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Shaquem Griffin's inspirational story not limited to football fans

Shaquem Griffin’s story is an inspirational one, and it moved to another level after he was drafted by the Seattle Seahawks in the NFL draft. His legion of well-wishers continues to grow.

>> Read more trending news

Griffin, who was drafted in the fifth round, received encouragement and best wishes from players and fans on Twitter. 

The outside linebacker had his left hand amputated as a child because of amniotic band syndrome, but was a two-year starter at the University of Central Florida and was a first-team all-conference selection both seasons. 

He was reunited with his twin brother Shaquill when the Seahawks made him the 141st overall pick. That brought Griffin full circle from the NFL scouting combine, when he bench-pressed 225 pounds 20 times with a prosthetic left hand.

"I couldn't breathe," Griffin told ESPN said after he was drafted. "I didn't know what to say. I was trying to get the words out, but I couldn't talk."

Griffin’s well-wishers included pro athletes and people who have faced the same hurdles as the linebacker. They were joyous in their posts.

“Thrilled for you,” former major-league pitcher Jim Abbott, who was born without a right hand, wrote on Twitter. “Beyond words.”

“So grateful for this moment!!!” Twitter user Gienelle wrote, showing a picture of her son displaying a prosthetic left hand. “This pick is powerful for my boy!! His dreams just went through the roof!! “

Chris Pugh, whose daughter lost fingers to amniotic band syndrome, called Griffin “inspirational.”

“No matter what team he plays for, I'm a big Shaquem Griffin fan,” he wrote.

Drew Carfrae, a Steelers fan from Iowa who said he used a wheelchair, wrote that “to see someone that other people would say had a ‘disability’ prove doubters wrong, is amazing.” 

“Cheering and crying that his dreams came true,” wrote Amy Eldridge, whose son has one hand. 

Twelve-year-old Julianna Linton was born with amniotic band syndrome and posted a video before the draft. She also got to meet Griffin when the Knights played Houston in 2016.

On Twitter, Griffin thanked “everyone who has helped push me, motivate me and support me. Most importantly, thank you Seahawks.”

Buffalo superfan 'Pancho Billa' announces team's 3rd-round pick

The Bills Mafia took care of its biggest fan during the NFL draft Friday night.

>> Read more trending news

Ezra Castro, known as “Pancho Billa,” was called to the podium by Buffalo Bills legends Andre Reed and Fred Jackson to read the team’s third-round pick, The Buffalo News reported.

Castro, a Dallas resident, was in attendance at the draft, which was held at AT&T Stadium in nearby Arlington, Texas. 

Castro is president of the Dallas Fort-Worth Bills Backers chapter and a lifelong Bills fan. He has been battling cancer since last fall and recently had chemotherapy, the News reported.

At the podium, Jackson acknowledged Castro, calling him “one of the most recognizable fans in Buffalo’s history.”

Then Reed, the Bills’ the Hall of Fame wide receiver, said that Castro “has been battling cancer, but this is not to dampen his spirit and his love for the game and his Bills.

Jackson returned to the microphone and invited Castro on stage to read the Bills’ draft choice.

"With the 96th pick, the Bills Mafia selects Harrison Phillips, defensive tackle, Stanford," Castro said, his voice cracking.

Reed and Jackson presented Castro with a Bills No. 18 jersey that had “NFL Draft” stitched on the back.

General Manager Brandon Beane said Castro’s moment at the podium “sent chills up everybody’s spine in the draft room."

“We’re all praying for him,” Beane told the News.

Russell Westbrook rips Utah fans after Thunder eliminated

Russell Westbrook doesn’t mind criticism from fans, since it’s part of the game. But the Oklahoma City star had some harsh words for Utah’s fans after the Thunder were eliminated in the NBA playoffs Friday night.

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Westbrook was confronted by a fan as he left the court after Utah’s 96-91 victory in Game 6 eliminated the Thunder, ESPN reported.

"I didn't confront fans; fans confronted me," Westbrook said. "Here in Utah, man, a lot of disrespectful, vulgar things are said to the players here with these fans. It's truly disrespectful. Talk about your families, your kids. It's truly disrespectful to the game, man."

Westbrook scored 46 points in a losing effort. As he walked to the tunnel after the game, Westbrook slapped a fan’s cellphone. He had an exchange when he left the floor at halftime, ESPN reported.

"I think it's something that needs to be brought up," Westbrook said. “I'm tired of just going out and playing, then the fans saying whatever the hell they want to say. I'm not with that. If I was on the street, they wouldn't just come up to me and say anything crazy, because I don't play that (expletive). So, to disrespect me and do whatever they want to do needs to be put to a stop, especially here in Utah."

