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Deputies: Florida deputy mayor spent $7K museum donation on memorabilia, NFL tickets

A deputy mayor in a Central Florida city was arrested and accused of stealing a $7,000 donation while serving as executive director of a charity and using the money to buy tickets to NFL games, memorabilia and to pay off personal debt, authorities said.

>> Read more trending news

The Brevard County Sheriff’s Office said that John Tice, 65, the deputy mayor of West Melbourne, was arrested Thursday. In 2015 he was executive director of Melbourne’s Liberty Bell Memorial Museum.

Deputies said they began investigating Tice in May after the Melbourne City Council received a tip that he had diverted the donation from the museum's financial accounts for personal use.

Tice, who was tasked with finding a contractor to repair the museum's roof, secured a proposal from a roofing company to make the repairs, which were to be paid for by the museum and the city of Melbourne, investigators said.

Deputies said the roofing company donated $7,000 to the museum after receiving the first payment for the project, but Tice told the company to take the check back and reissue it to the Brevard Hall of Fame, which was an inactive charity at the time, deputies said.

Tice spent the money on Miami Dolphins NFL season tickets, professional football memorabilia, dining and repaying personal debt, investigators said.

Deputies said Tice was relieved of his position at the museum in February 2016 for an unrelated matter.

"When you're elected to office, you have the public's trust," Brevard County Sheriff Wayne Ivey said during a Thursday news conference. "They wouldn't elect you if they didn't trust you. And when you violate that trust, it sends a horrible message.

"When you're taking money meant for a charitable organization and you're using it for personal gain or watching a football team play, there's no explanation for that," Ivey said. "It's absolutely despicable."

Tice was booked into the Brevard County Jail on charges of scheme to defraud under $20,000, communications fraud, depositing an item with the intent to defraud and grand theft. He was released after paying a $20,000 bail.

Although the allegations are unrelated to Tice's duties as deputy mayor, West Melbourne Mayor Hal Rose called the accusations "shocking" and said he was "saddened by the course of events."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Rick Scott said his office is investigating the allegations.

"Gov. Scott expects all elected officials to behave ethically and responsibly," she said. "Our office is reviewing the details, and we will keep you updated on any action taken."

NFL owners unanimously OK simplified catch rule

Jesse James may have felt robbed last season, but a new catch rule unanimously approved by NFL owners Tuesday will help eliminate controversy over what constitutes a reception, ESPN reported.

>> Read more trending news

James’ catch, fall and reach into the end zone in the Pittsburgh Steelers’ game against the New England Patriots last Dec. 17 would have been a touchdown under the new rule adopted by the owners. The catch, made with 28 seconds to play, erased New England’s 27-24 lead, but officials reversed the call on replay; the incomplete pass helped the Patriots hold on for the victory.

The catch rule was proposed by the NFL’s competition committee. There are three guidelines to define a catch, according to NFL.com: control of the ball; two feet down or another body part; and a football move such as a third step, reaching or extending for the line to gain; or the ability to perform such an act.

There were two other rules changes approved, ESPN reported. One was to grant authority to Al Riveron, the league’s senior vice president of officiating, to eject players for non-football acts even at the expense of overruling on-field referees, ESPN reported. The other was to put touchbacks after kickoffs to the 25-yard line on a permanent basis. It was used on a temporary trial run in 2017.

Former cheerleader sues Saints, claims team rules discriminatory

A former New Orleans Saints cheerleader fired by the team for posting a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit, filed a complaint with the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, accusing the team of holding its cheerleaders -- who are all women -- to different standards than its male players, The New York Times reported.

>> Read more trending news

Bailey Davis, 22, who cheered for the Saints for three seasons, said she followed team rules by making her Instagram page private, so only people she approved could view her posts. 

When she posted a photo of herself in a one-piece outfit in January, Saints officials accused her of breaking rules that forbade cheerleaders from appearing nude, seminude or in lingerie, the Times reported. The team also accused her of attending a party with Saints players -- the Saints have a rule against fraternizing between players and cheerleaders, either in person or online -- and fired her despite her denials, the Times reported.

According to the Saints’ handbook for cheerleaders, the women are required to block players on social media and are not allowed to post photos of themselves in team gear. Players are not required to do that, the Times reported.

“If the cheerleaders can’t contact the players, then the players shouldn’t be able to contact the cheerleaders,” Sara Blackwell, Davis’ lawyer, told the Times. “The antiquated stereotype of women needing to hide for their own protection is not permitted in America and certainly not in the workplace.”

