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Ex-NFL Lineman

E.J. Johnson's an Inspiration

5/18/2015 12:35 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0515-chad-hardwick-ej-johnson-GETTY-TWITTER-01Magic Johnson's son is getting serious praise from a former NFL lineman ... who says E.J.'s dramatic 100+ pound weight loss is an "inspiration" for people looking to turn their lives around. 

We spoke with former Pro Bowl center Nick Hardwick ... who dropped 85 pounds in 4 months after he retired in 2014 ... and he says he knows exactly what E.J. had to go through. 

"It's hard work," Hardwick says ... "For E.J. to drop more than 100 pounds is significant. He is an inspiration for folks who want to get smaller and healthier and live longer."

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Hardwick says he hopes the two could even team up to educate other people about how to shed the weight ... and more importantly, how to keep it off and stay healthy in the long run. 

"Just like E.J., I'm excited about my new lifestyle and want other people to be just excited ... I would love to get something going with him, together we can help save lives."

Kerry Rhodes

From NFL to NCIS?!

'I'm Coming for LL's Gig!'

5/17/2015 12:35 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Vernon Davis isn't the only NFL star with acting chops -- former Arizona Cardinals safety Kerry Rhodes has been bitten by the acting bug as well ... and he has sights set on LL Cool J's job.

Rhodes recently starred in a short film called "Protocol" where he plays a SWAT team member who rescues a young girl taken hostage by an escaped criminal. 

Elliot Feld, the writer/director of the film, tells TMZ Sports that Rhodes approached him looking to make a short. Field says Rhodes was really into the idea of playing an action hero so Felds got the idea from a former SWAT team member ... and a few days later, they started shooting.

Feld says Rhodes was the consummate professional and they were done in three weeks time.

For his part, Rhodes tells TMZ Sports, "I had to channel my inner LL cool J, and now I am coming for his role on 'NCIS.'"

So might we see a collaboration with Vernon Davis and his "Captain Torpedo"?

"As far as Vernon Davis, he can play his superhero character in a movie and I will play the villain." Rhodes says. "But at the end, I will be the one who won."

Redskins Cheerleaders

Viva La Bikini!

... Hot Calendar Shoot In Mexico

5/16/2015 12:25 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

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Looks like the season has begun for the Washington Redskins cheerleaders ... bikini season!

The toned and tanned "First Ladies" squad are invading Mexico to shoot their 2015-16 calendar ... giving football fans a reason to enjoy the pigskin free summer just a little bit more.

Check out the pics ... even Cowboys fans gotta appreciate this. 

You're welcome.

Aaron Hernandez

I Didn't Take Pleasure

In Odin Lloyd's Death

5/15/2015 10:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0515-aaron-hernandez-GETTY-01Aaron Hernandez claims he should NOT have been convicted of 1st degree murder in the death of Odin Lloyd -- claiming the killing was not "cruel" enough to warrant such a harsh charge. 

Hernandez's lawyers filed new court docs challenging the verdict in the Lloyd case ... in which they spell out why Aaron should have, at most, been convicted of 2ND degree murder instead. 

Here's why ... 

Team Hernandez says 1st degree murder requires either premeditation or extreme cruelty. Aaron's lawyers say the ex-NFL star was NOT convicted on premeditation so they're attacking the "cruelty" angle. 

In the docs, AH's lawyers state ... since Lloyd was shot 6 times and died "rapidly," there's no evidence of suffering. Furthermore, they say no witnesses heard Lloyd yell or scream. 

There's more ... AH's lawyers say to prove cruelty, you must also show the killer "took pleasure" or was indifferent about killing. Team Hernandez says there was no evidence to show Hernandez "took pleasure in any suffering experienced by Lloyd." 

Long story short ... AH's team believes Lloyd's murder was a run of the mill gun death -- nothing more or less cruel than any other. 

Now, it's up to the judge who will decide whether or not to overturn the verdict. 

Anthony Anderson

& Marcus Allen

We Solved DeflateGate!

5/15/2015 7:54 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Did you know ... "Blackish" star Anthony Anderson is friends with NFL legend Marcus Allen?