Who's Honor? Vince Young fumbles Harold Landry's name during NFL draft

New Tennessee Titans linebacker Harold Landry suddenly has a new nickname thanks to a verbal gaffe by Vince Young during Friday’s NFL draft.

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The NFL allowed each team to select a “franchise legend” to announce its second-round pick, ESPN reported. When Young stepped to the podium in Arlington, Texas, to announce the Titans’ pick, he butchered Landry’s name.

“Titan Up. Titans Up, baby. With the 41st pick in the 2018 draft, the Tennessee Titans select Honor, Honor Landry,” Young said during the live broadcast.

Landry, who starred at Boston College, has never been called Honor.

Young apologized to Landry in a tweet, while Landry responded on Twitter that the former quarterback’s name fumble was not a big deal, ESPN reported

Boston city officials vote to change Yawkey Way back to Jersey Street

The City of Boston has voted to change the name of Yawkey Way.

After multiple delays, the commission voted unanimously Thursday to change the name of Yawkey Way back to its original Jersey Street.

The Red Sox organization initially petitioned the city to change the name of the street outside the ballpark from Yawkey Way back to the previous name of Jersey Street weeks ago. 

The late Tom Yawkey, former team owner, has been called racist by some, in part over the long delayed racial integration of the ball club.

Defenders of the Yawkey name believe the name change would harm the reputation of the philanthropic Yawkey Foundation.

Yawkey Foundation issued a statement shortly after the vote.

The City of Boston Public Improvement Commission has the final say over street names.

About a month ago, the commission took about two hours of heated opinions from both sides, tabling the issue for two weeks.

Two weeks ago, the Red Sox organization sent a letter standing by its petition, but asking for a delay in the vote so the public would have more time to weigh in.

Just last week, team president Sam Kennedy told sports radio station WEEI the Sox still want the street name changed. 

MORE: Officials delay vote on Yawkey Way name change

Texas town to host 0.5K run, welcomes 'underachievers'

Not all of us will run a marathon in our lifetime. Or a half-marathon, even. Or a 10K. Nope, not a 5K. 

But now there’s a running event for those who never thought they could say, “I can’t. I have my race that day.”

San Antonio neighbor Boerne has announced it will host a .5K, or a .31-mile race, May 5. The Facebook page for the event reads, “Underachievers welcome!” and boasts a “doughnut and coffee hydration station.”

>> Read more trending news 

The page estimates the event will last “like 10 minutes” and promises finishers a sticker for their car, beer and a medal. 

The race also offered participants a VIP option for an additional $25 that would not require them to run at all. VIP “runners” get a larger medal. 

The event’s website was updated on April 18 to announce that the race is full and no longer accepting sign-ups. 

Don’t let that keep you from your dreams! You can go out and walk .31 miles right now. Or spring for VIP and stay right where you are.

Son of Dusty Rhodes carves out his own American dream in pro wrestling

Born the son of one of pro wrestling’s most beloved figures, Cody Rhodes had been part of that colorful community of performers and fans for most of his 32 years. Also for about 32, he has run into spoilsports and naysayers who can’t wait to opine that wrestling is fake.

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Fortunately, he’s had decades to come up with a pithy comeback.

"I usually say, ‘Well, Christian Bale’s not Batman,’” said Rhodes, whose late father was the legendary “The American Dream” Dusty Rhodes, and whose brother is Dustin Rhodes, also known as “Goldust.” 

Cody Rhodes will visit West Palm Beach on Friday with Ring of Honor Wrestling. You can spot him wrestling simply under the name “Cody.”

Rhodes has been in the family business for about 12 years and spent time with World Wrestling Entertainment and Total Non-Stop Action Wrestling. He defends what he does, not only because people worldwide love it, but because he loves it, too.

“Every now and then, someone from so-called ‘higher’ forms of entertainment will look down their nose at it," he said. But having grown up with Dusty Rhodes as  his father, Cody's been ready to defend wrestling for a long time. 

“I got started when I was 19, but for some reason, and I don’t know what I was thinking, I went to L.A.. I started acting classes there for a year, and wasted a bunch of money. I really enjoyed the classes, but I kept thinking ‘When I make it as an actor ...’ but then I thought ‘This is kind of dumb. Be a wrestler. Just do the thing you want to do.”

Currently a heel, or a villain, ROH’s Cody bills himself as “The American Nightmare,” a riff on his father’s famous salt-of-the-earth persona. Dusty Rhodes, born Virgil Riley Runnels Jr., didn’t look like other athletes. He wasn’t professionally trained. But what he was, his son said, was real.

