Western Kentucky hoops star-turned Raiders rookie Carson Williams says a fellow Hilltopper's advice inspired his football career ... telling TMZ Sports N.Y. Jets star George Fant played a big factor in getting him to try out for the NFL.
23-year-old Williams' story is pretty wild -- he was named Kentucky's Mr. Basketball as a high schooler in 2016 ... and spent the past 3 seasons playing basketball for WKU, averaging 10.9 points and 6 rebounds per game.
Despite not stepping foot on the gridiron since the 8th grade, the 6'5", 254-pound forward decided to take a leap of faith and participate in WKU's pro day as a tight end last month.
The risk paid off -- 'cause the Las Vegas Raiders were so impressed, they decided to sign Williams to a contract as a tight end.
"It still hasn't completely set in, but I'm obviously very happy, very excited and looking forward to getting to work," Williams tells us.
As it turns out, Williams ain't the only former WKU star to make the jump to the gridiron -- Fant was an all-conference forward for the Hilltoppers from 2011-15, averaging 13.8 points and 8.4 rebounds during his senior season.
Williams says he met up with the Jets lineman/tight end to pick his brain about turning to football ... and by the end of the conversation, his mind was made up.
After all, it's been pretty successful for Fant -- he signed a 3-year, $30 million deal with N.Y. in 2020.
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Williams believes his hoops background will be beneficial -- he tells us his foot skills, work ethic and athleticism will give him a solid start on the football field.
Williams says guys like Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham -- who also played college basketball before ending up in the NFL -- also inspired his switch to football ... and he explains why the Raiders made the right move.
"They're gonna get a hard-working guy, I bring dedication, discipline and I'm not gonna be outworked by anybody."
12:56 PM PT -- Philonise issued a statement reinforcing the family's position regarding the Raiders' statement.
"On behalf of our family, I would like to extend our deepest gratitude to the Las Vegas Raiders organization and its leadership for their support of our family and for our nation’s ongoing pursuit of justice and equality for all."
"Now, more than ever, we must come together as one and continue on in this fight. For the first time in almost a year, our family has taken a breath. And I know that goes for so many across the nation and globe, as well."
"Let’s take this breath together in honor of my big brother who couldn’t. Let’s do it for George."
George Floyd's brother, Philonise, has a message for the Las Vegas Raiders -- he's not offended by the team's "I Can Breathe" post and is not demanding they take it down.
We spoke with Philonise moments ago ... and he told us he does not believe the message was intended to be negative and he hasn't had any negative thoughts about it all.
In fact, Philonise kind of agrees with the post -- explaining how the world can finally take a breath now that the man who killed his brother has been convicted and will be held accountable.
As we previously reported, Raiders owner Mark Davis took responsibility for posting "I Can Breathe" on the team's social media accounts on Tuesday, moments after Derek Chauvin was found guilty on 3 counts in the murder of George Floyd.
Davis has said the post was inspired by the comments Philonise made at a news conference following the conviction when he explained, "Today, we are able to breathe again."
David and the Raiders have been getting a TON of pushback online from people who feel the post was insensitive -- considering Floyd told officers "I can't breathe" more than 20 times during the May 2020 encounter with Chauvin.
On Tuesday evening, Davis said he's sorry IF the tweet hurt the Floyd family ... "If I offended the family, then I'm deeply, deeply disappointed."
Clearly, Philonise feels no apology is necessary.
Originally published -- 9:23 AM PT
Josh Jacobs has officially put his January car accident in Las Vegas behind him ... the NFL star's lawyers say he's no longer facing any legal drama after he paid a fine and completed community service.
The 23-year-old Raiders star running back was staring down big-time trouble after he crashed his 6-figure Acura NSX on Jan. 4 at around 4:42 AM near the Vegas airport.
Cops had initially arrested him and believed he was drunk behind the wheel before the wreck.
But, prosecutors say evidence showed his blood-alcohol level was below the legal limit ... and only hit him with a misdemeanor count of Duty of Driver to Decrease Speed Under Certain Circumstances over the incident.
