Brazilian soccer fan declared brain dead

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Brazilian soccer fan declared brain dead

From Comcast SportsNet
SAO PAULO (AP) -- A Palmeiras fan was declared brain dead on Tuesday, the second casualty from a confrontation involving nearly 500 people from rival groups last weekend. The Sao Camilo hospital said the 19-year-old fan remains on a ventilator but will not recover after receiving head injuries in the fighting on Sunday. His name was not immediately released by the hospital. On Sunday, 21-year-old Palmeiras supporter Andre Alves died after being shot in the head in the confrontation. Two other fans remain hospitalized, a 17-year-old with head injuries and a 23-year-old who was shot in the hip and needed surgery. The announcement that the fan was brain dead came as authorities decided to close the headquarters of the rival fan groups involved in the fighting -- Palmeiras' Mancha Verde and Corinthians' Gavioes da Fiel. The Sao Paulo state football federation indefinitely banned them on Monday from entering stadiums. Authorities seized computers and other material that could bring more information about those involved in the fight, and detained several members suspected of participating in the confrontation. Iron bars and other possible weapons used in the brawl were also seized. Police said one of Alves' brother, a vice president at the Mancha Verde, was shot in the leg during another fight last year. The confrontation on Sunday raised concerns about escalating fan violence in Brazil, and authorities said they will have to take action to keep the fighting from spreading with the country staging the 2014 World Cup. Corinthians' stadium will host the World Cup opener in 2014. "We are against this type of violence because everybody loses," said former Palmeiras player and current club director Cesar Sampaio, who attended Alves' funeral on Monday. "We have to take a stance to try to put an end to this right now." There hadn't been a death linked to fan violence in Brazil since early last year, when a Corinthians supporter was killed after reportedly being ambushed by Palmeiras fans. Police believe Sunday's fight came in retaliation for that death, and Palmeiras supporters are already using social media networks to say they will avenge this weekend's killing. Police were investigating reports that Sunday's fight was set up on the Internet. The Mancha Verde released a note saying the group was ambushed by the Corinthians supporters, but the Gavioes da Fiel denied the allegations. The fans used iron bars, pieces of wood and rocks in the confrontation which lasted several minutes until riot police arrived to intervene. It happened several hours before the match between Corinthians and Palmeiras, several kilometers from the stadium. There had been few incidents involving fan groups in the past few years, but several have been reported in recent months, including some between Corinthians and Palmeiras fans. About a week ago, a 28-year-old fan of small club Guarani died from head injuries after fighting with Ponte Preta supporters in the city of Campinas, about 100 kilometers (60 miles) from Sao Paulo. The death prompted authorities to ban the teams' fan groups from stadiums. The same measure was taken by authorities in the northeastern city of Salvador because of recent incidents involving Bahia fans. There were also fights in Goias state and in Rio de Janeiro recently. Other South American nations have had to deal with fan violence. One man was killed and dozens were injured in two separate incidents in Colombia earlier this month.

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Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Bears DL Akiem Hicks making the most of a chance the Saints never gave him

Living well is indeed the best revenge, and sometimes nothing feels sweeter than proving doubters wrong. Akiem Hicks is savoring that exact feeling.

When the New Orleans Saints made Hicks their third-round pick in the 2013 draft, they typecast their big (6-5, 318 pounds) young defensive lineman as a one-trick pony.

“There were people in New Orleans that said, ‘You can’t rush the passer,’” Hicks recalled after the Bears’ win Sunday over the San Francisco 49ers. “They told me from my rookie year, ‘You’re going to be a run-stopper.’”

This despite Hicks collecting 6.5 sacks and 3 pass breakups as a senior at Regina in Canada. The Saints forced Hicks into the slot they’d decided he fit – nose tackle – then eventually grew disenchanted with him and traded him to New England last year – where he collect 3 sacks in spot duty.

Interestingly, Bears GM Ryan Pace was part of the Saints’ personnel operation. Whether Pace agreed with coaches’ handling of Hicks then isn’t known, but when Pace had the chance to bring Hicks to Chicago for a role different than the one the Saints forced Hicks into, Pace made it happen.

Pace likely saw those New England sacks as a foreshadowing or a sign that the New Orleans staff had miscast Hicks. The Bears defensive end now is under consideration for NFC defensive player of the week after his 10-tackle performance against San Francisco. Signing with the Bears last March 13 as a free agent was the career break Hicks has craved. For him it was a career lifeline.

“They have given me the ability to go rush the passer,” Hicks said. “So I love this organization – [GM] Ryan Pace, coach Fox, Vic [Fangio, defensive coordinator] – for just giving a guy the capability to put it out there and do what you feel like you can do.”

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Hicks has been showing what he can do, to quarterbacks. For him the best part of win over the 49ers was the two third-quarter sacks of 49ers quarterback Colin Kaepernick.

Those sacks gave the massive lineman, who the Saints said couldn’t rush the passer, 6 sacks for the season – more than any member of the Saints defense this season. It has been a classic instance of putting a player in position to maximize his skills, not jam someone into a bad fit.

“Akiem has been in a couple of different types of packages before with New Orleans and New England,” said coach John Fox. The Patriots switched from a long-time 3-4 scheme to a 4-3 but “we’re more of a New England-type style. But we’re playing him more at end; he played mostly a nose tackle [in New Orleans]. He’s fit really well for us as far as his physical stature.

"But he does have pass rush ability. It shows a little about his athleticism. So he’s got a combination of both.”

That “combination” has been allowed to flourish at a new level, and the Bears’ plan for Hicks was the foundation of why he wanted to sign in Chicago as a free agent. The Bears do not play their defensive linemen in a clear one-gap, get-upfield-fast scheme tailored to speed players. Nor do they play a classic two-gap, linemen-control-blockers scheme typically built on three massive space-eaters on the defensive line.

They play what one player has called a “gap and a half” system, which requires being stout as well as nimble.

One Hicks rush on Kaepernick featured a deft spin move out of a block, not the norm for 336-pound linemen. He got one sack with a quick slide out of a double-team.

“I’m not freelancing,” Hicks said. “But I’m rushing ‘fast.’ There’s a portion of the defense where you have the [run] responsibility and don’t have the freedom or liberty [to rush]. It’s a great system for me and I love what they’ve let me do.”