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Friday, April 10, 2020

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Chris Johnson seemingly dismisses murder-for-hire allegations as ‘false news’

Some bombshell allegations about a murder-for-hire plot involving Chris Johnson surfaced on Thursday, and the former NFL star appears to have issued a denial.

According to a report from TMZ, Johnson paid a well-known Florida gang member a sum of money to kill two men who were believed to be responsible for shooting Johnson and two of his friends back in 2015. Johnson suffered a gunshot wound to the shoulder in the drive-by shooting, while one of his friends died and another was also shot. Johnson tweeted the following message not long after the report came out.

Johnson has not been charged with any crime, but TMZ said investigators have an informant who told them Johnson paid a man named Dominic Bolden money and helped him become the leader of a drug organization in exchange for Bolden killing the men who were suspected of shooting Johnson. Johnson’s representatives said there is “no validity to any of these accusations.”

The murders were committed months after Johnson and his friends were shot. Shortly before the 2015 drive-by shooting, Johnson was arrested on a gun-related charge.

Report: Patriots did not know Tom Brady was leaving until night before

Tom Brady

Tom Brady made a number of interesting revelations during his interview with Howard Stern on Wednesday, and one of them was that he knew before the start of the 2019 season that he was likely entering his final year with the New England Patriots. Apparently the team found out much later.

Brady visited Robert Kraft at the Patriots owner’s home the night before Brady announced on Instagram that he is leaving the team. According to Ian Rapoport of NFL Media, the Patriots felt right up until that day that they had a chance to re-sign the four-time Super Bowl MVP.

“Based on the people I’ve spoken with, they were still holding out hope that Brady would say to them, ‘Yes, I want to stay in New England’ and engage in some sort of contract discussions — anything to give them an inkling that he still wanted to be there,” Rapoport said. “That’s what they were waiting for.”

Not long after Brady announced his decision, Rapoport reported that the 42-year-old wanted to leave and that the Patriots would have been willing to match the Tampa Bay Buccaneers’ offer. While the former may be true, the latter seems highly unlikely. Bill Belichick has been taking it year-to-year with Brady for two years now, so it would make no sense for the coach to give Brady a two-year, fully guaranteed deal when the quarterback was coming off a down year and will turn 43 in August.

Even though Brady chose to leave New England, that does not necessarily mean there are hard feelings. He also tried to set the record straight on his relationship with Belichick during the Stern interview.

Tom Brady is now a member of the Bucs! Show your support and treat yourself or a friend with this great Tom Brady Bucs shirt! In Tom We Trust! You can buy it here.

Ed Orgeron, LSU doctor share message about social distancing

Ed Orgeron

There has been a lot of talk about the college football season potentially being delayed or canceled altogether, and the defending national champions want everyone to know that decision rests in our hands.

In a video posted on the Tigers’ official Twitter account, LSU head coach Ed Orgeron asked team doctor Brent Bankston if he believes the 2020 season will start on time. Bankston said that depends upon how seriously everyone takes the social distancing guidelines put in place by the CDC and the White House.

While death numbers have increased rapidly in recent days, there has been some positive news with the coronavirus outbreak. New cases and hospitalizations in New York — which has been the epicenter of the disease in the United States — appear to be flattening. Italy and Spain, which have been hit extremely hard by COVID-19, are also trending in the right direction and appear to have gotten through the worst of their respective curves.

Some governors have been using the threat of a delayed or canceled college football season as a way to urge people to follow social distancing guidelines, and LSU is taking the same approach. While one prominent analyst seems to think there will not be a college football season, it is far too early to make that call.

Ex-Rams QB Jim Everett blasts Todd Gurley for airing bonus grievance on Twitter

Todd Gurley

The Los Angeles Rams still owe Todd Gurley a large sum of money even after releasing him, and the star running back made that known publicly with a post on social media Sunday night. Former Rams quarterback Jim Everett found that move extremely unprofessional.

Gurley wrote on Twitter that the Rams are “past due” and asked them to send him his $7.55 million roster bonus ASAP. He also shared a funny meme on Instagram to make light of the situation. Everett did not see the humor in it, and he blasted Gurley for airing his grievances on social media.

For what it’s worth, Gurley apparently is not the only former Rams player who is owed money by the team. Free agent linebacker Clay Matthews indicated he is in the same boat.

Gurley will almost certainly get his money at some point, but the fact that he put the Rams on blast could indicate his relationship with his former team is not in the best place. It makes sense that L.A. cut ties with him given all the injury concerns, but guaranteed money is guaranteed money.

Chris Johnson accused of hiring hit man to kill shooters from 2015 incident

Chris Johnson was the victim of a drive-by shooting in 2015 that left him wounded and one of his friends dead, and the former NFL running back is now being accused of hiring hit men to exact revenge.

According to court documents obtained by TMZ, Johnson has been accused of paying a gang member to kill two men who were suspected of opening fire on Johnson and his friends in a shooting in Orlando back on March 8, 2015. Johnson was shot in the shoulder, and his friend Dreekius Johnson was killed.

Not long after the shooting, a well-known Florida gang member named Dominic Bolden shot and killed two men in two separate incidents — one on Jan. 19, 2016 and the other on July 24, 2016. The victims were believed to be the shooters in the drive-by that left Johnson and one other wounded and killed Dreekius Johnson. Law enforcement officials say an informant told them Chris Johnson paid Bolden for the murders and helped him become the leader of a famed drug organization in Florida.

