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Bucs, Rays & Lightning: We'll Pay to Take Down Confederate Statue ... In Tampa Bay

8/17/2017 11:43 AM PDT
Breaking News

Three major Tampa sports teams are pitching in to remove a Confederate monument from the city's courthouse in the wake of the backlash against similar statues in Virginia. 

The statue in the middle of the controversy is the infamous Memoria en Aeterna -- a 106-year-old monument honoring the Confederate soldiers who fought in the Civil War. 

Officials recently voted to remove the statue -- but only if removal costs were raised from private donors. The cost was estimated at roughly $150,000

Enter the NFL's Tampa Bay Bucs, the MLB's Rays and the NHL's Lightning ... which just stepped up. 

"Recognizing that this monument does not reflect the values of our community, in collaboration with the Greater Tampa Chamber of Commerce, our organizations have dedicated funds to assist in moving the statue from the public space in front of the courthouse."

"Now more than ever before, we must stand united and committed to diversity and inclusion as we all attempt to heal from the tragedy in Charlottesville."

No word on when the statue will come down.

Isaiah Thomas I'm Not Sitting For National Anthem

8/17/2017 6:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

NBA superstar Isaiah Thomas says he will NOT be sitting during the national anthem this upcoming season ... but tells TMZ Sports he supports his fellow athletes for doing what they feel is right.

We spoke with the Celtics point guard about players like Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett staying seated over the weekend ... and while I.T. says he's not gonna join the movement, he understands the bigger picture.

"Stand for what you feel is right. I'm not going to do it, but that's those players' decisions."

Thomas also talked about the recent violence in Charlottesville ... and he wants to send a simple message:

"I just wish everybody would love and not hate."

Jermichael Finley Blasted By Baby Mama 'Don't Forget You're Black!'

8/17/2017 6:29 AM PDT
Breaking News

Jermichael Finley's baby mama just WENT OFF on the former NFL tight end for trashing guys like Marshawn Lynch and Colin Kaepernick over their protests ... telling him, "You are black!" 

The ex-Green Bay Packer really pissed off his ex, Courtney Finley, with comments he made on social media and TMZ Sports ... when he said the national anthem protests are more about self-promotion than social justice.

Courtney, who is white, blasted the guy in a scathing Twitter post saying ... 

"This serves as a reminder @jermichaelf88 in case you have forgotten; you are black."

"The athletes (foremost people) you are telling to sit down (or stand) and shut up are the very men that are protesting for your safety and equality in a country that has nearly revoked that right based on your skin color."

"As a biracial mother of 4 black boys, that have been left to be raised by a single mother, I have deep and desperate gratitude for those that use their platform to fight for our community's justice, safety, & equality."

Courtney says Jermichael's comments are "absurd" and "offensive" -- adding, "Don't be so pathetically thirsty for attention that you choose to devalue another man's motives."

"Don't choose to be so insulting and imply professional athletes have no place in changing the world."

"Most importantly, don't forget to look in the mirror and see that you too are black and have an obligation to derail racism as best you can for yourself and others."

"If you don't want to be part of the resolution to the racial inequalities in this country that's on you, but for the sake of our 4 sons, don't be part of the problem. I pray you will reevaluate your stance."

[h/t BSO

NFL Players Association Fires Back At NFL For Zeke Statement They're Liars & Hypocrites

8/16/2017 11:34 AM PDT
Breaking News

The NFL Players Association is firing back at the NFL for its recent statement on the Zeke Elliott case ... calling them hypocrites and liars who should be ashamed for "stooping to new lows."

The scathing statement is in direct response to NFL's release on Wednesday ... where they accused the PA of "spreading derogatory information to the media about the victim in the Ezekiel Elliott discipline case."

The Players Association released the following statement.

"The public statement issued on behalf of every NFL owner is a lie. The NFLPA categorically denies the accusations made in this statement. We know the league office has a history of being exposed for its lack of credibility."

"This is another example of the NFL's hypocrisy on display and an attempt to create a sideshow to distract from their own failings in dealing with such serious issues. They should be ashamed for stooping to new lows."

NFL Stop Shaming Ezekiel Elliott's Accuser!

8/16/2017 10:02 AM PDT
Breaking News

The NFL is calling out the NFL Player's Association ... saying the league has received tips that the NFLPA is going on a smear campaign against Ezekiel Elliott's accuser in an effort to exonerate the RB. 

