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#pounditMonday, April 12, 2021

Stories by Steve DelVecchio:

Deshaun Watson’s attorney trying to get alleged victims to reveal identities

Deshaun Watson

Two of the women who have filed sexual assault lawsuits against Deshaun Watson revealed their identities this week, and Watson’s attorney is hoping more will follow.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, has been urging Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing Watson’s alleged victims, to provide their identities to Watson’s legal team. On Thursday, Hardin filed a motion seeking to force Buzbee to make that happen.

In a statement that was sent to Larry Brown Sports and other media outlets, Hardin maintained that Watson is innocent. He said Buzbee is using “anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson.”

“We have said this before and we want to say it again: Deshaun did not force, coerce or intimidate anyone to do anything against their will,” the statement read. “When we asked Mr. Buzbee to identify his clients weeks ago, he refused and told us to file a motion. (On Thursday), we filed that motion. As discussed in our filing, Mr. Buzbee’s use of anonymous lawsuits violates Texas law and the basic concept of fairness. It is clear that, for Mr. Buzbee, this case has never been about seeking justice in a courtroom, but destroying Deshaun’s reputation to enhance his own public profile and enrich himself. While I understand that anonymity often is used as a shield for victims, Mr. Buzbee is using it as a sword. While shielding his clients from public scrutiny, Mr. Buzbee continues to use their anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson. This is simply not right. And we look forward to resolving these matters in court.”

You can read the full court filing here.

Watson has now been sued by 22 women who say he sexually harassed and assaulted them while they were giving him massages. Two of the alleged victims publicly revealed their identities on Tuesday. One of the women, massage therapist Ashley Solis, delivered a powerful statement in which she spoke about how Watson’s alleged misconduct has negatively impacted her career and life. You can see the video here.

Could Julian Edelman’s knee injury mean the end of his Patriots career?

Julian Edelman

Julian Edelman played in just six games last season after suffering a knee injury, and the veteran receiver is still working to get back to 100 percent health. Unfortunately, he may not be able to in time for the 2021 season.

Edelman’s knee issue is one that has hampered him for two years and will likely force him to miss at least some of next season, according to Karen Guregian of the Boston Herald. A source familiar with Edelman’s injury said surgery can provide temporary relief but that Edelman may never be fully healthy again.

All indications are that Edelman is going to try to fight his way onto the field, but it is now fair to wonder if the New England Patriots can keep him. They have already handed out big free agent contracts to wide receivers Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne, and they may add another player or two at the position in the draft.

Edelman’s base salary for 2021 is a reasonable $2.8 million, so there is no major risk to keeping him. However, the Patriots could free up roughly $3.5 million in salary cap space if they release or trade him.

There was talk before last season that the Patriots and Edelman may want to move on from one another with Tom Brady gone, but he’s still considered an important leader in New England. He remained committed to the team even without his best buddy on the roster, though he did have a funny take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers winning the Super Bowl.

Edelman caught 100 passes in 2019, so he is still capable of producing if healthy. Bill Belichick will probably want to keep him around to help mentor the team’s young receivers, but the lingering knee issue could force the Patriots’ hand.

Photo: Jeffrey Beall/Wikimedia via CC-by-SA 3.0

Justin Thomas shares advice Tiger Woods gave him during rough stretch

Justin Thomas

Justin Thomas had a difficult start to 2021, but he managed to turn things around heading into the Masters. Although he was involved in a serious car accident less than two months ago, Tiger Woods was still able to help Thomas through his rough stretch.

Thomas sat down for an interview with ESPN’s Jeff Darlington prior to the Masters, and he opened up about some of the issues he has had over the last several months. Thomas spoke about what he learned in the wake of his use of a homophobic slur back in January. He also reflected on the emotions he felt when he learned before the final round of the Waste Management Phoenix Open in February that his grandfather, Paul Thomas, had died.

Then, there was Tiger’s accident. Thomas said he had planned to reach out to Woods for advice and encouragement just before he learned Tiger was in a serious car crash on Feb. 23. The two did eventually connect when Woods was feeling well enough, and Thomas says the 15-time major champion gave him some valuable advice.

“What kind of hit home for me is, when things aren’t going well, he was like, ‘You need to go figure it out. No offense to your dad, no offense to your caddie, you need to go out by yourself. You’re a grown man. Go figure it out,'” Thomas says Tiger told him.

Thomas went on to win The Players Championship not long after that conversation. He spoke about the importance of his friendship with Woods after the tournament.

If you remember, Thomas was extremely emotional when he first discussed Tiger’s crash (video here). The two are obviously very close, and Tiger has had a big influence on Thomas’ career.

Ex-NFL player Phillip Adams was alleged gunman in South Carolina shooting

Phillip Adams

The man who killed five people in a shooting in South Carolina on Wednesday has reportedly been identified as former NFL player Phillip Adams.

