Lou Holtz Receiving Presidential Medal of Freedom ... from Donald Trump

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Ex-college football coach Lou Holtz will receive the Presidential Medal of Freedom on Thursday, the White House announced.

The award is recognized as the "Nation's highest civilian honor," according to the White House ... usually given to someone who has "made especially meritorious contributions to the security or national interests of the United States, to world peace, or to cultural or other significant public endeavors."

So, why Lou? Here's what Trump's team is saying ...

"America recognizes Lou Holtz as one of the greatest football coaches of all time for his unmatched accomplishments on the gridiron, but he is also a philanthropist, author and true American patriot."

83-year-old Holtz is most well known for leading Notre Dame to a 12-0 record in 1988 -- when the Fighting Irish were crowned national champions.

His career record as a college football coach is 249-132-7 -- with 22 bowl appearances (he won 12 of them).

Outside of football, Holtz has been a staunch Trump supporter who campaigned for POTUS ... and even spoke at the Republican National Convention.

In fact, it was at the RNC when Holtz attacked Trump's opponent Joe Biden over his position on abortion -- saying the former Vice President is a "Catholic in name only."

During his presidency, Trump has given the M.O.F. to several sports legends -- including Tiger Woods, Jerry West and Roger Staubach.

Tichina Arnold Grammys Plagued by Flawed System ... Unfair to 'Real' Artists!!!

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WHERE'S THE RESPECT?
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Tichina Arnold believes there's a real catch-22 with the Grammys right now ... and it may signal the end of the music industry's biggest award having any real significance.

Fresh off co-hosting the 2020 Soul Train Awards, Tichina joined us Monday on "TMZ Live" to address the fallout of some big-name artists -- most notably The Weeknd -- getting snubbed for Grammy nominations last week. She says the major problem is talented artists, whose music is popular, are often a total blind spot for the people in charge of choosing noms.

The Soul Train Awards honored several acts -- like Chris Brown, H.E.R. and Summer Walker -- overlooked for the Grammys' major awards this year ... and Tichina says artists are not only noticing it, but they're fed up.

Halsey, Drake, Elton John and The Weeknd himself have all openly suggested there's a disconnect between the music and most award shows.

Tichina says the problem is compounded because the major awards still have a big impact on revenue for up-and-coming artists -- and that's the real reason getting overlooked sucks for them.

LaVar Ball LaMelo Will Win Rookie Of The Year ... 'Guaranteed!!!'

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FAMILY UPDATE
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"GUARANTEEEEEED!!!!"

LaVar Ball says there's NO DOUBT in his mind his son, LaMelo, will receive the highest honors of his draft class ... telling TMZ Sports the #3 overall pick is a shoo-in for the Rookie of the Year award.

We spoke with Papa Ball at his family's Thanksgiving giveaway in South Central L.A. on Tuesday ... and in pure LaVar fashion, he made another bold prediction.

"Teaming up with Michael Jordan and you can't get rookie of the year?? Are you crazy?!," LaVar tells us.

It may not be as farfetched as LaVar's predictions in the past -- Melo can straight-up BALL and was once considered a favorite to go #1 to the Minnesota Timberwolves in the 2020 NBA Draft.

Of course, LaMelo ended up with the Charlotte Hornets ... and LaVar is expecting big things when his son teams up with the GOAT.

We also spoke with the Ball fam patriarch about LiAngelo and Lonzo's future ... and as always, the dude has things to say.

Jaguars' James Robinson Gunning For NFL Rookie Of The Year ... 'I'm Having A Pretty Good Year!!!

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SHOWIN' WHAT I GOT
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Don't get too comfy, Justin Herbert, Justin Jefferson and CeeDee Lamb ...

New Jaguars star James Robinson tells TMZ Sports he has just as much claim to the Rookie of the Year honors as anybody in the NFL ... saying, "I mean, I know that I am having a pretty good year."

JR came out of nowhere to dominate the touches in Jacksonville's backfield ... and he's been THRIVING since head coach Doug Marrone handed him the keys to the starting RB role.

The undrafted tailback out of Illinois State is 3rd in the league with 762 rushing yards ... and he's also got 5 rushing TDs and 249 receiving yards.

And, 22-year-old Robinson says he feels that should be plenty to get him some consideration for the NFL's most coveted award for rookies.

"I mean, I hope I am in that conversation," Robinson says.

Don't get it twisted ... Robinson has bigger goals than just the individual award -- telling us, "I try not to really pay attention to any of that."

