A typical collision in an NFL game. Retired footballers abuse opioid pain pills at a rate more than four times the general population. Photograph: Christian Petersen/Getty Images.

Powerful league under pressure from class action lawsuit and DEA investigation

Actor Sylvester Stallone and Chris Algieri at a press conference to publicize the latter’s WBO world welterweight title with Manny Pacquiao in Macau. Photograph: Getty.

A latecomer to boxing, the New Yorker has reached the big time

Landon Donovan played 17 English Premier League games during two spells on loan with Everton. Photograph: Getty.

Statistics alone do not show true nature of striker’s contribution to US soccer

Sprinter turned 7s sensation Carlin Isles is proof USA Rugby are open to attracting athletes from other sports. Photograph: Getty Images.

All Blacks arrive in Chicago at a time when country is awakening to merits of sport

LeBron James: that rarest of commodities – a prodigy who lived up to his advance billing. Photograph: Hans Deryk/Reuters.

NBA star has gone from hero to villiain to hero again in his native Ohio

 Running back Todd Gurley of the Georgia Bulldogs is getting  a  free  college  education in return for bringing his considerable talents to bear for the Bulldogs every autumn.   Photograph: Mike Zarrilli/Getty Images

Signing autographs and footballs for money brings wrath of NCAA down on one player

A memorial to Tom Cutinella, who died  after being injured during a high-school football game, at Shoreham-Wading River High School in Shoreham, New York.

Three deaths in quick succession have once again put the focus on the dangers of grid-iron football

Mike Trout (right) of the Los Angeles Angels: in an ESPN poll earlier this year that asked American kids, 12 and older, to name their favourite athlete, Lionel Messi finished fourth while Trout ranked 100th.  Photograph:  Stephen Dunn/Getty Images

The prospect of the sport’s grey-haired supporters’ base dying off is a very real concern

Dubliner Conor McGregor (left) has entralled the Irish public when he beat Diego Brandao of Brazil at the O2 Arena, Dublin, in a UFC fight in July. Photograph: Inpho.

Despite celebrating 21 years, the mixed martial arts sport’s maturity is in real doubt

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