Devin Funchess I'm Still Gunning To Make NBA ... After Transitioning From NFL To Pro Hoops

QUICK TRANSITION
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Devin Funchess has successfully made the transition from NFL player to pro hooper ... but he tells TMZ Sports he's not done yet -- he still wants to make it to the NBA!!

The ex-Carolina Panthers wideout has been training for years to establish himself as a big-time baller on the hardwood ... and so far, the journey's gone well.

He's played overseas at a few stops ... with his most recent contract coming from the Colombia Basketball League -- and he says he's pleased with how the new career's going.

Luke Combs Rips Panthers For Brian Burns Trade ... 'What Are We Doing?!'

Luke Combs is done trying to make sense of what the Carolina Panthers are doing with the team -- the last straw was the Brian Burns trade -- and now the country music star is going in on the squad!

"Panthers, WHAT ARE WE DOING?!?!?" the 34-year-old said in a message to the organization on X.

"No first-round pick for McCaffrey a few years back and now none for Burns?!?! Are we just firebombing the whole team here or what?"

If you missed it, the New York Giants traded for the 2x Pro Bowl pass rusher on Monday (and then signed him to a massive $150 mil contract), sending the Panthers a 2nd and 5th-round pick in return in the upcoming NFL Draft (they also swapped 5th rounders in '24 and '25).

Clearly not the haul Combs would expect for a premiere player who can get to the quarterback.

This trade comes almost two years after the Panthers sent Christian McCaffrey, one of the NFL's best running backs, to the 49ers ... and Luke's had it!

To add salt to the wound, Panthers fans had to watch their former RB star in Super Bowl LVIII in February.

"I usually don’t comment on these kinds of things but it’s just becoming slow torture at this point," Combs said to end his message.

The Panthers -- bought by Wall Street wiz David Tepper in 2018 -- fired head coach Frank Reich before he finished season 1, and had the worst record (2-15) in the NFL.

Panthers' Bryce Young I'm Confident I'm Going To Turn Things Around ... 'Excited For Year 2'

KEEP MOVING FORWARD
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Get excited, Panthers fans ... Bryce Young tells TMZ Sports he believes he's going to turn things around in Carolina next season -- saying straight up, "I'm definitely confident."

Of course, the quarterback's rookie season was filled with plenty of speed bumps -- he threw just 11 touchdowns to 10 interceptions ... and only secured two wins in his 16 starts.

But, he's not down on himself at all ... 'cause when we spoke to him out at Super Bowl week in Las Vegas, he sure seemed to think things are going to be a whole lot different 12 months from now.

"I feel like I've grown -- I've learned," the 2023 No. 1 overall pick said. "I'm excited to improve this offseason. Get better at some things -- I'm excited for year 2."

Young actually told us all of the growing pains he and his team went through last season will only make them stronger ... feeling like they all "grew a lot closer through that."

As for the Panthers' new coach, former Buccaneers offensive coordinator Dave Canales, the ex-Heisman Trophy winner seemed fired up to begin working with him as well.

READY FOR THE LEAGUE
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Meanwhile, this year's Heisman Trophy winner, Jayden Daniels, also spoke with us out in Vegas ... and he told us he's happy to finally get a chance to show what he can do in the NFL.

"I'm most definitely ready," the LSU signal-caller said.

Bryce Young de los Panthers Estoy seguro de que voy a dar vuelta las cosas Emocionado por el 2° año

Hay que seguir adelante
TMZSports.com

Emociónense, fans de los Panthers, Bryce Young le dijo a TMZ Sports que piensa que va a cambiar las cosas en Carolina la próxima temporada y directamente nos dijo: "Definitivamente tengo confianza".

Claro, la temporada de novato del mariscal de campo estuvo llena de un montón de baches: lanzó solo 11 touchdowns a 10 intercepciones y solo aseguró dos victorias en sus 16 inicios.

Pero él no está desanimado en absoluto, porque cuando hablamos con él durante la semana del Super Bowl en Las Vegas, parecía muy confiado en que las cosas van a ser muy diferentes dentro de 12 meses.