As for Robinson's improbable road to success ... he credits the chip on his shoulder for motivating him to go from an unheralded, undrafted free agent back to one of the league's brightest young stars.

"Not being drafted sucks, but, I mean, it’s just a number," Robinson said, adding, "Once you go on the field, you still have to play football and if you can play, you can play."

Drake Don't Be Shocked at Weeknd Snub ... Grammys Are Irrelevant

Drake almost finds humor in the Grammys which inexplicably snubbed The Weeknd, essentially saying those little trophies really don't mean crap.

Drake said Wednesday night, "I think we should stop allowing ourselves to be shocked every year by the disconnect between impactful music and these awards and just accept that what once was the highest form of recognition may no longer matter to the artists that exist now and the ones that come after."

And, then the zinger ... "It's like a relative you keep expecting to fix up but they just can't change their ways."

As we reported, on the surface it made no sense The Weeknd ended up with goose eggs when the noms were announced ... given the success of "After Hours" and especially "Blinding Lights." The Weeknd, who calls the Grammys "corrupt," believes he was snubbed because the Grammys did not want him to dilute his Grammy performance with a Super Bowl performance -- a ridiculous ask and one The Weeknd rejected. He thinks he was overlooked because of spite.

The Weeknd Grammys Says Nothing's Corrupt ... Super Bowl Had No Effect on Noms

The Weeknd's Grammys snub had nothing to do with him playing the Super Bowl ... at least according to the Recording Academy Chief.

Harvey Mason Jr. -- interim President and CEO of the Academy -- says, "We understand that The Weeknd is disappointed at not being nominated. I was surprised and can empathize with what he’s feeling. His music this year was excellent."

He adds, the Grammys had no issue with him performing at the Super Bowl and would have loved to have him also perform for the awards show. TMZ broke the story ... negotiations for The Weeknd's Grammy performance got nasty, and our sources say he was issued an ultimatum -- play for us or the Super Bowl.

As for Weeknd receiving zero nominations -- Mason claims there was nothing nefarious to it. He says, "To be clear, voting in all categories ended well before The Weeknd’s performance at the Super Bowl was announced, so in no way could it have affected the nomination process."

As we reported ... it was revealed The Weeknd would be doing the SB Halftime Show on Nov. 12. The Grammys point out its voting deadline for noms was in October. Mason is adamant nobody was upset about the prospect of the singer performing at both events ... because the Grammys happens first.

Mason also says he's "saddened" over The Weeknd and his team saying "The Grammys remain corrupt." He says ... "I try to empathize with where that came from, but it was difficult to hear."

Despite the apparent damage control, it appears this controversy's not going away anytime soon. The Weeknd's manager, Sal Slaiby, also slammed "corrupt leaders" at the Grammys and demanded transparency.

Scooter Braun piled on, tweeting that Sal and The Weeknd deserved to be nominated and deserved better.

2021 Grammy Nominations Kanye's Christian, Weeknd's Snubbed ... Trebek Could Win Too!!!

The Grammys are going to look very different next year, and not just because of the pandemic ... Kanye's making a big move and Alex Trebek's in the fold.

Nominations for the 2021 Grammys are out, and there's lots of interesting changes to digest. Trevor Noah's hosting and he might have some fun with this -- Kanye is now officially considered a Christian artist.

Yeezy's "Jesus Is King" is up for best contemporary Christian music album ... it's the next stage in Kanye's transformation, which traces roots back to his Sunday Service.

Trebek's also got a shot at posthumous glory ... the late "Jeopardy!" host and TV icon's audiobook is nominated for best spoken word album. Ken Jennings helped Alex narrate the memoir, and would accept the award if the 'Jeopardy' duo wins.

One celeb who won't be taking home any hardware -- The Weeknd. He's shockingly snubbed even though his single, "Blinding Lights," topped the charts and his album, "After Hours," rose to #1.

Guess The Weeknd will have to settle for performing the Super Bowl halftime show a week after the Grammys.

Yeah, Trevor's got a lot of material to work with.

American Music Awards Taylor Raises Scooter Feud, Remaking Hits ... Plus More Highlights

Taylor Swift's ongoing beef with Scooter Braun over the sale of her masters was front-and-center at the AMAs -- and so were a whole lot of other memorable moments.

The pop star won the award for Artist of the Year Sunday night at the half-virtual/half-live event at the Microsoft Theater in L.A. ... and T-Swift accepted from a recording studio and dropped big news.

