Rick Fox 'League of Legends' Will Overtake NFL ... It's Coming

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IT'S WORLDWIDE
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99.6 MILLION people watched the 2018 "League of Legends" championships ... just a few million shy of the 2018 Super Bowl numbers.

And, Rick Fox says it's only a matter of time before "LoL" eclipses the NFL.

Fox is an Esports pioneer who famously founded Team Echo Fox -- which competes in everything from "Fortnite" to "CS:GO" and even "Mortal Kombat."

Fox says he's been watching the sport explode ... so he wasn't shocked when fellow gaming titan FaZe Banks told TMZ Sports recently there will be an Esports event that will pull in a bigger audience than the Super Bowl.

faze banks says esports is exploding
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"As much as we love football in North America, it's not international to the level of gaming," Fox says.

"'League of Legends' is a huge global event. It's already got numbers right below the Super Bowl so it's coming ... it grows every year."

"Everything is so online now, technology has unlocked the ability for those people in foreign countries, or regardless of where you are in the world, to connect."

Fox also says the sport is finally growing massive stars with global appeal -- like Faker, who Fox considers the Michael Jordan of gaming.

FYI, Faker is a 23-year-old "LoL" legend from South Korea who's already racked up more than $1.2 MILLION in prize money.

In fact, Fox says he recently had a chance to play with Faker to raise money for the Bahamas Relief Foundation ... so shout out to Faker for that!

NY Giants Super Bowl Ring Burglary Caught on Video ... Linebacker Claims

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THE BREAK-IN

You're looking at the two scumbags who allegedly jacked a Super Bowl XLVI ring from a retired NY Giants linebacker's L.A. home ... and now the player is begging for its return.

The footage belongs to Spencer Paysinger, who was a rookie back in 2011 when the Giants miraculously beat the New England Patriots in one of the best title games ever.

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Paysinger says he left a window open to air out his home on March 17 -- when two guys broke into the house and started rummaging through his stuff.

The 31-year-old -- who retired in 2017 -- says the crooks took all sorts of valuables including purses, computers and one REALLY important piece of jewelry ... the Super Bowl ring.

"I took it out recently for an elementary school Career Day and was lazy on returning to its secure location," Paysinger says.

The good news ... Paysinger had a Nest security camera in the home that captured the alleged thieves. You can see them going through the home with a flashlight while wearing gloves to hide fingerprints.

The bad news ... Paysinger says he had accidentally stopped paying to insure the ring just one month before the burglary because he changed credit cards and didn't update his autopay.

Now, Paysinger says he's desperate to get back his ring -- and promises if anyone comes forward with the item, he won't go to police.

"My Super Bowl ring should serve as a cherished family heirloom not an unfortunate event."

"If you’re reading this or if anyone knows the two young men in the video, please be assured there are no consequences tied to this post. This isn’t bait, there are no cops involved and nothing will happen to you by giving back my ring; keep the other s**t."

"All I want is peace of mind and to understand your circumstance in hopes that it will spell the next family from our experience."

XFL Sets Kickoff Date One Week After Super Bowl

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Forget the football hangover ... the XFL has announced it's official kickoff date -- Feb. 8 -- just 6 days after the NFL wraps up the 2019 season.

The Super Bowl goes down on Feb. 2 ... and the following weekend, the XFL will debut with a prime-time game on ABC featuring ex-Ohio State QB Cardale Jones.

Cardale -- a 4th-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft -- is the face of the D.C. Defenders, which takes on the Seattle Dragons, coached by Jim Zorn.

The Defenders also feature WR Max McCaffrey -- brother of Carolina Panthers star running back Christian McCaffrey.

The Dragons roster features former NY Jets tight end Jace Amaro, a 2nd-round pick in the 2014 NFL Draft.

Later that day, a 2nd XFL game will air on FOX featuring the Houston Roughnecks vs. the L.A. Wildcats.

L.A.'s roster features ex-Baylor star Shawn Oakman, who is reviving his pro football career after being found NOT GUILTY in a sexual assault case.

During his college career, Oakman was at one point projected to be a high 1st-round NFL Draft pick ... until the criminal allegations derailed his career.

As for Houston, their QB is ex-Michigan State star Connor Cook, a 4th-round pick in the 2016 NFL Draft.

Ex-Auburn star WR Sammie Coates, a 3rd-round NFL Draft pick, is also on the Roughnecks.

This will be the first XFL season since version 1.0 in 2001 ... and Vince McMahon insists he's doing everything in his power to make it work this time around.

Mark your calendars!

Rihanna On Rejecting Super Bowl Over Colin Kaepernick 'I Couldn't Be A Sellout'

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7:00 AM PT -- A source close to the situation tells us Rihanna did the interview with Vogue BEFORE Jay Z and Roc Nation partnered up with the NFL and her comments were NOT meant to be a shot at Jay.