“He communicated to people who he thought would need (his message). He needed it as much as they did. His whole image, being ‘the son of a plumber,’ that whole story was real. They had no money,” Cody Rhodes said. 

“I really think the idea that your friend, someone in your family in real life could get in the ring and do amazing, was what it was, because Dusty was like them. He was overweight. He had a different look. I honestly think it gets explained too much. He just had that thing that everybody wants. He had a way. He wasn’t selling you a product. He wasn’t even selling you himself. He was just bringing you along for the ride.”

Anyone who’s ever seen wrestling up close and personal knows there’s a difference between watching it in your living room and being there in person. 

To Rhodes, who also wrestles for New Japan Pro-Wrestling, “the live experience is the lifeblood of wrestling. The live experience in ‘Ring of Honor’ is a party. Essentially it’s going to a party with a ton of people that you don’t know, some of the greatest people you’ll ever know. People make friends in the meet-and-greet line.”

Those fans in the line, Rhodes said, are loyal, diverse and involved. He says it’s his job and that of companies like Ring of Honor to give them what they want.

“We try to have as much as fun as we can. There shouldn’t be that many rules for going to a wrestling show,” he said. “Give them that experience and guarantee they’re leaving having had a good time. It’s hard to get people’s money — it’s hard to get my money — so it’s gotta be good.”

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 kicker Jay Feely apologizes for 'joke' prom date gun photo 

Former NFL kicker Jay Feely said he was trying to be funny when he posed in a Twitter photo standing between his daughter and her prom date holding a pistol, but in the wake of the Parkland shootings in February, social media posters did not appreciate the joke, WFLA reported.

>> Read more trending news

Feely, who played in the NFL from 2001 to 2014 and is an analyst for CBS Sports, apologized Sunday. 

In the photo, Feely has his left arm around his daughter and a pistol in his right hand at his side. Next to Feely is his daughter’s prom date, who is smirking. 

"Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date a great time at prom," Feely wrote, using the hashtag "#BadBoys."

The reaction from some on social media was swift and critical.

“Oh yay -- American dads have kicked off the season of 'let’s pretend I’m going to shoot my daughter’s date for impugning her chastity' pics," tweeted Shannon Watts, who is the founder of the gun control group Moms Demand Action.

“The Stoneman Douglas shooting was 2 months ago,” author Geraldine DeRuiter posted on Twitter. “But sure, let's make jokes about murdering high schoolers.”

The backlash was vocal enough for Feely to issue an apology Sunday on Twitter.

“The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking," he wrote. "I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue."

Some Twitter users defended Feely’s post, noting that he was referencing the movie “Bad Boys 2.”

“He’s referencing a scene in the movie #BadBoys2,” Twitter user Mike McLeod wrote. “The kid knows it’s a joke -- it’s not pointed at anyone and barely in the picture. I’m sure there’s a picture with his daughter and just the date also. This isn’t anything to blow out of proportion.

White Sox pitcher in critical condition after suffering brain hemorrhage

Chicago White Sox officials said reliever Danny Farquhar remained in critical condition Sunday after suffering a brain hemorrhage during Friday night’s game, The Chicago Tribune reported.

>> Read more trending news

White Sox manager Rick Renteria said he has kept his players advised of Farquhar’s condition but did not go into too much detail out of respect for the pitcher’s family.

“We made sure they knew that he’s still in critical condition but stable and that the best thing for us to do would be to give them space,” Renteria told the Tribune. “Let the medical staff do what they can do and then at the appropriate time, everybody will let us know when it’s OK to go ahead and reach out and go see him.”

Farquhar, 31, is at Rush University Medical Center. He passed out in the dugout during the sixth inning of Friday’s game against the Houston Astros, ESPN reported. He regained consciousness and was taken to a hospital.

The White Sox said Saturday that additional testing revealed the brain hemorrhage was caused by a ruptured aneurysm, ESPN reported.

“Besides him being a great teammate and part of this brotherhood, I have to be respectful of his family,” pitcher Carson Fulmer told the Tribune. “He’s a brother, he’s one of our teammates and we’re all here for him and his family.”

Renteria said Saturday that Farquhar "had a strong heartbeat, a good pulse and was breathing well'' when he left the stadium, ESPN reported."Nothing really matters baseball-wise when something like that happens," White Sox pitcher James Shields said. “When one of your brothers goes down, it's not very fun to watch. He's such a resilient human being. We are praying for him. We hope everything goes well.

"He's got a long way to go and he's fighting. One thing we know in this clubhouse is Farky is a fighter."

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