AP Photo/Susan Walsh
The New Orleans Saints have come marching in to the White House. President Barack Obama welcomed the Super Bowl champions on Monday in an East Room ceremony where he congratulated the players, owner and coaches. He said the team lifted up "the hopes and the dreams of a shattered city" in the wake of the ravages of Hurricane Katrina. President Obama acknowledged being a Chicago Bears fan but said New Orleans has a unique relationship with its football team after the Saints' Super Bowl win.
The last-place Seattle Mariners fired manager Don Wakamatsu, more than halfway through a season that began with a boosted roster and hopes of making the playoffs for the first time since 2001. However, the Mariners started the day at 42-70, the second-worst record in the American League. Seattle added pitcher Cliff Lee, infielder Chone Figgins and outfielder Milton Bradley in the offseason. Wakamatsu had guided Seattle to an 85-77 record in his first season after taking over a team that went 61-101 in 2008. But the M's are now 22½ games behind first-place Texas in the AL West. Daren Brown, the manager of Triple-A Tacoma for the last three-plus seasons takes over on an interim basis.
Ilya Kovalchuk is back on the free-agent market. An arbiter has decided that the NHL acted correctly in voiding Kovalchuk's landmark $102 million contract with the New Jersey Devils. The league had rejected the 17-year contract, saying the longest deal in league history violated its salary cap. The NHL Players Association filed a grievance against the league. Arbiter Richard Bloch sided with the league when he issued his ruling Monday. The decision puts Kovalchuk back on the market. The high-scoring Russian is hockey's biggest prize in free agency this year with 338 goals and 304 assists in 642 career games.
"We're going to prepare like he's not going to be here," coach Rex Ryan said Monday after the morning practice. "If he comes through the door, that's fine. Somebody will kiss him on the lips, probably. But the guys that are here, those are the guys we're getting ready for the season." It was the first time that Ryan acknowledged the possibility of an extended absence by Revis, whose holdout has reached nine days. The two sides are trying to negotiate a new contract for Revis, who has three years remaining on his current deal, but they appear far apart.
After weeks of speculation, Bill Strickland, the agent for Rasheed Wallace tells the Boston Globe that the 15-year veteran plans to retire. Wallace has 2 years and 13 million left on his current deal with the Celtics. He's averaged close to 15 points and 7 rebounds a game during his career. He won an NBA title as a member of the 2004 Pistons.
Texans owner Bob McNair met with Roger Goodell over the 4-game suspension of linebacker Brian Cushing to start the season. Cushing violated the league's policy against performance enhancing drug use, but McNair reportedly presented new evidence to Goodell in hopes of reducing the ban or overturning it altogether.
Jeff Van Gundy likes the Miami Heat -- a lot. Our NBA analyst likes the Heat so much, he thinks LeBron/Wade/Bosh and crew have a chance to do something this season, that we have never seen before in the NBA. He said, "They will break the Bulls single-season win record of 72. They have a legit shot at the Lakers' 33-game (winning) streak (in 1971-72), as well. And only the Lakers have even a remote shot at beating them in a playoff series. They will never lose two games in a row this year. They have put together a much better roster than anybody could ever have expected. There is now no good way to defend them. They are unguardable. They are indefensible. They are just too good and have added so much shooting and are so versatile that they will score at will."
Mike Ilitch, the Little Caesars pizza mogul who already owns the Detroit Tigers and Detroit Red Wings, said Monday that he wants to buy the Detroit Pistons in part to make sure another buyer doesn't move the NBA franchise out of town. The Pistons declined to comment on Ilitch's interest in the team, which Forbes valued at $479 million last year. Pistons owner Karen Davidson has said she's considering a sale.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.