MINNEAPOLIS (AP) — Everson Griffen’s contract status was not the most pressing for the Minnesota Vikings.
His value to their pass rush and their locker room was still worth a proactive approach.
Griffen signed a four-year extension with the Vikings on Wednesday, a new deal that would keep the two-time Pro Bowl defensive end under the team’s control through the 2022 season. He had two years remaining on the current contract.
Griffen has 48 sacks in seven seasons with the Vikings, who drafted him in the fourth round in 2010 out of USC. Since becoming a full-time starter in 2014, Griffen has 30½ sacks, the fifth most in the league during that span.
“You don’t let guys like that go,” free safety Harrison Smith said, adding: “A lot of times people just see sack numbers, and that’s what sticks out, but he’s just a complete player who dominates the game, run and pass.”
Beginning with quarterback Sam Bradford and cornerback Xavier Rhodes, who are playing in 2017 on expiring deals, the Vikings potentially have several hefty paydays on the horizon.
Continued careful and creative management of the salary cap will be critical toward maintain competitiveness in the coming years. Wide receiver Stefon Diggs, defensive end Danielle Hunter, nose tackle Linval Joseph and linebackers Anthony Barr and Eric Kendricks also have contracts that are set to come up after the 2018 season. General manager Rick Spielman said new deals are being negotiated for “a few guys.”
So why now for Griffen?
“To get some of this out of the way now, it’s going to give us a lot more flexibility as we go forward into next year and future years because I do think we have some very talented young players,” Spielman said. “We want to keep this core of young players together as long as we can.”
Griffen signed his extension upon reporting to training camp at Minnesota State University in Mankato, with the first full-team practice set for Thursday.
According to NFL Media, he’ll get as much as $58 million in new money, with $34 million guaranteed. There is still $15.5 million remaining on his current contract.
“In light of the rising salary cap and exploding free agency market, we strongly believe that more veteran clients will be negotiating extensions with two years remaining on their contracts and applaud the Vikings for embracing this novel approach,” said Brian Murphy, Griffen’s representative with the Athletes First agency.
Griffen’s tenure is the second longest on the team, behind defensive end Brian Robison. He will turn 34 before the end of the final season of the extension.
“I don’t have all the wear and tear on my body like people that get thrown into the fire from the beginning,” Griffen said. “It shows that they have faith and tremendously high hopes for me as well.”
Even before he became an every-down player, the Vikings were confident enough in his skill and character in 2014 to give him a second contract worth as much as $42.5 million through 2018 that he’s on track to fully earn.
That commitment raised some eyebrows around the league, given Griffen’s part-time status then and his early career trouble off the field.
Twice in a three-day span in Los Angeles, the winter after his rookie season, Griffen was arrested for unruly behavior. The Vikings stuck by him, though, and wholly won him over with widespread support when his mother died suddenly in 2012.
Five years later, their faith is still strong.
“It means I’m a Viking for life,” Griffen said, “and my appreciation’s high.”
WHITE SULPHUR SPRINGS, W.Va. (AP) — A year after missing all of the preseason on his way to an injury-shortened regular season, J.J. Watt made his return to training camp for the Houston Texans on Wednesday.
Practice never felt quite so good for the three-time NFL Defensive Player of the Year.
“It’s just good to be back on the field, be back playing football, be back with my teammates,” Watt said. “It’s just — it feels good. It feels like where I belong.”
Watt played in only three games last season due to a pair of back surgeries. The first was to repair a herniated disk in July, causing him to miss all of training camp and Houston’s four preseason games.
The defensive end, who won the Defensive Player of the Year award in 2012 and 2014-15, then started in the Texans’ first three regular-season games before reinjuring his back and undergoing season-ending surgery.
Watt took part in Houston’s offseason program following his surgeries, but Wednesday’s start of training camp was a day one of the NFL’s most dominant defensive players had looked forward to throughout his recovery.
“Obviously, it’s been a long time coming,” Watt said. “We’ve done a lot of work to get to where we are, but today’s just the beginning. Today’s just Day One and I’m really looking forward to stacking up days and, like I said, I just really enjoy being with my teammates.”
The 28-year-old Watt has 76 sacks through the first 83 games of his six-year career, and Houston needs him to return to form this season — pairing with fellow defensive end Jadeveon Clowney to form one of the top pass rushes in the NFL.
“It’s great to have him back,” Texans coach Bill O’Brien said. “He’s a great player, one of the top players in our league, top defensive player in our league, so to have him back, it means a lot to our football team.”
To lessen the wear and tear on his back, Watt said he’ll “be smart” about his practice schedule during training camp, taking days off as needed to stay fresh rather than pushing himself as he’s done in the past.
His return has also come with a renewed sense of appreciation for being able to play, especially after the multiple injuries left him briefly pondering if retirement was closer in his future than he would have liked.
“Obviously, I went through some tough times there last year, but … I really enjoy playing football,” Watt said. “I really enjoy the fans. I enjoy every aspect of the game so I’m just really thankful to be able to be out here and playing.”
INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) — Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert spent more than 30 minutes presenting a positive portrait of his franchise.
The reality is that the Cavs are troubled.
In his first public comments since Kyrie Irving asked to be traded, Gilbert would not confirm whether he’ll honor the All-Star point guard’s request, but he also didn’t rule out the real possibility that Cleveland may deal its second best player — or if he thinks LeBron James will stay around beyond next season.
“These things are fluid,” Gilbert said. “We think that Kyrie Irving is one of the best guards in the NBA. He was part of a championship, three years straight to the Finals and we value his talent — significantly.”
Despite several direct questions about Irving’s status, Gilbert would not provide any specifics about recent conversations with him or his agent. Gilbert said he expected the 25-year-old, whose jumper in Game 7 of the 2016 NBA Finals propelled Cleveland to its first championship since the Browns in 1964, to be at training camp with the team in September.
“Right now Kyrie Irving is under contract with the Cleveland Cavaliers for two or three years, depending on the last year,” Gilbert said. “As of now he’s one of our best players and sure, we expect him to be in camp.”
Gilbert was clearly attempting to avoid making things worse for the Cavs or doing any further damage to the club’s relationship with Irving, who has blossomed into the one of the league’s best backcourt players.
While Irving may want out, the Cavs aren’t obligated to move him and new general manager Koby Altman said Irving remains an important piece for a team that has been to three straight Finals.
“He’s a core piece of what we’ve done,” said Altman, who was promoted to full-time GM after filling in when David Griffin left earlier this summer. “Kyrie is a tremendous player. He has made great contributions to this franchise and we enjoy him as a player. We’re going to keep this stuff in house in terms of what was said in those meetings, but he continues to be a core piece of who we are and what we do.”
