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Ryan O'Callaghan, former Patriots offensive tackle, comes out as gay

Former New England Patriots and Kansas City Chiefs offensive tackle Ryan O’Callaghan revealed in an interview with Outsports on Tuesday that he is gay.

“No one is going to assume the big football player is gay,” O’Callaghan said in the interview. “It’s why a football team is such a good place to hide.”

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O’Callaghan, who said he originally contemplated suicide after his NFL career was over, initially came out to then-Chiefs general manager Scott Pioli in 2011. O’Callaghan said in his interview that he hopes he can use publicly coming out as a way to help other LGBTQ people struggling with their identity.

O’Callaghan, who played in the NFL for five seasons, made 20 starts in his career for both the Patriots and the Chiefs. The 33-year-old Cal product was originally taken in the fifth round of the 2006 NFL Draft by New England.

Read more here.

Uber driver gets $300 tip from NFL player for long drive

An Uber driver who picked up a passenger at a Chicago airport embarked on a 550-mile trip Sunday night — and got a $300 tip for his long-distance trek. 

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When Hadi Abdollahian picked up his passenger at O’Hare International Airport, he hought he was signing up for a three-hour drive to suburban Buffalo Grove, CNN reported. But the Iranian refugee was asked to drive to Buffalo, New York, an eight-hour ride. 

You see, Abdollahian’s passenger was new Buffalo Bills defensive back Shareece Wright, who had missed his connecting flight to New York and needed to be in camp the next day for offseason practice. Wright signed with the Bills last month after spending the past two seasons with the Baltimore Ravens.

When Wright called and said he needed to be in Buffalo, Abdollahian thought the player wanted to go to a local Buffalo Wild Wings restaurant, ESPN reported. Told he meant the city of Buffalo, Abdollahian did not flinch.

"I'm a man of my words and if someone says it's an emergency he really means it," Abdollahian, 26, told CNN.

>>RELATED: 11.5-hour Uber drive 

They arrived at 1 Bills Drive with mere minutes to spare before 7 a.m. meetings, Wright said. The defensive cornerback tipped Abdollahian $300 on top of the $632.08 ride, CNN reported.

"He didn't complain once. He kept me from stressing out. The only thing he complained about was people driving 50 miles an hour," Wright told CNN. "His focus was to get me there on time and he did."

When local company Bluerock Energy heard about the road trip they gave Wright a check to reimburse him for the Uber ride. But Wright thought Abdollahian deserved it more than he did and passed it along.

"Anyone's who's that passionate and focused about what he's doing, I'm more than willing to help anyone who's putting that foot forward to be successful," Wright told CNN.

Abdollahian confirmed that he received the check and shared a picture of it on Twitter. 

Troy Aikman gets engaged to girlfriend Capa Mooty on European vacation

On Friday, Hall of Fame quarterback and former Dallas Cowboy Troy Aikman proposed to his girlfriend, Capa Mooty — and she said yes.

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According to People magazine, Aikman announced the exciting news on Instagram, sharing a picture of the couple with the caption, “June 2, 2017 – A special day as I proposed to the love of my life.”

It looks like he popped the question during the couple’s trip to Italy, giving his proposal a perfectly romantic backdrop. They have reportedly been dating since February 2016, and Aikman regularly shares snaps of the pair.

Their wedding will mark Aikman’s second marriage. He and ex-wife Rhonda Worthey called things off in 2011 after 11 years together. He shares two daughters with Worthey, Jordan Ashley, 15, and Alexa Marie, 14. Mooty also has two children, both boys, from a previous relationship.

Read more here.

NFL loosens up celebration dance rule

The National Football League is relaxing some rules around celebration dances for players, according to an announcement from Commissioner Roger Goodell on Tuesday.

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“We know that you love the spontaneous displays of emotion that come after a spectacular touchdown," Goodell said a letter to fans. “And players have told us they want more freedom to be able to express themselves and celebrate their athletic achievements.”

The New York Times reported that the decision was made by NFL owners as one of several rule changes at the Spring League Meeting in Chicago Tuesday.

Other rule changes include decreasing regular-season overtime from 15 minutes to 10, allowing two players to come off of injured reserve instead of one, banning jumping over the line to block kicks, and the elimination of one of the preseason roster cuts.