Jacobs' attorneys told the Associated Press Josh closed out the case Monday by paying a $500 fine and mentoring at a Boys & Girls Club.
As for the injuries Josh suffered in the accident ... they appear to be going away as well -- the running back posted a picture of his face just a few weeks ago, and the gash on his forehead is clearly healing nicely.
Jacobs is one of the best running backs in the NFL ... he's rushed for 2,215 yards and 19 TDs in his first two seasons with the Raiders.
More proof Josh Jacobs is lucky he wasn't critically injured ... 'cause TMZ Sports has obtained photos of the Las Vegas Raiders star's 6-figure Acura NSX -- and it's destroyed.
As we previously reported, the 22-year-old running back was involved in a single-car accident around 4:42 AM near the Vegas airport on January 4.
Jacobs was transported to the hospital with a gnarly gash on his forehead. As nasty as the injury was ... it's now clear it could've been a lot worse.
The photos -- taken at a Sin City tow yard the day of the accident -- show the purple 2019 Acura NSX with HEAVY damage to the front of the vehicle.
The NSX -- license plate "IAM28" (Josh's Raiders #) -- retails for about $160K ... and goes 0-60 in under 3 seconds, and has a top speed of about 190 MPH.
Officials initially suspected Jacobs might've been under the influence of alcohol, but blood alcohol tests indicated his BAC was "below the legal limit and therefore DUI charges are not being filed against him," according to the DA.
Legally, Jacobs didn't escape totally unscathed ... he was hit with 1 misdemeanor charge of "Duty of Driver to Decrease Speed Under Certain Circumstances."
Most importantly, the 2019 1st round draft pick out of Alabama -- who rushed for 1,065 yards and 12 touchdowns last season -- wasn't more seriously injured.
As dope as the supercar is ... it can be replaced.
Darren Waller LOVES playing for the Raiders ... but the tight end says he'll be at peace if he's traded for Deshaun Watson this offseason -- acknowledging the NFL "is a business."
"Crazier things have happened," Waller tells TMZ Sports. "I enjoy being where I'm at with the Raiders and that time will come to an end whether it's 10 years from now or it's by Monday."
"So, I just try to enjoy being here as much as I can."
Waller's name has been kicked around recently in the wake of Watson-to-Las Vegas trade rumors ... and the rumblings have grown so loud, Darren says they've actually reached his ears.
Waller, though, tells us he's trying to not let it affect him ... explaining, "There's always stuff circling around, but I'm just happy to be where I'm at right now."
As for his quarterback, Derek Carr, who's also been rumored to be a part of a potential trade package with the Texans for Watson ... Waller stood up for the Las Vegas QB and said he wants the guy to stick around.
Darren explained, "I like what Derek brings to the game. His efficiency, his leadership and he can spin the ball pretty well too."
Waller added, "I understand how people may want Deshaun Watson because he's an exciting player and that's just undeniable but I definitely appreciate Derek and I'm grateful for the relationship with him and also his game and the way that he plays."
Waller says he believes Derek's doing a great job of blocking out the noise ... and he's hoping Jon Gruden and Co. keep things status quo heading into the 2021 season.
Great news for Josh Jacobs and the Raiders ... the massive gash the NFL star suffered on his forehead after crashing his car in Las Vegas last month is healing up well.
The running back showed off his face in videos on his social media page Wednesday ... and you can see, there's hardly any remnants of the huge cut that was so prevalent on his noggin just four weeks ago.
Cops say when they came on to the scene ... they saw the 22-year-old was bleeding from a "large laceration" on his forehead. Officers added the injuries were so bad, Jacobs had to be transported to the hospital for treatment.
Jacobs -- who just hours before the crash had dominated in a game against the Denver Broncos -- was ultimately arrested over the wreck ... with cops believing he had been drinking prior to getting behind the wheel.
Prosecutors, though, announced just a few days after the accident they were NOT charging the NFL player with DUI ... and instead, hit him with one misdemeanor count of Duty of Driver to Decrease Speed Under Certain Circumstances.
