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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.

>> Read more trending news

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.

>> Read more trending news

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.

>> Read more trending news

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.

>> Read more trending news

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.”

WATCH: Tom Brady beats Stephen Colbert in beer-chugging contest 

Whether it’s playing football or chugging beer, New England Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is a competitive guy.

>> Read more trending newsBrady was a guest on "The Late Show with Stephen Colbert" on Monday night, and when challenged by Colbert to slamming down a pint of beer, he did not hesitate.

Colbert was asking Brady what foods he missed eating as he maintains a strict, healthy diet, and he mentioned, “cheeseburgers, pizza, beer, things like that.”

“You don’t drink beer?” Colbert asked.

“Rarely,” Brady said.

But when Colbert pulled out two glasses of beer, the contest was real.

“I was a pretty good beer-chugger back in the day,” Brady said. “Are we competing?”

“I don’t know if you’re a competitive guy,” Colbert said.

He was. Brady dusted the talk show host easily.

Reports: Bengals acquire offensive line help prior to start of free agency

The Cincinnati Bengals apparently decided not to wait until the NFL draft to begin addressing their offensive line problems. 

According to multiple reports, the team has acquired left tackle Cordy Glenn from the Buffalo Bills. 

Draft picks are also involved in the deal, including a swap of first-rounders. 

The Bills will get the Bengals’ No. 12 overall pick while the Bengals will move down to No. 21 in the first round. 

READ MORE: Marvin Lewis talks about new assistants, their backup QB dilemma and more

Pro Football Focus rates the move as an upgrade for the Bengals offensive line, though it is hard to miss the deviation in his grades from the site. 

After scoring between 75.1 and 72.8 for the years 2012-16, Glenn received a 68.1 grade last season. 

For that to be an upgrade says quite a bit about the performances of Bengals tackles last season, when the group as a whole ranked 28th in the NFL according to PFF

He is the second offensive lineman acquired by the Bengals so far in free agency. They signed former Giant Bobby Hart last month. 

O.J. Simpson's 'hypothetical’ confession causes social media furor

Nearly 24 years after the murder of O.J. Simpson’s ex-wife and her friend, the public continues to be alternately fascinated and revolted by the former NFL star-turned-actor’s actions on the night of June 12, 1994.

>> Read more trending news

Sunday night, Fox aired an interview that had been shelved since 2006. In the two-hour special, “O.J. Simpson: The Lost Confession?” Simpson “hypothetically” walks publisher Judith Regan through the events that culminated with the murders of Nicole Brown Simpson and Ronald Goldman.

After a contentious and controversial trial, Simpson was acquitted of both murders on Oct. 3, 1995. On Sunday, an interview was aired in which he revealed details from what he called a hypothetical scenario that he also laid out in his book “If I Did It.”

The show caused a great deal of buzz on social media as posters used the hashtag #DidOJConfess during the broadcast, Fox reported.

“The interview was a narcissist cesspool,” JRM tweeted.

“Congress should pass legislation to exclude murder and other violent crimes from our double jeopardy laws and call it ‘Nicole's Law’ after Nicole Brown Simpson,” Aaron Clark tweeted.. 

Others remained convinced of Simpson’s innocence.

“OJ Simpson was innocent… the gloves didn’t fit,” Twitter poster Don Corleone wrote.

“Can they let this man Live please!” Sluweekay wrote.

Years later, the Simpson case remains a polarizing one. The audacity of the interview, even one that is now a dozen years old, remains stunning.

Here is the verdict from the trial, read by the jury foreman on Oct. 3, 1995:

Linebacker with one hand does 20 bench press reps at NFL combine

Give Shaquem Griffin a challenge, and he meets it head-on. The former University of Central Florida linebacker has been silencing critics for years, and his effort at Saturday’s NFL combine was no exception.

>> Read more trending news

Griffin, who was born with amniotic band syndrome and had his left hand amputated when he was 4 years old, did 20 repetitions of 225 pounds on the bench press Saturday, ESPN reported.

According to the NFL, Griffin is trying to become the first player with one hand to be drafted during the modern era, ESPN reported.

Griffin used a black prosthetic device that was affixed to his left forearm during the event, The Tampa Bay Times reported. He said the most reps he had completed at that weight had been 11, Sports Illustrated reported. But when he heard that an NFL general manager would be content to see Griffin do just five reps, the St. Petersburg, Florida, native rose to the challenge.

"My goal was six (repetitions),” Griffin told ESPN with a smile. “I think I beat that by a lot. When I first got to training, I did like 11 reps. ... Just being able to do that, that was amazing. Hearing the crowd and having the juices flowing, I felt it ... I didn't know I had it in me, but it came out (Saturday).

“People didn't think I'd be able to do it, and him just saying five (reps), I mean, five to me is just warming up,” Griffin told the Times.

At last year’s combine, Griffin’s twin brother, Shaquill, did 17 reps in the bench press, Sports Illustrated reported. Shaquill Griffin was drafted in the third round by Seattle in 2017.