Multiple reports have surfaced in the past few days, painting the accuser as everything from a racist to an extortionist ... and the NFL's public relations honcho says the reports are shameful. 

"Over the past few days we’ve received multiple reports of the NFLPA spreading derogatory information to the media about the victim in the Ezekiel Elliott discipline case," Brian McCarthy said. 

"It's a common tactic to attempt to prove the innocence of the accused by discrediting the victim -- in this case Ms. Thompson -- when coming forward to report such abuse."

"Common or not, these tactics are shameful. Efforts to shame and blame victims are often what prevent people from coming forward to report violence and/or seek help in the first place."

We called the NFLPA for comment -- so far, no word back. 

The NFL is standing by its investigation into Zeke -- which the league says showed a pattern of domestic violence against his ex-girlfriend, Tiffany Thompson

ESPN's Byron Scott: Fantasy Auction Sketch Is 'Unacceptable'

8/16/2017 9:50 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

ESPN analyst Byron Scott says the fantasy football auction sketch that aired on the network is "unacceptable" ... but he's not calling for the producer to get fired. 

The network has already apologized for the sketch which showed a white man auctioning off players (many of them black) to a white crowd. Critics say it resembled a slave auction. 

Stars like Kevin Durant and Odell Beckham made it clear the sketch was NOT cool with them. 

So, we asked Scott -- who often appears on ESPN's "The Jump" -- how he felt about the situation. 

"It is unacceptable ... I thought we've come a lot further than we have. Obviously we have not. We have a ways to go."

Scott says he hopes the producer of the segment can learn from his mistakes. 

With Scott being an avid golfer, we also asked the NBA legend if he would ever play on a Trump course.

Hint: Don't book a tee time at Doral any time soon ... 

Tim Brown I'm Against Marshawn's Protest 'Why Bring This Negativity?'

8/15/2017 12:30 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Tim Brown is against Marshawn Lynch's national anthem protest -- telling TMZ Sports, "Why bring negativity to this incredible, positive situation?"

Brown is a Raiders icon -- one of the greatest players in franchise history who's still very involved with the team. 

So, we asked #81 how he felt about Oakland's star running back taking a seat during the anthem at the pre-season game in Arizona this weekend. Brown didn't hold back. 

"Why man? Why bring this to yourself? He has the perfect thing going on in Oakland. Why bring negativity to this incredible positive situation? ... I just don't get it."

"I understand these guys man, they're trying to make statements and they're trying to be a part of this world but football is where people go to get away from that stuff."

Brown says he's confident Raiders honchos would support Marshawn's causes any way the team could outside the stadium ... but he just feels the political and social statements don't belong at work. 

7:36 AM PT -- Tim Brown believes his comments are being misunderstood. 

He believes his points are expressed better in the context of the full interview and has asked us to post the entire 8 minutes. So, here it is. 

Ezekiel Elliott Appeals NFL Suspension

8/15/2017 2:09 PM PDT
Breaking News

Ezekiel Elliott has officially filed his appeal against the NFL for the 6-game suspension he got in the wake of a domestic violence investigation. 

The NFL now has 10 days to schedule a hearing, according to Adam Schefter.

The Dallas Cowboys running back has adamantly denied allegations he attacked his ex-girlfriend on multiple occasions in 2016 ... and points to the fact prosecutors decline to file charges against him. 

The accuser claims Elliott got violent with her at least 3 times during July 2016 -- striking her in the face, arms, legs and neck. 

Elliott says the bruises she showed to police were the result of a bar fight she was involved in -- and were not the result of domestic violence.

Elliott's camp told TMZ Sports, "All we can say at this time is that Mr. Elliott’s appeal of the NFL’s decision will not only completely refute these false allegations but also shed light on the accuser’s lack of credibility and true motives so much that it will place the NFL's entire findings into question and jeopardize the integrity of the decision."

Ezekiel Accuser to Cops: 'He Busted the Side of my Jaw' ... RB Claims She's Lying

8/15/2017 9:29 AM PDT
Exclusive Details

Ezekiel Elliott's accuser told police the NFL running back got extremely violent with her on multiple occasions -- including one instance where he "lost control" and busted the side of her jaw -- but Zeke says she's straight-up lying and he can prove it. 

