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Oprah Winfrey

Back in Business with Michael Sam

12/11/2014 10:46 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

1211_oprah_micheal_sam_TMZOprah Winfrey hasn't written off Michael Sam after all ... with her OWN Network announcing they will air a 90-minute special on the football star later this month ... plus a sit-down interview. 

Initially, Sam was reportedly supposed to be a part a docuseries -- just like the network did with Lindsay Lohan

But after a MAJOR backlash from the NFL community, the project was called off.  Sam was recently cut by the Dallas Cowboys and is currently a free agent. 

Unclear if Sam's employment status contributed to the network's decision to run a special ... which is set to air on December 27th. 

OWN says Oprah will sit-down with Sam to discuss everything that has unfolded since the NFL Draft. 

According to OWN, "the documentary captures the moment when Michael was drafted by the St. Louis Rams, the intense media scrutiny that immediately followed, and Michael’s struggle to stay focused despite the pressure and chaos."

"Additionally, the documentary explores Michael’s relationship with his boyfriend Vito and the challenge of balancing his personal life alongside his pursuit of NFL stardom."

The news seems to be a shock to Sam .. who recently told TMZ Sports he didn't expect to have any sort of a professional relationship with Winfrey after the docuseries was called off.
 
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Hulk Hogan

WWF Rejected Big NFL Stars

12/8/2014 12:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

120514_hulk_hogan_sports_launch Just because you can play in the NFL doesn't mean you're tough enough to WRESTLE -- so says Hulk Hogan who tells us all sorts of NFL tough guys have tried to cross over to the ring ... and FAILED.

And not just no-name scrubs ... we're talking some pretty famous NFLers who couldn't quite hack it with Vince McMahon's organization ... guys like Oakland Raiders legend Lyle Alzado.

Unclear why Alzado -- a maniac on the field -- didn't get a contract with the WWE (then WWF) ... but Hulk says he wasn't the only NFL star who didn't make the cut.

Hogan names names ... Bill Fralic (4-time Pro Bowler), John Matuszak (2-time Super Bowl champ) ... and explains that it takes a special sort of toughness to fake fight in the squared circle.

"You gotta be able to work hurt," Hogan says ... "You can't be taking a day off from wrestling because you twisted your pinkie if you're wrestling the main event at Madison Square Garden."

So, does Hogan think Sam has a shot?? Check out the clip ...

Fun Fact -- Matuszak went on to have a pretty decent career as an actor and famously played Sloth in "Goonies."

Ricky Williams

White People Don't Understand Police Brutality

12/4/2014 4:53 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1203-ricky-williams-getty-01Ricky Williams says white people can't understand the pain African-Americans feel over the issues in Ferguson or NYC ... because they have no clue what it's like to deal with police brutality.

TMZ Sports spoke with Ricky about the critical remarks his old New Orleans Saints coach Mike Ditka made about the Rams players who gave the "Hands Up" gesture before a recent game. The remarks caused a stir on social media, with some going so far as to call Ditka a racist.

Williams says he KNOWS Ditka's not a racist ... but says he doesn't think Ditka can fully understand the issue because of his skin color. 

"He's a white guy. White people don't relate to police brutality."

The former Heisman Trophy winner says he's experienced racial profiling first hand ... even on his own college campus. 

"I was arrested for failing to provide identification when I was at Texas, I told them my name was 'Ricky' when my lD said 'Errick.' This when I was the best player in college football."

Ricky also says that most white people -- almost inherently -- use racially insensitive language on a routine basis.

"Put a video camera on most white people all day long, you're going to hear something that black people would consider to be racist. Whether they mean it or not."

Jameis Winston

FACE TO FACE WITH ACCUSER

At Student Conduct Hearing

12/2/2014 10:39 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

1204-jameis-winston-getty-01update_graphic_red_barUPDATE 3:00 PM PT -- The hearing has ended and Winston has left. His attorney told reporters as they left the whole situation was "a nightmare." According to ESPN, two of Winston's teammates, Chris Casher and Ronald Darby, refused to testify.
update_grey_gray_barFlorida State quarterback Jameis Winston has arrived to the FSU campus for his Student Conduct Code hearing ... where he will face off with the woman who accused him of sexual assault. 

