Ex-Bear LB Fortunato dead at 87

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NATCHEZ, Miss. (AP) - Joe Fortunato, the speedy linebacker who helped the Chicago Bears win the 1963 NFL title, has died. He was 87.

Fortunato died Monday in Mississippi, where he starred at linebacker and fullback at Mississippi State.

"Joe Fortunato was not only a great player for the Chicago Bears, including being a part of our 1963 championship at Wrigley Field, he was a key figure in one of the greatest linebacker trios in Bears history alongside Hall of Famer Bill George and Larry Morris," Bears Chairman George H. McCaskey said in a statement Thursday. "The Chicago Bears family extends our condolences to the Fortunato family on the passing of Joe."

In 12 seasons with the Bears, Fortunato was a three-time All-Pro selection and a five-time Pro Bowl pick. He had 16 interceptions and 22 fumble recoveries and was selected to the NFL's All-Decade Team for the 1950s. From Mingo Junction, Ohio, Fortunato was inducted into the Mississippi State football Ring of Honor last month.

Fortunato was an assistant coach with the Bears in 1967 and 1968 before returning to Mississippi. He ran Big Joe Oil Company.

PRO FOOTBALL

BOSTON (AP) - Former New England Patriots player Aaron Hernandez suffered substantial damage to parts of the brain that affect memory, judgment and behavior from the most severe case of a degenerative disease linked to head blows ever found in someone so young, a researcher said Thursday.

Dr. Ann McKee, director of Boston University's CTE Center, stressed that she could not "connect the dots" between the brain disease chronic traumatic encephalopathy and the behavior of the 27-year-old who hanged himself in April while serving life in prison for murder.

But McKee said CTE had significantly impacted key parts of Hernandez's brain, including the hippocampus - which is associated with memory - and the frontal lobe, which is involved in impulse control, judgment and behavior.

GLENDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Seattle Seahawks All-Pro cornerback Richard Sherman is out for the season after rupturing his right Achilles' tendon against the Arizona Cardinals Thursday night.

Sherman had been bothered by a sore Achilles' tendon all season and went down while trying to intercept a pass in third quarter of Seattle's 22-16 win. He lay on the field clutching his right heel before limping off the field to the bench, where he appeared to tell teammates he had torn the tendon.

Coach Pete Carroll said Sherman will have surgery after the swelling goes down.

PRO BASEBALL

CHICAGO (AP) - The Cubs have hired Jim Hickey as their pitching coach and moved Brandon Hyde to bench coach.

Hickey spent 11 years as Tampa Bay's pitching coach before a split with the Rays at the end of the season. He is reuniting with his old boss Joe Maddon in Chicago and replacing Chris Bosio, whose contract was not renewed.

Hyde takes over for Dave Martinez, who left to become the Washington Nationals' manager. Hyde was the Cubs' bench coach under Rick Renteria in 2014 and spent the next three seasons under Maddon as the first base coach.

Chicago confirmed the moves on Thursday.

COLLEGE BASKETBALL

MADISON, Wis. - The Wisconsin men's basketball team will kick off its season Friday night when they host South Carolina State at 6 p.m. at the Kohl Center.

The Badgers are unranked to begin the season after advancing to the Sweet 16 last season.

Wisconsin will play again this weekend when they host Yale Sunday at 5 p.m.

PRO BASKETBALL

NEW YORK (AP) - Milwaukee Bucks coach Jason Kidd was fined $15,000 by the NBA on Thursday for public criticism of the officiating in a loss at Cleveland.

Kidd made the comments after the 124-119 loss Tuesday night. Milwaukee was called for 31 personal fouls to 18 for Cleveland, and the Cavs attempted 38 free throws. Kidd pointed out that over the past three games, opponents have tried 95 free throws to 40 for Milwaukee.

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