The letter lists some examples of celebrations that will be allowed under the new policy: 

  • Using the football as a prop after a touchdown, such as simulating a basket ball jump shot with a football,
  • Celebrating on the ground -- such as making snow angels, and 
  • Group demonstrations, like a coordinated dance move.

Those approved types of celebrations, allowed after scores, are illustrated in the letter in GIF form. 

Still, it’s not a free for all, ESPN reported.

“In my conversations with NFL players, it was also clear how much our players care about sportsmanship, clean competition and setting good examples for young athletes,” Goodell said. “That is why offensive demonstrations, celebrations that are prolonged and delay the game, and those directed at an opponent will still be penalized.”

So things like weapon imagery, such as a machine gun simulation, or sexually suggestive acts -- like Pittsburgh Steelers receiver Antonio Brown’s end zone twerking, are still things that can be penalized.

The strategy may lessen the number of unsportsmanlike-conduct penalties called on touchdowns. According to ESPN, the 2016 season had the highest number of penalties of the past five seasons with 29 called. Of the past three seasons, it has the highest cost of fines for touchdown celebrations at $310,301, up more than $240,000 from the 2015 season.

Football Hall of Famer Cortez Kennedy dead at 48

Former University of Miami All-American and a member of the 1989 national championship team Cortez Kennedy, also a member of the Pro Football Hall of Fame, has died at the age of 48, according to the Orlando Police Department.

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No cause of death has been given to this point.

Orlando police confirmed to ESPN that, “they are investigating Kennedy’s death, but also said ‘there is nothing suspicious to report’ at this time.”

Kennedy went on to play 11 seasons with the Seattle Seahawks from 1990-2000, was named the NFL’s Defensive Player of the Year in 1992 and made eight Pro Bowls.

See the latest on PalmBeachPost.com

Tom Brady will grace cover of ‘Madden 18’

New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady has a long list of achievements in his NFL career, including five Super Bowl championship rings. But can he avoid the Madden Curse?

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Brady will grace the cover of EA Sports’ "Madden 18" video game, which goes on sale Aug. 25. According to the Madden Curse, players making the cover of the popular video game have had tough times that particular season. There is evidence to back that up, but some players have had good years, too, ESPN reported.

Brady’s teammate, tight end Rob Gronkowski, was on the cover of “Madden 17.” He missed the postseason after he was placed on injured reserve. The Madden Curse had its origins in 1999, ESPN reported, when the first player to appear on the cover — 49ers running back Garrison Hearst — broke his ankle in a playoff loss to Atlanta.

Since 2001, 13 different “Madden” cover subjects have missed at least part of the season, while others have seen their production dip or their teams suffer shocking ends to the season, ESPN reported.

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Michael Vick broke his leg during his cover season of 2004 and later spent time in prison for his involvement in a dogfighting ring. Seattle running back Shaun Alexander saw his productivity drop after appearing on the 2007 cover. 

Other players have done well. Richard Sherman played great the year he was showcased on “Madden 15,” but the Seahawks lost in the final seconds of the Super Bowl to the Patriots. Calvin Johnson (“Madden 13”) and Ray Lewis (“Madden 2005”) had terrific seasons as "Madden" cover athletes.

Brady, who turns 40 in August, grew up a few miles away from where Electronic Arts opened in his hometown of San Mateo, California, ESPN reported. As a kid, he would work out in the EA gym, in part because the company employed a family friend who lived across the street from him.

Brady downplays the curse.

"There's no such thing as curses," Brady said in a Facebook video. "It's a total myth, OK? I feel you're not really getting it. See? All good."

Ex-NFL receiver Michael Jackson dies in motorcycle accident

Former NFL wide receiver Michael Jackson was killed in a motorcycle accident Friday in his hometown of Tangipahoa, Louisiana, police said.

Jackson, 48, played in the NFL for eight seasons with the Cleveland Browns and Baltimore Ravens from 1991 to 1998. 

>> Read more trending news 

Jackson's motorcycle was traveling "at a high rate of speed" around 1 a.m. Friday when it crashed into a car that was backing out of a parking space and into both lanes of the highway, ESPN said, citing a police report.

Jackson was one of the first stars for the Ravens after the franchise relocated from Cleveland in 1996. In the Ravens' first season, he led the NFL with 14 touchdown catches, according to Pro-Football Reference.

