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#pounditSaturday, April 10, 2021

Football

Deshaun Watson’s legal team wins important ruling in sexual assault scandal

Deshaun Watson

Deshaun Watson’s attorney filed a motion earlier this week seeking to force the quarterback’s alleged sexual assault victims to reveal their identities. A judge ruled in Watson’s favor in one of the cases on Friday morning.

Harris County Judge Dedra Davis ruled at an emergency hearing that one of the 22 plaintiffs who is suing Watson for sexual assault must identify herself by refiling her lawsuit with her name attached, according to ESPN’s Sarah Barshop. The alleged victim had previously been referred to as Jane Doe in her lawsuit.

A similar hearing regarding at least 12 of the other plaintiffs will be held later on Friday.

Watson’s lawyer, Rusty Hardin, maintained that the quarterback is innocent in a statement issued on Thursday. Hardin also accused Tony Buzbee, the attorney representing the alleged victims, of using “anonymous allegations to destroy Mr. Watson.” Hardin has been saying for weeks that Buzbee should have to provide the names of the accusers so Watson can defend himself properly.

Watson has 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.

Jerry Jones is reportedly ‘infatuated’ with this top NFL Draft prospect

Jerry Jones

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones appears to have his eyes on one of the top prospects in the NFL Draft.

In a recent appearance on ESPN’s “Get Up!”, NFL insider Chris Mortensen revealed that Jones has become fixated on Florida tight end Kyle Pitts, arguably the best non-quarterback in the draft.

“We’re hearing this thing about Jerry Jones, the owner of the Cowboys and the GM, being infatuated with Kyle Pitts. So I have figured out that he’s going to have to trade up to get Kyle Pitts. He spent $40 million a year on Dak Prescott, so why not go get Kyle Pitts?”

As Mortensen notes, the Cowboys landing Pitts would require them to trade up. Dallas has the No. 10 pick in the draft, and Pitts could easy go as high as No. 4 to the Atlanta Falcons. There is reason to believe the Cowboys could get that pick if they really want it.

The Cowboys have needs on defense, so Jones would likely be in for some criticism if he parts with some pieces in order to move up for an offensive player. That said, we know what can happen when Jones falls in love with a draft pick. It certainly bears watching at the very least.

Lane Kiffin explains why Bill Belichick’s pre-draft approach stands out

Bill Belichick

Many have asked over the years what makes the New England Patriots different from other NFL teams in terms of their long-lasting success. Lane Kiffin is giving one hint as to why that may be.

Kiffin revealed in an interview with “The Pat McAfee Show” on Wednesday that few NFL coaches actually reach out to their college counterparts for inside information on players they’re scouting. The exception is Belichick, who the Ole Miss coach said calls about prospects who aren’t even expected to go in the first round.

“I know there’s guys like Belichick that have personally — I remember a guy in like the third round the night before the draft, him calling me to ask my opinion on him. Not even a first-round pick,” Kiffin said, via Michael David Smith of ProFootballTalk. “So some people do it and I think a lot of people don’t.

“The really good ones like him, he’s so smart. I remember it was a tight end — he was like, ‘OK, I remember you had Zach Miller 10 years ago with the Raiders or whatever it was. How do you compare him to him?’ That’s how smart he is, to be able to remember who you had and players you were around and compare them to. That’s why he’s so great at that.”

There is talk that sometimes Belichick’s approach can definitely backfire on him. Obviously, college coaches want to see their players do well and get drafted high, so their opinions have to be weighed alongside everything else. Still, Belichick’s approach probably pays dividends sometimes, and the knowledge he can acquire from it might give them the inside track on some players that others might not have.

Andy Reid had awesome way of recruiting JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster

JuJu Smith-Schuster turned down offers from several teams before he re-signed with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Kansas City Chiefs were one of those teams, and it sounds like Andy Reid really wanted the star wide receiver.

Smith-Schuster revealed on the “Michael Irvin Podcast” this week that he would have signed with the Chiefs if he chose to leave Pittsburgh. Part of the reason for that was the enthusiasm with which Reid recruited him. One of the methods Reid used was to repeatedly send Smith-Schuster photos of the Lombardi Trophy.

“I think, just seeing K.C. and bro, Andy Reid was just calling me and he was sending me Lombardi Trophy pictures like constantly,” Smith-Schuster said, via NFL.com’s Nick Shook. “We had a good talk, so it would’ve been K.C. after the Steelers.

“Like texted it to me while I was trying to make a decision and I have so much respect for him and his team.”

The Baltimore Ravens were another team that pursued Smith-Schuster, but he said he didn’t feel comfortable signing with a rival and was concerned about what his role would be in their offense.

Smith-Schuster feels like he has unfinished business with the Steelers. He turned down these better offers from other teams to remain in Pittsburgh, so he obviously enjoys playing there. The fact that he resisted Reid’s trophy photos and the allure of playing with Patrick Mahomes says a lot.

Chiefs fans, you’ll love this Andy Reid cheeseburger shirt. Reid loves his cheeseburgers, and you can wear it. This makes a perfect gift for you or a friend. You can buy it here.

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

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.

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

Tom Brady cracked hilarious joke after visiting Disney World

Tom Brady Bucs

Tom Brady cracked a hilarious joke on Twitter after making a visit to Disney World.

Brady recently went to Disney World as part of an advertising campaign following Tampa Bay’s Super Bowl win. Disney World shared a tweet on Monday of Brady’s visit and included a few photos of him in the new Star Wars land.

Brady responded to the tweet, joking that he keeps playing “for the free trips to Disney World.”

It’s not even free; Brady is likely getting paid to go. But that’s how it works — the more famous you are and the more money you have, oftentimes the more likely you are to receive free stuff.

But everyone knows how hard-working and driven Brady is to win, which makes the tweet so great. Disney World better come out with some new rides to keep Brady motivated!

This was a nice redemption for Brady, who bombed with his April Fools’ joke.

The Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski Tampa party continues! Treat yourself or a friend with this great Tampa Fiesta shirt. You can buy it here.

This NFC team reportedly ‘loves’ Trey Lance

Trey Lance

Much of the talk leading up to the NFL Draft has been about Zach Wilson, Mac Jones and Justin Fields. Trevor Lawrence has been the presumed No. 1 pick and regarded by many as the top quarterback prospect. But there is one other quarterback in the mix to go highly, who isn’t receiving too much buzz: Trey Lance. However, one team reportedly “loves” him.

Michael Lombardi said on his “The GM Shuffle” podcast episode published Wednesday that he knows Washington loves Lance. He also suggested Washington could trade a haul to move up for Lance.

“I think Washington is going to be the next team to unload all their picks to try to get a QB,” Lombardi said. “I think they love Lance. I don’t think, I know Washington loves Lance. So, will they trade up to get Lance? That remains to be seen.”

Washington won the NFC East last season and made the playoffs, meaning they will be picking at No. 19. They would have to do some work to move up in the draft. Whether they make a move depends on how motivated they are to get Lance. The window seems to be open for them to move up to No. 4 if they want.

Washington currently has three QBs under contract: Ryan Fitzpatrick, Taylor Heinicke, and Kyle Allen. None of the three are franchise quarterbacks, which could lead Washington to have interest in a QB this draft. Might they move up for Lance? It would probably take a lot. We know one person who would be a fan of the move.