Jacobs' attorneys, David Z. Chesnoff and Richard A. Schonfeld, said they were pleased with how the case was handled ... and, clearly, they're even happier to see Jacobs has appeared to have avoided any long-term physical trauma.
Call him Coach Witten now ... Jason Witten has accepted a job offer to be a head coach for a high school football team in Texas -- just a few days after he officially retired from the NFL.
Liberty Christian School in Argyle announced Monday the 38-year-old ex-Dallas Cowboys superstar has been tapped to run the team's football program for the foreseeable future.
"For the Liberty family, we know him as the dedicated husband and father, a man of Godly character, and a servant leader," school president Blair McCullough said in a statement.
Liberty Christian School is excited to announce our new Head Football Coach Jason Witten. Jason, former Dallas Cowboy tight end and long-time Liberty parent will be joining the Liberty Christian coaching staff as Head Football Coach. It’s a great day to be a Warrior! pic.twitter.com/SPtdSqvxID— Liberty Christian (@LibertyArgyle) February 1, 2021 @LibertyArgyle
"Jason, Michelle, and their four children have been a part of our Liberty Christian family for more than 8 years, so when the Liberty community thinks about Jason Witten, we think of a Warrior. I am thrilled for our football team, coaches, student body, school community, and of course the Witten family.”
Jason, of course, knows the game like the back of his hand ... he put together a Hall of Fame career before officially calling it quits last Wednesday.
The tight end logged 1,228 receptions and 13,046 receiving yards in his 17 years in the NFL ... and he also famously had a 1-year stint broadcasting games on ESPN's "Monday Night Football."
Witten now follows Philip Rivers from NFL retirement to the high school sidelines ... you'll recall, the Colts QB is now taking over an HS football program in Alabama after hanging up his spikes last month.
Unclear if Witten's squad will ever get to player Rivers' ... but somebody's gotta schedule that out-of-state matchup ASAP!!!
Future Hall of Famer Jason Witten is hanging up his cleats -- again -- the 17-year vet has decided to call it a career ... and he's doing it as a member of the Dallas Cowboys.
The 38-year-old will go down as one of the greatest tight ends in NFL history ... racking up more than 1,200 catches and 13,000 yards, 74 touchdowns and 271 games played ... which are all records at the position.
Witten previously retired in 2018 and became the lead analyst for ESPN's Monday Night Football ... before returning to the Cowboys for the 2019 season.
Witten spent the 2020 season with the Las Vegas Raiders, where his production dramatically decreased -- starting 7 games, catching 13 balls for 69 yards and 2 TDs.
ESPN reports Witten will sign a 1-day contract to retire as a member of the Cowboys once his Raiders deal expires in March.
Witten finishes his career with 11 Pro Bowls, 5 total All-Pro selections and a Walter Payton Man of the Year award.
No word on whether Witten will get a whole 'nother diamond football like last time ... but who knows when it comes to Jerry Jones.
Congrats on the retirement, Jason!!
Here's Nelson Agholor proving NFL players are still REALLY, REALLY freakin' tough ...
The Las Vegas Raiders receiver gruesomely dislocated his finger mid-game against the Chargers on Thursday ... but the dude barely missed any time over the gnarly injury!!
It all went down in the 3rd quarter of Las Vegas' loss to Los Angeles ... when Agholor dropped a pass and his hands came crashing down to the grass.
You can see in video of the incident, his whole body weight landed on his pinky ... and it looked like the digit snapped in half!!!
Agholor immediately knew something was wrong ... he waved his jacked-up finger to his sideline -- and trainers tended to him right away.
The craziest part about it all, though? HE RETURNED AFTER JUST ONE PLAY!!!
In fact, Agholor went on to record a couple more catches after trainers popped his finger back in place ... and the dude finished the night with a total of 49 receiving yards!
Jon Gruden's hat debacle on "Thursday Night Football" was the result of a practical joke played on him in the locker room -- so says the Raiders head coach.
