Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

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Romney offends Londoners with Olympic comment

From Comcast SportsNet

LONDON (AP) -- Republican presidential challenger Mitt Romney, on a trip already marked by his misstep of calling some of London's Olympics issues "disconcerting," has an Olympic history of his own that could prove problematic: His management of the 2002 Winter Games was not without controversy.

Romney was set to attend Friday's opening ceremony of the London Games on the first part of a three-nation tour that will take him to Israel and Poland. The itinerary is designed to test Romney's diplomatic skills and political strengths as he challenges President Barack Obama in the November election.

Romney's political career was born out of his leading role at the Salt Lake City Games, which were plagued by scandal before he was chosen to take over.

On Friday, he said "it looks to me like London is ready," although he observed in an NBC interview that "it is hard to put on the Games in a major metropolitan area."

Romney has been trying to soften his earlier criticism of London's preparation for the games, in which he called problems such as late-developing security issues "disconcerting." British leaders jumped on the remark, with Prime Minister David Cameron saying, "Of course it's easier if you hold an Olympic Games in the middle of nowhere."

London Mayor Boris Johnson told tens of thousands gathered in Hyde Park: "There's a guy called Mitt Romney who wants to know if we are ready. Are we ready? Yes we are!"

Former U.S. gold medalist Carl Lewis told The Independent newspaper, "I swear, sometimes I think some Americans shouldn't leave the country."

Asked Friday about the stir his remarks caused, Romney replied, "I'm absolutely convinced that the people here are ready for the Games, and in just a few moments, all the things the politicians say will be swept away" by excitement over the competition.

The Olympic focus also brought fresh attention to Romney's actions in Utah a decade ago.

"The country is in need of a turnaround. The Olympics was a turnaround," Romney told CNN in an interview broadcast as London slept early Friday morning. "The attacks that come by people who are trying to knock down my business career, or my Olympic experience, or our success, those attacks are not going to be successful."

Such attacks have been plentiful in recent months. Democrats and even some Republicans have criticized Romney for taking credit for the 2002 games' success while relying on federal funding to help cover costs as the Salt Lake Olympics sought to recover from financial mismanagement and corruption.

"One of the things he talks about most is how he heroically showed up on the scene and bailed out and resolved the problems of the Salt Lake City Olympic Games," Rick Santorum, now a Romney supporter, said in February when he opposed Romney for the Republican nomination. "He heroically bailed out the Salt Lake City Olympic Games by heroically going to Congress and asking them for tens of millions of dollars to bail out the Salt Lake Games -- in an earmark."

By Romney's account, the government spent about 600 million helping the Salt Lake Olympic Committee. He has made himself the very public face of the effort, claiming that he personally cut millions from the budget, wooed major companies and won sponsorships himself and pulled the whole endeavor back from the brink of failure. His record in Salt Lake was the cornerstone of his run for governor in Massachusetts, a campaign he announced just weeks after the games concluded.

Romney, who promises to slash federal spending if elected president, rarely acknowledges the federal support for the 2002 games on the campaign trail. His aides say much of it was for increased security costs after the 2001 terrorist attacks, which occurred about five months earlier.

Romney doesn't elaborate on his role in persuading congressional appropriators and critics to give the games more money.

In the 2004 book he wrote about the games, "Turnaround," Romney mentioned one of the lessons he learned: "If you work at it long enough, there is always another way to get the help you need in Washington."

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

49ers, McDonald agree to five-year extension

The 49ers signed tight end Vance McDonald to a five-year contract extension through the 2021 season, the team announced late Friday.

The deal is worth $35 million, including $16 million in guaranteed money, ESPN reported.

McDonald ranks third on the 49ers with 24 catches for 391 yards and four touchdowns. He has touchdown receptions this season of 75 and 65 yards.

"Vance has shown consistent growth throughout his four-year career and his production this season is the result of his dedication and hard work,” 49ers general manager Trent Baalke said in a statement. “We believe he has only scratched the surface of what he will be able to accomplish in his career. Vance is a tremendous ambassador for the 49ers, and his passion for helping others provides a wonderful example for this organization. We look forward to his continued contributions to this organization, both on and off the field.”

McDonald is in the final season of his original four-year, $3.99 million contract he signed as a second-round draft pick in 2013.

In McDonald’s three previous seasons, he caught just 40 passes for 475 yards and three touchdowns.

McDonald spoke last week about the greater chances he's gotten to prove himself since the 49ers traded Vernon Davis last season.

“I just always look back at the opportunity when Vernon went to (Denver),” McDonald said. “Just being able to have the trust and the opportunity to start games and play every down.”

Said 49ers coach Chip Kelly, "He’s one of our weapons on the offensive side of the ball and he runs better than most tight ends in this league. So really depends on week to week what people have available at the safety spot to kind of match up with him. But he’s certainly someone that I think people defensively have to game plan for.”

 

 

Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

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USATSI

Sharks' Thornton not concerned with his offensive numbers

ANAHEIM – When you have a guy on your roster that just broke into the NHL’s top 25 in scoring, it’s probably difficult to tell him how to play the game.

Still, Joe Thornton is not putting up offensive numbers he’s accustomed to. Through 26 games, Thornton has just two goals and 14 assists for 16 points. Somewhat shockingly, both of his goals have come into an empty net, meaning he has yet to beat a single goaltender with a shot with nearly one-third of the schedule already in the books.

Coach Pete DeBoer remarked on Friday morning, “I think every coach that he’s ever played for would like him to shoot more.”

But has DeBoer told Thornton, who has 27 shots, to shoot more?

“I haven’t recently,” he said. “We’ve had conversations like all coaches do about it, but I pretty much let him play his game. I think most of the conversations we have are about other parts of the game.”

"For me, he does so many things so well for us that we’re not piling on that he needs to score or shoot more. He’s got to play his game, and the offense will come. He stirs our offensive drink, so to speak, and he does it well. I’m not worried about the fact that he doesn’t have goals, no.”

There’s reason to believe Thornton will pick up his production. In fact, his start this season is nearly identical to last year, when he had 15 points (3g, 12a) through 26 games. Over the final four months he up 66 points after Dec. 15, tied for Sidney Crosby for the most in the NHL.

The alternate captain indicated the Sharks’ short summer, combined with his playing for Team Canada in the World Cup, might have taken a toll on his 37-year-old body.

“Going deeper in the postseason I think, it just starts a little bit different – plus the World Cup started earlier. You just kind of jam it in,” he said. “I feel good lately, and hopefully [I’ll] continue it.”

Not surprisingly, the famously laid back Thornton isn’t concerned with the fact he doesn’t have any non-empty netters yet.

“They’ll eventually go in. It’s no secret I’m more of a pass-first guy,” he said. “When you don’t expect it, that’s when they usually come. I haven’t been squeezing my stick or anything.”

“It comes at the strangest times. For whatever reason, you get hot for little stretches of time. I’ve never been one to worry too much.”