Embarrassed Bears release Tank Johnson

CHICAGO -- Tank Johnson was released Monday by the Chicago Bears, who are "embarrassed" by the defensive tackle's legal troubles and say he "compromised the credibility" of the team.

Johnson was waived three days after he was pulled over by police in Arizona. He already had been suspended for the first eight games of the 2007 season for violating probation on a gun charge. He spent two months in jail and was released in May.

"We are upset and embarrassed by Tank's actions last week," general manager Jerry Angelo said in a statement. "He compromised the credibility of our organization. We made it clear to him that he had no room for error. Our goal was to help someone through a difficult period in his life, but the effort needs to come from both sides. It didn't, and we have decided to move on."

Police in the Phoenix suburb of Gilbert said Johnson was stopped for driving 40 mph in a 25 mph zone at 3:30 a.m. Friday and the officer made observations that led him to believe Johnson was impaired.

• Chicago defensive back Nathan Vasher signed a five-year contract extension that will keep the Pro Bowler with the Bears through the 2012 season. Details were not disclosed.

Vasher has 16 interceptions in three NFL seasons since being chosen in the fourth round out of Texas in 2004. He made the Pro Bowl last season.

• PRO BASKETBALL -- Although Kobe Bryant apparently would like to join the Bulls, Chicago general manager John Paxson sent a message to the Los Angeles Lakers' superstar on Monday: Don't count on it.

Paxson said he has had no discussions with the Lakers and a deal would be difficult to complete.

"What we would have to give up -- unless that franchise would ever have a change of heart and had to do something -- I don't know how that would work," he said. "They've got one of the top, maybe the top, talents in the league. What we would have to do to get there, I don't even know what it would be. It would be significant. And then, are we better?"

• Detroit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups has opted out of the final year of his six-year contract, making him an unrestricted free agent heading into the summer signing season.

"He informed the team this morning that he was opting out of his final year with the Pistons and that makes him a free agent -- which we expected," team spokesman Matt Dobek said Monday.

The 6-foot-3, 202-pound All-Star has said he would prefer to stay with Detroit and expects to be back if the team can match the best deal he can find from another team.

• PRO BASEBALL -- Minnesota Twins manager Ron Gardenhire does not expect reigning AL MVP Justin Morneau's bruised lung to require a stint on the disabled list.

"That's never been talked about," Gardenhire said before the Twins played the Toronto Blue Jays. "I've been told a couple days here."

Morneau was released from a Miami-area hospital Monday and headed home. Gardenhire wasn't sure whether Morneau planned on coming to the ballpark.

Morneau bruised his right lung Friday in a collision with Florida Marlins catcher Miguel Olivo. He spent two days in the hospital and was unable to accompany the team back from Miami on Sunday night, but Gardenhire said has been hearing positive news.

• HORSE RACING -- A jockey who kicked his horse in the stomach before a race was suspended for 30 days and fined $1,000 by Philadelphia Park officials.

The decision against veteran jockey Victor Molina came three days after his 40-minute disciplinary hearing for kicking 2-year-old colt Yes Yes Ohyes. Molina, a 27-year veteran who's been racing at Philadelphia Park since 1988, hoped for only a fine and was surprised by the severity of the penalties issued by the track's stewards.

• WRESTLING -- WWE wrestler Chris Benoit, his wife and son were found dead and police said they were investigating the deaths as murder-suicide.

Authorities confirmed that Benoit, his wife Nancy and their 7-year-old son, Daniel, were found dead at the home on Quarters and Redwine roads in Fayetteville about 4 p.m.

Benoit, a 40-year-old native of Canada, maintained a home in metro Atlanta from the time he wrestled for the now-defunct World Championship Wrestling.


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New York at Sacramento ESPN2 (28) 10 p.m.