It’s been turbulent summer for the Cavs, who didn’t defend their title and were beaten in five games by Golden State in the Finals. The bumpy ride began with Griffin parting ways with the club over philosophical differences with Gilbert, who was then rebuffed in adding former Pistons guard Chauncey Billups to his front office.
And while numerous teams got stronger via free agency and trades, Cleveland was hamstrung financially by salary-cap issues.
Then, the Irving trade demand was a cannonball in Gilbert’s backyard basketball pool.
“Well, how is your guys’ summer going?” Gilbert quipped in a light-hearted moment.
Beyond its implications with the Cavs, Irving’s appeal to be traded appears to have damaged his relationship with James. The stars have taken swipes at each other with posts on social media, and it remains to be seen if they can patch things up.
Altman dismissed any Irving-James rift.
“I think a lot of it has been overblown,” he said. “I think the people who are in this building every day haven’t seen any of that animosity. This is, along with Kevin Love, this is a group that got us to three straight Finals and won an NBA championship together. They play great together on the floor and a lot of that I do think is overblown.”
Gilbert opened the news conference by introducing other members of Cleveland’s front office, which was reconfigured following Griffin’s departure last month. He then had high praise for Altman, who in the past few weeks has done all he could to bolster an aging Cleveland bench that was exposed by the Warriors.
Altman also signed free agent guard Derrick Rose, who could be an option to start if the Cavs can’t work things out with Irving.
“We signed him on my first official day on the job, so that’s not a bad start, right?” Altman said of the 28-year-old Rose, a former league MVP.
Truth is, things may not be as bad for the Cavaliers as has been suggested.
In James, the Cavs still have the game’s best all-around player and Cleveland remains the Eastern Conference’s elite team despite Boston’s acquisition of Gordon Hayward. The Cavs may not have closed the gap on the Warriors, but there isn’t anyone on their heels — yet.
That could change next summer when James can opt out of his contract and hit the free-agent market.
For now, though, Gilbert and Altman said the three-time champion is invested in the Cavaliers.
“LeBron remains deeply committed to this organization,” Altman said. “He remains deeply committed to this team and deeply committed to this city. He has deep roots to this city. And it means a lot to him to be here and compete for championships for years to come. That’s his goal, and so we have shared goals.”
Gilbert paused for a moment before addressing James’ future beyond 2017-18.
“That hunger is as strong as I’ve ever seen,” Gilbert said. “I think beyond this season I don’t know, we’re focused on this season.”
WASHINGTON (AP) — John Wall signed his $170 million, four-year contract extension that owner Ted Leonsis said provides the Washington Wizards with long-term stability.
Team President Ernie Grunfeld announced the completion of the deal Wednesday. Wall said in a video posted on Twitter on Friday that he had agreed to the extension that begins in 2019-20 and includes a player option for 2023-24.
Wall, a four-time Eastern Conference All-Star, is the third player this summer to get a designated player “supermax” extension, joining Houston’s James Harden and Golden State’s Stephen Curry.
“John is an exceptional talent and a cornerstone for our team,” Leonsis said. “It’s John’s unique blend of skill and leadership that makes us a championship-caliber team.”
The Wizards now have their big three locked up. Earlier this offseason they matched a $106.5 million, four-year offer sheet forward Otto Porter Jr. signed with the Brooklyn Nets and last summer signed guard Bradley Beal to a $128 million, five-year contract that goes through 2020-21.
Porter was temporarily Washington’s highest-paid player, but that honor now belongs to Wall, the No. 1 pick in the 2010 draft out of Kentucky who set career highs with 23.1 points, 10.7 assists and 2.0 steals last season. Wall has averaged 18.8 points over seven NBA seasons.
“Returning to the only team I’ve known in my professional career was an easy decision for me,” Wall said. “I understand my role as the leader of this franchise and I will continue to work hard to improve my game and make our team better. … I’m excited to bring them and this city continued success and a team they can be proud of.”
The Wizards missed the playoffs in Wall’s first three seasons before making it in two of the past three. Wall averaged 27.2 points a game as Washington got to Game 7 of the second round this spring before losing to Boston.
“He has constantly worked to improve and expand his game and has developed into an all-NBA player who has elevated our franchise,” Grunfeld said. “We are thrilled that he will continue to lead us through the prime years of his career and look forward to watching as he solidifies his place among the greatest players in our team’s history.”
PHOENIX (AP) — Ketel Marte is still trying to find his hitting stroke since being called up from the minors in late June. He isn’t a regular player and admitted he wished he was doing better than his .220 average.
On Wednesday, however, Marte showed bat and speed prowess with a rare inside-the-park home run, helping the Diamondbacks beat the Atlanta Braves 10-3.
“It’s fun for the fans. Everyone knows I run well,” Marte said in Spanish. “I never looked at the ball when it left the bat. I just ran hard and when I got to second base, I looked at the (third-base) coach and he sent me, so I just ran faster.”
The Diamondbacks put on an offensive show, as J.D. Martinez homered twice, his second and third home runs in the past three days and two of his first three as a Diamondback. It was Martinez’s third multi-home run game of the season, the first two as a Detroit Tiger.
Marte ripped a high drive off the right field corner fence with one out in the bottom of the third inning, and the ball ricocheted and rolled back toward the infield with Braves outfielder Sean Rodriguez unable to gather it in. Marte circled the bases and crossed home plate standing with his arms outstretched.
“It’s one of those moments where you do something that you don’t see very often, and you laugh about it, you joke about it,” Diamondbacks manager Torey Lovullo said. “Then when you realize we scored two runs and we stretched the lead out, you realize the importance of it.”
Daniel Descalso tripled in two runs earlier in the inning, backing starting pitcher Patrick Corbin (8-9).
Corbin wasn’t always sharp, but got through six innings with two runs allowed and seven hits. He struck out five and walked four to go with a hit batter and wild pitch.
“Worked a little but harder than I wanted to,” Corbin said. “Just kind of lost it a little bit, but then was able to lock it back in and minimize damage and work out of jams.”
Braves right-hander Aaron Blair was done after three innings. Blair (0-1) allowed five runs and five hits with five walks and three strikeouts after being called up from Triple-A Gwinnett to make the start.
“I couldn’t really locate the fastball when I needed to,” Blair said. “I had the slider and curveball for strikes when I needed it. I just fell behind and when I needed to make a pitch it just wasn’t there … Five free passes in three innings is not going to help you at all.”
Matt Kemp’s groundout drove in Brandon Phillips with the game’s first run in the top of the first, but the Diamondbacks responded in the bottom of the inning after two stolen bases by Gregor Blanco.
Blanco raced home on Jake Lamb’s sacrifice fly to tie the score.