“The Saints organization strives to treat all employees fairly, including Ms. Davis,” Leslie A. Lanusse, a lawyer who is representing the Saints, wrote in an email to the Times. “At the appropriate time and in the appropriate forum, the Saints will defend the organization’s policies and workplace rules. For now, it is sufficient to say that Ms. Davis was not subjected to discrimination because of her gender.”

Former Patriots lineman Nate Solder thanks New England fans in full-page ad

Former Patriots offensive tackle Nate Solder is thanking New England fans for their support while he played and raised his family here.

>> Read more trending news

Solder recently signed a contract with the New York Giants after playing in Foxborough for seven seasons.

"Respect. Hard Work. Dedication. Team. Success. Seven years and thousands of life lessons later I know this much: you are all first class in every Patriot Way," he said in a newspaper ad.

Solder was diagnosed with and treated for testicular cancer in 2014. He and his wife Lexi had a son, Hudson, a short time later. In 2017, solder and his wife had a daughter named Charlie.

When Hudson was a 1-year-old he was diagnosed with kidney cancer. He is recovering after being treated in Boston.

"We will miss you, New England, but we leave here happy with memories, relationships and friends that will last a lifetime. And two super nice rings too!" Solder closed out the letter.

Blockbuster founder, former Miami Dolphins owner Wayne Huizenga dead at 80 

Longtime South Florida sports owner, philanthropist and businessman H. Wayne Huizenga died Friday. He was 80.

>> Read more trending news

Huizenga owned the Miami Dolphins and their stadium for 15 years and was the initial owner of the Florida Marlins and Florida Panthers.

In business, he started Waste Management in the 1960s, was the catalyst behind Blockbuster Video’s growth in the 1980s and ’90s and created AutoNation.

Huizenga was involved in various charities and funded the business school bearing his name at Nova Southeastern University.

He bought a small portion of the Dolphins in 1990 and became full owner of the team three years later. They went to the playoffs seven times during his ownership, and South Florida hosted three Super Bowls.

Huizenga sold the team to Stephen Ross over the course of 2008 and 2009. He sold the Marlins in 1998 and the Panthers in 2001.

Man arrested in burglary of Patriots TE Rob Gronkowski's home

One man was arrested and two suspects are being sought in the burglary of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski's house.

>> Read more trending news

While the Patriots were playing in Super Bowl LII in Minneapolis on Feb. 4, police were called to Gronkowski's house in Foxborough, Massachusetts, for a burglary. 

According to a heavily redacted police report, the break-in at Gronkowski's home happened just five minutes after he scored his first of two touchdowns.

The report shows the burglary happened at 8:50 p.m., during the third quarter of the Patriots' game against the Eagles.

On Friday morning, police executed a search warrant at the home of Anthony Almeida in Randolph. As a result of the search, police arrested Almeida, 31, on charges of breaking and entering, two counts of receiving stolen property, and malicious destruction of property.

He was arraigned Friday afternoon. 

>> Rob Gronkowski’s house burglarized during Super Bowl

Almeida pleaded not guilty to the charges and was released on $5,000 bail. He was ordered to stay away from the victims and is due back in court on April 20.

Police said 26-year-old Shayne Denn of Tewksbury and 28-year-old Eric Tyrrell of Foxborough are still at large.

Police said an Apple watch, a Rolex watch and two rare coins from the 1800s have been recovered. A firearm has not yet been recovered.

According to the police report, the burglars were not able to get into Gronkowski's bedroom; it was found locked and secured.

The investigation is ongoing, police said.

Former NFL star Ricky Williams launches marijuana brand 

Football never took too kindly to Ricky Williams’ affection for marijuana, but in his new business, it’s essential.

>> Read more trending news

The former running back, who won the Heisman Trophy in 1998 while at the University of Texas, is launching his own brand of marijuana.

Williams, who played for three teams during an 11-year NFL career, now lives in Venice Beach, California, where the drug has been decriminalized.

He is going into business with a product line called Real Wellness by Ricky Williams, a play off his initials.

Williams, 40, is promoting his goods for health reasons.

“I am known as a professional football player,” Williams told The South Florida Sun-Sentinel. “In the last 14 years, I have been educating myself and training as a health care practitioner.”

Williams is in business with OutCo, a dispensary and consulting firm in California. They plan to sell marijuana in dispensaries in Southern California and online.