A source briefed on the investigation told Meg Kinnard of The Associated Press that Adams is the man who shot and killed five people, including well-known doctor Robert Lesslie. Adams then shot himself and committed suicide early Thursday morning.

Adams grew up in Rock Hill, S.C., and his parents reportedly live near Lesslie’s home. Lesslie, 70, and his wife Barbara, 69, were pronounced dead at the scene along with their two grandchildren, who were 9 and 5. A man who had been working at the home, 38-year-old James Lewis, was found shot to death outside. A sixth person was hospitalized with “serious gunshot wounds,” according to the York County Sheriff’s Office.

Adams had reportedly been treated by Dr. Lesslie.

Police were called to the victims’ home at around 4:45 p.m. on Wednesday and spent hours searching for the suspect. They found him in a nearby home just after midnight. The investigation is ongoing, but The Associated Press reports that Adams was identified as the shooter.

Adams was drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in the seventh round of the 2010 NFL Draft. The former South Carolina State star went on to play for five other teams, the last of which was the Atlanta Falcons in 2015. He suffered multiple injuries during his NFL career, including concussions and a broken ankle.

Nick Young offers his services to ESPN as Paul Pierce replacement

Nick Young

ESPN has room for a new NBA analyst after Paul Pierce was fired earlier this week, and Nick Young would like to submit an application.

Young, who has not played in the NBA since 2018, tweeted on Wednesday about the new job opening at ESPN. He seemed like he was being sarcastic, but he would probably be interested if the network took him up on it.

Of course, Pierce was fired by ESPN after his live video stream appeared to show him smoking marijuana and surrounded by strippers. We doubt ESPN would replace him with someone like Young, who also dealt with some controversy recently.

Young was criticized last month for an Instagram comment he made about women’s college basketball. He claimed he was hacked, but most people didn’t buy it. Either way, we doubt ESPN would hire him as a Pierce replacement given the circumstances.

Jared Goff’s girlfriend Christen Harper named finalist for SI Swim Search

Christen Harper

Sports Illustrated has revealed its annual “Swim Search” finalists, and Detroit Lions quarterback Jared Goff’s girlfriend is one of them.

SI this revealed the 15 finalists who are hoping to land a spot in the publication’s annual Swimsuit Issue. Christen Harper is among the Final 15. She said in an Instagram post that she has fulfilled a lifelong dream by shooting with the magazine.

Harper, a model and actress, has been dating Goff for quite some time. The two were together back in 2019 when Goff led the Los Angeles Rams to the Super Bowl, which is when we introduced her to you.

Harper has four credits on her IMDB page, but it sounds like shooting for the SI Swimsuit Issue is as exciting for her as any acting gig she has landed.

H/T Egotastic Sports

Aaron Hernandez’s alleged prison lover Kyle Kennedy arrested on warrant

A man who claims he became extremely close with Aaron Hernandez while the two were in prison together is back in jail after being arrested again this week.

Kyle Kennedy was taken into custody on Monday morning in Worcester, Mass., for an outstanding warrant, police told Radar Online.

Kennedy, 26, shared a cell with Hernandez at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Lancaster, Mass., after Hernandez was convicted of first-degree murder and sentenced to life in prison. Kennedy has since claimed in a documentary that he and Hernandez had an intimate relationship.

Hernandez wrote three suicide notes before he took his own life while in prison in 2017. One of the letters was supposedly written to Kennedy, who says the note never got to him but that he had a very close relationship with Hernandez.

Hernandez’s fiancee Shayanna Jenkins and his legal team have claimed the letter to Kennedy never existed. In response to the letter, Jenkins publicly addressed rumors that the former NFL tight end was gay.

Kennedy was released from prison in 2019, but he is now facing another charge.

Tiger Woods issues statement after police reveal cause of accident

Tiger Woods

Tiger Woods authorized the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department to release the findings from the investigation into his car crash, and they did so on Wednesday. Woods issued a statement shortly thereafter.

Investigators determined that speed was the sole factor in the Feb. 23 crash, which left Woods with serious lower body injuries that required surgery. Tiger was traveling as fast as 87 mph down a dangerous curved roadway. His SUV was going 75 mph when he struck a tree, according to police.

After the cause of the crash was released, Woods put out a statement on Twitter thanking all of those involved. He said he will “continue to focus on my recovery and my family.”

Although it was determined that Woods was traveling nearly twice the speed limit, he will not be issued a citation for speeding. LA County Capt. James Powers told reporters most courts would dismiss any ticket that was issued because it was not observed by police or witnesses, according to ESPN’s Michele Steele.

Powers also reiterated that there was no evidence of impairment at the scene of the crash.

Tiger reportedly told people at the scene and at the hospital that he did not remember driving prior to the crash. One report claimed Woods was also seen driving erratically earlier that day.