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Tampa Bay Buccaneers will use parrot to deliver 4th-round pick in NFL draft

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers will be winging it during the latter stages of the NFL draft.

>> Read more trending news

The NFL announced Monday that the Bucs will have a parrot deliver its fourth-round selection from the pirate ship at Raymond James Stadium to an announcer during Saturday’s televised Day 3 draft show.

The parrot, a Catalina macaw named Zsa Zsa, is based at the Florida Exotic Bird Sanctuary in Hudson, Florida.

The bird is not the first animal to participate in an NFL draft. Last year, an orangutan aided in the Colts announcing their fourth-round selection of offensive lineman Zach Banner, the NFL reported on its website. 

Reaction on the Buccaneers’ upcoming pick ranged from humor to squawks of surprise. One website, JoeBucsFan, posted a video of The Three Stooges’ 1936 comedy short, “Disorder in the Court,” where a parrot is figured prominently in the climactic court scene.

Undoubtedly, some fans will post the iconic parrot sketch from “Monty Python’s Flying Circus.”

Regardless, the Bucs will be giving the NFL the bird on Saturday.

Ex-NFL QB Mark Rypien said mental health issues led to attempted suicide

The MVP of Super Bowl XXVI said he once tried to kill himself after suffering “from a complex stew of mental health conditions,” KHQ reported.

>> Read more trending news

Former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien spoke with the Spokane television station and The Spokesman-Review in separate interviews about his problems, citing “Dark places, depression, anxiety, addictions, poor choices, poor decisions” that were caused by the concussions he suffered during his playing career.

The 11-year NFL veteran said he was speaking out after the January suicide of Washington State quarterback Tyler Hilinski and the apparent self-inflicted gunshot death of Coeur d’Alene High School principal Troy Schueller in Idaho, ESPN reported.

Rypien’s cousin, former NHL player Rick Rypien, also suffered from depression and died in an apparent suicide in 2011, ESPN reported..

"Let's address this now," Rypien told the Spokesman-Review. "Let me share my story so others can share theirs. Let's get rid of this silence that happens when you're caught up in this cycle and you don't know how to find the help I've been afforded.

"My story is impactful because people see me in a different light. I want them to see me in an accurate light. I've been down the darkest path. I've made some horrible, horrible mistakes. But I've given myself a chance to progress forward.”

Some of those mistakes included trips to Spokane spas that were closed down as part of a prostitution ring, ESPN reported.

Rypien, 55, said he also tried to commit suicide on the same day as his daughter Angie’s birthday, ESPN reported.

“I took 150 pills and a bottle of booze,” Rypien told KHQ. “If it wasn’t for my wife (Danielle) coming home and finding me on the floor, and shoving hydrogen peroxide down my throat, and charcoal, to throw up all these pills, I wouldn’t be here today.”

Rypien also had an episode of domestic violence with his wife in November 2017, according to a police report obtained by KHQ. Rypien admitted to the violence and blamed it on new medication he was taking to battle his mental issues.

"Part of this thing is getting the right medications,” Rypien told KHQ. “When you use something that doesn't address that? That impulse control? You go from zero to 60 very quickly.

“I don't remember that night. I remember losing control.” 

"They had warned us when they put him on it," Danielle Rypien told the Spokesman-Review. "We're not talking about an antidepressant. We're talking about an anti-seizure med they added to his antidepressant, and it was the second one they had tried. The first one was also a disaster. They had warned us ... maybe he'll adjust into the medication after a rough patch, but expect weirdness.

"This is not a snapshot of our relationship. This was a unique and crazy night."

The charges were dropped and the case was eventually dismissed, KHQ reported. 

Mark Rypien’s history of concussions and their effects may not deter other young athletes from playing football. But he said he wants to persuade people with mental challenges to bring them out into the open, he told the Spokesman-Review.

“It’s hard,” Rypien said. “There’s a lot of guilt and shame just to be in front of your own family in situations like this. When I was really dark, I felt there was no hope. That’s kind of the message I want to get out – that there is hope. I’m getting help.”

Horse named for Gronkowski qualifies for Kentucky Derby

A horse named for New England Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski earned a spot at the Kentucky Derby, ESPN reported.

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The 3-year-old colt, named Gronkowski, won the Burradon Stakes in England on Friday, qualifying the thoroughbred for the Run for the Roses on May 5 at Churchill Downs.

For the first time, the Derby is reserving one spot in the 20-horse field to a European horse, ESPN reported.

"We've had this dream, and now the dream is alive," trainer Jeremy Noseda told At The Races after the horse's victory.

The Patriots’ tight end has attended the Kentucky Derby before, attending Millionaires Row with teammate Tom Brady.

The colt won his last four races, with two victories coming in March, ESPN reported.

"It sounds strange, but I haven't yet seen on the racetrack what I believe this horse is capable of. I'm sure there's more to come," Noseda said.

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.”

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