According to the court documents, Johnson is believed to have supplied Bolden with “funds and an individual who could continually supply Dominic Bolden with as much narcotics as needed to supply the DTO.” The informant told investigators the murder-for-hire scheme elevated Bolden’s reputation and made him the de-factor leader of the drug organization.

Johnson is also accused of assisting with the day-to-day operations of the drug organization, but he has not been charged with any crime related to that or the alleged murder-for-hire plot. His representatives told TMZ there is “no validity to any of these accusations.”

Johnson was arrested on a troubling charge not long before he was shot in 2015, so the three-time Pro Bowler is not a stranger to legal issues.

Dominick Cruz to replace Jose Aldo at UFC 250 due to expired visa

Dominick Cruz

There will be a new main event for UFC 250.

Jose Aldo was supposed to fight Henry Cejudo in the main event of UFC 250 next month, but Aldo is off the card. Combate reported Wednesday night that Aldo, who is Brazilian, has an expired work visa. The American Embassy is not processing new ones during the coronavirus pandemic, which will prevent Aldo from being able to fight in the U.S. for the event.

Instead, Dominick Cruz will be the replacement for Aldo. Cruz even has already called out Cejudo for the May 9 event.

The venue for the fight has not been announced, but the UFC reportedly plans to host its upcoming fight events at Tachi Palace in Lemoore, Calif. The casino is located on sovereign tribal land and therefore not subject to the state’s orders relating to COVID-19. After that, Dana White is planning to host fights on a private island.

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  • MMA

Bulls hiring Arturas Karnisovas to head their front office

Arturas Karnisovas

The Chicago Bulls have found a new person to head up their basketball operations.

The Bulls are finalizing a deal with Arturas Karnisovas to be in charge of their front office, ESPN’s Adrian Wojnarowski reports. Woj says the Bulls offered Karnisovas the job on Wednesday night and the two sides were working on a deal.

Karnisovas has been Denver’s general manager since 2017. He is Lithuanian and played college basketball at Seton Hall before going on to play professionally in Europe.

Karnisovas has been part of the Nuggets’ front office since 2013. According to Woj, Karnisovas will be tasked with building Chicago’s front office, including hiring a general manager.

LeBron James open to finishing NBA season in Las Vegas bubble situation

LeBron James speech

LeBron James seems open to the idea of finishing the NBA season in a single-site situation, such as the Las Vegas plan that has been discussed.

James spoke with reporters on a Zoom conference call Wednesday. During that call, James said he was open to playing in Las Vegas and staying under quarantine in a hotel as long as it “can hold us and keep us in the best possible chance to be safe” on and off the court.

The comments represent another change for James. Previously he said would refuse to play without fans in attendance, but he later changed that stance. And on a March 26 episode of the “Road Trippin'” podcast, James said he wouldn’t be willing to live in a hotel with other players in order to continue the season.

As time passes and James adjusts his reality at each step, he has learned he has to make the best of the situation. And at this point, if that means living in a hotel in quarantine in Las Vegas along with other teams so he can finish the season and have a shot at a championship, he seems willing to do it.

Why? Because at 35, James knows he has only a few seasons left to add to the championship total he has been pursuing his entire career, and he knows this may be his best chance left. And if the NBA has James’ backing for trying to resume the season, that will be a good starting point when discussing possible plans with the players’ association.

Hayley Robic, daughter of Kentucky assistant coach John Robic, dies from liver cancer

Hayley Robic

Hayley Robic, the daughter of Kentucky Wildcats assistant basketball coach John Robic, died after losing her battle with liver cancer.

According to Kentucky Sports Radio, Hayley died on Friday, April 3, several months after learning of her diagnosis last fall. She was 27.

KSR says Hayley Robic sought medical attention after experiencing pain in her abdomen. Doctors found two tumors that were both malignant. One was removed and measured 15 cm.

In January, the Robic family went on social media to seek a donor for a liver transplant for Hayley.

“These past several months have been the hardest of my life,” Hayley wrote on Instagram. “After having emergency surgery, I’ve been diagnosed with liver cancer. Because of that, I will be getting a liver transplant and am in need of a donor. If you are interested in being tested to see if you’re a potential match, I’d be so grateful.”

Unfortunately, Hayley died a few months later.

Hayley was one of three daughters of John and his wife. John has been a longtime right-hand man of John Calipari, working for him at UMass and Memphis prior to Kentucky. All three of their daughters graduated from Kentucky.

California official does not expect sports until Thanksgiving

basketball

One of the most difficult aspects of the coronavirus pandemic for people to reconcile is all the uncertainty that it brings. When will we get close to normal life again? When will social distancing measures or stay-at-home orders be lifted? And for those like us who love sports and work in the field, we wonder when will professional sports leagues be able to play again.

One California official offered a somewhat gloom outlook on the prospect.

Dr. Jeffrey Smith, who is the Santa Clara County executive officer, says he does not expect sports for a while.

Speaking to the county’s Board of Supervisors on Tuesday, Smith said he did not expect “any sports games until at least Thanksgiving, and we’d be lucky to have them by Thanksgiving. This is not something that’s going to be easy to do.”

The NBA has had some discussions of playing in a bubble in Las Vegas. MLB has talked about the idea of trying to play in Arizona, possibly as early as next month. The president is hoping to have the NFL start on schedule in the fall, with fans in attendance.

Those are all seemingly optimistic ideas and timelines, but based on Smith’s perspective, they might not be realistic.