Williams’ marijuana use led to suspensions from the NFL in his playing days, but Williams was a workhorse for the Miami Dolphins in the early 2000s, including a team-record 1,853 rushing yards in 2002. He also gained 1,372 yards in 2003.

“When people think about Ricky Williams, they think about a pothead,” he told The San Diego Union-Tribune. “That’s not fair to how I played the game. I was a physical player who was respected by my opponents and teammates. That gets lost with the off-the-field stuff.”

WATCH: Tom Brady beats Stephen Colbert in beer-chugging contest 

Whether it’s playing football or chugging beer, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a competitive guy.

>> Read more trending newsBrady was a guest on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Monday night, and when challenged by Colbert to slamming down a pint of beer, he did not hesitate.

Colbert was asking Brady what foods he missed eating as he maintains a strict, healthy diet, and he mentioned, “cheeseburgers, pizza, beer, things like that.”

“You don’t drink beer?” Colbert asked.

“Rarely,” Brady said.

But when Colbert pulled out two glasses of beer, the contest was real.

“I was a pretty good beer-chugger back in the day,” Brady said. “Are we competing?”

“I don’t know if you’re a competitive guy,” Colbert said.

He was. Brady dusted the talk show host easily.

O.J. Simpson's 'hypothetical’ confession causes social media furor

Nearly 24 years after the murder of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend, the public continues to be alternately fascinated and revolted by the former NFL star-turned-actor’s actions on the night of June 12, 1994.

>> Read more trending news

Sunday night, Fox aired an interview that had been shelved since 2006. In the two-hour special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” Simpson “hypothetically” walks publisher Judith Regan through the events that culminated with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

After a contentious and controversial trial, Simpson was acquitted of both murders on Oct. 3, 1995. On Sunday, an interview was aired in which he revealed details from what he called a hypothetical scenario that he also laid out in his book “If I Did It.”

The show caused a great deal of buzz on social media as posters used the hashtag #DidOJConfess during the broadcast, Fox reported.

“The interview was a narcissist cesspool,” JRM tweeted.

“Congress should pass legislation to exclude murder and other violent crimes from our double jeopardy laws and call it ‘Nicole's Law’ after Nicole Brown Simpson,” Aaron Clark tweeted.. 

Others remained convinced of Simpson’s innocence.

“OJ Simpson was innocent… the gloves didn’t fit,” Twitter poster Don Corleone wrote.

“Can they let this man Live please!” Sluweekay wrote.

Years later, the Simpson case remains a polarizing one. The audacity of the interview, even one that is now a dozen years old, remains stunning.

Here is the verdict from the trial, read by the jury foreman on Oct. 3, 1995:

Linebacker with one hand does 20 bench press reps at NFL combine

Give Shaquem Griffin a challenge, and he meets it head-on. The former University of Central Florida linebacker has been silencing critics for years, and his effort at Saturday’s NFL combine was no exception.

>> Read more trending news

Griffin, who was born with amniotic band syndrome and had his left hand amputated when he was 4 years old, did 20 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press Saturday, ESPN reported.

According to the NFL, Griffin is trying to become the first player with one hand to be drafted during the modern era, ESPN reported.

Griffin used a black prosthetic device that was affixed to his left forearm during the event, The Tampa Bay Times reported. He said the most reps he had completed at that weight had been 11, Sports Illustrated reported. But when he heard that an NFL general manager would be content to see Griffin do just five reps, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native rose to the challenge.

"My goal was six (repetitions),” Griffin told ESPN with a smile. “I think I beat that by a lot. When I first got to training, I did like 11 reps. ... Just being able to do that, that was amazing. Hearing the crowd and having the juices flowing, I felt it ... I didn't know I had it in me, but it came out (Saturday).

“People didn't think I'd be able to do it, and him just saying five (reps), I mean, five to me is just warming up,” Griffin told the Times.

At last year’s combine, Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, did 17 reps in the bench press, Sports Illustrated reported. Shaquill Griffin was drafted in the third round by Seattle in 2017.

Some draft experts see Shaquem Griffin as a third-day pick in this year’s NFL draft. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder prepared for the combine and wrote an open letter to NFL general managers so they could learn his story, the Times reported.

Griffin was a two-year starter at UCF and a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in both seasons, ESPN reported. In 2016 he was AAC’s defensive player of the year, collecting 92 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had an interception.

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