The woman lays it out during a recorded 2016 interview with police in the wake of her domestic violence accusations against the football star. 

At the beginning of the interview, the woman is asked if there is a history of abuse or violence -- to which she responds: 

"He has lost control and yanked me into the wall, busted the side of my jaw ... my face is swollen and a little bit bruised. And then I did have thumbprint marks on my hand."

The accuser doesn't specify the exact dates of the alleged abuse -- but she notes that she had filed a previous police report against Zeke over an incident in February 2016. 

During the 20 minute interview, the accuser, Tiffany Thompson, also gets into detail about the July 16, 2016 incident

Thompson says Elliott got violent with her when she asked why other women were blowing up his phone early in the morning.

She claims Zeke cussed her out, dragged her out of bed and choked her.  

Thompson also claims Zeke clenched his fist to hit her in the face -- but stopped himself when she began to cry. She claims Elliott apologized. 

We reached out to Elliott's camp and a rep told us, "All we can say at this time is that Mr. Elliott’s appeal of the NFL’s decision will not only completely refute these false allegations but also shed light on the accuser’s lack of credibility and true motives so much that it will place the NFL's entire findings into question and jeopardize the integrity of the decision."

The reps noted the interview is over a year old and was taken by the Columbus Prosecutor’s office which ultimately did not charge Elliott with a crime. 

NFL's Jermichael Finley Marshawn's Protest Is Phony ... 'Marketing Tool'

8/14/2017 4:15 PM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Ex-NFL player Jermichael Finley says Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett don't give a damn about social justice, telling TMZ Sports their national anthem protests are shameless publicity stunts. 

We talked to Finley -- who's Super Bowl-winning career with Green Bay was cut short by injury -- and he told us he doesn't believe any of the guys who are sitting actually care about the issues.

"It's more of marketing, it's not really in their heart that they really want to do that. But once again, I think it's a selfish reason I really do."

Finley's take is essentially ... it's hard for star players to get individual attention and guys like Bennett, Lynch and Kaepernick need to be controversial to stay relevant. 

JF even takes it a step further on Kaep, going full Michael Vick -- saying it's about time Colin do something with that revolutionary afro.

As for what guys can do if they really care about social justice, Finley has a thought -- call Obama. 

Terrell Owens Ezekiel Elliott Shoulda Known Better

8/14/2017 11:04 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Terrell Owens has some advice for NFL players like Ezekiel Elliott -- if things aren't working out with a woman, JUST DUMP HER AND MOVE ON! 

The ex-NFL star says the situation involving Zeke is "unfortunate" -- but he should never have put himself in a volatile position with the accuser in the first place.  

"At the end of the day -- no disrespect to women -- but there's a million women in this world. Don't get caught up in certain situations like that."

T.O. says even if Zeke is innocent, he's hopeful the RB can learn from the situation and move on with his life. 

Emmitt Smith to NFL Owners Someone Give Kaep a Shot Already!

8/14/2017 6:32 AM PDT
Breaking News

We're in the 2nd week of pre-season football and one thing's clear to Emmitt Smith -- Colin Kaepernick should be on an NFL roster. 

"I think somebody needs to give him a chance," Smith told our friends at BSO ... " He deserves to be back in the game."

The Hall of Famer says Kaep "definitely" has the talent to make a roster -- and suggests that he's being blackballed over his protest

"He is an American citizen and he does have rights. And his rights should not be violated just like no one else's rights should be violated."

Should be interesting to see how the NFL world reacts this week -- with Marshawn Lynch and Michael Bennett sitting down for the anthem this weekend. 

Kurt Warner Ezekiel's Suspension ... 'Big Blow for the Cowboys'

8/12/2017 12:45 AM PDT
EXCLUSIVE

Kurt Warner says losing Ezekiel Elliott for 6 games is a "big blow" for the Dallas Cowboys -- and could seriously hurt the team's chances at a playoff run. 

The Hall of Fame quarterback was still gathering info when we spoke with him Friday afternoon -- but says the whole situation involving the running back is "disappointing."

As for the NFL's threats that Zeke could be banned for life if he violated the league's personal conduct policy again -- Warner says, "Let's just hope it doesn't get to that point."

How will the suspension affect fantasy football? It's a question millions of people are also asking ... and Kurt weighs in on that too. 

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