In eight NFL seasons, Jackson finished with 353 receptions for 5,393 yards receiving and 46 touchdowns. Injuries curtailed his career, forcing him to retire at the age of 29, ESPN reported.

Jackson served as the mayor of Tangipahoa from 2009 to 2013.

New England’s Bill Belichick, who coached Jackson during the receiver’s first five NFL seasons in Cleveland, issued a statement and said he was “deeply saddened.”

The Ravens also issued a statement, with general manager Ozzie Newsome saying that Jackson was “a vibrant person who became one of the Ravens’ first heroes.”

Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady headline Derby gala event

Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers was among more than 40 big-name celebrities who attended Friday night’s Kentucky Derby party.

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The Green Bay Packers quarterback joined star-studded cast that included fellow signal-caller Tom Brady, along with Jeff Bridges, Harry Connick Jr., Kid Rock, Tracy Morgan, Sammy Hagar, Katie Couric and Larry David. The 29th annual charity event was held at the prestigious Barnstable Brown Derby Eve Gala in Louisville, the Green Bay Post-Gazette reported.

The party was hosted by Patricia Barnstable-Brown and her twin sister, Priscilla Barnstable, at Barnstable-Brown’s mansion. She told the Louisville Courier-Journal last week that Rodgers would be bringing friends.

“Aaron Rodgers just called me to ask if he could bring 14 of his teammates," Barnstable-Brown said. "I don't know where we'll put them all, but we'll make room."

In addition to Brady, New England Patriots players who attended included Rob Gronkowski, Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola.

Guests arrived and walked a red carpet as media members conducted interviews and fans snapped photographs and took videos with their smartphones.

Eddie Lacy’s garage sale for charity was a huge success

It’s the dream of every sports fan that also enjoys prowling garage sales for memorabilia: Pull up to a house that is chock full of items owned by an NFL player and open your wallet. It’s a treasure trove.

>> Read more trending news 

That’s how Packers fans felt in De Pere, Wisconsin, as former Green Bay running back Eddie Lacy kicked off what was supposed to be a two-day garage sale, with proceeds going to charity. Lacy, who spent the last four seasons with Green Bay, signed with the Seattle Seahawks during the offseason. On Friday, his discounted Packers gear — plus the normal fare that one might find at a garage sale, like video games, movies, furniture and even laundry detergent — drew a large crowd. Some buyers waited several hours to purchase items, ESPN reported.

The sale was a success. It was basically sold out before dinner, according to The Associated Press. T-shirts, unused cleats, Packer hoodies and even more Green Bay swag was gone within hours.

Lacy, himself, was a no-show, the Green Bay Press-Gazette reported. That was ironic because he postponed the sale in April when he couldn't get to Green Bay because of travel problems.

"He doesn't like the attention," said Melissa Martinez of De Pere. She said she hung out with Lacy from time to time and was there to buy a few things.

Tide detergent had a sponsorship agreement with Lacy, a former Alabama Crimson Tide running back, thus the several large bottles of Tide at the sale, the Press-Gazette reported. Those were quickly scooped up, including by Martinez and her aunt.

A resourceful neighbor tried to cash in on the large traffic at Lacy’s house, advertising a “Right Next Door to Eddie Lacy Garage Sale.”

Lacy spent four seasons with the Packers, rushing for 788 yards and 23 touchdowns. He was limited to five games during the 2016 season when he suffered an ankle injury and the Packers placed him on injured reserve.

Records: Aaron Hernandez was Bloods gang member

Newly released prison records say ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez was a member of the Bloods street gang.

>> Read more trending news

A death report released Friday by Worcester District Attorney Joseph Early Jr. also says Hernandez once threatened to kill a correction officer and his family.

The reports were released in response to a public records request from The Associated Press.

They show he was disciplined for the threats against a correction officer and for submitting a urine sample that tested positive for Neurontin, an anti-epileptic drug that is also used as a painkiller.

The following month he was disciplined for "being in possession of STG paraphernalia." STG means security threat group -- prison language for gangs.

Two months later in November, Hernandez was disciplined for "threatening to kill a corrections officer and his family.”

The events took place while he was housed in a Bristol County prison from 2013 to 2015.

Hernandez was found hanged in his cell at the Souza-Baranowksi maximum-security prison on April 19 while serving a life sentence for a 2013 murder.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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