Rihanna is opening up on her decision to turn down the NFL's invitation to perform at the Super Bowl last year ... saying she "couldn't dare do that" to Colin Kaepernick.

It was widely reported RiRi rejected an offer to perform on Feb. 3 2019 for the SB 53 halftime show -- the biggest entertainment event in the world -- because she believed the controversial NFL QB was being blackballed.

In her cover story with Vogue, the singer confirmed she was taking a stand against the league.

"I couldn’t dare do that. For what? Who gains from that? Not my people," Rihanna says ... "I just couldn’t be a sellout. I couldn’t be an enabler."

"There’s things within that organization that I do not agree with at all, and I was not about to go and be of service to them in any way.”

2 Live Crew's Uncle Luke J Lo's No Music Icon ... Pitbull and Flo Rida Better for Miami SB

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DOUBLING DOWN
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Jennifer Lopez might be considered a star because of her TV career, but she's not a big enough name in music to land the Super Bowl Halftime Show in Miami ... at least according to Uncle Luke.

The former 2 Live Crew frontman is standing by his criticism of Jay-Z and the NFL for choosing J Lo and Shakira as headliners for SB54 ... because he feels Pitbull and Flo Rida are at a higher level.

Uncle Luke tells us there's a very short list of performers -- and most of them are no longer alive -- who warrant top-billing for a Super Bowl no matter where it's being played ... and Lopez isn't on it.

So, he's doubling down on his stance that the upcoming Miami SB should feature famous artists who are actually from the city ... and the current duo doesn't qualify.

2 Live Crew's Uncle Luke Jay-Z is NFL's 'Token Black Guy' Now ... SB LIV Talent's All Wrong!!!

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Jay-Z's work with the NFL is already falling short on his promise of diversity, making him look like nothing more than a pawn and the "token black guy" ... so says Uncle Luke.

The former 2 Live Crew frontman was quite outspoken with us when we asked him to elaborate on his op-ed in the Miami New Times ... in which he said Jay and the NFL were slapping Miami's talent pool in the face by booking J Lo and Shakira as headliners for the Super Bowl LIV Halftime Show.

He says the fact that Jay -- who, along with Roc Nation, is now heading up the entertainment side of things in the NFL -- didn't hire a local performer of color is a betrayal.

THEY'RE USING JAY
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Watch ... Luke even goes so far as to say that Jay's essentially acting as a straw man for the league thus far, and gives him an F rating when it comes to mixing up the acts.

Bruce Springsteen I'm Good w/ J Lo & Shakira for SB LIV ... Rock & Pop Can Share, Man

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The Boss Approves
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3:28 PM PT -- We also got Flo Rida out on Sunday, and asked which 305 acts he'd like to see perform with J Lo and Shakira at the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

GET US ALL IN THERE
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Perhaps unsurprisingly, he says he wouldn't mind taking the stage himself. But, it also sounds like he wants to see all of Miami up on there reppin' the Sunshine State. If he gets his way, it'll be a LONG list of performers. Hey, the more the merrier, right?!

Bruce Springsteen seems stoked to see Jennifer Lopez and Shakira at the upcoming Super Bowl Halftime Show -- but, interestingly, he's not yearning for some good ol' rock 'n' roll.

We got the Boss Sunday in NYC, where we asked what he thought of the pop duo being announced as the headliners for Super Bowl LIV in February ... and he told us he thought they'd put on a fabulous show come halftime. He's a big fan of theirs, apparently.

Then, our photog asked an interesting question -- in light of Bruce's epic Halftime Show back in 2009, does he think Roger Goodell and co. are pivoting way too hard toward pop music ... and snubbing classic rock acts in the process for the big stage?

Jennifer Lopez Launches New Perfume ... Talk About Super Great Timing!!!

Mega

Jennifer Lopez runs her business like Tom Brady runs the 2-minute offense with the game on the line ... with fierce tenacity for a payday, which is the only way to describe her new perfume launch.

J Lo launched her new fragrance, Promise by Jennifer Lopez, Thursday night in NYC ... and just hours after she and Shakira were announced co-headliners for the Super Bowl Halftime Show. As you know ... artists don't get paid for the gig, but don't tell J Lo that cause the gig's gonna bring her even more attention, which could translate to big bucks.

Instar

As we reported ... J Lo has said performing at the Halftime Show had been a bucket list thing for her. Makes sense .... nearly 100 million people watched the Patriots beat the Rams in Super Bowl LIII. The gig guarantees a spike in sales for the artists performing during the break.

But, with the Super Bowl LIV still 4 months away ... odds are J Lo wanted to pounce and capitalize on the buzz surrounding her announcement.