Descalso drove in Lamb and Paul Goldschmidt, who both walked to start the bottom of the third. Then came Marte’s third home run of the season.
Martinez launched his first home run with two outs in the fourth off Braves reliever Luke Jackson. It drove in Goldschmidt, who doubled twice and scored three runs.
Martinez later took Ian Krol deep in the eighth with Goldschmidt aboard.
“He continues to grow and learn about National League pitching,” Lovullo said of Martinez.
Phillips’ sacrifice fly in the fourth accounted for Atlanta’s second run, and Nick Markakis singled in Dansby Swanson in the eighth. Brandon Drury’s pinch-hit single scored Marte in the seventh.
Swanson ended a career high 0-for-19 hitless streak with his two hits.
Arizona improved to 27-0 when scoring seven or more runs and scored 10 or more for the 15th time this season.
DANCING OFF SECOND
After Blanco stole second base in the first inning, he playfully hopped on and off the bag while Braves second baseman Phillips was bent over with the ball in his glove. Phillips, playing along, then faked a tag.
Moments later, Blanco avoided the tag of third baseman Johan Camargo and got another steal, even though the Braves appeared to have Blanco picked off second. Blanco was originally called out, but the Diamondbacks challenged the call and replays showed Camargo missed the tag as Blanco ran by him.
SUNS IN THE HOUSE
Phoenix Suns guard Devin Booker and power forward Alan Williams, whom the team announced signed a multi-year contract earlier in the day, attended Wednesday’s game.
Diamondbacks: P Rubby De La Rosa was reinstated from the 10-day disabled list and pitched the ninth inning. Reliever J.J. Hoover was optioned to Triple-A Reno after Tuesday night’s game.
Braves: After a day off Thursday, the Braves open a four-game series at Philadelphia with RHP Julio Teheran (7-8) pitching the opener.
Diamondbacks: RHP Zack Godley (3-4) is coming off a career-high 10-strikeout performance in his last start. He gets the call in a series opener at the St. Louis Cardinals.
SEATTLE (AP) — When Chris Sale woke up Wednesday, he was unaware the Red Sox were on a four-game losing streak.
“I actually fell asleep before the end of it. I woke up this morning and heard the news,” Sale said of Boston’s 13-inning loss the previous night.
Sale was brilliant, pitching seven innings of three-hit ball in a 4-0 win over the Seattle Mariners that featured a home run by 20-year-old Rafael Devers, who became the youngest Boston player to hit a home run in more than 50 years.
Sale headed back to the team hotel early on Tuesday night to be rested for a day game. He didn’t know about Seattle’s two-run rally in the 13th inning, shortly after midnight.
About 12 hours later, the Red Sox got exactly what they needed from their ace to avoid being swept. He struck out 11, the 14th time this season he reached double digits. Sale allowed doubles to Jean Segura and Guillermo Heredia, and a broken-bat single to Ben Gamel, but none of the three to reach base via hit ever advanced.
“It’s deception, it’s angle. He does a lot of things well,” Gamel said.
Sale (13-4) has struck out at least nine batters in each of his 12 road starts this season, the longest streak dating to 1913. He’s won five of his last six decisions and became the first AL pitcher with 13 wins.
In two starts on Boston’s trip, Sale allowed seven hits in 13 innings and struck out 20.
“We’re watching one of the better years ever pitched by a major league pitcher in the American League,” Boston manager John Farrell said. “We’re fortunate it’s in our uniform.”
A day after his major league debut, Devers led off the third inning by sending a 2-1 fastball from starter Andrew Moore out to center field for his first hit in the majors. At 20 years and 275 days old, Devers was the youngest Red Sox player to homer since Tony Conigliaro in September 1965. Devers added a single in the seventh inning.
“It was surreal. When I got back to the dugout I could barely walk to be honest with you,” Devers said through an interpreter. “I was just so happy about it. It was just a good moment.”
Moore (1-3) was solid, but the long ball was his problem. Along with Devers’ shot, Moore gave up a two-out, two-run homer to Sandy Leon in the fourth inning. Moore hung a 1-2 curveball and Leon hit his sixth homer of the season. Moore was able to save Seattle’s bullpen by lasting 6 2/3 innings.
“He’s learning. Certainly, I like his competitiveness. He just didn’t have that pitch to finish them today and the home run ball got him,” Seattle manager Scott Servais said of Moore. “I do like the way he’s able to make adjustments in-game, he’s done that a number of times.”
Boston recorded its fifth shutout of the season and second in the past two weeks. Oddly enough, three of Boston’s shutouts came against Seattle; the teams played just six times in the regular season.
Boston’s Mookie Betts and Seattle’s Robinson Cano, both All-Stars this year, got a break from the starting lineup with each team having a day off Thursday. Cano’s only duty was catching the ceremonial first pitch from Seattle Seahawks QB Russell Wilson.
Red Sox: Boston placed right-handed pitcher Ben Taylor on the 10-day disabled list with a strained muscle in his ribs. The move was retroactive to July 23. The Red Sox activated right-hander Blaine Boyer from the disabled list. Boyer had been out since July 16 with an elbow strain.
Mariners: OF Jarrod Dyson (toe) is expected back in the lineup on Friday. Dyson missed the previous three games after hyperextending his toe crashing into the wall last Saturday against the Yankees. Servais wanted to give Dyson one more game off with an off day on Thursday.
Red Sox: After a day off, Boston opens up a 10-game homestand against Kansas City. David Price (5-3) will start in the opener.
Mariners: Following an off day, the Mariners open a three-game series with the New York Mets. Ariel Miranda (7-4) will start the opener on Friday.
Real Salt Lake’s Brooks Lennon jokes that the reason he ended up with Liverpool is because of his last name.
The 19-year-old MLS rookie, on loan from the Premier League team this season, even notes that his dad’s name is John, so there was some kind of kismet that he landed in the birthplace of the Beatles.
“Lennon is a huge name in Liverpool,” he said, laughing.
Lennon is considered a rising star who has been able to ply his skills this year in both Major League Soccer and for the U.S. national team. He was named to the MLS Homegrown team this week and will face Chivas de Guadalajara’s under-20 team next Tuesday in Chicago as part of the league’s All-Star Game festivities.
Lennon grew up in the Phoenix area, joining RSL’s Arizona-based development academy as a youngster. He scored 31 goals with the under-18 academy team that went to the USSDA championship match in the 2014-15 season.
“I was always playing a year up with my club teams, I was always playing with older guys,” Lennon said. “Then when I got to the RSL Academy it kind of all changed and I knew I wanted to take this really seriously and make it a career.”
From there he caught the eye of the legendary English team and trained with Liverpool from 2015 to 2017, playing most frequently with the under-23 team. He had a pair of goals in 12 appearances last season in Premier League 2 play.
