FOOTBALL

ORCHARD PARK, N.Y. (AP)Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin has begun to communicate in writing with his family and others who have been at his bedside since he went into cardiac arrest three days ago – and his first question was, ”Did we win?” his doctors said Thursday.

”The answer is yes, Damar, you won. You’ve won the game of life.” Dr. Timothy Pritts told reporters in a conference call from the University of Cincinnati Medical Center, where Hamlin was rushed after collapsing and being resuscitated on the field during the Bills-Bengals game Monday night.

Hamlin remains critically ill and in the intensive care unit, but he began to wake up Wednesday night, and it appears his neurological function is intact, meaning he can follow commands and move, Pritts said.

Dr. William Knight IV said doctors had not yet determined the cause of Hamlin’s cardiac arrest and that testing is ongoing. It’s also too early to say whether Hamlin could return to football after undergoing rehabilitation, Knight said.

The developments came as the Bills returned to practice for the first time since Hamlin collapsed when his heart stopped after making a tackle during the game’s first quarter.

Also, the NFL said it will not resume the game.

The league said some of the factors in coming to its decision included that ”not playing the Buffalo-Cincinnati game to its conclusion will have no effect on which clubs qualify for the postseason. No club would qualify for the postseason and no club will be eliminated based on the outcome of this game.”

Also, the NFL said playing the game between the Bills and Bengals would have required postponing the start of the playoffs by a week, and affecting all 14 teams that qualified for the postseason.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – Jim Harbaugh said he expects to coach Michigan’s football team next season, posting a statement n the team’s social media accounts following reports of his interest in returning to the NFL.

”I am aware of the rumors and speculation over the past few days,” Harbaugh said in a statement on Thursday. ”College and NFL teams have great interest in all our personnel, from players to coaches to staff, and I truly believe that is a testament to the strength of our University of Michigan football program.”

While Harbaugh’s future with the school still seems unclear, Michigan is also awaiting word from the NCAA on an investigation into the football program regarding impermissible texts and calls – including some by Harbaugh – to high school prospects during part of a COVID-19 dead period, a person with knowledge of the situation told The Associated Press on Thursday.

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper had a conversation with Harbaugh about the team’s head coaching position, according to a person familiar with the situation who spoke to The Associated Press on condition of anonymity Tuesday because the Panthers do not typically release details of their coaching search. Harbaugh also has been mentioned as a possible candidate to coach in Denver and Indianapolis, one of four teams he played quarterback for in the league from 1987 to 2000.

ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) – A Michigan State football player facing a felony charge for a skirmish inside the Michigan Stadium tunnel after a game pleaded guilty to misdemeanors.

The felony was dropped, under a deal with prosecutors, and Khary Crump’s record will be scrubbed clean if he stays out of trouble while on probation, attorney Mike Nichols said.

Crump was one of seven Michigan State players facing charges but the only one tagged with a felony. Scuffles broke out in the tunnel after Michigan defeated the Spartans, 29-7, on Oct. 29. Video showed Michigan State players pushing, punching and kicking Michigan’s Ja’Den McBurrows.

Crump, in one video, appeared to swing his helmet at a Michigan player. Nichols said a letter of apology to Gemon Green was part of the deal.

GOLF

KAPALUA, Hawaii (AP) – Jon Rahm is starting to get used to low scoring on the Plantation Course at Kapalua. He can only hope this start leads to a better finish in the Sentry Tournament of Champions.

One year after he was 33-under par and still finished second, Rahm birdied three of his last four holes for a 9-under 64 and shared the lead with Colin Morikawa and J.J. Spaun in an idyllic start to the year.

Morikawa began the back nine with six straight birdies, his longest such streak on the PGA Tour. Spaun, at Kapalua for the first time, had four straight birdies on the back.

AUGUSTA, Ga. (AP) – The Masters expanded its reach to elite amateurs when it offered a special invitation to NCAA champion Gordon Sargent of Vanderbilt, the first time in more than 20 years an amateur received such an invitation.

Augusta National also awarded a special invitation to Kazuki Higa, who won four times on the Japan Golf Tour and captured the money list last year. Sargent is the No. 3 player in the world amateur ranking and among the growing list of young American college stars.

BASKETBALL

AUSTIN, Texas (AP) – Texas fired basketball coach Chris Beard, telling his attorney he is ”unfit” for the position while he faces a felony domestic family violence charge stemming from a Dec. 12 incident involving his fiancee.

Beard had five years left on a seven-year guaranteed contract that included a provision he could be fired for cause if he was charged with a felony or committed other behavior unbecoming of his position or that reflected poorly on the university.

The charge of assault by strangulation/suffocation family violence carries a possible prison sentence of two to 10 years if convicted; the woman told police Beard strangled and bit her, but later denied he choked her.

Beard had been suspended without pay since he was arrested, and school officials had said there was an internal investigation.

Police responded to an emergency call at Beard’s house after midnight on Dec. 12 and arrested him after Beard’s fiancee, Randi Trew, told officers he choked her from behind, bit her and hit her when the two got in an argument.

HOCKEY

HALIFAX, Nova Scotia (AP) – Dylan Guenther scored his second goal of the game at 6:22 of overtime to give Canada a 3-2 victory over the Czech Republicnight for its record-extending 20th world junior hockey title.

The Arizona Coyotes forward took a pass from Joshua Roy on a 2-on-1 and beat goalie Tomas Suchanek in the 3-on-3 extra period after Canada blew a 2-0 lead in the third period.

Shane Wright, on his 19th birthday, also scored for Canada, and Thomas Milic made 24 saves. Connor Bedard was selected the tournament MVP.

Earlier, Chaz Lucius completed a hat trick in overtime and the United States beat Sweden 8-7 in the third-place game.

BASEBALL

PHOENIX (AP) – The Arizona Diamondbacks have signed three-time All-Star third baseman Evan Longoria to a one-year deal.

The 37-year-old Longoria is a 15-year veteran, spending his first 10 seasons with the Tampa Bay Rays and the last five with the San Francisco Giants. He hit .244 with 14 homers and 42 RBIs last season 89 games.