"Siento que he crecido, he aprendido", dijo el global pick No. 1 en 2023. "Estoy emocionado por mejorar esta temporada. Mejorar en algunas cosas, estoy emocionado por 2° año".

Young nos dijo que todos los dolores de madurez por los que pasaron él y su equipo la temporada pasada solo los harán más fuertes y siente que todos "crecieron y se acercaron mucho más por eso".

En cuanto al nuevo entrenador de los Panthers, el ex coordinador ofensivo de los Buccaneers Dave Canales, el ex ganador del Trofeo Heisman, también parecía entusiasmado por empezar a trabajar con él.

Listo para la liga
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Mientras tanto, el ganador del Trofeo Heisman de este año, Jayden Daniels, también habló con nosotros en Las Vegas y nos dijo que estaba feliz de tener finalmente la oportunidad de demostrar lo que puede hacer en la NFL.

"Definitivamente estoy listo", dijo el señalador de LSU.

David Tepper Panthers Owner Fined $300k ... For Throwing Drink At Fans

Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper is going to have to bust out his check book -- he was just fined $300k for chucking his drink toward a group of fans during Sunday's loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.

The billionaire hedge fund manager -- the richest owner in the league -- was spotted dumping his beverage in anger after an apparent exchange with a group of supporters amid the 26-0 blowout ... and the whole thing was caught on video.

The clip is short ... and it's unclear what led to the incident.

The NFL announced the punishment on Tuesday ... labeling the incident "unacceptable conduct."

Tepper -- who bought the Panthers in 2018 for $2.3 billion -- released a statement following the news ... saying, "I am deeply passionate about this team and regret my behavior on Sunday."

"I should have let NFL stadium security handle any issues that arose. I respect the NFL’s code of conduct and accept the League’s discipline for my behavior."

It's been a disastrous 2023 season for the Panthers -- they're 2-14 and will not have their first-round pick next season.

As for the fine, it's just a drop in the bucket for Tepper -- the guy's worth around $20.6 billion, according to Forbes.

Warren Moon Not Buying Bryce Young Bust Talk ... 'He's Going To Be A Really Good Quarterback'

THE NFL WILL HUMBLE YOU
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Carolina Panthers fans need to take a deep breath and relax ... because despite the rough rookie season for Bryce Young, Warren Moon tells TMZ Sports he's not ready to call the QB a bust just yet.

In fact, the Hall of Famer said earlier this week he still believes the former Heisman Trophy winner is "going to be a really good quarterback in this league."

"I'm still optimistic," the ex-signal-caller said.

Moon, though, did say Young's future will almost certainly hinge on whether or not Carolina's front office can improve the talent around him.

"They do not have a really good offense," Moon said. "He doesn't have a lot of weapons to work with on the outside, his offensive line is very average, and he's a smaller guy so he needs a little bit more protection."

Through his first 13 games, Young has thrown nine interceptions to just nine touchdowns. His quarterback rating, meanwhile, is a mere 72.2.

Still, Moon tells us "as long as he hasn't lost his confidence, I think he'll be fine going into next year" if the Panthers' roster improves.

Moon also talked to us about the quarterback situation in New York -- saying that while he's been a fan of Tommy DeVito, he thinks the money that the Giants are paying Daniel Jones will mean the G-Men will "give Daniel Jones every opportunity to be the starter."

Panthers Owner David Tepper Still 'Confident' In Bryce Young Pick ... Over C.J. Stroud

NO REGRETS
Carolina Panthers

Despite starting 1-10 and firing their head coach this week, Carolina Panthers owner David Tepper says he's still "totally confident" he picked the right quarterback, even though Bryce Young is struggling, and C.J. Stroud is an MVP candidate!

The billionaire hedge fund whiz and team owner since 2018 met with the media in North Carolina after giving Frank Reich the ax less than a season into his head coaching tenure ... when he was asked some tough questions about their QB situation.