It's true ... and yesterday at LAX, the guys had a pretty hilarious explanation for the whole Deflategate situation -- it all comes down to pee! 

The whole video is pretty hilarious ... with Anderson crackin' jokes just to get Marcus to laugh. 

Check out the clip ... 

Aaron Hernandez Fiancee

Perjury Charge Dropped

After Helping Convict NFL Star

5/15/2015 6:25 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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The judge in the Aaron Hernandez murder case ... the first one ... has officially thrown out the perjury charge against Aaron's fiancee Shayanna Jenkins after she provided testimony that led to the conviction of the ex-NFL star. 

Jenkins had struck a deal with prosecutors before she got on the stand -- she would talk and in exchange they would toss out a previous perjury charge.

The perjury charge stemmed from comments Jenkins made to the grand jury in 2013 regarding a gun in her home ... that may have been the weapon used to murder Odin Lloyd. If convicted, she faced up to 20 years behind bars. 

Prosecutors say Jenkins' testimony at the trial -- that she helped Aaron dispose of a mystery box after Odin's death -- helped them win the case. 

The operating theory is that the box contained the murder weapon. 

Now, Hernandez is doing life in prison ... and Shayanna is off the hook. 

Brian Banks

Exonerated NFL Player ...

I'M GETTIN' MARRIED!!!

5/14/2015 11:03 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

0514-brian-banks-instagramAnother milestone for Brian Banks -- the football star who made it to the NFL after proving he was wrongly convicted of rape ... 'cause TMZ Sports has learned he's getting married ... TOMORROW!!!

Brian's story is incredible ... he was a high school football superstar who spent 5 years in prison for a crime he didn't commit. Then, after he proved his accuser made the whole thing up, he battled his way in to the Atlanta Falcons training camp in 2013 and actually played in some pre-season games! 

Now, we've learned... the 29-year-old is all set to tie the knot with his fiancee Emmy -- and it's all going down in Vegas. The two have been together for 3 years. 

We're told the ceremony will be pretty small -- just close friends and family -- but there will be a few famous faces in the crowd ... including NFL insider Jay Glazer and former UFC fighter Frank Trigg

And get this ... Banks became close with an officer in the Navy during some of the USO/NFL tours he did recently ... and we're told the officer has a cool gift in store for Brian.

He's going to fly the USA flag over Camp Lemonnier during the moment of Brian's "I Do's" ... and told Brian it's because, "Lives with meaning like yours are worth fighting for. You deserve the best."

Congrats!!! 

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Bill Cowher

I'm Grandpa Now

To a Baby Laker

5/14/2015 10:12 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0513-bill-crowher-tmz-instagram'Coach' and 'The Chin' weren't enough ... so now Bill Cowher can also go by 'Grandpa' -- his daughter Lindsay and her husband, Lakers forward Ryan Kelly,  just had their first baby.

The baby ... Nile Jeremiah Kelly was born last night, and he's a big boy ... 8.8 lbs. and 22 in. long. 

It's not known if Coach Cowher was actually at the hospital when Lindsay popped, but the ex-Steelers coach took a hands on approach with Lindsay's dating life ... at least according to his son-in-law, Ryan.

So, now that they have a baby boy ... the question: Dad is in the NBA, grandpa's an NFL coaching legend -- do you play football or basketball?

Trick question ... you probably dominate at both. It's in the genes, baby.

New England Patriots

Blast Wells Report

... With Fun Pee Fact

5/14/2015 8:40 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF

0513-patriots-nfl-football-getty-01The New England Patriots just released a SCATHING new statement blasting the Wells Report ... once again insisting that Tom Brady did nothing wrong. 

In the docs, the team makes its argument using strong scientific evidence ... and one fun fact about male urination ... a Pee Fact, if you will. 

Here's the long and short of it ... 

One of the key parts of the Wells Report is pointing out that Patriots locker room staffer Jim McNally went to a bathroom with game balls before the AFC Championship game. The insinuation is that McNally deflated the balls while inside the crapper. 