Gruden caught hell on social media once fans realized he was wearing an "Oakland Raiders" hat on the sideline -- epic fail considering the Raiders just moved to Las Vegas!!
Social media clowned the 57-year-old for the error ... and the roar clearly grew so loud -- JG became aware of the cap problem in the 1st quarter and switched hats soon after.
"I apologize for not having the right hat on," Gruden told reporters. "Somebody played a pretty good trick on me."
So, who is this mysterious trickster? Gruden didn't name names -- but someone's ass is in the hot seat.
The thing is ... Gruden's headgear ended up being the LEAST of his worries against the Chargers -- 'cause the Raiders took an L they desperately couldn't afford to take.
Las Vegas' playoff hopes essentially rode on the game against LA ... but its defense struggled all night and the team lost in overtime, 30-27, to Justin Herbert's crew.
Gruden apologized for THAT as well ... telling reporters, "It's on me."
Rough night for Coach, huh?
Ever seen a facemask with a FIST designed in the grill?!?
Las Vegas Raiders star lineman Trent Brown found one -- and rocked the hell out of it during pregame warmups before taking on the Indianapolis Colts.
The design is the same one used in Black Lives Matter imagery -- a closed, raised fist.
We know what you're thinking ... no, the facemask is not legal to use during the game -- so Brown swapped it out with a standard facemask by the time the game kicked off.
We've seen wild cut facemasks in the past -- but never one with a political statement weaved into the design!
The facemask looked awesome -- but it didn't provide the spark the Raiders needed ... they ended up getting blown out by the Colts in a 44 to 27 beatdown.
The Raiders are now in a tough spot with a 7-6 record and need a miracle to make the post-season.
Well, this could be an issue.
Nearly the entire Las Vegas Raiders' starting defense has been placed on the team's reserve/COVID-19 list ... after DE Clelin Ferrell tested positive for the virus on Wednesday.
At least 7 players -- including Lamarcus Joyner, Johnathan Abram, Maliek Collins, Johnathan Hankins, Isaiah Johnson, Arden Key and Kendal Vickers -- were placed on the list after being determined as close contacts to Ferrell this week.
But, it's not a lost cause for the Raiders just yet -- the players WILL be eligible to suit up Sunday night against the Kansas City Chiefs if they continue to test negative.
However, the batch of players will not likely be cleared to rejoin the team until Saturday at the earliest ... which will be tough as the Silver and Black prepare for Patrick Mahomes and Co.
The rise in positive COVID-19 cases across the league forced the NFL to issue a memo to all 32 teams, requiring them to go into intensive protocols for the remainder of the season.
Under the required protocols -- which begin on Saturday -- all team meetings will be held virtually or in large spaces and masks or face shields must be worn at all times at the team facility.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell wrote in the memo, "Flexibility and adaptability have been critical to our success to date and we must continue with that approach."
Wanna see a guy tougher than you???
Las Vegas Raiders fullback Alec Ingold smashed up his ribs so badly on Sunday, he was forced to go to the hospital -- but now, the dude's trying to play in a game just 7 days later!
Ingold had to be removed from the Raiders' win over the Chargers last weekend after he broke 2 ribs in a violent collision with an L.A. defender.
The injuries looked serious ... Alec posted a pic of him hooked up to a ton of wires at a local medical facility -- and everyone wondered if that would spell the end of his season.
Well, Ingold is deciding there's no chance in hell of that ... 'cause he's not only gunning to play Sunday against the Broncos -- HE WAS BACK AT PRACTICE WEDNESDAY!
The 24-year-old is known as one of the toughest dudes in the league ... but sheesh, man!
"He’s like the throwback guys," Raiders coach Jon Gruden said of Ingold to reporters Wednesday. "He will not come off the field. He insists on playing."
"He’s been cleared to play, and he did practice today. I’d be shocked if he’s not ready to play great on Sunday.”
Victoria's Secret model Josephine Skriver happens to be a hardcore Las Vegas Raiders fan.
