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Antonio Callaway debuts at rookie camp- fits Browns risk taking trend

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Logan Bowles-USA TODAY Sports

It was a surprising moment of the NFL Draft in one regard, and yet, almost predictable in another. When the Cleveland Browns drafted former Gators wide receiver Antonio Callaway with the fifth pick of the fourth round it was definitely a surprise.

After all, we had written  just before the draft that, as if Callaway’s checkered past wasn’t enough to jeopardize him being picked, he had tested positive for marijuana at the NFL Scouting Combine in February.

Yet, because it’s the Browns, you know, the team who has re-defined “comedy” with personnel moves on and off the field for going on 15 years, and a team that has won one game in the last two years. So, it wasn’t that surprising that they would be the team to take the risk.

Keeping in mind that this is the team who traded back into the first round and draft Johnny Manziel in 2014, despite more “red flags” around him than a Moscow “May Day Parade” (google it). And, they also have taken troubled players like multi-time league suspended WR Josh Gordon, and even another controversial Gator draft pick, DT Caleb Brantley last year.

Back to Callaway, he was at Browns rookie camp, including with #1 overall pick QB Baker Mayfield, this weekend and Mary Kay Cabot, longtime beat writer for the Browns for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, got some wide ranging comments from him:

It’s interesting that Steelers receiver Antonio Brown, who’s from South Florida originally just like Callaway, has become a bit of a mentor of his recently. This despite, the Steelers being in the same AFC North division.

Further, Callaway was candid that he realizes that the Browns, and specifically new GM John Dorsey, are taking yet another chance on a questionable pick and gave these comments Saturday in the Q and A:

“This is just telling that he believes in me, that I can do the right things,” he said. “Just not going let him down. For somebody to put their job on the line, I can’t let him down.”

He agrees with Dorsey that poor life choices “caused me to fall a couple of rounds. I have learned from them, moved on and became a better person and learned from mistakes day by day. Taking it day by day still, growing and maturing.”

Can he be trusted?

“Yes, sir,” he said. “I was just young and immature, living in the moment. I’ve learned from my mistakes.”

Many Gators fans have to wonder about that last sentence, because if there was something Callaway was equally as good at as scoring big play TDs, it was consistently getting in trouble. This is the reason why he never saw the field in 2017 and Gators career was over, as part of a credit card fraud investigation.

And, as for “learning” from all of that? Someone with marijuana issues in his Florida past, just tested positive in Indianapolis, when he knew that a test was coming.

We’ll see if, as Cabot writes, that Callaway having an infant daughter now, a new home, new mentors, etc. all make a difference with him.

Then again, it’s the Browns.

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Florida Gators

Gators to put former Heisman winner Tim Tebow in their “Ring of Honor”

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Brett Davis- USA Today Sports

The legend of Tim Tebow in Gainesville, and around the SEC, is well known. And the University of Florida added to it on Wednesday, when they announced Tebow will join their “Ring of Honor” this fall.

The former 2008 Heisman winner, who quarterbacked the Gators to the National Title that year as well, will be honored at halftime of the October 6th home game with LSU.

From the school’s official release:

His name will be unveiled and displayed in the North Endzone of Ben Hill Griffin Stadium.
 
The display, which will be approximately 18-feet wide and five feet high, will now feature Tebow, along with Wilber Marshall, Emmitt Smith, Steve Spurrier, Danny Wuerffel and Jack Youngblood. Marshall was the most recent inductee (Sept. 29, 2007), while the other four members were part of the original unveiling back on Sept. 30, 2006 as part of the 100-year Celebration of Gator Football.

The school also got reaction from Tebow to the announcement:

“I am so humbled and thankful to be able to receive this blessing, being inducted into the Ring of Honor,” Tebow said. “I know in my heart that I truly couldn’t have done it without amazing coaches and teammates who loved and sacrificed for each other so that we could accomplish our goals.

“Loving Florida wasn’t just something I did for four years, but it has been a lifelong passion. I want to thank the University of Florida and all the fans for making Gator Nation so special. I was born a Gator, I played as a Gator, and I’ll always be a Gator!

“God Bless and Go Gators!”

Tebow, who along with Spurrier and Werffel are the only three Gators to win the Heisman Trophy, left Gainesville holding 14 SEC and 28 Florida all time records. This included becoming the NCAA’s first ever quarterback to run and throw for 20 or more TDs in the same season.

We have written recently that Tebow’s latest passion is baseball, where he is currently playing and having some hitting success for the New York Mets Double-A franchise in Binghamton, NY. The now 30 year old Tebow was recently named to the Eastern League All-Star game, and there is belief that the Mets will call him up to the majors in September, when rosters expand.

