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Darren Sharper

Federal Charges for

Distributing Drugs to Rape Women

12/18/2014 4:40 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

0227-darren-sharper-tmz2-3Former 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.

Ray Rice

All Is Forgiven ...

Surrounded by Fans at Kids Event

12/18/2014 9:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF

1218-ray-rice-instagram-02Ray 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.  
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Ray McDonald

Cut By 49ers

'He's Made Poor Decisions'

12/17/2014 12:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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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.

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49ers Ray McDonald

Cops Search Home in Rape Investigation

12/17/2014 10:01 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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update_graphic_red_bar12:10 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.
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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.

Mike Vick

When I Play Madden ...

I Use Tom Brady!

12/17/2014 6:49 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

121714_michael_vick_launch_v2Michael 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.

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Deion Sanders' Ex

Tossed in Jail

for Violating Custody Agreement

12/16/2014 2:45 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

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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.

J.J. Watt

Returning the Favor

to Awesome Kid Fan

12/16/2014 1:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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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. 

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New England Patriots

Rocking Out to Katy Perry

for Charity

12/16/2014 12:30 PM PST BY TMZ STAFF

121614_patrick_chung_launchThe 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.  

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Ray & Janay Rice

Fireball Shots & Card Games

At Surprise Party

12/16/2014 10:10 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

1216-ray-rice-cake-instagramRay 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. 

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Adrian Peterson

Audio Proves I Got Screwed ...

NFL Exec Gave His 'Word'

12/15/2014 6:15 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
breaking news

121514_adrian_peterson_gma_launchAdrian Peterson might have the smoking gun he needs to get his indefinite suspension overturned -- audio of NFL exec Troy Vincent seemingly promising the Vikings star he'd only sit for 2 games.

Peterson had previously claimed Vincent made the promise, but now -- 2 days after an arbitrator denied AP's appeal to overturn the suspension -- ABC News played audio of the Nov. 12 convo between Vincent and Peterson. 

On the tape, Vincent never uses the p-word, but does say ... "I gave you my word." He also hints Peterson needs to "go through the process" quietly. Translation: keep your mouth shut, don't blast the league ... and you'll be back on the field in no time.

The NFL Players Association filed a lawsuit Monday on AP's behalf, challenging the decision on Friday to uphold his indefinite suspension.

Earlier this month we talked to Vincent about the alleged "promise." Interestingly, he didn't say AP was wrong for calling him out -- and only said he was "praying" for him.

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Mike Piazza

Kerry Collins Had a Cannon

... Threw 'Scary' Hard

12/15/2014 12:35 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

121214_mike_piazza_launch_v2Kerry Collins couldn't just sling a football ... the former NFL quarterback had a GUN as a pitcher too ... so says Mike Piazza

Mike was out in NYC when we asked if there were any athletes who impressed him with during the ceremonial first pitch over the years. 

That's when Mike brought up the ex-Carolina Panthers QB -- who said he fired the ball so hard back in the day, it actually scared him when he was behind the plate. 

FYI -- Collins was drafted by the Detroit Tigers the 26th round of the 1990 MLB draft ... but decided to go to Penn St. instead where he excelled on the football field.

Odell Beckham Jr.

I Didn't Pursue Soccer Career

'Cause I'd Miss My Family Too Much

12/14/2014 9:21 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
Exclusive Video

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Like you need ANOTHER reason to like Odell Beckham Jr.????

Well, here we go -- 'cause the NY Giants receiver says he turned down an amazing opportunity to join the U.S. National soccer program when he ws a kid ... because he'd miss his family too much.

Beckham Jr. -- who's also a hardcore sneakerhead -- was at the opening of the OG Sole sneaker shop in Jersey this weekend when he explained why he chose football ... instead of leaving his family and pursuing a career in soccer at 14-years-old.

In fact, OBJ also picked his college to stay close to his fam -- choosing LSU instead of any other program in the country ... just so he could stay local.

Things worked out.

Fun Fact -- Odell says he has more than ONE HUNDRED pairs of sneakers ... including a pair of the most sought after kicks in the shoe game.

Check out the clip.

Cleveland Browns LB

I'm In the Hat Biz

$1,200-a-Pop

12/14/2014 12:45 AM PST BY TMZ STAFF
EXCLUSIVE

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Cleveland Browns linebacker Zac Diles is officially in the fashion game -- and his company is selling an Italian cashmere baseball cap ... FOR $1,200 EACH!!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... Diles is a part owner of Melin ... a company that specializes in high-end designer headwear.

The company uses everything from antique metals to genuine pony hair to pimp out their products -- with the top item, the $1,200 hat, boasting real ostrich leather.

We spoke with Diles who tells us ... his teammates have been incredibly supportive -- with guys like Johnny Manziel, Joe Haden and Donte Whitner rockin' various items.

"It's always great to see guys in the locker room supporting."

Diles says he's incredibly proud of the brand and how it's grown -- saying,"When I put on my Melin hats, I get that sense of achievement. The sense t hat this is earned."

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