XFL's 'He Hate Me' FOUND SAFE Family Tells TMZ Sports

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3:19 PM PT -- ROD SMART HAS BEEN FOUND SAFE!!

Family and police sources tell us Smart has been located and he's safe.

We're told Smart is surrounded by family and in the process of getting professional treatment.

Story developing ...

Rod Smart -- who shot to fame in the XFL using the nickname "He Hate Me" -- has gone missing and his family is extremely worried for his safety.

The Lancaster County Sheriff's Office in South Carolina has issued a Missing Person Advisory -- noting 42-year-old Smart was last seen on June 12 around 10:30 AM.

Cops say his family is "worried about his safety and well-being" -- adding, "It is unusual for him to be out of touch for this long."

He was last seen driving his silver 2016 Nissan Maxima with North Carolina tags.

Rod Smart -- real name Torrold Smart -- was a star running back at Western Kentucky back in the day ... and joined Vince McMahon's XFL football league when he wasn't selected in the NFL Draft.

In 2001, Smart was signed by the XFL's Las Vegas Outlaws -- which encouraged players to select a fun WWE-style nickname to rock on their jerseys ... and Smart famously picked, "He Hate Me."

Why the nickname? Smart told reporters at the time, "Basically, my opponent is going to hate me. After I win, he's gonna hate me."

Smart was so good in the XFL, he got looks from NFL teams and eventually signed with the Carolina Panthers ... where he played from 2002 to 2005.

After his football career, Smart reportedly worked as a personal trainer and a high school guidance counselor.

Originally Published -- 9:34 AM PT

Rick Neuheisel Advice To XFL After AAF's Failure ... 'Start With Enough $$$!'

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BRING THE CHECKBOOK
TMZSports.com

Vince McMahon, listen up ... Rick Neuheisel is offering advice to the XFL in the wake of the AAF's colossal collapse -- "Start with enough money!!!"

"At the end of the day, you gotta have enough financing," the former Arizona Hotshots' head coach says.

Of course, the AAF just folded a few weeks ago ... and Neuheisel tells us it pretty much boils down to they just didn't have enough cash to keep it going.

So, when we asked for his message to McMahon's XFL -- which is set to kick off in 2020 -- he told us his advice is simple ... be sure to have enough green to start!!!

As for if Neuheisel thinks the league can succeed once it does that -- the ex-UCLA coach says he thinks there's certainly a place for a pro league in the NFL's offseason.

"I think there's room and need for spring football," Rick says ... "There's a gap between college and NFL and it allows players to show they're capable."

As for if Rick would have interest in coaching in McMahon's XFL -- he says he hasn't had any talks with the new league ... yet.

XFL Reversing Course On Manziel? ... QB Is Now 'In the Mix'

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Seems Vince McMahon's XFL could be having a change of heart when it comes to Johnny Manziel -- because the XFL's commissioner says he hasn't ruled out a roster spot for the QB.

Of course, when Vince announced he was resurrecting the XFL back in January 2018, he was adamant players with any history of "criminality" would NOT be eligible to play in the league.

When he was asked specifically about Johnny Manziel in 2018, McMahon said -- "You want someone who does not have any criminality whatsoever associated with them."

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The problem for Manziel ... he DOES have criminality associated with him.

Manziel was indicted for misdemeanor assault stemming from a 2016 domestic violence incident with his then-girlfriend.

The case went in front of a judge -- and Manziel ultimately cut a deal where he agreed to take an anger management course and keep his nose clean and in exchange, the charge would be dropped.

Manziel successfully completed his end of the bargain -- and it seems the XFL is satisfied too.

Because, when XFL commish Oliver Luck appeared on the "PFT PM" podcast this week, he didn't slam the door on hiring Manziel.

"If he is able to meet our standards and if our coaches think he’s one of the top quarterbacks out there that can help us,” Luck said ... “Certainly we have no reason not to believe he couldn’t be in the mix."

"But, again it’s really up to our coaches in terms of the quarterbacks they wanna take a look at."

You gotta think XFL officials have discussed Manziel -- he's probably the biggest name out there that the league could realistically get.

The XFL could be a great option for Manziel who's had a rough football life after washing out of the NFL. He's been subsequently banned from the CFL and recently lost his job in the AAF when the league folded.

The league is slated to launch in Feb. 2020 -- this will be a very interesting storyline to follow.

Johnny Manziel Never Wanted To Play In Canada ... Says Warren Moon

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CLEAN IT UP
TMZSports.com

Johnny Manziel NEVER really wanted to play in Canada ... and might've purposely violated the terms of his contract to force his way out of the CFL -- so says Warren Moon.

"Maybe he did that on purpose," the Hall of Fame QB tells TMZ Sports ... "Because now there's other options out there."

Of course, Johnny was banned from the CFL on Wednesday after the league announced he failed to live up to the terms of his contract -- which required, among other stipulations, mandatory doctor and therapist visits.

For his part, Manziel didn't deny the claims, saying, "I want to thank Coach Sherman, my teammates, and the CFL fans. My time there reestablished my love for the game of football and the work that goes into it."

Now ... Moon is suggesting it was all part of a bigger plan to get Johnny back playing ball in America for either the newly formed AAF or the upcoming XFL.

"There's more opportunities for him to play in the United States than play in Canada, so maybe that's part of the reason why he violated some of those restrictions in his contract."

