement with McKelvin.
The deal was reached before McKelvin was eligible to become an unrestricted free agent on Tuesday.
Steelers release LB Harrison in cap move
PITTSBURGH — James Harrison’s snarling tenacity made the Pittsburgh Steelers linebacker one of the NFL’s most intimidating players for nearly a decade.
Big hits — some legal, some not so much — also turned the outspoken five-time Pro Bowler into focal point for a league-wide crackdown on helmet-to-helmet contact.
Harrison’s outlaw image made him beloved in Pittsburgh but reviled elsewhere. His onerous contract, however, no longer worked for a team with serious salary cap issues. The Steelers released the former Defensive Player of the Year on Saturday when the two sides could not agree on a more cap-friendly deal.
“It’s been a great run but all good things must come to a end,” Harrison posted on his Twitter account Saturday afternoon. “Thank you Steelers Nation I will miss you all!”
Pittsburgh general manager Kevin Colbert and Harrison’s agent Bill Parise had spent the last few days trying to iron out a new deal but couldn’t reach any common ground. Harrison was entering the final two years of a $51-million extension he signed in 2009 and was scheduled to make $6.57 million in 2013.
AP source: Chargers agree with kicker Novak
SAN DIEGO — A person with knowledge of the deal says the San Diego Chargers have agreed in principle to a four-year contract with kicker Nick Novak.
The person spoke on condition of anonymity because details are still being finalized. Novak, who had been scheduled to become an unrestricted free agent, can’t sign the contract until free agency begins on Tuesday afternoon.
Teams are able to negotiate with agents of unrestricted free agents from Saturday into Tuesday afternoon.
Novak made 18 of 20 field goal attempts (90 percent) in 2012, the third-highest conversion rate in team history. He was signed on Sept. 29 after Nate Kaeding hurt his groin in practice two days before a game at Kansas City. Novak also kicked for San Diego in the final 15 games of 2011 after Kaeding was hurt on the season-opening kickoff.
Also Saturday, the Chargers signed long snapper Mike Windt to a four-year contract.
Former Buffalo Bills star safety Saimes dies at 71
BUFFALO, N.Y. — George Saimes, regarded as one of the American Football League’s best safeties and a member of the Buffalo Bills’ Wall of Fame, died after a lengthy battle with leukemia. He was 71.
Saimes’ daughter, Linda Durley, said her father died Friday night at a hospital in his hometown of Canton, Ohio.
Selected by Buffalo in the sixth round of the 1963 draft, Saimes spent seven seasons with the Bills, where he helped the team win back-to-back AFL championships in 1964-65. He was then reunited in Denver with his former Bills coach, Lou Saban, in playing three more seasons with the Broncos.
Saimes was a five-time Pro Bowl selection and, in 1970, was selected to the all-time AFL defensive team. He was known as a hard-hitting tackler, and he finished with 22 interceptions in 121 career games.
Stoudemire having knee surgery, could miss 6 weeks
NEW YORK — Amare Stoudemire needs surgery on his right knee and is expected to miss six weeks, a stunning blow to the New York Knicks as they chase the Atlantic Division title.
Stoudemire, who had been playing well off the bench, will have the procedure to remove tissue within the week, the Knicks said Saturday before their 113-84 win over the Utah Jazz.
Stoudemire missed the first 30 games after having the same surgery, called a debridement, on his left knee during the preseason.
He returned on New Year’s Day and has averaged 14.2 points in 29 games as a reserve.
Ligety wins World Cup giant slalom title
KRANJSKA GORA, Slovenia — Ted Ligety clinched the World Cup giant slalom title Saturday by winning his fifth race of the season.
It’s the American’s fourth discipline title after also winning in 2008 and 2010-11. He also successfully defended his GS title at the world championships last month.
Ligety held on to his first-run lead to win Saturday’s race in 2 minutes, 35.43 seconds.
With one GS race still to go, the victory earned Ligety an insurmountable 125-point lead over Austria’s Marcel Hirscher, who was 0.45 behind in second.
Alexis Pinturault of France came third, 0.77 behind.
Yankees closer Rivera says this is final season
TAMPA, Fla. — Mariano Rivera and his family walked into the pavilion behind the third-base stands at Steinbrenner Field followed by his New York Yankees’ teammates.
It was the start of the long goodbye for baseball’s greatest closer.
Dressed in a dark jersey top and pinstriped uniform pants, Rivera announced what already had leaked out in prior days: This will be his 19th and final major league season.
And the 43-year-old has a clear vision of how he wants his career to end.
“The last game I hope will be throwing the last pitch in the World Series,” he said. “Winning the World Series, that would be my ambition.”
Rivera said he made the decision before arriving at spring training. With the entire Yankees’ team looking on — including longtime teammates Derek Jeter and Andy Pettitte — Rivera said he knew the time was right for his decision. Rivera sat at a table, and team officials, led by managing general partner Hal Steinbrenner and manager Joe Girardi, sat nearby.
Federer tops Istomin at Indian Wells
INDIAN WELLS, Calif. — Roger Federer beat Denis Istomin of Russia 6-2, 6-3 in their second-round match at the BNP Paribas Open championships on Saturday.
Federer was done in 58 minutes, a contrast to the 2 hours and 23 minutes it took Lleyton Hewitt to upset No. 15 seed John Isner, 6-7 (6), 6-3, 6-4.
Also, women’s top seed and reigning champion Victoria Azarenka overcame a 4-1 deficit in the first set to beat two-time champion Daniela Hantuchova 6-4, 6-1.
Kevin Anderson of South Africa ousted No. 4 seed David Ferrer of Spain 3-6, 6-4, 6-3.
In other matches, Benoit Paire of France beat No. 20 Philipp Kohlschreiber, Jarkko Nieminen of Finland topped No. 28 Fernando Verdasco and Leonardo Mayer of Argentina eliminated No. 30 Mikhail Youzhny of Russia.
In women’s matches, No. 7 seed Samantha Stosur earned a 6-3, 6-4 win over American wild card Madison Keys. Jamie Hampton of Auburn, Ala., upset 20th-seeded Hsieh Su-wei of Taiwan 6-3, 6-3.
Fourth-seeded Angelique Kerber defeated Irina-Camelia Begu of Romania 6-3, 6-2, and No. 10 seed Nadia Petrova of Russia beat Stefanie Voegele of Switzerland 6-2, 6-3.
Hornish holds off Busch for Nationwide victory
LAS VEGAS — Sam Hornish Jr. didn’t know the name of Saturday’s race until he went to the drivers’ meeting for the Sam’s Town 300.
Hornish survived two restarts in the final 15 laps and held off Kyle Busch to win the Nationwide Series race at the Las Vegas Motor Speedway.
Hornish led 114 laps in his second career Nationwide victory, but needed a strong finish to outrun Busch, the hometown driver who won the Nationwide race last week in Phoenix.
Hornish credited the win to his dominant car, all the more impressive since the drivers got almost no practice on the 1.5-mile tri-oval due to Friday’s rain.
Hornish and Busch both went aggressively after the final restart with seven laps to go, with Busch briefly nudging ahead before Hornish reclaimed the lead with five laps left. Hornish got clear of Busch and finished comfortably in a caution-filled race.
With his third top-10 finish in three races this season, Hornish moved atop the points race and gave owner Roger Penske his first victory at Las Vegas in any NASCAR series — and Penske’s first win since moving from Dodge to Ford in the offseason.
Hornish also snapped a 36-race winless streak in his Ford in his 69th Nationwide race overall.
By wire sources