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Press Box: Earnhardt out two races because of concussion

The SportsXchange

The concussion that will force Dale Earnhardt Jr. to miss at least the next two races -- and will deprive him from any shot at a NASCAR Sprint Cup championship -- wasn't his first.

Neither was the one the suffered Aug. 29 during a Goodyear tire test at Kansas Speedway.

It was the two concussions just five weeks apart, however, that compelled Earnhardt to seek evaluation and treatment this week and ultimately sidelined him from the NASCAR Sprint Cup Series races at Charlotte on Saturday night and Kansas on Oct. 21.

Earnhardt was shaken up during a 25-car wreck on the final lap of Sunday's Good Sam Road Assistance 500 at Talladega Superspeedway. Realizing that he "wasn't right," Earnhardt waited until Tuesday to visit neurologist Dr. Jerry Petty.

Though Earnhardt's MRI was normal, the symptoms he described, including headache, led to Petty's recommendation that he sit out the next two races. Petty said Earnhardt won't be cleared to race again until after being headache-free for four to five days.

"You can't layer concussions," Earnhardt said Thursday during a press conference at Charlotte Motor Speedway. "It's extremely dangerous."

Regan Smith, who is under consideration for a full-time Nationwide Series ride next year with JR Motorsports, will replace Earnhardt in the No. 88 Hendrick Motorsports Chevrolet for the next two races.

Earnhardt qualified for the Chase for the Sprint Cup this season and was 11th in the championship standings, 51 points behind leader Brad Keselowski, after finishing 20th at Talladega.

LEGAL ISSUES

--Jerry Sandusky's wife sent a letter to the judge presiding over her husband's trial and sentencing, praising her husband's character and denying he had ever done anything inappropriate to a child, the Harrisburg Patriot-News reported Thursday.

But perhaps the most significant part of her letter -- which was one of two Sandusky family letters presented to the court before Tuesday's sentencing hearing and released to the public on Thursday -- was her comments about their adopted son, Matt Sandusky.

Matt Sandusky had told prosecutors during Sandusky's child sex abuse trial that he had been a victim of Sandusky's sexual abuse.

According to the Patriot-News, Dottie Sandusky wrote in her letter, dated July 9, about Matt, "People need to know what kind of person he is. We have forgiven him many times for all he has done to our family thinking that he was changing his life, but he would always go back to his stealing and lies. He has been diagnosed with bipolar, but he refuses to take his medicine. He has had many run-ins with the law and stolen money and items from our family. We still love him and want the best for him, but because of his actions we cannot express this to him."

NBA

-- Dallas Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki is dealing with a sore right knee for the second straight training camp and could be facing arthroscopic surgery.

Nowitzki will give the knee a week of rest and treatment to see whether it responds, The Dallas Morning News reported. He didn't play in the Mavericks' exhibition loss to FC Barcelona Regal in Spain on Tuesday night.

If surgery is necessary, he hopes to be able to play in the Mavericks' season opener Oct. 30 against the Los Angeles Lakers.

---A bruised left knee will keep forward Amare Stoudemire from playing in the New York Knicks' preseason opener Thursday night against the Washington Wizards.

Stoudemire bumped the knee during Wednesday's practice and it swelled, the New York Post reported.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

--The NCAA is investigating Texas point guard Myck Kabongo for possible impermissible benefits and contact with an agent.

Yahoo Sports first reported the NCAA has interviewed Kabongo, a sophomore from Canada, prying for details surrounding his workouts in Akron with countryman and good friend Tristan Thompson. Thompson went to Texas and was a first-round draft pick of the Cleveland Cavaliers in 2011.

The crux of the inquiry by the NCAA is whether Kabongo paid for his expenses -- and how he did so -- or if sports agent Rich Paul was involved.

NHL

---The NHL and the players' association resumed talks Thursday morning at league headquarters in New York after a five-hour meeting Wednesday.

Thursday was scheduled to be opening day of the regular season, but the league canceled the first two weeks of the season earlier and is in a holding pattern while the lockout continues.

NHL deputy commissioner Bill Daly said Wednesday night that the league believes the players' association is crafting a proposal and he urged the players to present it. No offers have been made in three weeks.

CYCLING

--- The U.S. Anti-Doping Agency's investigation in the doping practices of Lance Armstrong and the US Postal team has led to penalties for other cyclists involved, Cycling News reported.

The six active former teammates -- Levi Leipheimer, Christian Vande Velde, David Zabriskie, Tom Danielson, Michael Barry and George Hincapie -- all were suspended for six months.

All ended their seasons in September, and both Hincapie and Barry announced they would retire this season.
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