"In the case of Bryce, I believe it was a unanimous decision with the coaches and the scouts," Tepper said. "We preferred Bryce. He was our number one pick."

"We are totally confident in that pick."

The statement of support from Tepper amid a report from Pro Football Talk that said some people around the league believe the owner pressured his football people to select Bryce, even though they wanted C.J.

Tepper says that isn't true.

The signal callers are having polar opposite seasons. Stroud's Texans are 6-5 and fighting for a playoff spot. He's thrown for 3,266 yards, 19 touchdowns, and 5 interceptions in 11 games. His completion percentage is near 64%, and he has a QB Rating of 100.8.

As for Young's numbers ... he's thrown for 1,877 yards, 9 touchdowns, and 8 interceptions. He's completed 61.7% of his passes, and has a quarterback rating of 74.9.

Tepper also talked about the firing of Reich ... and responded to the charge that he's been far too impatient with coaches.

"There's reasons for each individual situation,' Tepper said. "I do have patience."

FYI, DT has fired Ron Rivera (HC for 28 games under David), Perry Fewell (4 games), Matt Rhule (38 games), and Reich this week (11 games).

The Panthers are in Tampa Bay this Sunday ... and if the rest of the coaching and front office staff wishes to keep their jobs, a few wins over the last weeks of the season wouldn't hurt their case.

Frank Reich Panthers Head Coach Fired ... After 1-10 Start

David lost his Tepper ... and now Frank Reich is out of a job.

The Panthers head coach, who was just hired by the billionaire hedge fund manager in January, has been relieved of his coaching duties after another loss ... this time to the Titans in Tennessee.

The team, which has lost 4 straight, has the worst record in football at 1-10.

"I met with Coach Reich this morning and informed him that he will not continue as head coach of the Carolina Panthers. I want to thank Frank for his dedication and service, and we wish him well," a statement released by Tepper said.

Adding to the bleak outlook in Carolina is the quarterback situation. The team selected Bryce Young with the first overall pick in this year's NFL Draft, opting to pass up other signal callers, including C.J. Stroud.

Stroud, who has the Texans in playoff contention, has played out of his mind ... and is even in the MVP conversation.

Meanwhile, Young hasn't been good.

Reich, regarded as a solid coach around the league, was fired mid-season last year by the Colts before being hired by Tepper.

Special teams coordinator Chris Tabor will act as the interim head coach ... when the Panthers play the Bucs on Sunday.

Blake Martinez Attempting NFL Comeback ... After Pokémon Scandal

Ex-NFL linebacker Blake Martinez -- who retired from the sport at 28 to pursue a career in Pokémon card collecting -- is looking to get back on the gridiron ... this after getting caught up in a major scandal.

Martinez made headlines last year for hitting big and selling a rare Illustrator Pikachu card for $672,000 ... and walking away from football just days later to pursue collecting and trading full-time.

The decision worked out for the linebacker -- he claimed to have made $11.5 million in less than a year in the industry ... but then s*** hit the fan.

Martinez was banned from the popular WhatNot card-selling marketplace for "misconduct" in August ... after an investigation into consumers' claims he wasn't acting in good faith.

Now, the former Giants and Packers star is looking to pick back up where he left off in his first career ... working out for the Carolina Panthers on Wednesday.

Martinez  -- who raked in nearly $29 million over seven seasons -- was solid in his initial stint in the league ... earning over 700 tackles and 13 sacks.

No word on whether Martinez is gonna get a second chance ... but if he doesn't, you could say it just wasn't in the cards for him.

Bryce Young Panthers Draft QB No. 1 Overall!!!

Bryce Young is now officially the future in Carolina -- the Panthers just took the former Univ. of Alabama quarterback with the #1 overall selection in the 2023 NFL Draft!!!

The 21-year-old shared a big embrace with Roger Goodell after the league's commish made the announcement ... and everyone in Carolina's war room could be seen smiling ear-to-ear on the draft's broadcast.

Of course, most expected this to happen ... Young had been the favorite to be the Panthers' selection for weeks -- but Carolina and its fans were thrilled over it all Thursday night nonetheless.