Ex-Louisville Coach Bobby Petrino Lamar Jackson Will Win Super Bowl ... 'Nobody Works Harder'

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NOT SURPRISED
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Lamar Jackson's college coach, Bobby Petrino, says Jackson is 100% the real deal ... so much so, he has NO doubt LJ will hoist the Lomabardi Trophy one day.

Petrino coached Jackson during his Heisman Trophy run at Louisville, and told us he's always been impressed with Lamar's play at quarterback, despite early talk that LJ should switch positions.

"It wasn't how well he ran that impressed me, it's how well he threw the football."

Lamar's been tearing it up in NFL this season, sporting an INSANE 113.9 QB rating with 7 touchdown passes ... and Bobby says it's just the beginning of the ride.

"He said he wanted to win a Super Bowl, you see that commitment and drive there. He is very driven and works very hard, so I'm gonna expect him to win a Super Bowl."

Hold on, Ravens fans ... we're not sure if Bobby is talking about this year or sometime in the future, but his confidence is crystal clear.

"The guy can make the passes he has to make."

Jennifer Lopez & Shakira Co-Headlining Super Bowl Halftime

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Jennifer Lopez and Shakira's hips won't be lying in Miami come February ... the superstars are co-headlining the Super Bowl Halftime Show.

The singers made a cryptic announcement Thursday on social media ... posting images of each other in very similar outfits -- but without revealing their faces. They captioned their posts, "Get ready" and "This is happening."

Pepsi then posted the big reveal image showing both women's faces. BTW ... makes sense the NFL would draft co-headliners for the Miami event, because deuces are wild -- the Super Bowl date is 02/02/20.

When the NFL announced its new partnership with Jay-Z, it said his company, Roc Nation, would be helping secure talent for the Super Bowl Halftime Shows. We're told Roc Nation was heavily involved in closing this deal -- and we also hear ... there will be a few more surprise acts joining J Lo and Shakira.

Warren Moon Eli Manning Is a Hall of Famer ... He's Got 2 Rings!!

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PUT HIM IN!!!
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If Eli Manning never plays another down in the NFL, his next stop is Canton ... so says Warren Moon, who tells TMZ Sports the NY Giants QB is 100% a Hall of Famer.

The G-Men just announced Manning will ride the pine as rookie Daniel Jones takes over as the starter in Week 3 ... sparking debate over whether Eli will be considered among the all-time greats when he calls it a career.

Moon -- who was inducted into the Hall in 2006 -- says they better start getting Manning's jacket measurements now ... 'cause there's no way he WON'T get in.

"I think he is based off his numbers and what he's able to do as a team as well," Moon told the fellas on the TMZ Sports TV show, airing Tuesday night on FS1.

"He's definitely put together a career that's Hall of Fame worthy."

FYI -- Manning's 8th in all-time TDs passed (362) and 7th in passing yards (56,537). And, oh yeah ... 2 Super Bowls don't hurt either.

"I've just looked at his body of work ... and he's won the championships, which is something very important to the voters when you go into that room," Moon adds.

"He's got 2 of them and he was the MVP in both of those games. That's gonna bode well for him."

Speaking of the Hall, check out the full interview tonight ... Moon weighs in on the Donovan McNabb debate ... and tells us how he think he'd do in today's NFL.

Michael Irvin Jerry Jones Won't Win Super Bowl ... Without Ezekiel Elliott

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NO NECTAR WITHOUT ZEKE
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"I know for a fact before Jerry Jones leaves time and go to eternity, he wants to drink the sweet nectar of a championship again. And, that nectar he will not partake in without Ezekiel Elliott!"

Michael Irvin ain't a poet ... but he could be -- because that's how he described the Dallas Cowboys' tenuous situation with their running back ... and it's hilarious!!

We got The Playmaker leaving Catch in L.A. and had to ask about his former team's drama with Zeke ... and he told us clear as day there will be no Super Bowls in Dallas without the RB.

But, Irvin got ultra creative with his answer ... and it's seriously the best video you'll see all day.

"You may win games. You may sell tickets. And, you may make some money. But that nectar, you will not drink without Ezekiel Elliott!!"

Irvin tells us he understands why Zeke's holding out ... saying players don't have leverage in contract negotiations often, and he wants the running back to milk it for all it's worth.

"NFL has told all running backs over and over again, 'We will squeeze you, we will use you, and we will discard you.' So, now, he's saying, let me get mine while I'm riding the wave hot."

Irvin says if the Cowboys owner gives in to Zeke's demands ... put that nectar on ice!!

Machine Gun Kelly Browns Will Win Super Bowl Baker Mayfield for MVP!!!

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NO QUESTION ABOUT IT
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To say Machine Gun Kelly has high expectations for his Browns would be an understatement .... 'cause the Cleveland rapper/actor isn't hoping for a winning season or a playoff berth ...

