Patriots stud Rob Gronkowski isn't afraid to mix it up with football fans ... even when they're contestants on a reality show he's judging.
Gronk was a guest critic on this week's episode of "Top Chef: Boston" ... but not all the cooks were star struck ... 'cause chef George Pagonis tells TMZ Sports he got in Gronk's face and told him exactly how he felt about the Pats. Hint ... George is not a fan.
Chef P says, "I never really cared for any Boston teams. I've spent a lot of time in New York, and I'm a big Redskins fan."
Still, razzing Gronk when he controls your culinary fate doesn't seem wise. Pagans says ... "I couldn't let my team down and not speak up." He adds Gronk was totally cool with his verbal jabs.
Obviously, it didn't affect his judging because Chef Pagonis cooked the winning dish -- a pork and veal sausage.
Pigskin and sausage ... the key to Gronk's heart.
Ray & Janay Rice
Handcuffed and Making Out
After Elevator Fight
12/19/2014 3:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
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Ray Rice and then fiancee Janay Palmer were handcuffed the night of the Atlantic City elevator fight ... and even kissed each other in an elevator as police escorted them out of the casino.
The surveillance video posted by ABC News shows cops seated with Ray and Janay at separate tables in the Revel Hotel and Casino.
About 1 minute into the video police start to walk Ray and Janay out, they put them both together in the same elevator. Remember this isn't long after Ray knocked out Janay in an elevator.
Both Ray and Janay were arrested for assault, but charges were quickly dropped against Janay.
Ex-49er Ray McDonald
Out of Work & Under Investigation ...
12/19/2014 3:25 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
If Ray McDonald is pissed off about getting cut from the San Francisco 49ers -- he did a bang up job of hiding it outside his attorney's office.
The defensive lineman let out a massive yawn as he strolled to his car after meeting his lawyer in San Jose Friday -- 2 days after he was named a suspect in an alleged rape investigation ... and subsequently 86'd by the Niners.
Ray's pretty chill -- especially for a guy facing his second criminal investigation in 6 months, and suddenly out of work.
Watch ... Ray's got a friend with him who says new information will be "coming out soon." Unclear if he's talking about Ray's future in the NFL ... or the alleged rape case.
Jabs Prez Over Name Screw Up ...
'It's Franco, not Flacco!'
12/19/2014 12:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Listen up, President Obama ... Joe Flacco wants to make sure you know he's never been in "127 Hours" or "Spring Breakers" ... and he's definitely not the co-star of "The Interview."
POTUS made a huge flub during his news conference Friday -- mashing up James Franco's name with Joe's -- and the Ravens QB quickly responded.
The prez was talking about the Sony cyber attack and "The Interview" ... saying, "a satirical movie starring Seth Rogen and James FLACCO. I love Seth ... I love James."
Flacco razzed the president by tweeting, "@barackobama: It's James Franco, not James Flacco ;)" He also shouted out James ... welcoming him to the fam.
Still ... imagine Franco putting on the pads to take on J.J. Watt and the Texans this weekend. THAT would be awesome.
Federal Charges for
Distributing Drugs to Rape Women
12/18/2014 4:40 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Former New Orleans Saints star Darren Sharper now faces federal charges for distributing prescription meds -- on top of the slew of charges he's already been hit with in multiple states.
Sharper was indicted by a federal grand jury for conspiracy to distribute generic versions of Valium, Xanax, and Ambien ... with intent to commit rape between January 2010 and May 2014. He was also charged with 2 counts of actually distributing the drugs with intent to rape.
An Ex-sheriff's deputy in New Orleans, Brandon Licciardi, was hit with the same charges ... in addition to witness tampering and impeding an investigation.
Worth noting ... the indictment accuses Sharper of distributing drugs to women in New Orleans WHILE he was behind bars. He's been locked up in L.A. since Feb. 28, 2014 -- so it seems impossible he committed the alleged crimes in March, April or May of this year.
All Is Forgiven ...
Surrounded by Fans at Kids Event
12/18/2014 9:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Ray Rice is back in the good graces of many Baltimore Ravens fans ... who flocked to him last night during a Christmas charity event.
Ray and Janay Rice went to a Toys for Tots drive organized by his ex-teammate Torrey Smith -- and no one shied away from Ray as he walked around the event. In fact, he and Janay posed for several pictures with people during his first public appearance since his suspension was overturned.
Organizers say this is the 3rd consecutive year that Rice has pitched in with the charity.
He told a reporter for WJZ ... "I just made a horrible mistake in my life but you know, if they truly believe in second chances - they would forgive me "
We've said it before -- comebacks happen all the time.
Cut By 49ers
'He's Made Poor Decisions'
12/17/2014 12:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The San Francisco 49ers are done dealing with Ray McDonald and police reports -- they've cut him from the team on the heels of him being named a suspect in a rape investigation.
General Manger Trent Baalke just held a news conference, saying the decision to drop McDonald was not solely based on the latest investigation, but instead it was due to a "pattern of poor decision making."
Baalke said a "plan was put in place" with Ray and the alleged rape case went "against that plan."
He didn't elaborate but it sounded like the team had warned McDonald -- after the alleged domestic violence incident with his fiancee in August -- to keep his nose clean, or else.
