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NFL Hall of Famer Eric Dickerson on push for insurance: 'Health care is just a normal thing to have'

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By Michael Dobuski

iStock/Thinkstock(NEW YORK) — NFL great Eric Dickerson has a gold Hall of Fame jacket, a bust in Canton and the record for most rushing yards in a season, but there’s one thing he doesn’t have from the league: health insurance.

Dickerson is one of a handful of Hall of Famers who said Tuesday they won’t be attending next year’s Hall of Fame ceremony if they aren’t given health insurance coverage or a cut of the league’s billion-dollar revenue.

The demands were made in a letter obtained by ABC News and addressed to NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell, Executive Director of the NFL Players Association DeMaurice Smith and President of the NFL Hall of Fame C. David Baker.

“People know us from our highlight reels. They see us honored and mythologized before games and at halftime, and it would be reasonable if they thought life was good for us,” the letter reads. “But on balance, it’s not. As a group we are struggling with severe health and financial problems. To build this game, we sacrificed our bodies. In many cases, and despite the fact that we were led to believe otherwise, we sacrificed our minds.”

Dickerson, who is leading the effort, spoke to ABC News’ daily podcast, “Start Here,” on Tuesday about the players’ demands.

“All of us feel like having health care is just a normal thing to have,” Dickerson told “Start Here.” “And I think it’s right. I think people are kind of losing the message that you know it’s all about the Hall of Fame. Well right now it’s all about the Hall of Famers because we can’t do anything because of the current CBA [collective bargaining agreement], we can’t go back in and do that. I want all players to have health care; every player that played in the National Football League.”

Legends Jim Brown, Marcus Allen, Lawrence Taylor, Joe Namath, Jerry Rice, Kurt Warner and Deion Sanders are among the 21 Hall of Famers to sign the letter. Sarah White, the widow of Hall of Fame defensive end Reggie White, also attached her name to the letter. The name “Carl Ellard” appears on the list, though this was a typo, and actually referred to Hall of Famer Carl Eller.

Rice and Warner have both released statements saying they have no plans to boycott the Hall of Fame ceremony, though they do support better health care for retired players.

Dickerson called Rice and Warner’s inclusion a “miscommunication” in a later tweet and corrected the spelling of Eller.

The players have received some criticism for demanding insurance and a share of league revenue for only members of the Hall of Fame, but Dickerson said that was simply a first step.

“I want this plan to help all players, but you can’t, we can’t, go back into the CBA until 2021,” he told ABC News. “We have to start with the Hall of Famers.”

NFL players from Dickerson’s era — he spent 12 seasons in the league mostly with the Los Angeles Rams and Indianapolis Colts — have no health insurance at all.

As for Dickerson’s push for a chunk of league revenue, the league does have a pension plan for retired players established in 1959. In 1993’s CBA, players established a 401K plan.

They can begin to access money at 55 and see a 300 percent increase when they turn 65, according to Miki Yaras-Davis, the NFLPA’s senior director of benefits.

“There have been significant increases in the pension with every collective bargaining agreement in the history of this sport,” Yaras-Davis told ESPN in a statement.

Players from before 1993, like Dickerson, were granted $620 million in benefits, called the “Legacy Fund,” due to the 2011 CBA.

But Dickerson wants more than has been allotted in the “Legacy Fund.” The letter calls the fund a “cynical public relations ploy.”

The NFL generated $14 billion in revenue in 2017, according to an estimate by Bloomberg, and quoted in the letter by Dickerson. He says health insurance would cost only $4 million, and a salary taken from revenue would cost just 40 cents on every $100.

“The total cost for every Hall of Famer to have health insurance is less than $4 million — less than that of a 30-second Super Bowl ad, or about 3 cents for every $100 the league generates in revenue,” the letter states. “Paying Hall of Famers an annual salary works out to about 40 cents for every $100 in annual revenue, a figure that will increase dramatically in the near future with legalized gambling.”

Dickerson also said he believes the league never would’ve addressed safety, including the degenerative brain disease CTE, if it wasn’t for public outrage. The disease, caused by repetitive blows to the head, has been blamed for the deaths of former NFL stars Aaron Hernandez and Junior Seau, both of whom committed suicide.

“The NFL is trying to do some of the right things you know to try to help players you know with CTE,” he told “Start Here.” “But I really believe the only reason they do it is because they got caught. And I really believe that. But they’re trying. So I mean I give them that much credit.”

As for the Hall of Fame boycott, Baker released a statement saying, “Many Hall of Famers have reached out to express their support of the Hall. While we enshrine Hall of Famers, our mission is to serve every player who helped build this great game. We guard the legacies and seek to serve all players and not just Hall of Famers who we serve every day.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Champion college golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena stabbed to death on golf course, suspect charged with murder

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By TJH

Iowa State Department of Athletics(AMES, Iowa) — A man with a criminal background was charged with murder just hours after a former Iowa State University champion golfer turned up dead in a pond on a golf course.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, who police said has no known address and, according to court records, was kicked out of his grandparents’ house a year ago, was charged with first-degree murder in Celia Barquin Arozamena’s stabbing death Monday.