Here's the Patriots retort: 

"The report does not address whether one minute and 40 (seconds) is consistent with the time that it takes a gentleman to enter a bathroom, relieve himself, wash his hands, and leave. In fact, it is."

So, there you have it ... according to the Pats ... it takes a dude 100 seconds to drain the lizard, wash up and leave the bathroom.

And that's exactly what the Patriots believe happened.

#PeeFacts 

'Basketball Wives' Star

Draya, Orlando Split Is Sad

'They Really Loved Each Other'

5/14/2015 6:23 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

Sometimes breakups are for the best ... but not Draya Michele and Orlando Scandrick -- because according to Draya's "Basketball Wives" co-star ... they really did love each other. 

We spoke with Brandi Maxiell about the conscious uncoupling -- and she broke it down this way .... "It's sad and unfortunate because I've been around them and they love each other so much."

As we previously reported, Draya had been dating the Dallas Cowboys star for about 2 years before they called it quits ... shocking considering they were just talking about marriage a few months ago

So, the question ... will the split be covered on the reality show? Brandi says it absolutely SHOULD ... "We're on a reality show!"

Adrian Peterson

SHOTS ON ME

Buys Vodka for Entire Texas Bar!

5/14/2015 12:45 AM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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He may not be a Cowboy (yet) ... but they sure as hell loved Adrian Peterson in Texas this weekend ... when the guy walked into a bar ... and bought EVERYONE a shot of vodka!

It all went down at the Flying Pug Bar in Houston on Sunday night ... where sources tell TMZ Sports the running back was the life of the party from the moment he walked in the door.

We're told AP enjoyed some whiskey ... but wanted to make sure everyone else got their drank on too -- so he ponied up for a round Grey Goose on him.

The fun didn't stop there ... 'cause Peterson's group moved the party down the street to another bar called Exit 73 ... and continued to rage!

The best part of the story ... Peterson played it SAFE at the end of the night and let a sober pal drive him home. 

Even bald guys gotta let their hair down every now and then.

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Odell Beckham Jr.

Spikes Gronk...

Wins Madden Cover

5/13/2015 4:26 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0513-madden-16-cover-2016-01Odell Beckham Jr. just made the biggest catch of the NFL off-season ... snatching the "Madden 16" cover right out of the hands of fellow finalist Rob Gronkowski.

Beckham Jr. and Gronk beat out a bunch of other NFL studs ... like the Cardinals' Patrick Peterson and Steelers wideout Antonio Brown ... to become the last two dudes standing on Madden island.

Fan votes determined the final winner, and Odell took it home with a super narrow 52.5% of the votes -- but arguably Gronk is the real winner here.

There's a little thing known as the Madden curse ... and the Giants star is now susceptible to the same fate suffered by Garrison Hearst, Peyton HillisShaun Alexander, Vince Young, and bunch more.

Even last year's cover guy -- Richard Sherman ... jacked up his elbow and lost the Super Bowl.

Ummm ... congrats, Odell?

We asked Giants co-owner Steve Tisch last week about OBJ possibly getting the honor (?) -- he was less than thrilled. 

Brady's Backup QB

Now Worth Almost as Much as Tom!!

In Trading Card World

5/13/2015 3:51 PM PDT BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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If you're in the market for a Jimmy Garoppolo card, you shoulda bought it last week -- 'cause the Tom Brady backup's trading card is SKYROCKETING!

Ever since Brady was suspended ... Garoppolo's been a hot commodity, and not just for Bill Belichick. TMZ Sports found out his signed rookie card is worth more than 100 times what it was before Tom got nailed.

A rep for COMC -- a top online auction site -- tells us ... "His card was originally selling for $2.25, but as soon as Tom Brady's suspension was announced, Garoppolo's card skyrocketed to $278."

Put down your smartphone ... we already did the math, and that's a 12,256% increase. By comparison, the rep says a signed Brady card will set you back about $290. 

Trading cards are nice and all, but Tom still has the 4 Super Bowl rings ... and Gisele.

Scoreboard.

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