The University will also honor Tebow and the 2008 National Championship team on it’s tenth anniversary this upcoming season, as well.

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Homicide investigation at home of former Gators now Giants DB Janoris Jenkins

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Tim Heitman-USA TODAY Sports

Trouble has always seemed to find former Gators-now New York Giants defensive back Janoris Jenkins, and now the trouble has gone to the highest level.

This with news on Tuesday afternoon that authorities in New Jersey are at Jenkins home, where a dead body has been found. Authorities in Bergen County have confirmed that the body is not Jenkins, but that there is a homicide investigation underway.

TMZ was first to report the details including that Jenkins is apparently in Florida right now.

The former Florida Gator star defensive back, who was part of the National Championship team in his freshman year of 2008, signed a massive contract with the Giants two years ago. He received $62 million over five years that included nearly $29 million guaranteed with a signing bonus of $10 million.

Jenkins lived up to that contract in year one with three interceptions, 18 passes defended and a Pro Bowl selection as the Giants made the playoffs. However, during their dismal 2017 season, Jenkins played in only nine games. And, he was actually suspended for failing to show back up in October after the Giants bye week. He eventually went on injured reserve with what New York said was an ankle injury.

Back to the homicide investigation, Bergen County authorities say that a worker discovered the dead body in the basement of the home Tuesday morning. The victim was identified Tuesday night as 25 year old Roosevelt Rene, who is a music producer and friend of Jenkins. Rene had apparently been staying in the $500,000 home for some time with members of Jenkins’ family.

NFL Network and NFL.com insider Mike Garafolo updated the cause of death of Rene from his sources late Tuesday afternoon:

Jenkins representatives when reached by TMZ, had no comment. Neighbors told CBS2 TV in New York Tuesday afternoon that Jenkins has been in Florida for the last couple of weeks, since Giants mini-camp ended.

Jenkins also had trouble that ended his career at the University of Florida, when former coach Urban Meyer booted him from the program for marijuana possession charges in 2011.

Jenkins, who was a former all state defensive back at Pahokee High School, transferred to the University of North Alabama and finished out his college career. He was drafted in 2012 in the second round by the St Louis Rams and played there for four seasons.

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Tim Tebow doesn’t have to shut door on Spring AAF league, yet

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Jul 18, 2017; Port St. Lucie, FL, USA; St. Lucie Mets designated hitter Tim Tebow (15) signs autographs for fans prior to the game A at First Data Field. Mandatory Credit: Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports
Jasen Vinlove-USA TODAY Sports

The Binghampton (N.Y.) Double-A Baseball “Rumble Ponies” were rained out on Sunday afternoon. And, in a Friday interview, Steve Spurrier, new Orlando head coach in the Spring Alliance of American Football league, appeared to “dampen” talk of one of the most famous Gators of all time playing for him in February.

However, don’t just close the door just yet, on it being Tim “Tebow Time” in Central Florida come next February.

First, Spurrier made his comments on the “Paul Finebaum” t.v./radio simulcast about having reached out to Tebow to join him with the AAF team.

Spurrier went on to deliver the bad news for the moment: “certainly we’d love to have him….He said ‘Coach, I’m gonna keep swinging the bat and see what happens.'”

“Swinging the bat” for Tebow includes having joined the Mets Double A team for this season. He did go 2-4 in Saturday’s game in New York state. And, he’s currently hitting “so-so” with a .256 average and only a modest on base percentage of .318 at the moment. Tebow does have 17 extra base hits, including five home runs in 63 games for the Rumble Ponies.

We have written previously that it’s the Mets desire for on-filed but also box office and marketing reasons to have Tebow to join the big club, when the rosters expand to 40 players in September. And clearly, Tebow continuing to ride the minor league buses, and stay in the 2-3 star hotels in small cities to prove himself, has silenced critics.

The Mets stand at 31-44 Sunday near the halfway point of the MLB season and likely won’t be in the playoff picture. Importantly for Tebow and his television career on the SEC Network though, a September call up would put his media career on hold.

As for the football, Tebow is a hero among hundreds of thousands of Gators fans in the state. And, the Orlando AAF franchise will be willing to wait, as their training camp process won’t crank up until after the baseball season has ended.

Waiting for Tebow and getting him to agree to play would easily represent 10,000 or more additional fans in ticket sales for the first few games beginning in February.

And, the league will reportedly pay some players in the mid-six figures, and Tebow would qualify to make the high end.

So, Friday’s Spurrier comments are discouraging, but not final.

Not until Tebow hypothetically shows he can hit Major League pitching on at least a partial basis, which we won’t know for three more months.

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