Looking for more experience, he joined RSL during preseason training this year and Liverpool agreed to the yearlong loan.
It was originally thought Lennon would serve a reserve role with the MLS club and his main focus would be on further development. But injuries thrust him into a starting role. He’s started in 11 of 13 games he’s played in this season, with a goal and an assist.
Liverpool checks up on him often. The loan is up in December, and after that Lennon has six months left on his contract with the team.
He said his experience playing with an EPL team overseas has been invaluable.
“I matured very quickly living on my own over there, and I worked hard to compete with the best players in the world at my age. I definitely grew as a player,” he said. “I think I got so much better through experience, and also some of the coaching that I was able to get was phenomenal.”
Lennon also played on the U.S. under-20 team that went to the quarterfinals of that level’s World Cup in South Korea in June. Although the Americans lost 2-1 to Venezuela, they fared well in their group. It was the second time under coach Tab Ramos that the team advanced to the quarters.
Lennon believes it’s a sign the future is bright for U.S. Soccer.
“Our youth system and our youth teams are succeeding, going far in tournaments and actually competing for titles,” he said. “Years back it was all about the European teams.”
GAME OF THE WEEK: Toronto, currently sitting atop the Eastern Conference, will host NYCFC on Sunday. The Reds are coming off a 1-1 draw with the Colorado Rapids at BMO Field. They’re led by Sebastian Giovinco, who has nine goals.
NYCFC sits at third in the East and the team is coming off a 2-1 victory over Chicago, playing a man down. The win snapped an 11-match unbeaten streak for Chicago.
“When you’re going with 10 men, players regroup together, and fight and work harder than when they are 11. It’s actually really strange,” NYCFC coach Patrick Vieira said.
Toronto and NYCFC played to a 2-2 draw at Yankee Stadium on July 19.
BEST OF THE REST: Forward Dom Dwyer is expected to play for Orlando City in Atlanta on Saturday. Dwyer was traded from Sporting Kansas City to Orlando in a record-breaking deal Tuesday. Dwyer has attracted attention as a breakout star for the U.S. national team, scoring in his first appearance after becoming an American citizen in March.
Sporting will host Chicago on Saturday in the team’s first game without Dwyer.
PLAYER OF THE WEEK: Red Bulls midfielder Daniel Royer earned Player of the Week honors. Royer scored a pair of goals in a win against the Earthquakes last week before a goal and an assist against Minnesota last Saturday. That brings him to eight goals and two assists for the season.
BASTI GETS CAPTAIN’S NOD: Chicago Fire midfielder Bastian Schweinsteiger has been named captain of the MLS All-Star team.
The All-Star captain has been selected over the past three years via a fan vote on Snapchat. Other candidates this year were Colorado’s Tim Howard and NYCFC’s David Villa.
MELBOURNE, Australia (AP) — Jarrod Lyle is in a hospital getting treatment following a recurrence of the cancer he has twice overcome.
Golf Australia issued a statement Wednesday on behalf of the Lyle family, saying the 35-year-old golfer was in Royal Melbourne Hospital for what doctors suspect will be a third fight against leukemia. He beat the acute myeloid leukemia in 1998 and in 2012.
Lyle’s wife, Briony, later was quoted on the Sydney Morning Herald newspaper’s website as saying the diagnosis had been confirmed.
“We’ve just received confirmation that Jarrod does have a relapse of AML, which is what he’s had twice already,” Briony Lyle was quoted as saying. “Right now, as we’re in this room, he’s beginning his chemotherapy treatment. We’re not sure how long it will be for. The aim of it is to get him into remission.”
A routine blood test returned abnormal results and Lyle was immediately admitted to a hospital and placed under the care of his previous medical specialist.
“The doctor said today it is a curative intent. The aim is to provide some sort of a cure,” Briony Lyle was quoted as saying in the newspaper. “They’re still doing quite a few more tests. He will require another transplant and it does sound as if the technology has come a long way in the past five years.
“He’s got a good track record and that’s what everyone keeps reminding themselves. He’s done it before, why not a third time? That’s the goal.”
Lyle was first diagnosed with acute myeloid leukemia at age 17 and was declared in remission two years later. After playing on the Australasian, Nationwide and PGA Tours, Lyle had a relapse in 2012 — not long after starting the year with a fourth-place finish at the Northern Trust Open in Los Angeles and after the birth of his first child. He again underwent life-saving treatment.
He returned to the United States in 2015 to use his medical exemption in an attempt to win back his PGA Tour card but missed out and returned to live in Australia in 2016.
For more than a year, Novak Djokovic’s right elbow hurt when he hit serves or forehands. The pain kept getting worse, and now he’s going to give his arm a chance to heal by sitting out the rest of 2017.
Djokovic will miss the U.S. Open, ending his streak of participating in 51 consecutive Grand Slam tournaments, and aims to return to the ATP tour in January. He made the announcement Wednesday — exactly a year to the day after Roger Federer said he would be sidelined for the second half of last season.
“This is one of those injuries where nothing can really help instantly. You just have to allow natural rehabilitation to take its course,” Djokovic said. “Professionally, this is not, obviously, an easy decision for me.”
Since entering his first major tournament at the 2005 Australian Open, Djokovic has never missed one, the third-longest active run among men and seventh-longest in history.
In that time, the 30-year-old Serb has won 12 Grand Slam titles, including the U.S. Open in 2011 and 2015. Only three men have won more major tennis singles championships: Federer (19), Rafael Nadal (15) and Pete Sampras (14).
“The remarkable series has come to an end,” Djokovic said. “My body has its limits, and I have to respect that and be grateful for all that I have achieved so far.”
He said that Andre Agassi, with whom he recently began working on a part-time basis, will be his coach after the hiatus. Djokovic plans to start with a tuneup tournament ahead of the Australian Open at the start of 2018.
“He supports my decision to take a break and remains my head coach,” Djokovic said about Agassi, also noting that he’ll be looking for a new fitness trainer. “He is going to help me get back into shape and bounce back strong after the recovery period.”
His last match was on July 12, when he stopped playing during his Wimbledon quarterfinal against Tomas Berdych because the elbow was too painful. Djokovic said then he had been struggling with the elbow on his racket-swinging arm for about 1½ years, which he reiterated Wednesday. He said he does not need surgery.
Since winning the 2016 French Open to become the eighth man to complete a career Grand Slam and the first man in nearly a half-century to win four consecutive major trophies, Djokovic’s form has dipped. His ranking dropped from No. 1 to No. 4; he failed to defend any of those major titles.
He acknowledged Wednesday that he “felt worn out” and “flat” after the run of success that culminated at Roland Garros in 2016.
“I was searching for myself, for motivation,” he said.
