Seattle's Felix Hernandez won the AL Cy Young Award despite a 13-12 record. His major league-leading 2.27 ERA and superior stats made him an easy choice over David Price of Tampa Bay and CC Sabathia of the Yankees and their impressive win-loss numbers. Victimized by poor run support all season, Hernandez found ample backing with the voters. They clearly recognized how little the last-place Mariners helped him - in 10 starts, they were either shut out or held to one run.
Brian Urlacher and the swarming Chicago Bears defense allowed only 187 yards and a single third-down conversion Thursday night, winning 16-0 to send the injury-ravaged Miami Dolphins to their second home shutout in 40 years.
An attorney for Kenny Rogers says his client knows he made "a stupid decision" when he sent a fellow Mississippi State booster a text of Cecil Newton's payment plan to secure a commitment from his son, Cam Newton, to the Bulldogs. In a phone interview with The Associated Press Thursday, Doug Zeit says Rogers sent the text after Cecil Newton insisted he do it. Zeit says Rogers sent the text to Bill Bell requesting $80,000 the day after Cam Newton signed with MSU, $50,000 30 days later and another $50,000 30 days after that. Zeit says no money ever changed hands. The Newtons' attorney, George Lawson, told WSB-TV of Atlanta on Thursday that he is "1 million percent" certain Cam Newton -- who signed with Auburn -- did not take any money. Lawson says if Cecil Newton discussed money, his son "knew nothing" about it.
Michael Vick has been dazzling in his return as a starting NFL quarterback but commissioner Roger Goodell told the New York Daily News on Thursday that he's most proud of how Vick has turned his life around off the field. "There is a big message in what Michael is doing," Goodell told the newspaper. "He's a superstar athlete who everyone thought had everything in the world. He fell from grace tragically by making some horrific mistakes, paid a significant price, worked his way back in and now he's being successful. It demonstrates to me to get to these young men earlier and work with them and make them understand their responsibility making decisions that will define them for a period of time."
Houston Texans quarterback Matt Schaub is back with his team after he was hospitalized with an injury to the bursa sac in his right knee. Schaub practiced on Thursday, and coach Gary Kubiak expects his No. 1 quarterback to start when the Texans (4-5) visit the New York Jets (7-2) on Sunday. Schaub went to the hospital on Tuesday and stayed overnight.
Brian St. Pierre has thrown five passes in eight NFL seasons. He wasn't in a training camp this summer and as recently as last week was a stay-at-home dad. On Sunday, he'll start for the Carolina Panthers. A season of injuries, anemic offensive play and only one victory took an even stranger twist Thursday, when coach John Fox picked the 30-year-old St. Pierre over rookie Tony Pike to play against Baltimore. The Panthers have lost Matt Moore to a season-ending shoulder injury, and Jimmy Clausen sustained a concussion Sunday against Tampa Bay.
Federal prosecutors charged five former University of Kansas employees Thursday with conspiring to steal more than $2 million in tickets to athletic events in a scandal that embarrassed the school and likely led to the early departure of athletic director Lew Perkins. Prosecutors singled out former associate athletic director Charlette Blubaugh, who was in charge of the ticket office. They said she began stealing tickets in 2005 and gave them to other key athletic department employees to sell, either personally or through third parties. Blubaugh, 43, of Medford, Okla., was charged along with her husband, Thomas Blubaugh, 46, who was a consultant to the ticket office. Also charged were former assistant athletic director Rodney Jones, 42, of Lawrence; former associate athletic director Ben Kirtland, 54, of Lenexa, Kan.; and Kassie Liebsch, 28, of Lawrence, who was a systems analyst working in the ticket office.
Look out, Denny Hamlin. Jimmie Johnson and Kevin Harvick are right behind you -- and they're making sure you know it. With the title up for grabs in Sunday's season finale, Johnson and Harvick are doing their best to turn up the heat on NASCAR's points leader. Johnson, the four-time defending series champion, was his usual model of California cool during Thursday's news conference to preview the closest title race in Chase for the Sprint Cup championship history. Harvick was his typically mischievous self, facing every question with blunt honesty and never passing on an opportunity to needle the competition -- well, mostly just Hamlin. "This has been one of the most awkward 30 minutes I've been through," Hamlin squirmed about halfway through the session.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.