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9A: No Football In 2011?; Lowe Gets GM1 Nod; Wichard Speaks With Investigators

NFLPA EXEC. DIRECTOR DeMAURICE SMITH SAYS HE THINKS OWNERS ARE PREPARING FOR NO FOOTBALL:

Speaking at a tailgate-style fan luncheon a few blocks from Lambeau Field on Tuesday, NFLPA Exec. Director DeMaurice Smith referred to a recent Sports Business Journal report that said the NFL is requiring banks that lend money to its teams to extend grace periods for loan defaults through the end of the 2011 season in the event of a lockout. "That to me is a step where the owners are protecting themselves in the event that there is no season," Smith said.

LOWE TO START GAME 1 FOR BRAVES:

Derek Lowe will start for the Braves Thursday in Game 1 of the NL division series at San Francisco. Manager Bobby Cox said Tommy Hanson and Tim Hudson will follow Lowe in the rotation. Cox says Lowe or rookie Brandon Beachy would start if a fourth game is needed. Lowe would be pitching on three days' rest.

AGENT GARY WICHARD SPEAKS WITH NC INVESTIGATORS:

Investigators with the North Carolina Secretary of State's office have interviewed NFL agent Gary Wichard as part of their probe into whether the state's sports agent laws were broken. His attorney Howard Silber said Tuesday night that Wichard spoke to the investigators via teleconference for roughly three hours earlier that day, but declined further comment. Wichard's longtime friendship with former Tar Heels assistant coach John Blake has been a key part of the investigations.