Some draft experts see Shaquem Griffin as a third-day pick in this year’s NFL draft. The 6-foot-1, 227-pounder prepared for the combine and wrote an open letter to NFL general managers so they could learn his story, the Times reported.

Griffin was a two-year starter at UCF and a first-team All-American Athletic Conference selection in both seasons, ESPN reported. In 2016 he was AAC’s defensive player of the year, collecting 92 tackles and 11.5 sacks. He also forced two fumbles and had an interception.

Pizza Hut replaces Papa John’s as ‘pizza of the NFL’

Pizza Hut is replacing Papa John’s as a sponsor of the National Football League. CNBC reported that the Yum! Brands subsidiary was announced as the official pizza sponsor of the NFL Wednesday.

>> Read more trending news 

The news comes a day after Papa John’s and the NFL mutually decided to end their relationship. Papa John’s was the official pizza of the league since 2010. 

“The NFL and Papa John's have made a mutual decision to shift from their official league sponsorship to a focus on partnerships with 22 local NFL teams, presence in broadcast and digital media, and key personalities in the sport,” the league and company said in a joint statement Tuesday, according to ESPN.

In 2017, the brand drew controversy when its former CEO, founder John Schnatter, blamed slow pizza sales on protests from NFL players during an earnings call in November. 

Related: Papa John’s CEO apologizes for comments on NFL anthem protest controversy

“The NFL has hurt us by not resolving the current debacle to the players’ and owners’ satisfaction,” Schnatter said, according to reports. “NFL leadership has hurt Papa John’s shareholders.”

Schnatter and Papa John’s apologized for the comments weeks later, but damage was already done.

Related: John Schnatter stepping down as Papa John’s CEO

Pizza Hut now has a multiyear agreement with the league, starting with the 2018 season.

“We know many of our fans enjoy pizza while watching NFL games and we are thrilled to have Pizza Hut, an industry leader and one of America's favorite brands, as an official league sponsor,” NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell said in a statement Wednesday. “With a focus on family, friends and fun, Pizza Hut has the creativity we are looking for in a partner and we look forward to working together with them to make the at-home NFL experience more exciting than ever for our fans.”

“The opportunity to align in an official capacity with the NFL is a tremendous opening for a brand and product that is so neatly aligned with the football-watching occasion like pizza and Pizza Hut,” Andy Rosen, Pizza Hut franchise owner and Franchise Board of Directors Chairman said in a news release. “Our system is aligned behind and thrilled about this partnership. No one better understands the essence of Pizza Hut, including our consumers, than our group of owners and team members.”

Pizza Hut will make its partnership debut during the 2018 NFL Draft in Dallas, Texas.

Ex-NFL player Jonathan Martin detained by LA police after threatening Instagram post

Former offensive tackle Jonathan Martin, whose NFL career ended shortly after his accusations of being bullied by Miami Dolphins teammates in 2013 resulted in a league investigation and the firings of a coach and trainer, reportedly was detained and questioned by the Los Angeles Police Department on Friday afternoon after posting a chilling story on his Instagram page.

>> Read more trending news

The post features a picture of a shotgun with the handles of ex-Dolphin teammates Mike Pouncey and Richie Incognito -- among others -- and that of his high school and the Miami Dolphins. There are shotgun shells scattered around the gun.

The words “When you’re a bully victim & a coward, your options are suicide, or revenge” appear in red letters next to the gun and shells.

On Friday, Harvard-Westlake, the Los Angeles-area high school Martin attended, was closed.

“Last evening, we learned of an Internet post that mentions Harvard-Westlake by name,” the school said in a statement as it closed both of its campuses. “Out of an abundance of caution, and because the safety of our students, faculty, and staff is our top priority, we made the decision to close school today. We are working closely with law enforcement and will share more information when we are able.”

ABC News first reported that Martin was being detained and questioned. USA Today, quoting an anonymous source, said Martin was being detained at a Los Angeles-area hospital. Martin was not under arrest Friday evening, police spokesman Josh Rubenstein said.

This frightening event comes on the heels of the Feb. 14 massacre at Parkland’s Marjory Stoneman Douglas High when 17 students and staffers were gunned down inside the school by a former student.

The “Bullygate” scandal rocked the Dolphins in 2013 as Martin, who played parts of two seasons for the Dolphins, claimed that he was mistreated by players and coaches. The NFL hired attorney Ted Wells to do an investigation that focused on Pouncey, Incognito, fellow linemen John Jerry and Andrew McDonald, trainer Kevin O’Neill and line coach Jim Turner. Martin accused Incognito and Jerry of racism and verbal and emotional abuse. Wells found that Martin was subjected to “a pattern of harassment” – including racial slurs and sexual taunts about his mother and sister by Incognito, Jerry and Pouncey.

Turner and O’Neill were fired by the Dolphins because of the scandal.

Only Pouncey remains with the Dolphins. Martin played briefly with the San Francisco 49ers before retiring in 2015. He has since talked about battling depression and claims to have attempted suicide on multiple occasions.

The Dolphins have not commented on the matter.

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