Police found her body at Coldwater Links public golf course near Iowa State University in Ames, where she apparently went golfing alone Monday morning.

Richards purportedly made statements to an acquaintance recently “to the effect of having an urge to rape and kill a woman,” according to a criminal complaint made public Tuesday.

Story County Attorney Jessica Reynolds described the killing as “a random act of violence” during a brief court hearing for Richards Tuesday morning.

“The state believes him to be a flight risk, also believes him to be a danger to the community,” Reynolds said during the hearing.

The judge granted her request to set bail at $5 million.

Richards appeared in court in shackles and made no statements. He was ordered to return to court Sept. 28 for a preliminary hearing.

Attorney Paul Rounds of the Story County Public Defender’s Office was appointed to represent Richards.

“I hope people reserve judgment until after the trial,” Rounds told ABC News when reached by phone, declining to comment further.

The slaying sent shockwaves from the nation’s heartland to Barquin Arozamena’s hometown of Reocín, Spain, where civic leaders joined residents in a moment of silence at noon on Tuesday. The Reocín City Council also declared three days of mourning for the young woman and released a statement condemning the “vile act” that took her life.

“She was a really hard-working girl who was deeply loved by the whole town,” Reocín Mayor Pablo Diestro told the Spanish sports website Marca.com. “It’s a tragedy. We can’t believe it.”

Cmdr. Geoff Huff, head of the Ames Police Department’s criminal investigations division, said at a news conference Tuesday, “It’s rare, obviously. It’s still very troubling that something like this would happen in broad daylight in a community that is as safe as Ames is.”

He added: “It’s an awful thing that’s happened. I’m not sure what else I can say.”

Barquin Arozamena, a native of Spain, was recently named Iowa State’s female athlete of the year.

She had turned pro this past spring after completing her college golfing career. Earlier this year, she qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in Alabama, one of the LPGA Tour’s majors.

The Ames Police Department opened a suspicious death investigation Monday morning when golfers found Barquin Arozamena’s cellphone, ball cap and golf bag on the ninth hole fairway of the golf course “with no one around it,” according to a police statement.

Golfers had seen Barquin Arozamena on the golf course earlier but told police she had disappeared, prompting a search for her, officials said.

Officers were called to the golf course about 10:24 a.m. and found the woman’s body a half-hour later in a pond near where her golf bag was discovered and determined she had been assaulted, according to the criminal complaint.

“Based on the scene investigation, the victim sustained several stab wounds to the upper torso, head, and neck,” the criminal complaint stated.

Police searched the golf course and stopped a man walking on a trail leading into a wooded area who identified himself as an acquaintance of Richards.

A K-9 unit tracked the victim’s scent to a homeless encampment on the banks of Squaw Creek in the wooded area adjacent to the golf course, according to the criminal complaint.

Police were searching the camp, which consisted of two tents, when Richards approached them.

“Officers observed that … [Richards] had several fresh scratches on his face consistent with fighting, and also noted [he] attempted to conceal a deep laceration to his left hand, which he attempted to bury in the ground,” the criminal complaint reads.

Police also contacted an acquaintance of Richards who told them the suspect showed up at his residence near the golf course Monday afternoon and that he “appeared disheveled and covered in blood, sand and water,” according to the complaint.

The man told police Richards left his house after bathing and washing his clothes, the complaint stated.

Two other witnesses told police that Richards asked them for a ride to Jefferson, Iowa, and had given them a knife, according to the complaint. While driving to Jefferson, Richards told the men he needed to return to the homeless encampment because he forgot his tent, according to the complaint.

When they arrived at the golf course, they noticed police swarming the area, the complaint reads. Richards got out of their vehicle and approached police officers searching the tent encampment, the complaint states.

Police said they recovered a knife that Richards allegedly gave to two witnesses, according to the complaint. Police also found two pairs of blood-stained shorts in Richards’ backpack.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa State University Police Department, assisted in the investigation.

“I don’t know a lot of the details yet but it’s just a horrific, horrific senseless death,” Iowa Gov. Kim Reynolds told reporters Tuesday at the Iowa Capitol in Des Moines.

Reynolds’ statement was echoed by Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen.

“We were deeply saddened to learn yesterday of the death of Celia Barquin Arozamena. Celia was a dedicated student in civil engineering. She was a talented student athlete and an acclaimed golfer with a bright future,” Wintersteen said in a statement Monday. “Celia was a champion and a proud ambassador for Iowa State. Our hearts are with Celia’s family and friends as we grieve …read more

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Iowa State golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena found dead on golf course, suspect charged with murder

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By TJH

Iowa State Department of Athletics(AMES, Iowa) — Police charged a man with murder just hours after promising young golfer Celia Barquin Arozamena was found dead on a golf course in Iowa.

Collin Daniel Richards, 22, was charged with first-degree murder in the Iowa State University golfer’s death Monday night after police found her body at Coldwater Links golf course in Ames, Iowa.

Barquin Arozamena, 22, a native of Spain, was recently named Iowa State’s female athlete of the year.