The hearing is taking place before a former Florida Supreme Court chief justice -- and if Winston is found in violation of the Student Conduct Code stemming the alleged sexual assault in 2012, he could be expelled from the school. 

Winston arrived to campus with his attorney David Cornwell. The accuser has also arrived to the hearing with her legal team. 

Winston's attorney told the media the QB intends to "end this process today" ... adding, "Jameis will tell the truth and we are confident that Justice Harding, when he hears her multiple lies and Jameis' truth, will find as every other entity has to this point, that she is lying."

The accuser's attorney also issued a statement ... saying, "Neither Jameis Winston nor his lawyer can stop what is coming."

Winston was not charged with a crime following a criminal investigation into the incident -- with the FL State attorney general citing a lack of evidence.

A decision on Student Conduct Code matters are usually reached within 10 class days after the hearing ends.

Al Sharpton

PRAISES ST. LOUIS RAMS

Every Athlete Should Follow Their Lead

12/2/2014 7:52 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

120214_al_sharpton_launchAl Sharpton says he "respects and admires" the St. Louis Rams players who did the "Hands Up" tribute to Mike Brown before Sunday's game ... and is calling on ALL ATHLETES to follow their lead.

"I think that they have a right to do it and it was much appreciated," Sharpton told us. 

Of course, the Rams have come under fire from the St. Louis Police Officers Association -- which demanded an apology ... saying the players ignored "mountains of evidence" in the case and offended cops around the country.

But Sharpton doesn't see it that way -- telling TMZ Sports, "I think to criticize people for expressing themselves is against what America ought to be about."

Drake

It's Johnny Football Time

12/2/2014 7:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

120214_drake_launchDrake wants Johnny Manziel to start in Cleveland this weekend. 

How do we know? He told us ... with his hands.

The rapper was leaving Hakkasan restaurant in Beverly Hills Monday when we asked about the QB controversy in Cleveland -- Manziel or Hoyer? 

Drake flashed the money sign. Duh. 

Of course, Cleveland Browns head coach Mike Pettine says he won't announce the starters until later this week ... but it feels like Manziel's got the edge ... especially with LeBron telling the media he's "ready to go."

Stay tuned ...

Ray Rice

HITS NY CLUB SCENE

After Winning NFL Appeal

12/1/2014 6:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Details

1201-ray-rice-instagram-01Ray Rice has finally returned to the bar scene -- partying at a NYC nightclub for the first time since he attacked his wife at an Atlantic City casino back in February ... and TMZ Sports has the pics. 

Rice hit up Bounce Sporting Club in Manhattan late Saturday night/early Sunday morning -- where he posed for pics with fans and chatted with anyone who approached him. 

We're told security was trying to keep fans away from Rice -- but Ray was talking and making conversation with people anyway.

The timing is interesting ... considering Ray won his appeal on Friday -- and then hit the club right after. It feels like a celebration.

One source tells us Janay was with Ray at the club -- though we can't confirm that yet.  

Everyone we spoke with says Ray was NOT drinking at Bounce.

As we previously reported, Ray claimed he was highly intoxicated when he struck Janay in Atlantic City -- and says ever since that incident, he's cut hard liquor out of his life. 

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Janay Rice

Elevator Incident Was God's Plan

12/1/2014 6:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Janay Rice says the elevator attack was all part of God's plan -- telling Matt Lauer she believes she and Ray were "chosen" to help bring awareness to domestic violence.

Janay says she believes there is a "silver lining" to the incident ... explaining, "I feel like God chose me and Ray for a reason, and it was definitely to bring awareness to what people are going through every day."

She continued ... "You know, it’s not what I am going through every day, but you know it’s definitely brought this topic to the forefront ... and we are OK with that."

Janay Rice

The Ravens Betrayed Us

12/1/2014 6:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Janay Rice
says she's furious with the Baltimore Ravens -- telling Matt Lauer she feels completely betrayed by the NFL team for the way they hung Ray out to dry after the elevator incident. 

During Part 1 of her interview with the "Today" show (which aired this morning), Janay explains that she never thought the team would turn their back on him ... and fire him ... after he was honest about what happened in February. 