Djokovic made it past the quarterfinals at only one of the past five majors: last year’s U.S. Open, where he lost in the final to Stan Wawrinka.
Djokovic, who also mentioned Wednesday that his wife is expecting their second child, reached at least the semifinals at Arthur Ashe Stadium each of the past 10 years. That includes seven appearances in the final.
Henri Laaksonen of Switzerland, who is ranked 95th, will get Djokovic’s spot in the field at Flushing Meadows. This year’s U.S. Open starts Aug. 28.
“All the doctors I’ve consulted, and all the specialists I have visited, in Serbia and all over the world, have agreed that this injury requires rest. A prolonged break from the sport is inevitable,” Djokovic said. “I’ll do whatever it takes to recover.”
Federer demonstrated the benefits of a break last year, sitting out after Wimbledon to let his surgically repaired left knee heal fully.
He missed the Rio Olympics and U.S. Open and dropped out of the top 10 in the rankings.
But Federer was rejuvenated at age 35 when he returned at the beginning of this season and won the Australian Open to end a 4½-year Grand Slam drought, plus titles at Indian Wells and Miami. He took more time off after that, missing the clay-court circuit, and returned for the grass, winning his eighth Wimbledon championship and 19th major title overall this month.
“Well, I hope it’s not a trend,” Federer said about lengthy absences, the day after he won Wimbledon. “You’ve got to have the same issues that I had. I didn’t just walk away from the game for six months last year just because I was in the mood to. I actually had to, so it’s a big difference there, as well. But, yes, everybody needs to manage their own schedules.”
SAN DIEGO (AP) — The father of retired Australian tennis star Mark Philippoussis was being held on $2.5 million bail Wednesday in San Diego after being arrested on suspicion of molesting two children.
Nikolaos Philippoussis, 68, is a personal tennis coach and the two alleged victims were his students, according to the San Diego County Sheriff’s Department.
He was jailed on multiple counts, including lewd and lascivious conduct with a child under 14 years old and sexual intercourse/sodomy with a child 10 years old or younger.
Authorities have found no indication that the elder Philippoussis was affiliated with a tennis school and did not know how many students he had, said sheriff’s Lt. Greg Rylaarsdam. He declined to identify the genders of the two alleged victims or their exact ages.
“We’re in the midst of this thing, not the end of it,” Rylaarsdam said.
Philippoussis was arrested Tuesday at his home in San Diego and authorities searched the premises. Jail records do not identify any attorney representing him and Philippoussis did not immediately respond to a message sent through the sheriff’s department Wednesday.
Mark Philippoussis was a two-time Grand Slam finalist who ranked as high as eighth in the world. He helped Australia win the Davis Cup in 1999 and 2003.
His father was his coach for much of his career until 2006, when he struck out on his own, according to The Sydney Morning Herald.
“My dad’s my dad. He’s been there from the start,” the newspaper quoted Mark saying at the time. “Without him, I wouldn’t be where I am. There’s nothing at all that’s happened with my dad. I just needed to spend some time on my own.”
The tennis star recently wrote on his Instagram account, “Happy Father’s Day dad, you were (and still are) always by my side protecting me and guiding me through life, and now watching you do the same with your grandson Nicholas is so beautiful to watch and I remain so grateful and blessed.”
Steve Walker, a spokesman for the San Diego County district attorney, said any criminal charges would be filed at Philippoussis’ arraignment, which must be held by Friday.
MOORESVILLE, N.C. (AP) — Ryan Blaney will drive a third entry for Team Penske in NASCAR’s top series next year.
Blaney will drive the No. 12 Ford and join Joey Logano and Brad Keselowski in team owner Roger Penske’s NASCAR lineup. The 23-year-old Blaney was signed to Penske in 2012 and farmed out to race for Wood Brothers Racing. Blaney won his first career NASCAR Cup race this season at Pocono .
“The main goal when it started was, I wanted to drive in the Cup series for Penske,” said Blaney, a third-generation driver. “I didn’t really know what the timeline was going to be. I just kind of went with what we’d figure out year after year. I knew that the plan was going to open up eventually.”
Logano and Keselowski both signed long-term extensions with Penske this season. Penske has not run three cars full-time since the 2010 season with Keselowski, Kurt Busch and Sam Hornish Jr.
Blaney has three top-five finishes this season and is 12th in the standings. He will take crew chief Jeremy Bullins with him in 2018. His sponsor was not announced.
Blaney is part of a wave of young drivers who are proving themselves worthy replacements for yesterday’s stars.
“He certainly should be proud of what he’s been able to accomplish and how he’s been able to adapt to changing times,” Team Penske President Tim Cindric said. “There’s more than just driving the race car. You’ve got to do all the other things that go along with it, especially in our environment. You have to adapt to the current culture that’s there.”
One example: Blaney went on Facebook Live on Wednesday and said he wanted to race in the Indianapolis 500.
Penske said the time was right to bring Blaney back in the fold.
“For some time now, we have wanted to bring Ryan in to run a third car for us, but things just needed to make sense from a timing and business perspective,” Penske said. “We have been working on making this a reality and 2018 is the right opportunity to make this move and return our organization to a three-car team. The benefits of having three full-time teams under our roof, along with the continued technical partnership with the Wood Bothers, will help us remain competitive in the ever-changing NASCAR landscape.”
Penske will need to acquire a charter to run the third car.
“I’m confident we’ll have one in place by the time we go to Daytona,” Cindric said.
Blaney’s win at Pocono was the 99th career victory for the Wood Brothers, one of NASCAR’s oldest and most storied teams. He was only the 18th driver to take the Wood Brothers to victory lane.
Paul Menard will leave Richard Childress Racing and drive for Wood Brothers Racing next season. Menard won the 2011 Brickyard 400 for his lone Cup win driving for RCR, which did not immediately announce his replacement. The team also is working on obtaining a charter.
Penske started the groundwork last year for Menard’s defection when he reached a sponsorship deal with billionaire hardware mogul John Menard in the IndyCar Series. Menard was a team owner and sponsor in the series but walked away after the 2004 season to back his son in NASCAR.
In 2018, his son will race under the Penske umbrella. Menard also drive select Xfinity Series races for Team Penske in 2018.
“It’s been a year in the making to get this deal done,” Menard said.
Greg Erwin will serve as crew chief.
SAN ANTONIO (AP) — Mexican government officials said Wednesday they were working to reunite families with some of the survivors of a failed human smuggling operation and had been assured by U.S. immigration officials that they would not question relatives about their legal status in the United States.
Ten immigrants, including seven from Mexico, died after a sweltering ride from the Texas border city of Laredo in a tractor-trailer without air conditioning on Sunday. Another of the dead was identified as being from Guatemala; two others were not publicly identified.