The Ames Police Department opened a suspicious death investigation on Monday morning when golfers found a golf bag “with no one around it on the course,” according to a police statement.

Officers responded and located Barquin’s body “some distance away” and determined she had been assaulted, the department said.

Several law enforcement agencies, including the Iowa State University Police Department, assisted in the investigation.

“This is a tragic and senseless loss of a talented young woman and an acclaimed student athlete,” Iowa State University President Wendy Wintersteen said in a statement Monday. “We mourn with her family and friends in Spain, her teammates here and all who knew her.”

Barquin Arozamena claimed the 2018 Big 12 Championship with a three-shot victory in April, according to the university, which called her one of the most accomplished golfers in the school’s history. She was finishing her civil engineering degree this semester.

“Celia had an infectious smile, a bubbly personality and anyone fortunate enough to know her was blessed,” Iowa State Director of Athletics Jamie Pollard said. “Our Cyclone family mourns the tragic loss of Celia, a spectacular student-athlete and ISU ambassador.”

Barquin Arozamena qualified for the U.S. Women’s Open in Alabama this summer, one of the LPGA Tour’s majors, but did not make the cut after the first two rounds.

The university’s Athletics Department said it plans to honor her memory at a football game on Saturday. Funeral arrangements are pending.

“I’m just kind of surprised,” ISU freshman Isaac Sachse told Iowa ABC affiliate WOI.

“First it was the kidnapping and now this, it’s kind of horrifying,” he added, referring to the death of University of Iowa student Mollie Tibbetts earlier this summer.

Officials with the Ames Police Department did not release many details about the suspect and authorities could not locate a “known address” for him. Richards has a long rap sheet, according to court records. He’s pleaded guilty to charges of domestic abuse, assault, theft and public intoxication in the past, the records show.

The department did not say how it connected Richards to the case and a cause of death has not been determined.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Orioles' Braille jersey praised by blind ball player

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By TJH

Indy Thunder(NEW YORK) — The familiar orange and black script on the Orioles’ uniform will be replaced Tuesday night with Braille to honor the National Federation of the Blind, and for one visually impaired ball player, the night is about recognizing people like him.

“They’re acknowledging that you’re there,” Erik Rodriguez, 18, told ABC News’ Start Here podcast. “Sometimes that’s the biggest step.”

Rodriguez is a shortstop for the Indy Thunder in beep baseball, a modified version of the game which uses sound and beeping bases to guide visually impaired players. He was born with Stickler syndrome and glaucoma, which weakened his eyes over the years and led to retina detachments.

While his vision declined, his passion for baseball never did. At 10 years old, he was introduced to beep ball and “immediately fell in love.”

“It’s changed my life,” he said. “It’s given me a platform where I can still perform on an elite level, where I can still consider myself a champion, where I can still have that team bonding that you really can’t get in individual sports.”

Rodriguez led the Indy Thunder to their third straight World Series championship as one of the captains this past season. It was his sixth season in beep baseball, but he told “Start Here” he only recently began to consider himself a “good hitter.”

“It’s kind of like target practice for the pitcher and the batter,” he said. “It’s a lot more complicated than people realize, so it takes a lot of good teamwork and trust.”

The pitcher is trying to get the batter a hit instead of striking them out, so when the pitcher says, “Set, ready, pitch,” they tailor their pitch depending on who they’re throwing to. The batter then needs to keep their swing consistent to make sure they’re close to the ball every time.

“It just takes a lot of practice and reps,” Rodriguez explained. “It does not happen overnight.”

Rodriguez told “Start Here” he loves following the Chicago Cubs and the New York Yankees, but the Orioles have earned the beep ball player as a fan for their National Federation of the Blind Night.

“The fact that such a big organization like Baltimore is wanting to do something like that for the blind community … it makes you feel good, it makes you feel like they care and they want to help make a difference for the young people and the older people that are suffering from this disability.”

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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Serena Williams denies cheating, points to double standard in 1st interview since US Open defeat

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By Leighton Schneider

Julian Finney/Getty Images(NEW YORK) — Serena Williams maintained in her first television interview since her stunning upset at the U.S. Open last week that she did not cheat — and further blasted what she sees as the double standard between male and female tennis players.

The tennis legend and 23-time Grand Slam champ was accused of receiving coaching tips from the stands — a code violation — during the U.S. Open women’s final last Sunday.

While she disputed the ruling, her coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, later acknowledged that he was trying to send her a signal.

“He said he made a motion,” Williams told the Australian television program, “The Project,” of the incident, according to a preview clip released Sunday.

“I don’t understand what he was talking about,” she added. “We’ve never had signals.”

On the court, Williams fought back against the chair umpire Carlos Ramos’ call, and in a news conference after the match, blasted his ruling as “sexist.”

In her interview with “The Project,” she also doubled down on what she calls the double standard in tennis between male and female players.

“I just don’t understand,” Williams said. “If you’re female you should be able to do even half of what a guy can do.”

Williams lost the final to Naomi Osaka, though the Japanese tennis star’s historic victory appeared to be overshadowed by the controversy.

Copyright © 2018, ABC Radio. All rights reserved.

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