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Jameis Winston says NFL hasn’t interviewed him regarding Uber incident

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TAMPA, Fla. — Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston says the NFL has not interviewed him after he was accused in November of groping an Uber driver.

“I know the NFL has a process that they have to go through and I respect that process. It’s not my job to speculate on that process,” Winston said Monday, the Bucs’ first day of their offseason program. “My focus has been with this organization, getting the guys back in here and focusing what we can do to become a better team this offseason.”

Co-chairman Joel Glazer, general manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter all said at NFL owners meetings last month that it was “frustrating” how slowly the league was moving. When asked if he was frustrated by how long this has dragged on, Winston again said his focus was on the offseason program.

“It is not my job to speculate on that process,” Winston said. “And I do respect it, but again, I’ve been focused on getting better this offseason and being the best teammate that I can possibly be.”

In November 2017, a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona, alleged that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while he was a passenger in her vehicle in March 2016. She said it happened while they were stopped at a drive-thru for the Los Betos Mexican Restaurant. The woman did not press charges but came forward in an article on BuzzFeed. When contacted by ESPN, the restaurant said it did not have surveillance of its drive-thru.

Winston said he was not the only passenger in the car and he believes the driver was mistaken about his position in the vehicle. Winston was, however, the person who ordered the Uber ride and the company confirmed to ESPN that he did have his riding privileges revoked. Former Florida State teammate and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby said he was also a passenger in the vehicle and corroborated Winston’s account.

NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said Monday: “We do not comment on specifics of investigations.”

When Glazer was asked last month if the allegations changed his perception of Winston, whom the Bucs selected with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Glazer responded emphatically, “Absolutely not.”

Winston had also been investigated multiple times at Florida State for an alleged sexual assault while he was a student there, coincidentally on a night when he was also with Darby.

“Jameis Winston that has been on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the day we drafted him has been a model in the community, a model in the locker room,” Glazer said. “All we can do is focus on the offseason and doing what we can control, and I know Jameis is working hard and doing all the things he does — not only preparing for the season, but in the community and off the field, and being the person he’s been since we’ve drafted him.”

Winston said he appreciated the strong show of support from Glazer.

“It meant a lot to me because I know my work ethic for this organization and for this team is unparalleled,” Winston said. “Every day I walk into this building, I’m trying to be the best I can possibly be and be a great leader for this organization. So to have support of ownership, it really inspires me to continue to work hard and continue to be the leader that I am.”

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Kevin Dodd of Tennessee Titans placed on reserve did not report list after not reporting for training camp

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NASHVILLE, Tenn. — Kevin Dodd‘s puzzling offseason continued Sunday when he did not report for Titans training camp. He was placed on the reserve/did not report list.

Right tackle Jack Conklin and tight end Phillip Supernaw were placed on the physically unable to perform list. Linebacker Rashaan Evans and receiver Michael Campanaro were placed on the non-football illness list. Defensive tackle Mike Ramsay was placed on the non-football injury list.

Dodd, a 2016 second-round pick, missed all of voluntary offseason workouts before being a limited participant during mandatory minicamp. He never gave a reason for his absence and declined to answer questions.

Titans coach Mike Vrabel wanted to give Dodd a clean slate after two disappointing seasons to start his NFL career. Injuries derailed his rookie season, but he hasn’t shown much when he has played. A 6-foot-5, 280-pound outside linebacker, he has one sack and 12 tackles in 18 games.

The Titans drafted Harold Landry in the second round of the 2018 NFL draft to give them much-needed depth in their pass rush, but as of earlier this offseason there was still hope within the organization that Dodd could be a contributor. Dodd hasn’t helped his cause.

Conklin is still recovering from a torn ACL suffered during the Titans’ Jan. 13 divisional playoff loss to the Patriots. He won’t be on the field to start training camp, and the optimistic goal is to try to get him back by Week 1. Conklin said he lost weight and attacked his rehab without any setbacks, but the Titans may need to prepare as if they will be without him to start the season.

Veteran reserve Dennis Kelly is expected to slide in at right tackle while Conklin recovers from his injury.

Evans’ designation isn’t expected to keep him off the field much during training camp.

Quarterbacks, rookies and players injured at the end of the June offseason program were due to report Sunday. Dodd and Conklin were included in that group. The rest of the Titans are set to report Wednesday.

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Minnesota Vikings O-line coach Tony Sparano dies at age 56

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Former Miami Dolphins coach Tony Sparano has died at the age of 56.

Since 2016, Sparano had served as the offensive line coach for the Minnesota Vikings, who confirmed his death.

“Our hearts go out to Jeanette and the entire Sparano family as we all mourn the loss of Tony,” Vikings owners Mark and Zygi Wilf said in a statement. “Tony was a passionate and driven individual who cared deeply about his family, and especially enjoyed spending time with his grandchildren. Tony’s presence within the Vikings organization will be deeply missed. We are only thinking of Tony’s family during this incredibly difficult time. We ask that the entire NFL and Vikings family keep the Sparanos in their thoughts.”

Sparano worked for nine NFL teams in his coaching career, including coaching the Dolphins from 2008 to 2011 and serving as Oakland Raiders interim head coach in 2014. He also had stints with the Cleveland Browns, Washington Redskins, Jacksonville Jaguars, Dallas Cowboys, New York Jets and San Francisco 49ers.

He had reunited with coach Mike Zimmer in Minnesota. The two coached under Bill Parcells with the Cowboys from 2003 to 2006.

Sparano was 32-41 as a head coach and took the Dolphins to his only playoff appearance during his first season in 2008.

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Mike Evans of Tampa Bay Buccaneers gives $11,000 to aid family of slain man

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Mike Evans is staying true to his word to “help a lot of people” after signing an extension with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers earlier this year.

On Saturday, he donated $11,000 to the family of Gregory Hill, who was shot and killed by a St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office deputy in 2014.

Hill’s family filed a wrongful death lawsuit, and after a two-week trial in May, a jury ruled in favor of the St. Lucie County Sheriff’s Office, saying Hill was 99 percent responsible for his death and the department 1 percent responsible. The jury awarded the family $4, $1 for each of Hill’s three children and $1 for funeral expenses. The family, however, received just 4 cents (1 percent of the $4 award).

Evans asked how he could help the family in a tweet Saturday and was directed to a GoFundMe page that was created after the verdict. Evans’ donation helped push the total raised to nearly $100,000.

When the 24-year-old wide receiver signed his five-year, $82 million extension in March, Evans said of his charity plans, “It’s hard to put into words. With my actions you’ll see it.” Last year, Evans and his wife, Ashli, also founded the Mike Evans Family Foundation, which gives scholarships to high school graduates coming from low-income situations and provides help to women and their families who are victims of domestic violence.

Gregory Hill was 30 when he was shot and killed by an officer responding to a complaint about loud music in 2014. After officers knocked on his garage and front doors, Hill opened his garage door. He was shot when he lowered the garage door and police alleged that Hill pointed a gun at the deputies. An unloaded gun was found in his pocket and tests revealed that his blood alcohol content was 0.40.



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