At least 29 immigrants survived, according to U.S. officials. Twelve remained hospitalized Wednesday in San Antonio.
The driver of the big rig, James Matthew Bradley Jr., waived a detention hearing that had been scheduled for Thursday and remained in federal custody, charged with illegally transporting immigrants for financial gain, resulting in death. Federal court records indicated a new hearing was set for Aug. 23, when Bradley was expected to a give video deposition. The 60-year-old Florida trucker could face the death penalty, if convicted.
Latin American diplomats worked, meanwhile, to confirm names of the dead and injured, most of who were not publicly identified.
The top Mexican diplomatic official in San Antonio said relatives of some of the immigrants didn’t even know their family members had left for the United States. Consular officials were working to notify families, repatriate bodies and arrange hospital visits for relatives of the survivors.
“We have to make sure everyone is informed and everyone knows where their children are,” said Reyna Torres Mendivil, the Mexican consul general for San Antonio.
U.S. immigration authorities assured her, she said, that any relatives escorted by consular officials on hospital visits would not be questioned about their legal status.
Thirteen immigrants were in federal custody, being held as material witnesses in the government’s case against Bradley, the U.S. Attorney’s office announced.
Their appointed attorney, Michael McCrum, said it was too early to know whether they would receive visas or be allowed to settle in the United States in consideration for their help.
“One of my concerns is that they begin to be treated as chips in a political game instead of real people who have been severely abused,” McCrum said.
It’s not clear how many immigrants in total were in the tractor-trailer. An unknown number fled once its doors were opened in a Walmart parking lot early Sunday, on foot or into six waiting black SUVs, according to a federal criminal complaint against the driver.
One victim, a 19-year-old who had been previously deported and was trying to get back to his family in Maryland, was identified as a Guatemalan national by diplomat Cristy Andrino.
Andrino told the AP that Frank Guisseppe Fuentes immigrated to the U.S. as a child, but was deported this past March.
Another of the dead was identified as Jose Rodriguez Aspeitia, 34, from the Mexican town of Palo Alto, Aguascalientes. A town spokesman told The Associated Press that Aspeitia had worked in construction there and had apparently spent time in the United States. Aspeitia was rescued from the tractor-trailer, but later died at a hospital.
An Aguascalientes state government official at the consulate told the AP that Aspeitia’s family was driving north to San Antonio, hoping to cross the border on humanitarian grounds.
Investigators have said they believe Bradley was part of a larger organization involved in human smuggling that authorities are trying to identify and dismantle.
Bradley had his commercial driving privileges suspended by Florida three months before Sunday’s deadly smuggling attempt, officials said. And court records show he had been repeatedly cited for violating federal motor carrier safety regulations in Iowa dating back to 1995. At least two of the tickets were for logging more hours than allowed.
OMAHA, Neb. (AP) — Two Omaha police officers will face assault charges in the death of a mentally ill man who was shocked with a stun gun a dozen times and repeatedly punched, even after he was on the ground, a Nebraska prosecutor said Wednesday.
Douglas County Attorney Don Kleine made the announcement while revealing police video that captured the altercation officers Scotty Payne and Ryan McClarty had with 29-year-old Zachary Bearheels at an Omaha convenience store. Kleine said he wouldn’t file more serious charges against the officers because a coroner could not directly link their actions to the Oklahoma man’s death.
Police cruiser video shows Payne using a stun gun to shock Bearheels and McClarty punching Bearheels. Some of the blows came after Bearheels was on the ground and not resisting. Kleine said he would charge Payne with second-degree assault, a felony punishable by up to 20 years in prison. He said he’s charging McClarty with third-degree assault, a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in prison.
Bearheels, a Native American from Oklahoma, was lost in Omaha after being kicked off an interstate bus going from South Dakota to his home state, according to his family. Police were responding to a report of a man causing a disturbance who would not leave when they encountered Bearheels. Kleine said Bearheels “had committed no crimes.”
Police have said Bearheels was acting erratically and fought officers’ efforts to take him into custody. After the altercation, Bearheels was taken to a hospital, where he was pronounced dead.
Matthew Burns, an attorney for Payne, said his client is hoping that bail is set low enough that he can be released on Friday, when he’s set to turn himself in to police.
“He feels awful,” Burns said of Payne. “He’s not a bad person. He didn’t set out that day to go to work with the intent to hurt anyone.”
Joseph Naatz, an attorney for McClarty, did not immediately return a message Wednesday seeking comment.
The officers, both of whom are black, were fired earlier this month based on the recommendation of police Chief Todd Schmaderer. Two other officers who witnessed the altercation were placed on administrative leave following Bearheels’ death but do not face any charges.
Asked why he didn’t charge Payne or McClarty with murder or manslaughter, Kleine said, “there’s no evidence whatsoever that these officers intentionally killed Zachary Bearheels.” Kleine also cited an autopsy report that said Bearheels died of “excited delirium,” but couldn’t say that the shocks or punching of Bearheels caused his death.
Bearheels’ mother has told police and media in Omaha that her son was bipolar and schizophrenic. Relatives believe he had stopped taking his medication.
Nebraska law requires a grand jury investigation any time a person dies in police custody or while in the process of being arrested. Kleine said a grand jury has been set to convene on Sept. 26, but that the charges he’s brought “likely make the grand jury process in this case moot.”
An Omaha police union blasted Kleine’s decision to charge the officers. The Omaha Police Officers’ Association accused the Douglas County Attorney’s Office of bowing to pressure and said prosecutors should have allowed a grand jury to determine whether charges were warranted.
The case prompted the city of Omaha to announce the forming of a Native American advisory board and training for police officers on indigenous culture.
Several members of the Native American community were present Wednesday for the announcement of charges, with most expressing outrage that Payne and McClarty aren’t facing more serious charges and that no charges have been brought against two other officers on the scene.
April Gladfelter, 52, of Omaha, is a member of the Omaha Tribe and issued an emotional plea during the news conference for police to better learn how to interact with the mentally ill. Gladfelter said she has a son who is mentally ill, prompting her to contact Bearheels’ mother after his death. The women now speak daily, she said.
“I fear for my son’s life every day,” she said, sobbing. “Are the police going to shoot him because he’s talking to himself?”
PHILADELPHIA (AP) — The mayor of Allentown and the former mayor of Reading have been charged with corruption for a series of pay-to-play schemes officials likened to putting for-sale signs on their offices while promising political favors to deep-pocketed donors.
Allentown Mayor Ed Pawlowski and former Reading Mayor Vaughn Spencer have been charged with multiple counts of bribery and fraud, according to indictments that detail how the two Democrats handed lucrative city contracts to donors who showered them with cash and gifts.
