Sports briefs 1-13-14: NFL looking to sell TV package of Thursday games

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NEW YORK -- The NFL is talking to television networks about selling a package of Thursday night games.

"NFL Network has done a tremendous job building Thursday night and will retain games, but we are in discussions to air a part of the package with existing and potentially new broadcast and cable partners," league spokesman Brian McCarthy said Sunday.

NFL Network began airing an eight-game package in 2006, which increased to 13 in 2012. The league could sell some of those games to an outside network, starting as soon as next season.

As the NFL keeps drawing monster TV ratings, any additional games are hugely appealing to networks. The competition for a potential package is even greater with the recent addition of cable channel Fox Sports 1 and NBC's attempts to grow NBCSN. Turner Sports also could be among the potential suitors.

• Football

Vikings stadium: A legal challenge has forced the state to delay a $468 million bond sale to finance the new stadium for the Minnesota Vikings, state officials announced Sunday, saying the lawsuit jeopardizes plans to open the facility for the 2016 season as well as plans for a nearby $400 million development.

The bond sale had been scheduled for Monday and Tuesday.

Bears keeping Tucker: Chicago Bears defensive coordinator Mel Tucker will have two new coaches on his staff for next season.

Tucker is keeping his job after Chicago's porous defense played a key role in its 8-8 season, but the Bears announced Sunday that defensive line coach Mike Phair and linebackers coach Tim Tibesar had been dismissed. Hit hard by injuries, Tucker's unit allowed 29.9 points and 394.6 yards per game in his first year in the position.

Generate earthquake: Seismologists say Seahawks fans shook the ground under Seattle's CenturyLink Field during Saturday's defeat of the New Orleans Saints, causing another fan-generated earthquake.

The scientists believe the small earthquake during a Marshawn Lynch touchdown was likely greater than Lynch's famous "beast quake" touchdown run three years ago, which also came against New Orleans during a playoff game.

• Basketball

Admit mistake: The NBA says an officiating mistake at the end of this weekend's game between Dallas and New Orleans cost the Pelicans a chance to tie it.

This was the second time in two weeks the NBA acknowledged a missed call near the end of a close game won by the Mavericks.

President of Basketball Operations Rod Thorn said Sunday that a foul should've been called on Monta Ellis of the Mavericks as Austin Rivers tried a 3-point shot at the last second.

Pitt forward done: Pittsburgh sophomore forward Durand Johnson will miss the rest of the season after tearing the ACL and meniscus in his right knee in Saturday's win over Wake Forest.

Johnson was blossoming as Pitt's sixth man, averaging 8.8 points and 3.0 rebounds.

• Elsewhere

Venus loses: Just as she was starting to show glimpses of returning to form, Venus Williams was let down by her serve and her concentration at crucial times and lost 2-6, 6-4, 6-4 to Ekaterina Makarova on the first day of the Australian Open.

Women's winners included No. 4 Li Na, No. 9 Angelique Kerber, No 14 Ana Ivanovic and No. 17 Samantha Stosur. No. 7 Sara Errani was the highest-seeded women's loser, falling 6-3, 6-2 to Julia Gorges of Germany.

Wagner selected: Two-time U.S. champion Ashley Wagner made the Olympic team Sunday despite finishing a distant fourth at the national championships.

U.S. Figure Skating officials took into account performances over the past year in picking the three women who will go to Sochi, not just their showing at this week's event. Mirai Nagasu, who was fourth at the 2010 Olympics, didn't make the team despite taking third Saturday at the U.S. Championships.

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