HE WANTS THE FREAKIN' SUPER BOWL!!!

TMZ Sports spoke with Colson about his hometown Brownies now that they're on the rise with stars like Baker Mayfield, Odell Beckham, Jarvis Landry and Myles Garrett ... and let's just say the dude's expecting to make a trip to Miami in early February.

"Championship," MGK says. "You know where we're going ...100%"

But, that's not the only hardware Kels wants the team to get this season ... he expects Bake to keep Patrick Mahomes from winning back-to-back MVPs!!!

#DawgCheck

Super Bowl Champ Mitch Petrus Dead at 32

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Ex-NFL player Mitch Petrus -- who won a Super Bowl with the Giants in 2012 -- tragically died of a heat stroke on Thursday. He was 32 years old.

Petrus had complained about feeling ill on Thursday after spending all day outside working at his family's shop ... and was taken to a local hospital, according to the Arkansas Democrat Gazette.

Officials say he died at 10:45 PM after suffering a heat stroke.

Petrus was a standout guard with the Arkansas Razorbacks after walking on to the team -- earning All-SEC honors in 2007 and 2009 -- and was drafted by the Giants in the 5th round of the 2010 NFL Draft.

While at Arkansas, Petrus blocked for stars Darren McFadden and Felix Jones ... and didn't give up a single sack during his senior year.

He also played for the New England Patriots and Tennessee Titans before retiring from the league in 2013.

Petrus played bass guitar in his band, Vikings of the North Atlantic ... and also made regular local TV appearances as a Razorbacks football analyst.

Petrus' Giants teammate, Lawrence Tynes, shared his condolences ... saying "RIP Mitch Petrus, another loss to our Giants family way too young. Fun dude who played hard. Prayers to his family and friends."

#RIP

Titans Coach Mike Vrabel I'd Cut My Penis Off ... For Super Bowl Win

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JUST BEIN' FRANK
Bussin' With The Boys

How badly does Mike Vrabel wanna win the Super Bowl?? Well ... the Tennessee Titans head coach says he's fully prepared to part ways with his Johnson in exchange for a championship!!

Okay, full disclosure -- pretty confident the dude was kidding .... but he definitely said it and now it's on the internet forever and there's nothing he can do to take it back.

So ... how'd we get here?? Vrabel was talking with his players, Pro Bowler Taylor Lewan and Will Compton, on the "Bussin' With the Boys" podcast ... when he was asked if he'd make the ultimate sacrifice and chop off his dong in exchange for his first ring as a head coach.

"Been married 20 years ... yeah, probably," Vrabel says.

Remember ... Vrabel won 3 Super Bowls with Tom Brady and the Patriots. But, in the coach's eyes, it's different because he won them as a player ... not a coach.

"You guys will be married for 20 years one day. You won’t need it."

And, how would Vrabel's wife, Jen, handle it??

"She’d be like do you want me to do it? Do you want to do it now?"

The whole exchange is incredible ... and you gotta give props to the guy for being so open throughout the interview.

Tom Brady Chugs Beer, Flaunts 6 Rings ... at Pats Super Bowl Party

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BOOZY CELEBRATION

Tom Brady RAGED Thursday night -- pounding beers, dancing with his teammates and SHOWING OFF HIS 6TH SUPER BOWL RING!!!

The G.O.A.T. -- along with most of his 2018 Patriots teammates -- rolled over to Robert Kraft's mansion on Thursday night for the ring presentation ceremony for winning Super Bowl LIII ... and the party was LIIIT!!!

Even head coach Bill Belichick cracked a smile and flexed a little bit ... showing off his hardware too.

Rob Gronkowski ... you know he turned up -- and the future Hall of Famer was giddy like a kid when he saw the Super Bowl LIII Lombardi Trophy still has that DENT in it from that time he used it for batting practice at Fenway Park!

Josh Gordon was also on hand to get a Super Bowl ring -- despite being suspended for the back end of the season for violating the league's substance abuse policy. Before the suspension, Gordon had racked up 40 catches for 720 yards and 3 TDs.

The rings are sick -- each piece contains 422 diamonds, totaling 9.85 carats ... and 20 sapphires representing 20 AFC East Division Championships.

There are also a few sayings engraved into the rings -- including the playoff rally cry," Still Here," and the Patriots team motto, "We Are All Patriots."

Tom and the Patriots famously beat the L.A. Rams 13 to 3 in Super Bowl LIII -- with Julian Edelman winning the Super Bowl MVP award.

As for Robert Kraft, he seemed super happy and unfazed by the other drama in his life ... the ongoing Asian massage parlor prostitution case in Jupiter, Florida.

State prosecutors have appealed the judge's decision to throw out the video evidence in the case ... so it's an uphill battle for officials -- but a great situation for Kraft.

... might as well throw a party at his mansion for that too.