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Ex-NFL star Aaron Hernandez dead after hanging self in cell
AP Apr-19-2017 158 0


Former NFL star Aaron Hernandez, who was serving a life sentence for a murder conviction and just days ago was acquitted of a double murder, died after hanging himself in his prison cell early Wednesday, Massachusetts prisons officials said.

Hernandez, 27, was found by guards in his cell at the Souza-Baranowski Correctional Center in Shirley just after 3 a.m., Department of Correction spokesman Christopher Fallon said in a statement.

The former New England Patriots tight end was pronounced dead at UMass Memorial-HealthAlliance Hospital in Leominster about an hour later.

Hernandez was in a single cell in a general population housing unit in the maximum security state prison. He hanged himself using a bed sheet that he attached to a cell window, Fallon said.

Hernandez tried to block the cell door from the inside by jamming the door with various items, Fallon said.

Fallon said he's not aware of any suicide note written by Hernandez and stressed that an investigation is ongoing. He said that officials had no concern that Hernandez was planning on taking his own life, and if there was a concern about his well-being, Hernandez would have been transferred to a mental health unit.

Hernandez was moved to tears on Friday after he was acquitted of the 2012 fatal shootings of Daniel de Abreu and Safiro Furtado in Boston. Just before his acquittal, Hernandez was seen blowing kisses to the little girl he fathered with fianc?e Shayanna Jenkins. Cameras captured the tender exchange.

But, Hernandez was still serving a life sentence without the possibility of parole for his conviction in the 2013 shooting of Odin Lloyd, who was dating his fiancee's sister.

Hernandez's lawyers did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

Hernandez's death comes the same day the Patriots are making their visit to the White House today to mark their Super Bowl win. Team spokesman Stacey James said the Patriots were aware of the reports of Hernandez's death but didn't anticipate the club commenting Wednesday.

Massachusetts State Police remain on the scene investigating the death.

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Police acted appropriately and professionally detaining Seattle Seahawks defensive end Michael Bennett when he ran from a casino as officers searched for an active shooter following a report of gunfire at an after-hours club on the Las Vegas Strip, the head of the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department said Friday.

A review of hundreds of videos, including police body-worn cameras, found no evidence that the three officers who had direct contact with the NFL star early Aug. 27 profiled Bennett by race or used excessive force, Clark County Sheriff Joe Lombardo said.

"Mr. Bennett has a valid perspective as a person who experienced a reasonable-suspicion stop for a felony crime," Lombardo told reporters. "Those who experience such a stop, especially when they have not committed a crime, are not likely to feel good about it."

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"From the evidence we have at this point, we don't know (the officer) said that," the sheriff said.

Bennett's post, titled "Dear World," said, "Las Vegas police officers singled me out and pointed their guns at me for doing nothing more than simply being a black man in the wrong place at the wrong time."

Bennett announced in early August that he would sit during the national anthem this season to protest social injustice and was one the first NFL players to protest this year. He made the decision before protests by white supremacists at the University of Virginia. But Bennett said his decision was solidified by what happened in Charlottesville, Virginia, including the death of a young woman who was struck by a car deliberately driven into a group of counter-protesters.

Bennett has remained one of the most outspoken pro athletes on numerous social issues. Last month, he held a benefit for the family of a pregnant black woman who was fatally shot by two white Seattle police officers in June. Police said the woman threatened the officers with at least one knife after calling 911 to report that someone had broken into her apartment and stolen video-game consoles

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Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker says he and his family have received death threats since he told fans not to come to games if they felt disrespected by NFL players' protests.

The Pro Bowl tight end shared the "heartbreaking" threats Thursday night in a social media post.

"The racist and violent words directed at me and my son only serve as another reminder that our country remains divided and full of hateful rhetoric," Walker wrote. "These words of hate will only fuel me in my efforts to continue my work reaching out to different community groups, listening to opposing voices, and honoring the men and women in the Armed Forces who risk their lives every day so that we may have this dialogue."

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The Titans had no comment Thursday night.

Walker took part this spring in the NFL's USO Tour of the Middle East. He said in his statement he gained an even greater appreciation for the men and women who defend American values. He said he used strong words in defending the Titans' right to make their own choices.

He wrote that it's his choice to try to spark conversation for positive change and fans' choice to attend Titans' games, a U.S. freedom so envied around the world.

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Walker isn't the only NFL player dealing with a backlash from protesting.

Detroit Lions defensive tackle Akeem Spence shared on Twitter earlier Thursday that his father, a contractor, was denied a job on a house due to his protest. He was among the Lions who took a knee before their game against Atlanta.

