Youngstown team wins title: Elliott Giles was part of a national championship team as a wide receiver at Youngstown State, and now he has coached a team to a national title. Giles’ 12-14 girls team — made up of players from the Youngstown Youth Flag Football Association — beat a team from the southwest, 6-0, to win a USA Football Flag Football title Tuesday in Metairie, La. “It was a defensive battle,” Giles said. The game was scoreless at halftime, but Youngtown’s Jahnice Berry intercepted a pass to set up the game’s only score. That touchdown came when Rylee Leider, of Salem, threw a 3-yard pass to Youngstown’s Znayia Brown. Giles’ team — known as the Cincinnati Bengals for the event — had gone 2-1 in pool play, with the only loss coming in its first game of the day against the team it eventually met in the title game. The national tournament was held in Lousiana in conjunction with this week’s Super Bowl XLVII festivities. Giles and his players saw the sights in New Orleans on Monday and will participate in the 21st NFL Experience today before returning home Thursday. The YYFFA almost came away from Tuesday’s competition with a second national title, but the YYFFA’s 9-11 boys team lost in heartbreaking fashion, 12-7. Giles said his team led 7-6 as time was running out. “We had them in a third-and-13 situation and they threw a Hail Mary that we knocked down in the end zone, but the official called pass interference,” Giles said. That call gave the other team — ironically the Bengals from Fort Wayne, Ind. — a first down at the 1-yard line against Giles’ boys team, the New York Jets. The Fort Wayne team scored the winning touchdown on the next play.
Lewis mum on deer spray: Of all the topics Baltimore Ravens linebacker Ray Lewis might have been prepared to talk about at Super Bowl media day, deer-antler spray probably was not among them. He declined to directly address a Sports Illustrated report that he sought help from a company that makes the unorthodox product to speed up his recovery from a torn right triceps. Lewis was the NFL’s leading tackler in the playoffs after missing 10 regular-season games with the injury. The company says its deer-antler substance contains a byproduct of human growth hormone. Lewis dismissed the report Tuesday as “stupidity.” He said: “There’s never been a question of if I ever even thought about using” a banned substance. The 37-year-old Lewis plans to retire after Sunday’s Super Bowl. He was the MVP of the 2001 title game.
Flacco apologizes: Baltimore Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco apologized for his word selection in criticizing the NFL’s decision to hold next year’s Super Bowl in an outdoor stadium at a cold-weather site. On Monday, Flacco was asked about the game being played at MetLife Stadium in New Jersey. “I think it’s retarded. I probably shouldn’t say that. I think it’s stupid,” he said. On Tuesday, he was contrite. “Obviously, it was a poor choice of words,” he said. “At home, I have a close relationship with Special Olympics. I didn’t mean to offend anyone.” Flacco would like nothing more than to return to the Super Bowl next year, even if it might be in freezing conditions for the first time. It’s in his home state to boot. The fifth-year pro from Audubon, N.J., preparing for Sunday’s Super Bowl against the San Francisco 49ers, is not a fan of playing the next big game in East Rutherford. “I think it’s obvious reasons,” Flacco said. “They’ve done it the way they’ve been doing it for 47 years. There’s a lot that goes into this game, more than just playing the game: It’s about the fans and it’s about the players that played for the right to get there. There are a lot of things that go into it and it’s just kind of a crazy decision, I believe.”
NFL honors: Celebrity presenters for “NFL Honors,” the TV show featuring The Associated Press awards, will include Steve Carell and Channing Tatum. The program will air Saturday night, Super Bowl eve, from 9-11 p.m. on CBS, which also is televising the game on Sunday. Other presenters will include Connie Britton, Jason Clarke, Josh Charles, Craig Ferguson, Nina Dobrev, Jeremy Renner, Olivia Munn, and Zoe Saldana. The AP will present the league’s MVP, Coach of the Year, Comeback Player of the Year, Offensive and Defensive Players of the Year, and Offensive and Defensive Rookies of the Year during “NFL Honors.” Actor Alec Baldwin will host the show, which will feature live performances from One Republic and New Orleans’ natives The Soul Rebels.
Staff and wire reports