St. Louis Rams safety Rodney McLeod tell TMZ Sports the majority of the Rams had no idea 5 players were planning on doing the "Hands Up" tribute before Sunday's game ... but says he respects 'em for doing it.
"Nobody knew about it," McLeod says ... noting that it seemed like something the wide receivers worked out the plan amongst themselves in the moments before they ran out of the tunnel.
"It speaks to the character of those guys to stand up and do that in front of the country."
So how did the tribute go over in the locker room? "No tension at all," McLeod says ... "[the other players on the team] realized [the wide receivers] didn't mean any harm."
McLeod says the team has remained tight in the days following the incident -- "It's one of the strongest locker rooms I have ever been in. Our whole team is tight. Our locker room is even tighter."
The 24-year-old acknowledged that not everyone feels the same way about the Mike Brown case -- but says, "We all respect and support each other through it."
I'm Too Old to Party with Gronk
12/2/2014 5:03 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Tom Brady says his days of raging around Hollywood with pop stars are OVER -- claiming he refused to hit the town with his teammates (and Justin Bieber) last night because he just wanted to SLEEP!!!
The 37-year-old QB called in to WEEI’s “Dennis and Callahan” on Tuesday -- and told the guys the days of partying on a Monday night "have come and gone in my life."
As you know ... Rob Gronkowski -- along with Jonas Gray (RB), Shane Vereen (RB), Akeem Ayers (LB) and Darius Fleming (LB) -- hung out with the L.A. Clippers last night ... with 25-year-old Gronk eventually hitting the Hollywood clubs.
"Those guys should go out and have fun," Brady said ... "They're young guys."
As for why he stayed home while the Pats are on the West Coast to play the Chargers -- "This is my first time away from my kids for a while so I was trying to get some decent sleep."
Partying with Louis XIII
... $3,000 Per Bottle!
12/2/2014 9:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Nothing heals the pain of a loss like a $3,000 bottle of cognac ... just ask the Pittsburgh Steelers linebackers who busted out TWO bottles of Louis XIII at a Pittsburgh casino last night.
James Harrison, along with the rest of the LB crew, hit up Andrew's Steak and Seafood Restaurant at the Rivers Casino ... where they poured the cognac into fancy glasses engraved with their names.
Louis XIII is some of the most expensive cognac in the world -- right now, BevMo is selling the stuff for $3,000 per bottle (if you're a ClubBev member).
Seems the guys polished off the booze ... at least judging by the way they were singing and goofing around at the end of the meal.
Expensive hangovers ... still hurt.
PRAISES ST. LOUIS RAMS
Every Athlete Should Follow Their Lead
12/2/2014 7:52 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Al 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."
It's Johnny Football Time
12/2/2014 7:16 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Drake 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 ...
News Conference was Horrendous Mistake
... Blames Ravens
12/2/2014 6:07 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Ray Rice says the disastrous news conference he and Janay held together in May was a "horrendous mistake" ... but he's pointing the finger at the Baltimore Ravens.
Ray broke his silence with Matt Lauer during a stand-up interview in his kitchen for the "Today" show ... and said of the P.R. debacle, "I made a tremendous mistake not apologizing to my wife."
Ray and Janay also took heat over the May 23rd event because Janay APOLOGIZED for her role in the elevator incident.
"When we was going in, we were given what to speak about. It wasn't truly coming from us," Ray says.
So, who told them what to say? Janay claims the Ravens "gave us a general script" going in to the news conference that day ... and Ray and Janay did what they were told thinking the team would have their back.
During the interview, Ray also told Matt he had never laid a finger on Janay before the elevator attack.
Ray says he wants to play football again, but if he can't get a job in the NFL -- Janay told Matt she's willing to go out, get a job and "be the provider."
Oversees Kitten Bowl Draft
[Ryan Fitzcatrick Falls to #3]
12/2/2014 12:25 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The "Clawvin Johnson" era has officially begun ... and NFL great Boomer Esiason was on hand to deliver the news, presiding over the 2015 Kitten Bowl Draft.
The Hallmark Channel has rounded up a new crop of cats for Kitten Bowl II -- set to air on Feb. 1 (the same day as the Super Bowl) ... and in his official role as Commish, Boomer welcomed the newbies.
So, how'd it go down? Johnson went #1 ... followed by studs like "Cat Stafford" and "Ryan Fitzcatrick."
Don't worry, there's about 40 billion more cat puns stuffed inside this clip. It's Ameowzing.
Watch the video -- If you're allergic to cute, you're going to die.
Eric Decker's Wife:
About Terrible Jets Season
12/1/2014 12:16 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Eric Decker is seriously "depressed" over the disastrous season he's having with the NY Jets ... and it's starting to affect his home life ... this according to his famous country singer wife Jessie James.
James appeared on the The Todd Show on 95.5 WPLJ in NYC (that airs tomorrow) ... and opened up about how the 2-9 season is taking an emotional toll on the high-priced wide receiver.
"It's been a really hard season. He's been, I don't wanna say depressed, but he's been depressed."
James says Eric is particularly frustrated because he's "not able to really show his ability right now and he's got a lot of doubters and that hurts him."
She adds, "It's rough."
Meanwhile, Emmanuel Sanders ... who replaced Decker over in Denver ... is having the best season of his life and says playing with Peyton Manning is "wide receiver heaven."
Guess that makes Metlife Stadium wide receiver hell??
Ex-Teammate Filing for Divorce
After Affair Accusations
12/1/2014 10:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
DeMarco Murray's former college teammate Brennan Clay tells TMZ Sports he's filing for divorce from his wife Gina ... after publicly accusing her of banging Murray behind his back.
Clay -- who played with Murray at the University of Oklahoma -- says the Dallas Cowboys superstar was his mentor at OU ... "the person who I looked up to the most as a running back and as a friend."
But Clay says everything changed when he found one of his wife's old cell phones -- which allegedly contained more than 50 "inappropriate" text messages between DeMarco and Gina which "made me disgusted."
Clay says he also found graphic cell phone pics that he believes Gina and DeMarco had sent each other.
Clay put both Gina and DeMarco on blast on Twitter Sunday -- saying, "So Demarco Murray was having an affair with my wife ..I'm done."'
Now, Clay says he's escalated the situation -- and filed for a divorce from Gina. The two have only been married for 4 months. Clay says he's currently meeting with lawyers to discuss the next step.
A rep for DeMarco tells TMZ Sports the running back has no comment ... saying, "DeMarco is focused on the Bears."
HITS NY CLUB SCENE
After Winning NFL Appeal
12/1/2014 6:40 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Ray 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.
Elevator Incident Was God's Plan
12/1/2014 6:37 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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."
The Ravens Betrayed Us
12/1/2014 6:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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."
My 49ers Would LOVE Ray Rice
11/30/2014 7:43 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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.