Young was certainly deserving of the pick ... in three seasons at Alabama, the signal-caller completed over 65 percent of his passes, threw 80 touchdowns to only 12 interceptions and had a 165.0 passer rating.

Young also won the 2020 CFB national championship under Coach Nick Saban ... while earning the 2021 Heisman Trophy.

Young set numerous records for the Crimson Tide too -- he threw for the most single-season passing yards (4,872) and the most single-season passing TDs (47) in Bama history.

The Panthers are now hoping Bryce can provide them some stability at the QB position ... as the team's struggled to find a consistent starter since Cam Newton initially left the team following the 2019 season.

Last year, Carolina rolled out a combination of Baker Mayfield, Sam Darnold, and P.J. Walker -- but all three QBs struggled to succeed, and the Panthers missed the playoffs.

Congrats, Bryce ... no pressure from here!!

2023 NFL Prospects Go All Out For Draft Day Swag ... Flashy Suits & Chains!!!

The 2023 NFL Draft is finally here ... and the biggest prospects are bringing their incredible fashion sense to Kansas City -- with some amazing 'fits and iced-out accessories!!

Texas Tech linebacker Tyree Wilson made quite the statement in a two-piece black suit ... which features a ton of blue and pink flowers splattered all over it.

The 22-year-old also paid homage to his school with the TT logo stitched inside the jacket!!

FLOWER FRESH

Boston College receiver Zay Flowers also had a custom jacket for his big night ... and honored his fam with photos inside the jacket. USC wideout Jordan Addison is bracing for his impending NFL money ... 'cause he got pictures of $100 bills stitched in his blazer.

Bryce Young -- who's projected to be the no. 1 overall pick to Carolina -- arrived with his parents and had on an expensive Dior jacket that might look familiar if you watched Travis Kelce's Saturday Night Live gig.

"You wait for this moment for so long and it's finally here," the 2021 Heisman Trophy winner said. "As a little kid, you know, you always dream of moments like this."

Some soon-to-be NFL rookies kept it simple and sweet ... like Alabama's Brian Branch, who wore an all-white fit, and Texas Longhorns running back Bijan Robinson, who elected to go all black.

Ohio State's Jaxon Smith-Njigba and C.J. Stroud looked sharp as hell, too ... especially thanks to their massive diamond chains.

Congrats to all the prospects -- you're about to be millionaires!!

Warren Moon On Bryce Young ... He's NFL Draft's Top Quarterback!!!

WARREN'S TOP PICKS
TMZ Sports

It ain't C.J. Stroud, Will Levis, or Anthony Richardson ... no, according to Pro Football Hall of Famer Warren Moon, Bryce Young is this year's top quarterback prospect!!

The ex-Seattle Seahawks superstar broke it down for TMZ Sports on the eve of the NFL's annual draft ... telling us he thinks the Univ. of Alabama signal-caller is the top dog at the position for 2023.

"Bryce Young is my favorite," Moon said ... before adding, "I think he's going to be a tremendous pro."

Moon said he loves the 21-year-old's instincts, leadership abilities, and track record of playmaking ... although he did concede he has at least some concern about the quarterback's 5-foot-10 frame.

Then again, Moon told us he thinks even that's a bit overblown ... saying guys like Kyler Murray and Russell Wilson have found plenty of success despite similar statures.

As for who his second favorite quarterback in the draft is ... Moon told us Ohio State's Stroud slides into that spot for him.

When it comes to Levis and Richardson, he said he's a fan of them too ... but he told us they'd really benefit from sitting on an NFL bench for a year and learning from a veteran QB.

The draft kicks off today at 5 PM PT and the Carolina Panthers are already on the clock -- will they take Young? Stay tuned!

D.J. Moore New Team, New Bling After Trade ... Gets Watch, Chain In Bears Orange

It's out with the old and in with the new for NFL star D.J. Moore ... and we're not just talking his next team -- he upgraded his jewelry, too!!