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Denver Broncos linebacker Brandon Marshall says he appreciates NFL teams supporting the rights of their players to protest during the national anthem. He also suggests they show it by giving Colin Kaepernick a job.

"The dude, he's in shape, he's yoked, actually," said Marshall, who saw his ex-college teammate on a TMZ video recently. "He's so strong. He's ready to go. He told me he's been working out when I last talked to him. He said he's just waiting for a call. That's the next step."

Marshall is among many players who believe Kaepernick is being blackballed by NFL teams over the movement he started last year when he declined to stand for "The Star-Spangled Banner" during the 2016 preseason to bring attention to racial inequality in America.

Kaepernick remains unsigned six months after opting out of his contract with the San Francisco 49ers and becoming a free agent.

"There's a lot of (poor) quarterback play around the league," Marshall said. "I'm not saying the Bears should sign him, but you know the player Mike Glennon is. You can't tell me he's better than Colin Kaepernick, and he's a starter right now."

Marshall, who attended the University of Nevada with Kaepernick, was one of the first NFL players to join Kaepernick in the national anthem protests last season. At times, Marshall was joined by a teammate or two, but for the most part he spent half the season as the sole protester on the Denver sideline.

He lost endorsements and fans over the protests. but also received kudos from general manager John Elway — who's no fan of the kneel-downs — for backing up his actions with charity and community work.

Marshall ended his protests last year after Denver police agreed to change their use-of-force policy.

Marshall didn't plan on kneeling this season, but he began reconsidering following the president's response to the racially charged conflicts in Charlottesville, Virginia.

He stood apart from his teammates during the first two weeks of the season but didn't take a knee until Sunday.

Marshall was among 200-plus players across the league who knelt, sat, stretched or prayer during the "Star Spangled Banner" in response to the president's call for team owners to fire players who disrespect flag and country by refusing to stand for the anthem.

He was one of 32 Broncos who took a knee in Buffalo.

"Last year I did it all by myself for eight games, but it's a lot different to have your brothers backing you," Marshall said. "I think whenever we decide to come together and do something, there's strength in numbers, they say, right? So, I definitely think that makes us stronger."

Yet, coach Vance Joseph is concerned this divisive issue in society could also bisect his locker room. So he's planning to address the issue with his players this week as they prepare for a game against the Oakland Raiders to "figure out what's best for our football team to keep us together."

The Dallas Cowboys took a knee together before the national anthem Monday night in Arizona and then stood arm-in-arm during "The Star-Spangled Banner." But Marshall said that's no blueprint for the Broncos.

"Everybody's not going to kneel," Marshall said, noting Derek Wolfe's comments about always standing for the flag.

Not everyone will stand, either, Marshall suggested.

"In my opinion, that means nothing if we all stand and lock arms," Marshall said. "I mean, I understand that's showing unity. But I just don't see the point in it."
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After warning Colin Kaepernick to keep quiet about social activism earlier this year, ?former Ravens great Ray Lewis knelt during the playing of the national anthem Sunday with current members of the team.

Lewis said Tuesday his decision to kneel on both knees was to "simply honor God in the midst of chaos." He was criticized for the anthem demonstration by both Kaepernick supporters and those who believe Lewis and the Ravens were disrespecting the flag.

The latter launched a petition Sunday to remove Lewis' statue from M&T Bank Stadium, saying on Change.org that kneeling during the anthem is "disrespectful, regardless of what you are protesting."

The petition addressed to Ravens owner Steve Bisciotti has received more than 25,000 signatures as of Tuesday night.

“I took two knees because I have a first amendment right just like everybody else. And when I came out of that locker room, I had choice to make,” Lewis told 105.7 The Fan in Baltimore.

“And look at my fellow players and I looked at these young guys. I’m not in the protesting business, I’m not into this, whatever (Donald) Trump wanna say. I’m not into that mess, but if these young boys doing what they doing, then I got to meet them where they are.”

President Trump created quite a stir in the NFL by calling any player who kneels during the national anthem a "son of a b----" and calling for owners to "fire" those players.

NFL teams responded with a massive display of solidarity Sunday and Monday as players, coaches and owners all locked arms during the anthem to relay a message to Trump that they will not be divided.

“I’m not in the league anymore, so the Trump comments don’t bother me, but they’re so out of order,” said Lewis, a 13-time Pro Bowler and Super Bowl MVP who played his entire career with the Ravens.

“You’re just talking about kids, you’re talking about the kids who got mothers, mothers who sacrificed everything and families who sacrificed everything, and now you don’t give us no platform to say nothing on — it just baffles me that he would come out and say something like that.”
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