Mike McCarthy promised Wednesday to evaluate, make changes and learn from his team's gut-wrenching NFC Championship Game loss to the Seattle Seahawks.

The Green Bay Packers coach also delivered another promise.

"Every game you compete in is a unique experience, and the only way you benefit from that experience is you have to be able to learn from the victories and defeats. That's the mind-set of a champion," McCarthy said during his season wrap-up news conference. "That will never change. But the 2015 football team will not bear the burden of what happened in 2014 or before that. That's not the way we operate."

McCarthy's 30-minute session was light on specifics and devoid of any major announcements or staff shake-ups. Assistant coaches are off this week, and if McCarthy does plan on making changes — after two major special-teams gaffes contributed significantly to the season-ending loss, special teams coordinator Shawn Slocum's job security could be tenuous — he will do so after meeting with coaches starting next week.

"It's important to evaluate. I obviously haven't had that opportunity," McCarthy replied when asked about Slocum's job status. "We'll look at everything. We'll look at every job description, every job responsibility, performance — mine included — and we'll look to make changes."

... Wade Phillips is returning to Denver as Gary Kubiak's defensive coordinator.

Playing tackle before age 12 hurts NFLers

NFL veterans who started playing tackle football before the age of 12 are more likely to have cognitive difficulties after their careers, according to a study published in the journal Neurology.Researchers tested 42 former players on their short-term memory, mental flexibility and problem solving and found those who picked up the sport before they were 12 years old functioned about 20 percent worse.


Academic cheating on rise

The head of NCAA enforcement says academic misconduct has been on the rise in college athletics and his department is handling 20 open investigations.

Vice president of enforcement Jon Duncan said that the cases involve both prospective and incoming athletes trying to become eligible for college competition, and enrolled athletes receiving impermissible assistance from university and athletic department personnel.

Eighteen of the cases involve Division I schools, though NCAA policies preclude Duncan from revealing which programs are under investigation.


Three share LPGA opener lead

Jessica Korda, Stacy Lewis and Azahara Munoz each shot 6-under 66 in the opening round of the LPGA Tour season opener at the Coates Golf Championship in Ocala ,Fla.

Twenty-three players failed to complete the opening round at Golden Ocala Golf & Equestrian Club. They will finish early Thursday morning, when temperatures are expected to be in the mid-30s.

... Former British Open winner and U.S. Open runner-up Kel Nagle has died. He was 94.


Auto racing: NASCAR Hall of Famer and former three-time Cup champion David Pearson is recovering from a mild stroke he suffered Dec. 9.

Baseball: Infielder Gordon Beckham is returning to the White Sox after just five months after they traded him, agreeing to a one-year, $2 million deal.

WNBA: Seattle traded Camille Little and Shekinna Stricklen to Connecticut for the third and 15th picks in the upcoming WNBA draft and former Lynx guard Renee Montgomery. The Storm already has the No. 1 pick.

Soccer: Mark Gonzalez scored in the 66th and 75 minutes, rallying Chile to a 3-2 exhibition win over the United States that sent the Americans to their first five-game winless streak since 2007.