She also couldn't attend the game this weekend because no fans were allowed at SoFi Stadium due to the whole COVID pandemic -- so she watched at home instead. In her undies.
AND, GUESS WHAT? THE RAIDERS WON!
The Silver & Black took on the Chargers in L.A. -- and for Raiders fans, this game was a big deal ... the rivalry goes back decades!
Skriver didn't want to miss it -- so she cleared her schedule, busted out her lucky outfit ... and the rest is history.
The Raiders ended up delivering the W in a 31 to 26 thriller -- and after the victory, she was pretty fired up.
"WE WON!!!," Skriver said afterward... "OMG OMG OMG HOLY ******."
The Raiders are 5-3 on the season and in 2nd place in the AFC West behind the Kansas City Chiefs ... who they play in just 2 weeks!
The NFL just dropped the hammer on the Las Vegas Raiders for repeatedly violating COVID-19 protocols ... stripping the team of a draft pick and levying huge fines.
The league made the moves Thursday, according to multiple reports ... taking away Vegas' 6th-round pick in the 2021 draft and fining the team $500,000.
Head coach Jon Gruden was also hit with an additional $150K fine.
As for the rules the Raiders violated ... ESPN's Adam Schefter says there were several, including Gruden continually dropping his mask on the sideline.
The NFL, per Schefter, also punished the Raiders for players not properly wearing face coverings at a Darren Waller fundraiser event in September.
Schefter added the Raiders also allowed an unauthorized guest into their locker room earlier this season -- a big no-no in pandemic times.
Of course, this ain't the first time the Raiders were punished for violating coronavirus protocols ... back in Sept., Gruden and the team were fined for the coach not properly wearing a face-covering during games.
In October, Raiders players were hit with fines for the mask violations at Waller's event as well.
COVID has hit the Raiders particularly hard this year ... Gruden said he contracted the virus over the summer -- while star offensive lineman Trent Brown is back on the COVID reserve list after initially being diagnosed with the virus on Oct. 21.
8:59 AM PT -- 11/3 -- Great news ... Brown has been released from the hospital, multiple media outlets reported Tuesday.
It still remains unclear if the 27-year-old will be available to play in Las Vegas' game against the Chargers on Sunday.
1:10 PM PT -- Gruden just told reporters Brown is still receiving treatment in Cleveland ... but the coach added Trent is "up and seems to be doing well."
Gruden said doctors are still trying to figure out what went wrong with the IV.
Gruden also said he does not know if Brown will be available to play anytime soon.
Raiders' star lineman Trent Brown has NOT been released from the hospital -- he's still being treated for a botched IV injection that occurred before Sunday's game.
Yeah, this is a big deal.
Brown was rushed to the hospital before the Raiders took on the Browns in Cleveland due a "mishap with his pre-game IV that caused air to enter his bloodstream," according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.
Brown had missed the previous week's game due to a positive COVID test. Unclear if that's why Brown was receiving IV fluids on Sunday.
Air in the bloodstream is a serious and potentially lethal issue -- it's a condition called an air embolism and can "travel to your brain, heart, or lungs and cause a heart attack, stroke, or respiratory failure," according to Healthline.com.
So, again ... this is a very serious matter.
The team is optimistic about Brown's health -- but ProFootballTalk reported Monday morning that Brown is still in the hospital, where doctors are running more tests to make sure he's okay.
Brown's teammate, Derek Carr, said on Sunday the team was concerned about Brown -- and had prayed for a speedy recovery.
"We had no clue what was happening," the quarterback said. "All of a sudden, we come in, and they’re wheeling him out and I’m like, 'Bro, what is going on?'"
"It was crazy and so we prayed."
It's been a rough couple weeks for the Las Vegas offensive lineman ... he tested positive for COVID-19 on Oct. 21 -- and was forced to miss the Raiders' Week 7 game against the Buccaneers.
The NFLPA has reportedly launched an investigation into the Brown incident.
Originally published -- 7:33 AM PT