Friday Sports in Brief

NFL

FOXBOROUGH, Mass. (AP) -- Antonio Brown was released by the New England Patriots on Friday after a second woman accused him of sexual misconduct - the third team in seven months to tire of the off-field behavior that has overshadowed his accomplishments as one of the NFL's most prolific receivers for a decade.

The defending Super Bowl champions announced the move in a statement emailed to reporters, three minutes after Brown posted on Twitter: ''Thank you for the opportunity (at)Patriots (hash)GoWinIt.''

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Already facing a civil suit claiming that he raped a former trainer, Brown was accused in a Sports Illustrated story published on Monday of exposing himself to an artist he hired to paint a mural at his home. He has denied both allegations.

But the Patriots cut ties with the four-time All-Pro after just one game.

Brown has been sued by a former trainer Britney Taylor, who claimed Brown sexually assaulted her on three occasions, including rape. Although the allegations became public last week, Brown practiced with the Patriots, then played on Sunday in a 43-0 rout of Miami, scoring a touchdown.

The AP does not typically identify people who say they are victims of sexual assault unless they come forward publicly, but Taylor was identified in the federal lawsuit and was quoted in a statement provided by her lawyer.

According to a Sports Illustrated story, a second woman, who as a victim of sexual harassment is not being identified, was working at Brown's home when she turned around to find him standing there naked except for a small towel covering his genitals.

After the article ran, the magazine reported, the woman ''received what she characterized as intimidating texts'' from Brown that included pictures of her children.

Also this week, Nike cut ties with the receiver, saying in an email to The Associated Press on Friday, ''Antonio Brown is not a Nike athlete.''

CHARLOTTE, N.C. (AP) - Panthers quarterback Cam Newton has been ruled out of Sunday's game against the Cardinals with a mid-foot sprain.

Coach Ron Rivera says Kyle Allen will make his second career NFL start at quarterback.

Rivera says Newton will not travel with the team to Arizona with the team, adding ''we've got to wait it out. We don't want another setback.''

The coach says Newton is ''day-to-day,'' leaving his status unclear for Week 4.

Newton aggravated his left foot in Carolina's 20-14 loss to the Buccaneers on Sept. 12 and has not practiced since. It will be only the sixth game Newton has missed during his nine-year NFL career due to injury.

Allen is 1-0 as Carolina's starter, winning last year in Week 17 at New Orleans.

EAST RUTHERFORD, N.J. (AP) - New York Giants wide receiver Sterling Shepard said he knew he had a concussion in the season opener against Dallas but played to try to help the team win.

Speaking on Friday for the first time since sustaining the concussion on Sept. 8, Shepard said he didn't start feeling normal until this week.

Shepard played the entire game in the 35-17 loss to the Cowboys. The team seemingly didn't find out about the concussion until after the game in the locker room. Shepard was sidelined in the 28-14 loss to the Buffalo Bills at home last weekend.

The four-year receiver practiced this week and is expected to play Sunday when the Giants (0-2) face the Buccaneers (1-1) in Tampa, Florida.

DETROIT (AP) - Retired star receiver Calvin Johnson said the Detroit Lions wanted him to change his story regarding one of the many concussions he had during his nine-year NFL career.

Johnson told Sports Illustrated in a story published Friday he blacked out against Minnesota in 2012 and later told reporters he had a concussion from the game.

''I wasn't seeing straight,'' Johnson said in the interview. ''And they wanted me to change my story.''

Asked about Johnson's claims, the team issued a statement.

''We respect the privacy of individual players' medical situations and take great pride in the extensive work done by our medical staff and executive team to ensure we follow the appropriate protocols with respect to player health and safety.,'' the Lions said. ''The well-being of our players will continue to be an organizational priority.''

Johnson also told SI he smoked marijuana after every game.

The 33-year-old Johnson retired three years ago with 11,619 yards receiving and 83 touchdown receptions. The three-time All-Pro had 1,964 yards receiving in 2012, breaking Jerry Rice's single-season record set in 1995, and the mark still stands.

BASEBALL

ATLANTA (AP) - The Atlanta Braves clinched their second straight NL East title when Ronald Acuna Jr. hit his 41st homer in a 6-0 win over San Francisco on Friday night that eliminated the Giants from postseason contention in Bruce Bochy's last year as San Francisco manager.

Acuna scored four runs to back Mike Foltynewicz (8-5), who allowed three hits in eight innings. Atlanta's 19th division title tied the New York Yankees for the most since Major League Baseball split into divisions for the 1969 season.