TMZ Sports has learned ... the former Carolina receiver -- who just got shipped to Chicago as part of the Panthers' acquisition of the first overall pick in the 2023 Draft -- decided to give a shiny shout-out to his new squad ... by getting some bling that matches the Bears' colors.

WRIST BLING

We're told Moore hit up Al The Jeweler from Labelle Jewelry in Totowa, NJ for the job ... and he came up with some seriously high-quality pieces that have him pretty stoked!!

Moore is now the new owner of a chain decked out in orange sapphires and VS white diamonds ... and a matching Cartier watch!!

Of course, Al has done work for a ton of NFL guys in the past -- including Stefon Diggs, Sauce Gardner and more.

Moore is now slated to be a big target for quarterback Justin Fields in Chicago ... and who knows -- maybe if they start off the season strong, he'll get a matching chain and watch, too!!

Chicago Bears Trade 1st Overall Pick To Carolina ... For D.J. Moore & More!!!

The first overall pick of the 2023 NFL Draft now belongs to the Panthers ... Chicago just traded the selection to Carolina for star wideout D.J. Moore -- and a boatload of other picks.

ESPN's Adam Schefter just broke the news ... reporting the swap between the two teams went down on Friday afternoon.

The Bears, according to Schefter, will get Moore and the Panthers' first-round pick (No. 9) this year, their second pick (No. 61) this year, their first-round pick next year ... AND a second rounder in 2025.

Moore reacted to the news on Twitter -- posting two shocked emojis.

The deal now likely means a quarterback prospect will be headed to the Panthers -- though it's unclear which one.

Alabama's Bryce Young and Ohio State's C.J. Stroud are the favorites -- but Florida's Anthony Richardson is also in the mix for the top spot.

The draft kicks off on April 27 in Kansas City ... getcha popcorn ready!

Jerry Richardson Ex-NFL Owner Dead At 86

Ex-NFL owner Jerry Richardson -- the founder of the Carolina Panthers -- has died, his former team announced Thursday.

He was 86 years old. No cause of death has been revealed.

Richardson officially became an NFL owner in 1995, when the Panthers entered the league as an expansion franchise. He went on to be the honcho of the org. until 2018, when he sold the team to billionaire David Tepper.

"Jerry Richardson's contributions to professional football in the Carolinas are historic," Tepper said after learning the news of his death on Thursday. "With the arrival of the Panthers in 1995, he changed the landscape of sports in the region and gave the NFL fans a team to call their own.''

Tepper added, "He was incredibly gracious to me when I purchased the team, and for that I am thankful."

The Panthers made the playoffs eight times under Richardson's watch, making two Super Bowl appearances.

His tenure, however, was not without controversy. He was accused of sexually harassing female staffers and using racist language while running the team.

The league investigated the claims, and in 2018 -- just before he sold the franchise to Tepper -- he was hit with a $2.75 million fine.

A statue of Richardson that stood in front of the Panthers' stadium for years was eventually removed in 2020 -- after the team said it feared people would try to take it down during a summer of national protests.

Ex-NFL Pro Bowler Greg Hardy Knocked Out In Bare Knuckle Fight New Career Off to Bad Start

Former NFL player, Greg Hardy started his new career in the boxing ring Friday night ... but he wound up getting his ass whooped.

Hardy was duking it out with Josh Watson in the "Bare Knuckle Fighting Championship: Knucklemania 3" and, by the second round, he was eating the canvas.

Hardy's nightmare started at the end of the first round when he got punched so hard by Watson, he went flying into the ropes, nearly crumbling to the ground.

Then, in the second round, Watson landed a crushing left hook that put Hardy flat on his back. He tried to get to his feet, but he couldn't as the ref counted him out.

Last year, Hardy signed with BKFC, which promotes boxing without gloves. He previously had a deal with the UFC, but his contract was not renewed.

Hardy is best known for his 5-year NFL career in which he was named to the Pro Bowl in 2015. He played defensive end for the Carolina Panthers and Dallas Cowboys.

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