In addition to thanking fans for their support over the years, especially in 2020, Taylor noted she wasn't in L.A. for the AMAs -- like some artists were -- because she's busy re-recording her old hits.

Of course, it's just another reminder that she's sticking to her word amid the bitter feud with Scooter -- whom she claims wouldn't even entertain selling her back her masters without her signing an NDA first promising not to bash him in public.

She didn't mention Scooter's name Sunday night, but the shot was clear.

Anyway, there were other cool moments that struck a chord too -- such as The Weeknd's bruising performance above the L.A. River. He never referenced his full-face bandages, but seems like a spinoff from that nose bandage look from last year.

J Lo also had a bootylicious showstopper with Maluma ... Harry Styles and BTS took home some honors, and Megan Fox presenting her BF, MGK, live on camera. It was a lot to take in, to say the least.

A solid AMAs broadcast mid-pandemic??? It's possible.

Bad Bunny Canceled AMA Gig After Getting COVID

Bad Bunny fans now know why he didn't perform at the American Music Awards ... he's got the 'Rona.

The reggaeton superstar was originally scheduled to perform Sunday night at the AMAs, but he was MIA ... and fans started speculating COVID-19 may have been the reason why. Their suspicions were confirmed Monday by Bad Bunny's people.

There's never a good time to catch the coronavirus, but this was particularly bad for Bad Bunny -- he was supposed to perform "Dakiti" -- his #1 hit with Jhay Cortez -- for the first time.

It wasn't all bad news for Bad Bunny. He still did part of the show virtually from his L.A. crib -- as he announced the winner for Favorite Female Artist in the Latin category, which went to Becky G.

But, the best part of the night, no doubt, came when he took home 2 awards in the Latin category for Favorite Male Artist and Favorite Album, "YHLQMDLG" ... an acronym that loosely translates to "I Do Whatever the Hell I Want."

Paul Hornung Football Legend Dead At 84 After Battle With Dementia

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Paul Hornung -- a man Vince Lombardi once deemed maybe "the best all-around back ever to play football" -- has died, the Pro Football Hall of Fame just announced.

He was 84 years old.

Hornung had battled dementia for years, according to the Louisville Sports Commission, and passed away in Kentucky on Friday.

Paul is one of the most legendary football players EVER -- the guy is the only person on earth to win a Heisman Trophy, an NFL MVP award, be selected first overall in the NFL draft, AND be inducted into both the College Football Hall of Fame and the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Hornung first made a name for himself at Notre Dame in the '50s ... where he was nicknamed "The Golden Boy" for his blonde hair and incredible game.

He was the team's star quarterback --- and ultimately won the Heisman Trophy in 1956.

Hornung went on to play for the Green Bay Packers and Lombardi ... and he was a superstar there as well -- winning the NFL's first-ever Super Bowl in 1967 and four other league championships prior to that.

Hornung was inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in 1986 ... and later, college football named its award for the most versatile player in the game after him.

"The entire Pro Football Hall of Fame family mourns the passing of Paul Hornung," Pro Football Hall of Fame President and CEO David Baker said in a statement "He was an outstanding player and an incredible man."

RIP

Colin Kaepernick Tapped for Univ. of Nevada Hall of Fame ... Class of 2020

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Colin Kaepernick has been selected for the University of Nevada Athletics Hall of Fame, the school announced.

Kaepernick played for the Wolf Pack from 2006 to 2010 -- racking up more than 10,000 passing yards and 4,000 rushing yards during his college career.

He was also named was Offensive Player of the Year TWICE -- once in 2008 and again in 2010.

Kaepernick famously led the Wolf Pack to a 13-1 season in 2010 -- winning a WAC conference championship. The team also won the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl and finished as the #11 ranked team in the country on the AP poll.

Kaepernick will be inducted with 2 of his teammates -- running back Vai Taua and defensive end Dontay Moch.

"The 2020 Hall of Fame class represents some of the best of the best in Wolf Pack history," Nevada AD Doug Knuth said.

"This is an incredible collection of accomplished student-athletes and we can't wait for the opportunity to welcome them back to campus and celebrate their careers."

There's just one snag ... the school says there will be no official induction dinner held in the fall due to COVID-19.

School officials are hopeful to hold a celebration to honor Kap and company in the future.

Congrats!

Jennifer Aniston & Jimmy Kimmel Emmys Fire Gag Fail ... It's Soooo 2020!!! 😫

FIERY INTRO
ABC

Turns out Jennifer Aniston is a boss with a fire extinguisher, lucky for Jimmy Kimmel ... as their dumpster fire bit at the Emmys, inadvertently, turned into a recreation of 2020.