Atlanta's win ensured it will finish ahead of second-place Washington and will start the NL Division Series at home on Oct. 3, most likely against the NL Central champion.

Braves players ran onto the infield to celebrate as soon as Acuna caught Alex Dickerson's game-ending flyout.

NEW YORK (AP) - Yankees pitcher Domingo German is being investigated for an alleged domestic violence incident involving his girlfriend at home this week, a person familiar with the situation told The Associated Press on Friday.

The person spoke under condition of anonymity because no details have been authorized during the probe by Major League Baseball.

German was put on administrative leave Thursday under MLB's domestic violence policy.

The person said the incident occurred Monday night into Tuesday at German's residence in Yonkers. German and his girlfriend have at least one child together.

MLB is not aware of any police involvement in the situation. MLB won't announce any discipline until its investigation is complete.

German isn't permitted to be around the team during the administrative leave, which can last up to seven days, barring an extension. MLB and the players' union will speak next week to determine the next step.

-By AP Baseball Writer Ben Walker.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL

LOS ANGELES (AP) - Michael Pittman Jr. caught 10 passes for a career-high 232 yards and a touchdown from backup quarterback Matt Fink, who passed for 351 yards in Southern California's 30-23 victory over No. 10 Utah on Friday night.

Fink, a junior who nearly transferred last spring, went 21 of 30 with three touchdown passes for USC (3-1, 2-0 Pac-12) after taking over when freshman Kedon Slovis left with an undisclosed injury on the second play of the game. Fink mostly looked sharp as the third quarterback to play important snaps in four games for the Trojans, who lost starter J.T. Daniels to a season-ending knee injury in their opener.

Tyler Vaughns, Amon-Ra St. Brown and Pittman all caught TD passes from Fink, while Pittman had the fifth-biggest receiving yardage game in USC history. His remarkable 42-yard catch in the fourth quarter eventually led to a 4-yard TD run by Markese Stepp, who celebrated by handing the ball to Reggie Bush, the Trojans great attending the game as a broadcaster despite his NCAA-mandated disassociation from his school.

Devontae Henry-Cole rushed for an early touchdown and Cole Fotheringham caught a TD pass for the Utes (3-1, 0-1), who struggled after star running back Zack Moss left in the first half with an apparent shoulder injury. Utah still has never won at the 96-year-old Coliseum.

NBA

The NBA's board of governors was unanimous in its approval of a plan to stiffen potential penalties for tampering with players and employees under contract with other clubs, hoping for increased compliance in existing league rules.

Fines of up to $10 million are now possible in the most egregious situations, along with forfeiture of draft picks, suspensions of executives and voiding of contracts when rule-breaking is found - significant enough threats, the league hopes, to end any notion of teams entering into deals with free agents before rules allow.

NBA Commissioner Adam Silver said Friday, ''We need to ensure that we're creating a culture of compliance in this league. Our teams want to know that they're competing on a level playing field and frankly don't want to feel disadvantaged if they are adhering to our existing rules.''

COURTS

WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. (AP) - Golfer Tiger Woods' girlfriend has been dropped from a wrongful death lawsuit filed by the parents of a drunken driver who died in a car crash.

The lawsuit initially named Woods, his girlfriend Erica Herman and The Woods restaurant. His name was dropped from the litigation in June.

The Palm Beach Post reports attorney Spencer Kuvin said he's no longer pursuing Herman in connection with the Dec. 10 crash that killed Nicholas Immesberger. He says the claims against the couple could be revived later.

The lawsuit says Immesberger was served excessive amounts of alcohol before the crash. It also claimed Herman recruited him as a bartender there despite knowing he was an alcoholic.

Attorney Barry Postman, who represents the couple and the restaurant, says Kuvin had no reason to sue them.

OBITUARY

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) - Ohio State says Heisman Trophy winner and NFL running back Howard ''Hopalong'' Cassady has died. He was 85.

Jerry Emig, the school's associate athletic director, says Cassady died early Friday in Tampa, Florida.

Cassady played both football and baseball at Ohio State in the early 1950s, winning the Heisman Trophy in 1955. He was a two-time consensus All-American and finished with nearly 2,500 yards and 37 touchdowns.

He got the nickname ''Hopalong'' from local sports writers after the black-hatted Western star of the 1950s.

Cassady played 10 seasons in the NFL, mostly with the Detroit Lions.

After football, he spent two decades working as a scout and coach in the New York Yankees organization for longtime friend and team owner George Steinbrenner.

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