Manziel reportedly had minor talks with the AAF ... but the San Antonio Commanders will get the first crack at signing the former Heisman Trophy winner when those talks progress.

Moon tells us if Manziel eventually will end up there and ball out ... he can see a scenario where the former first-round pick gets another NFL deal.

Vince McMahon Taps Andrew Luck's Dad To Run XFL Reboot!!

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Vince McMahon's XFL now has a boss ... and it's the same man who happened to raise one of the NFL's best quarterbacks -- Oliver Luck!!

Andrew Luck's daddy will be the new commissioner and CEO of the WWE honcho's rebooted league -- McMahon announced Tuesday.

It's not a gimmick ... Oliver's resume is legit. The 58-year-old's been president of NFL Europe, athletic director for West Virginia and recently served as one of the top execs in the NCAA.

In his first-ever statement as commish, Luck says he's going to "reimagine" the game of football as the boss of the XFL -- which will kick off in 2020 -- and give fans a "dynamic version" of the sport.

Remember, the XFL is doing away with all the shtick it used to have ... and is trying to be legit.

Tim Tebow, Dwayne Bowe and even a Gronkowski have expressed interest in playing in it.

With a little Luck on board now ... maybe they just might.

Tim Tebow Play for the Cubs? No. Play for the XFL? Don't Rule It Out ...

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KEEPIN' IT HOLY
TMZSports.com

Here's another episode of "Playing It Coy," starring Tim Tebow ... who says he really doesn't know whether he'd consider signing with the XFL.

Tebow was gentlemanly as ever when we got him at LAX on Tuesday -- but when the topic of Vince McMahon's XFL offer got brought up again, he gave us the ol' Heisman stiff-arm.

"I don't know -- that's a long way from now."

He does have a point. The XFL doesn't launch til 2020.

Timmy did give us a clear answer when our photog -- a Chicago guy -- asked about him potentially playing for the Cubs.

That was a pretty firm no ... probably 'cause Tebow says he's focused on what's in front of him -- another spring training with the Mets!

NFL's Dwayne Bowe 'I'd Definitely Do The XFL' ... Just One Problem

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FOOTBALL TALK
TMZSports.com

Vince McMahon's XFL just got its first big name athlete to commit, with former NFL Pro Bowler Dwayne Bowe telling TMZ Sports he's ready to make a comeback when the league relaunches in 2020.

Bowe is 33 and hasn't played in the NFL since the 2015 season -- but when we got him out at Bootsy Bellows in Hollywood, he said he could be ready for a comeback and the XFL is a real possibility.

"I'd definitely do the XFL ... if the money's right I'd definitely do it."

There's just one small problem with Bowe's XFL dream -- Vince McMahon stated he won't hire anyone with any sort of "criminality associated with them whatsoever."

Bowe was arrested for possession of marijuana back in 2013 when cops found 2 small containers of weed in his car during a traffic stop.

He later struck a deal with prosecutors in which he plead guilty to lesser charges of littering and defective equipment and paid $610 in fines and court costs. In exchange, the weed charge was thrown out.

So, would Vince REALLY pass up the opportunity to sign a big star like Bowe over some littering?!

We got 2 years to find out.

Tim Tebow Me In the XFL? I Don't Wanna Talk About It

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FOOTBALL HOPES
TMZSports.com

Vince McMahon called him out by name ... so, when we saw Tim Tebow in L.A. over the weekend, we had to ask if he'd ever consider joining the brand new XFL.

Tim signed autographs and was his usual friendly self on the way out of Craig's in L.A. -- but when the topic came to the XFL, Tim shut down like the Vikings' offense in the NFC championship.

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Seems Tim doesn't want to breathe life into the possibility he would leave his baseball career and go back to football. In fact, he talked to us about the Mets when we saw him last week in Bev Hills.

Sorry Vince ...

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Rob Gronkowski's Big Bro XFL Should Sign My Little Bro! (No, Not Rob)

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COMEBACK?
TMZSports.com

If Vince McMahon wants a big name in the XFL -- Chris Gronkowski says his little brother is down to lend his family crest to the league!

No, he ain't talking about Rob ... dude's kinda busy.

But Chris tells TMZ Sports his OTHER lil bro, Glenn, is totally game after getting waived by the Patriots during the regular season.

"He just got a Super Bowl ring last year, so sign him up!"

It's true ... Glenn (fullback) was a member of the New England Patriots practice squad last season.

Of course, we had to get Chris to update us on Rob's status for the upcoming Super Bowl ... and he had a similar take as Rob's BFF, Mojo Rawley.

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NFL's Marcedes Lewis XFL's Anthem Rule Is Gonna Cost 'Em ... Criminal Rule Sucks, Too

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DEAL BREAKER
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The XFL is making a big mistake when it comes to requiring its players to stand for "The Star Spangled Banner" -- so says Jaguars star Marcedes Lewis.

We got Marcedes right after Vince McMahon announced he was resurrecting the league ... and the stud TE told us certain players (see: Colin Kaepernick) won't have anything to do with the XFL if that's their stance on free speech.

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"They may not play ball ... that might affect who you're able to get in that league," Lewis told TMZ Sports.

Marcedes also had a good laugh at the rule barring anyone with a criminal record from competing ... arguing that NFL players get 2nd chances, and rap sheets are "open to interpretation" anyway.