"The support system that I thought we had in the Ravens, that made me angry," Janay explained.

Janay also told Matt ... Ray had never hit her before the incident and hasn't laid a finger on her since. 

She also says she refuses to watch the footage of the attack -- telling Matt, "I'm not going to let the public bring me back there."

The Game

My 49ers Would LOVE Ray Rice

But ...

11/30/2014 7:43 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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With the Ray Rice sweepstakes officially underway, rapper The Game tells TMZ Sports he would LOVE to see RR on his favorite squad ... the 49ers ... but there's one big caveat.

Game -- rockin' a pretty freaky masquerade ball mask -- was leaving his birthday party at the Supper Club in Hollywood Friday night when he explained why San Fran could benefit from #27.

But while Game says he's happy to see Rice reinstated -- there are 2 big things that could get in the way of the 9ers bringing the running back to S.F.

Check out the clip.

Ray Rice

Fantasy Football Boom

Becomes #1 Added Player In Minutes

11/28/2014 2:24 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Didn't take long for Fantasy Football owners to forgive Ray Rice -- because just hours after he was reinstated, Ray has become the MOST picked up player in Yahoo! fantasy leagues.

As we previously reported, Ray's fantasy stock sank like a stone after TMZ Sports published the inside-the-elevator footage back in September.

But now, according to Yahoo! "Transaction Trends" page, Ray has already been added to more than 168,000 fantasy teams ... the #1 added player today ... BY FAR.

In fact, the #2 guy is Vikings running back Matt Asiata who was added to 14,000 teams.

Funny thing is ... Ray hasn't been signed to a real team yet.

Clearly, 168k people think he'll find a new squad before the season ends.

Janay Rice

Finally Speaks Out

Blasts Ravens, Defends Ray Rice

11/28/2014 1:11 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

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Janay Rice has finally broken her silence about the ENTIRE Ray Rice elevator saga ... from the fight to the cover up to the reason she decided to NOT divorce the NFL star.

Janay spoke with ESPN on November 5th in an interview that the network agreed to hold until after the U.S. District judge issued their ruling on the NFL's actions.

In the interview, Janay says she doesn't remember what she and Ray were fighting about in Atlantic City back in February ... but says she does remember Ray got physical first.

"As we were arguing, he was on his phone and not looking at me. I went to reach for his phone, and when he grabbed it back, he spit at me and I slapped him."

On Apologizing for Her Role in the Incident at Ravens News Conference:

" I know some people disagreed with me publicly apologizing. I'm not saying that what Ray did wasn't wrong. He and I both know it was wrong. It's been made clear to him that it was wrong. But at the same time, who am I to put my hands on somebody? "

On What Ray Was Thinking After He Hit Her:

"I asked him how he felt when he saw that I was unconscious. He told me he was in shock. I asked him what happened when we got out of the elevator. He told me he was terrified because security was there. I asked him how he felt seeing me like that. He said he was thinking, "What did I just do?" I didn't watch the video again."

On What Ray and Janay told Roger Goodell:

"Ray told the commissioner, and his colleagues, everything that happened. There was no reason to lie because we knew that there was a video and we assumed the NFL knew what was in it, even though we didn't know whether or not they saw it.

On Anger at Baltimore Ravens for Cutting Ray:

"I was extremely surprised and angry that the Ravens released him, because they know him. They were our family, but I felt like the Ravens completely disregarded the past six years with him. Anytime the Ravens needed someone for a community event, Ray was their man.

On Being a Martyr for Domestic Violence:

"If it took our situation becoming headline news to show domestic violence is happening in this country, that's a positive."

Snoop Dogg

My Son Hasn't Picked College Yet

But USC Hurt Its Chances

11/26/2014 6:04 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

112514_snoop_dogg_launch Snoop tells TMZ Sports ... his high school superstar son has NOT decided on where he's gonna play his college football ... but USC hurt its chances after the way the Trojans played against UCLA.

"He'll make his decision ... but like I'll say, that loss right there gon' hurt. Because nobody wanna go to no school that can't beat their rivals."

Snoop's son Cordell Broadus is one of the best wide receivers in the country -- and has reportedly been recruited by some huge programs ... including Notre Dame, LSU and Arizona State.

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