“Pawlowski and Spencer essentially put a for-sale sign up in front of city hall in Reading and in Allentown to sell their office and their services to the highest bidder,” said Acting U.S. Attorney Louis Lappen.
Prosecutors allege Pawlowski attempted to steer contracts for jobs such as streetlight upgrades, a cyber security deal and other legal work toward those who gave him money from 2012 to 2015. In total, he accepted more than $150,000 in campaign contributions in exchange for the use of his office, prosecutors said.
He allegedly tried to hide his actions by deleting emails between himself and his donors. He also had his office swept for listening devices he believed were installed by law enforcement, according to the indictment.
Pawlowski, the mayor of Pennsylvania’s third-largest city who first took office in 2006 and is now in his third term, denied wrongdoing at a Wednesday press conference and said he will not resign.
“I’m disappointed about the filing of these allegations against me.” he said, “But I want to make it clear to everyone, I have done nothing wrong.”
Spencer, who was elected Reading’s mayor in 2012, sought to keep large sums of money flowing to a re-election campaign and is reported to have made clear to donors he would use the power of his office to punish those who didn’t provide satisfactory cash contributions, prosecutors said.
In one instance, Spencer agreed to award a contract worth $227,000 to an engineering firm after a representative for the company told him he would receive a $1,500 contribution and four tickets to a Philadelphia Phillies game. In another, prosecutors said Spencer bribed the president of Reading’s city council to repeal an anti-corruption statute. The council president was previously sentenced to two years in federal prison for taking the bribe.
The federal investigation of the two city governments began in 2013 and previously led to charges against a slew of lower-ranking city officials and contractors. It became public in 2015 when FBI agents raided both city halls as well as the homes of Pawlowski and Spencer.
The indictments also named three others, including the former school board president in Reading, the state’s fifth-largest city. The suspects are expected to appear in court Thursday and next Tuesday, officials said.
No attorney was listed in court documents for Spencer.
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — The battle over the Trump administration’s review of two national monuments in New Mexico is bringing up a historic clash that goes back generations and is tainted by race, heritage and the right to land.
And both sides are framing it as a civil rights issue.
Those who support keeping the monument designation say it is about preserving ancient Native American petroglyphs, helping bring tourism to area battling poverty and setting aside important New Mexico landscape where outlaw Billy the Kid and Apache leader Geronimo once sought refuge.
Opponents, like some Hispanic ranchers with ties to the region that go back generations, say the designations are just another attempt by the federal government to attack grazing rights and water access while discounting their historical connection to the land.
These are the tensions that will greet U.S. Interior Secretary Ryan Zinke, who is scheduled to visit Las Cruces, New Mexico, on Thursday in connection with the Trump administration’s review of Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument and the Rio Grande del Norte National Monument.
He is slated to meet with supporters and opponents after touring the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument by helicopter.
But Zinke is not scheduled to attend a heated town hall meeting at the Las Cruces Convention Center where supporters of the monument designations promise to project large Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument images and promotional videos.
His meetings on Friday with the Mescalero Apache and Organ Mountains Desert Peaks proponents are closed to the press.
The Rio Grande del Norte National Monument in northern New Mexico and the Organ Mountains-Desert Peaks National Monument near the U.S.-Mexico border are among 27 monuments where a review ordered by President Donald Trump might remove protections previously considered irreversible under the Obama Administration.
The review is rekindling a fierce debate about oversight of lands marked by ancient petroglyphs and towering mountain spires in New Mexico.
Mark Allison, executive director of the New Mexico Wilderness Alliance, said the monument designations have “an overwhelming” and diverse base of support, which includes the mayors of Las Cruces, Mesilla, Anthony and Sunland Park
“The monument designations protect some iconic landscape from future oil and gas development,” Allison said. “We’ve certainly seen an increase in tourism, visitations and economic development connected to the monuments.”
The designations also are protecting sites where the Apollo missions trained for the moon landing and those connected to ancient Native American pueblos.
But Dave Sanchez, a New Mexico rancher and a member of the Northern New Mexico Stockmen’s Association, said the designations hurt Hispanic ranchers whose families have long fought the federal government over uses of historical land ties in colonial Spanish land grants.
“This is a massive land grab in northern New Mexico,” Sanchez said. “Our people are being displaced, and our heritage is not being respected.”
Since the designation, Sanchez said some cattle families have been denied access to the Rio Grande — something that has been protected for generations. Others are facing problems over grazing,
Sanchez said the Trump Administration’s review as created supporters among some New Mexico Hispanic ranchers who are rarely asked about their opinions.
“We live in some of the poorest areas in America,” Sanchez said. “We can’t keep our kids here, and this is making it worse.”
SANTA FE, N.M. (AP) — Justices of the New Mexico Supreme Court prodded prosecutors and public defenders Wednesday for possible ways to ease pressure on defense attorneys in the state who have complained of being overwhelmed by crushing caseloads of poor clients that they say hinders their ability to provide effective representation.
Public defenders last year declined to represent or withdrew their representation of hundreds of indigent criminal defendants facing jail time in the southeastern corner of the state, only to be rebuffed by a district court judge who said they were doing reasonably good work.
The independent agency overseeing public defenders across New Mexico took its concerns to the Supreme Court, emphasizing in arguments that many of its public defense attorneys have caseloads that exceed independent recommendations.
Meanwhile, state and local prosecutors told the five-member court that evidence is insufficient to show indigent defendants are being left without adequate legal representation, both in the case under scrutiny for Lea County and across the state.
The court took no immediate action Wednesday, reserving more time for deliberations that could stretch for weeks or months. Several justices sought suggestions on how New Mexico should measure whether heavy caseloads threaten constitutional guarantees to effective legal representation, and on possible emergency measures to ease burdens on public defenders without compromising public safety.
“If we were to conclude that the public defender’s office can’t completely and constitutionally and statutorily comply with their obligations to provide adequate representation to all the clients, what can the courts do in that situation with those clients?” Justice Charles Daniels asked.
The Law Offices of the Public Defender has suggested possibly dismissing cases involving relatively minor, nonviolent offenses and recruiting attorneys without pay to serve poor defendants.
Assistant New Mexico Attorney General Regina Ryanczak insisted evidence is insufficient to prove that public defense attorneys were stretched too thin to provide effective legal representation in Lea County, while acknowledging pressures across the judiciary to conserve money amid a downturn in state revenues, largely due to low oil and gas prices in a state that depends heavily on the petroleum industry.
She cited high acquittal rates in Lea County as evidence of effective representation by public defenders — rates that public defenders regard as evidence of overzealous prosecutions that clog courts.
Pressed for answers about what might be done to limit burdens on public defenders, Ryanczak suggested easing requirements for speedy trials — prompting grumblings from the crowd inside the courtroom.