The fire gag went down early in Sunday's live broadcast of the Emmys from Staples Center ... Jennifer was the night's first awards presenter. The fiery joke showed them first cleaning any potential coronavirus off the envelope ... by spraying it with Lysol and lighting it on fire, naturally.

Thing is ... the envelope wouldn't stop burning!!! Jimmy and Jen looked shocked, and she had to blast the extinguisher 5 times before the fire finally went out.

It all played like a metaphor for the massive wildfires currently burning in California and Oregon. Hell, you could even extend that metaphor to all of 2020 -- COVID-19, racism, social injustice, politics, hurricanes, etc ...

Ya get the point ... someone please extinguish this year.

BTW, the cast of "Little Fires Everywhere" mighta thought it was a good early omen for them. It wasn't, though ... they lost the Outstanding Limited Series category. 🔥

Emmys 2020 Winners Protest for Breonna Taylor ... Call Out Trump & Nationalism

Even though it was the Emmys, television wasn't the most important thing on the minds of some of the winners Sunday night ... and they made that very clear.

Regina King -- who won for Outstanding Lead Actress in a Limited Series or Television Movie for her starring role as Angela Abar in HBO’s "Watchmen" -- used her victory speech time to remind everyone to say the name, Breonna Taylor.

Regina reminded everyone after her win ... the police officers who killed Breonna have still not been held accountable, and she felt the call to honor her. She says Taylor represents centuries of violence against Black people.

Uzo Aduba -- who won for Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Limited Series for playing Shirley Chisholm on "Mrs. America" -- also honored Breonna by wearing a shirt bearing her name.

Finally, there was "Succession," which beat out some serious competition to win Best Drama Series.

NO THANKS TO YOU
ABC

The HBO show's British creator, Jesse Armstrong, decided to deliver a series of un-thank-yous since he couldn't be with the rest of the cast and crew to celebrate ... and sounded off on President Trump and UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.

Armstong said ... "Un-thank you to the virus for keeping us all apart this year. Un-thank you to Trump for his crummy and uncoordinated response, un-thank you to Boris Johnson and his government for doing the same in my country."

He went on ... "Un-thank you to all the nationalist and quasi-nationalist governments in the world who are exactly the opposite of what we need right now and un-thank you to the media moguls who do so much to keep them in power. So un-thank you."

Eddie Murphy Wins First Emmy for 'SNL' Hosting Gig

Eddie Murphy made it clear Saturday night ... some things are just worth waiting for.

Eddie scored his first Emmy ever -- yep, hard to believe, but true. This time around he was nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor in a Comedy Series for his appearance on "Saturday Night Live."

t's pretty remarkable ... his 'SNL' appearance was the first time in 35 years since he hosted. You'll recall, he reprieved some of his classic characters, including Buckwheat, Mister Robinson and Gumby.

Eddie was super grateful, thanking the Academy for the honor and giving a special shout-out to Lorne Michaels. He was gracious, thanking the cast, writers and crew.

Here's the good news ... Eddie said he's going to get back on stage to do more comedy. He says he planned to do it before the pandemic, and once he gets the all-clear he's going before live audiences.

Turns out it was a special occasion ... Saturday marked 36 years to the day Eddie appeared on 'SNL.'

Congrats!!!

AJ McLean Kanye Peeing on Grammy is Disrespectful

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FOCUS ON THE FANS
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AJ McLean would never bust a Kanye West and pee on a Grammy ... not because he doesn't have one to pee on, but because it's just downright wrong.

We got the Backstreet Boys member leaving 'DWTS' practice this week and wanted to get his take on Ye taking a leak all over one of his Grammys stuffed inside a toilet. No matter the message Kanye was trying to send ... pretty clear AJ wasn't a fan of the move.

Check out the video ... AJ says even though the Boys don't have a Grammy -- YET!!! -- he thinks what Kanye did was way outta line.

ULTRALIGHT STREAM

As we reported ... Kanye whizzed all over his own Grammy statuette to underscore his message about Black people needing a seat at the table. Remember, Kanye had been ranting about African-Americans not getting their fair share of the pie and instead are being exploited by companies run by Whites. He pointed the finger at the NBA and the music biz as prime examples. He also talked about ownership of his master recordings, blasting Universal Music Group and alleging they won't even give him a chance to buy them outright.

Our photog asks AJ if artists should own their own master recordings ... and the Backstreet Boy seems to somewhat agree with Kanye.

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