He added this was a team decision, and had nothing to do with the league.
Baalke said he was "extremely disappointed" ... but stressed it wasn't about guilt or innocence, and McDonald deserved to have his day in court.
49ers Ray McDonald
Cops Search Home in Rape Investigation
12/17/2014 10:01 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
12:10 PM PT -- San Jose PD says Ray is officially a suspect in the rape investigation -- and the alleged victim said she was "possibly sexually assaulted" on Monday.
49ers star Ray McDonald was served with a search warrant by police officers investigating a rape allegation.
San Jose PD went to McDonald's home Tuesday after talking to a woman who was getting treatment at a hospital for a possible sexual assault. Whatever the woman told police ... their investigation led them to McDonald's home.
Police have not named the Niners defensive lineman a suspect in the alleged rape ... and it's unclear what, if any evidence they found in his house.
McDonald's name was just cleared last month ... in the August domestic violence case involving his pregnant fiancee ... when the D.A. decided there wasn't enough evidence to prosecute him.
When I Play Madden ...
I Use Tom Brady!
12/17/2014 6:49 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Michael Vick still loves playing football video games, but NOT as himself -- instead he told us he prefers to "play with a passer" ... who goes by the name of Tom Brady!
Vick was in New York on Tuesday donating Nike sneakers to the Boys and Girls Club of Harlem. With Christmas right around the corner ... he revealed his favorite holiday memory is getting his first Nintendo.
And that's when the Madden issue ... or rather, the Brady issue comes up. Considering the NY Jets play Brady and the Pats this week -- his comment might piss of loyal Jets fans. But honestly ... Jets fans, players, and coaches have more to worry about.: 3 and 11, dude.
As for his future with Gang Green -- Vick says he's not sure about next season. Hey, someone's gotta backup Brady.
Deion Sanders' Ex
Tossed in Jail
for Violating Custody Agreement
12/16/2014 2:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Deion Sanders' ex-wife was sentenced to seven days behind bars today for failing to return their kids in a timely manner ... as they agreed to do in their divorce agreement.
Pilar Sanders was found in contempt, and immediately taken into custody. The judge ruled she did not bring their 3 children back to do Deion on time after a visit last July -- and also took them when it wasn't her turn.
According to local reports, Pilar did not have an attorney with her ... and at one point told the court, “I am not a part of the United States corporation." As we first told you ... Pilar now believes she can only be judged by the Moroccan Empire (which does not exist).
Deion is also suing her for defamation and the judge ordered Pilar to delete any disparaging social media comments about Deion.
Returning the Favor
to Awesome Kid Fan
12/16/2014 1:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
J.J. Watt received an awesome gift from the coolest 7-year-old on the planet ... and TMZ Sports has learned little Anthony Tarantelli can expect something in the mail from #99 real soon.
Tarantelli captured the hearts of every sports fan when he sent Watt an autographed jersey (not the other way around) and included a letter saying he was "the most feared rusher in my league this year."
Anthony's dad Joe tells TMZ it took a little luck to get the delivery to Watt. Joe says he posted about it on Facebook ... and a friend came forward saying he knew Watt's agent.
Lauren Tarantelli, Anthony's mom, tells TMZ Sports ... J.J. reached out to Anthony after getting the package and sent along a video message ... in which he said Anthony can "expect something in the mail."
Mama Tarantelli -- who was a college tennis player herself -- says Anthony's love of J.J. came about all on his own (his dad's a Bills fan) and that he's so feared in his league ... he once had the referee tell him to go easy.
Perhaps NFL refs should try that approach with J.J.
New England Patriots
Rocking Out to Katy Perry
12/16/2014 12:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
The New England Patriots are all business on the field, but they know how to have fun off it ... because a bunch of the team's stars rocked the mic at a karaoke event on Monday benefiting sick kids.
The "Open Mic Holiday Party" in Foxboro, Mass was hosted by safety Patrick Chung (who rocked out to Katy Perry's "Firework") with fellow Pats Vince Wilfork, Jerod Mayo, and Devin McCourty in attendance.
Chung and the Pats raised $80,000 for "Chung Changing Lives" -- an organization that supports personal and academic development in kids -- and several other Boston area charities.
Pats owner Robert Kraft even made a cameo, and promised to perform an Elton John song next year.
Here's hoping he keeps his word.
Ray & Janay Rice
Fireball Shots & Card Games
At Surprise Party
12/16/2014 10:10 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Ray and Janay Rice partied hard Monday night ... their friends threw them a surprise party -- complete with cake and hard booze -- to celebrate being in Baltimore for seven years.
Janay posted a few pics from the party at their home -- looks like they played Cards Against Humanity and drank beers and a handle of Fireball.
We don't know what Ray was drinking, but as we first reported -- he blamed the entire elevator incident on hard alcohol and told friends he was swearing off the stuff completely.
Janay captioned her pics with: "our Bmore family is seriously the best!!! We thought we were having a normal Monday night then the doorbell rang...little did we know there they were with drinks, food, games, and the most of all love & support!"
One of her hashtags was "#lovenomatterwhereweare" ... perhaps an acknowledgment that after 7 years they'll most likely be leaving Baltimore when -- and if -- Ray gets picked up by another NFL team.