David Henderson, appellate attorney for the Law Offices of the Public Defender, emphasized that indigent defendants in Lea County went without legal representation at initial court appearances that determine whether they are released on bail or linger in jail.
He acknowledged that detailed statistics did not exist about how much time attorneys spent with defendants, but insisted public defenders are wrongfully being forced to take on new clients while struggling with heavy caseloads.
“It’s our position the evidence shows this is not a local problem, it’s a statewide problem,” Henderson said.
The American Bar Association and a national advocacy group for public defense attorneys support New Mexico’s chief public defender in the Supreme Court proceedings. They have said the New Mexico situation illustrates a national crisis regarding the treatment of poor defendants.
Stephen Hanlon, general counsel for the National Association for Public Defense, told the court New Mexico is a candidate for an in-depth workload study on public defenders that has been performed in states struggling with similar issues including Missouri, Louisiana and Colorado.
RAMAH, N.M. (AP) — After church service Sunday in late February, Tucker Simons drove with his wife and their two baby daughters to Ramah Lake, and they were surprised to see water up to the boat ramps. “I got excited,” Simons, 33, a teacher at the Pine Hill Schools, said. “This is going to be a good year.”
His wife Jade Asher, who is originally from Spokane, Washington, told him she had never seen the lake that full since they got married and teased him, saying, “Oh, it does get water in it.”
The family then started planning summer activities, and for the first time in seven years, Simons started plowing his field along New Mexico Highway 53 in preparation for this year’s alfalfa and oat crops — which he is now irrigating with water from the lake. Ironically, he said, when he was a young boy growing up in Ramah, he did not like the work at the farm and preferred to spend the summers fishing at the lake. Now, farming has become his passion, but it’s still more of a side job, a hobby.
The unpredictable weather, drought, the high alkalinity in the mountain soil and the challenges of growing crops at more than 7,000 feet in elevation make it extremely difficult to earn a living with farming at Ramah and surrounding areas.
Extreme drought conditions caused Ramah Lake to dry out completely in 2014. The lake has made a surprising comeback, and while local farmers have been planting again this year, they are still skeptical about the future.
‘KEEPING OUR HERITAGE’
“You know, sometimes I think it’s kind of crazy,” Simons said about farming in Ramah.
“But, mostly, I think we are keeping our heritage. Grandpa put everything he had on this field. Of all my brothers and sisters, I was the one that hated chickens, horses and cows. Now I have chickens, geese and ducks. If the lake was full more consistently, we could do this full time. That’s something I would love.”
Could it be done full time?
Dean Bond, 79, is a rancher and farmer born and raised in Ramah.
When his son Kelly Bond saw photos of Ramah Lake on social media in early March, he called his father from Colorado to share his excitement. Dean Bond was not surprised because he had been driving to the snowmelt run off stream that feeds the lake several times in winter and knew the lake was coming back.
“With this magic little machine, my son called and said, ‘Hey, dad it looks like the lake has water,'” Dean Bond said, standing before his oat field in Ramah with a cellphone in hand. “You see, all this technology, that phone can’t raise that grain.”
Last fall, Dean Bond planted 300 acres of winterfeed pasture at his ranch on the mountains and another couple dozen acres of oats along N.M. 53 — a field he irrigates with water from Ramah Lake. Every year, he raises about 100-120 head of cattle.
BIG TRUCKS TO HAUL FEED
“I tell my wife and my kids, in the last 10 years, if we didn’t have the big semi-trucks and (Navajo Agricultural Products Industry) farms in Farmington, we would’ve been outta here, because NAPI raises a lot of feed and we have trucks bring loads of hay,” he said. “We’ve been depending on big trucks to feed the cattle and horses. Without them, we would’ve been out of business because we would not have had anything to feed the cows.”
John Lewis, 58, was born and raised in Ramah. The owner of the Stagecoach Cafe on N.M. 53, Lewis also raises cattle, and this year he has 30 cows and has planted about 300 acres of rye and other grain to feed his cattle and horses. But his ranch is on dry land and he depends on “mother nature” to rain on his fields, he said.
“I usually have more cows. Right now things are kind of rough. We had a few years of drought and I didn’t want to overgraze,” Lewis said.
His property near the lake is not set up to irrigate with water from the lake, but he is in the process of setting it up.
“I think it is a good source,” he said. “The lake is only, in my opinion, probably filled by 40 percent capacity. It could probably hold another 50 percent if we got run off. I have seen it full. It was in the 1980s.”
FARMING ISN’T GOING ANYWHERE
As drought continues and winters get warmer, farming is declining and the lake is used for recreational purposes. More locals are spending their days kayaking at the lake or walking along the trails. Most local farmers grow small gardens or grow their produce in greenhouses and sell at the local farmers market.
Despite the challenges, Dean Bond is not discouraged. His grandson Benjamin Larson, 11, has been shadowing his grandfather, helping him care for the cattle and fields in the summer.
“My mom died when I was 3 years old,” Dean Bond said. “I rode behind my dad’s back on the back of a horse until I got big enough to ride a horse. I’ve been in the cattle business all my life. Here we cut the bail. We cut the hay to feed the cattle in the winter. In the last 20-30 years, the young people didn’t like hard work so they left to the city, they like computers. But now they want to come back … farming isn’t going anywhere. You have to eat something that a farmer, or a rancher or a hunter produce. We feed the world.”
ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. (AP) — New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas has unveiled new public service announcements designed to crack down on statewide Medicaid fraud and elder abuse.
The AG’s Office announced Wednesday that Balderas plans to contact state agencies and Medicaid providers regarding the new initiative and asking for the partnership of both the providers and agencies in the new initiative.
Balderas also will be reaching out to the community for information through two new public service announcements.
He says the new commercials will help New Mexicans better identify and report Medicaid fraud, and neglect and abuse in facilities.
Approximately 40 percent of New Mexicans access Medicaid benefits and Medicaid dollars pay for seven in 10 babies born in the state.
ALAMOGORDO, N.M. (AP) — Holloman Air Force Base and engineering firm AECOM are hosting a hiring event to fill 638 fighter jets maintenance jobs.
The Alamogordo Daily News reports (http://bit.ly/2w0CBCW) the workers will maintain two F-16 squadrons from the base in southern New Mexico.
AECOM, who was awarded the contract to maintain the planes, is looking to hire experienced fighter aircraft mechanics. Candidates with prior F-16 experience are highly preferred but candidates with any fighter experience will be considered for employment.
AECOM Senior Technical Recruiter Scott Cain says if the firm can hire about 100 people it would be a great start for its aircraft maintenance contract.
The event is running Tuesday-Thursday at the Tays Center.