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33ft/iStock(NEW YORK) -- Jay-Z is facing backlash from supporters of Colin Kaepernick and critics of the National Football League after the NFL announced last week that the hip-hop mogul and his label teamed up with the league on a new initiative to amplify social justice.

The partnership doesn't include the former San Francisco 49ers quarterback -- a fact that was not lost on his supporters -- and came on the heels of the third anniversary of Kaepernick's historic protest on the field.

Attorney Mark Geragos, who represents Kaepernick, described the deal in a phone interview with ABC News on Monday as "cold-blooded."

"This deal between Jay-Z and the NFL crosses the intellectual picket line," Geragos said, adding that neither the NFL nor Jay-Z reached out to Kaepernick during discussions.

"I can confirm to you that the deal was already done prior to any conversation that [Kaepernick] had with Jay-Z and he certainly didn’t have any conversations with the NFL," Geragos said.

ABC News has reached out to the NFL and Jay-Z's label, Roc Nation, but requests for comment were not returned.

 Kaepernick, who hasn't played in the NFL since 2016, was propelled into the national spotlight when he became the first NFL player to take a knee during the playing of the National Anthem to protest racism and police brutality on Aug. 14, 2016.

His protest sparked a movement, with several other athletes following his example -- the first of which was then-teammate Eric Reid.

Reid, who now plays for the Carolina Panthers, has continued to take a knee and has repeatedly slammed Jay-Z and the NFL over the deal.

 "We never advocated for Colin to lose his job while we fought against systemic oppression. That’s unjust, and where the NFL inserted itself into this. Now the NFL is 'championing' social justice to cover their own systemic oppression in blackballing Colin. So we will fight to get Colin’s job back as well," Reid wrote in a series of tweets responding to a video of ESPN's Stephen A. Smith, who pushed back against critics of the NFL and Jay-Z, arguing, "wasn't that the goal that Colin Kaepernick had?"

"Jay-Z knowingly made a money move with the very people who’ve committed an injustice against Colin and is using social justice to smooth it over with the black community," Reid added.

During a press conference on Wednesday, Jay-Z and NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell discussed details of their new partnership.

 "I think we've passed kneeling," Jay-Z said when by a reporter asked if the rapper would kneel or stand if he were playing. "Yeah, I think it's time to go into actionable items."

Kaepernick has not directly addressed the deal, but a Saturday tweet with a photo of Reid, and Miami Dolphins players Kenny Stills and Albert Wilson taking a knee appears to push back against Jay-Z's statement.

 "My Brothers @E_Reid35 @KSTiLLS @iThinkIsee12 continue to fight for the people, even in the face of death threats," Kaepernick tweeted. "They have never moved past the people and continue to put their beliefs into action. Stay strong Brothers!!!"

Kaepernick filed a grievance against league owners in 2017 alleging that they colluded to ensure that he remains unsigned -- a sore point for activists who point to his status as a free agent to argue that the NFL's efforts to amplify social justice are disingenuous and an effort to save face.

Reid, who became a free agent for several months before he signed a one-year contract with the Panthers last October, also filed a grievance against the NFL in May 2018 alleging that they colluded to keep him out of the league. Both lawsuits have been settled.

Jay-Z, who has supported Kaepernick and the protests, said during the press conference that he is "not minimizing" the protests but added that the protests were "not about a job," but about "injustice."

"Let me bring attention to injustice. Everyone's saying, 'How are you going forward if Kaep doesn't have a job.' This wasn't about him having a job," Jay-Z said. "That became a part of the discussion. He was kneeling to bring attention to injustice. We know what it is. Now how do we address the injustice?"

Earlier this year, Jay-Z joined forces with fellow rapper Meek Mill and launched a criminal justice reform organization. Its executive board includes Jay-Z and Kraft Group CEO and New England Patriots owner Robert Kraft.

There appears to be a split in the hip-hop community about whether the deal was the right call. Artists like Cardi B and DJ Khaled have voiced their support for the effort.

Over the past three seasons, the backlash against the NFL's handling of the protests and a firestorm against players who take a knee have prompted boycotts of NFL games from both sides.

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Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Is Dwight Howard's short time with the Memphis Grizzlies close to coming to an end?

League sources tell ESPN the center’s representatives have been given permission to talk to other teams, including the Los Angeles Lakers, with whom Howard played for in 2012.

Los Angeles’ interest in the 33-year-old comes after Lakers center DeMarcus Cousins tore his ACL during a workout last week. Cousins had just joined the Lakers last month, signing a one-year, $3.5 million deal with the team.

Howard also joined the Grizzlies in July after being traded by the Washington Wizards for forward C. J. Miles.

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33ft/iStock(AUSTIN, Texas) -- Cedric Benson, a former NFL running back and fourth overall pick in the 2005 NFL draft, died in Austin, Texas over the weekend. He was 36.

Benson's attorney, Sam Bassett, told ESPN that he died in a motorcycle crash Saturday night. Bassett said he did not have details of the accident.

Benson, who is ranked second in the University of Texas' history for most rushing yards, played for the Chicago Bears, Cincinnati Bengals and Green Bay Packers in the NFL. He also led the Bengals to the playoffs in 2011.

“Once he bought into our system, he was like a flower. He just blossomed. He gave us an element we didn’t have" former Bengals running backs coach Jim Anderson said in a statement posted on the team's website. "We had complementary guys, but Cedric gave us a missing element. He was a good man. He was one of my guys and it hurts. Life is too short.”

Benson was a star player on the University of Texas Longhorns between 2001 and 2004 under former coach Mack Brown, who in a statement on Sunday celebrated the running back for his "tough" playing style.

"Saddened by the reports on the passing of Cedric Benson. We’ve coached a lot of tough players but none were tougher than Cedric," Brown said in a statement. "He was a true spirit. Our thoughts and prayers are with his friends and family on this sad day."

Tom Herman, the university's current coach hailed him as a "Longhorn Legend" and "one of the best running backs in college football history."

Benson finished his NFL career with 6,017 yards and 32 touchdowns.

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Sunday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

INTERLEAGUE

NY Mets 11, Kansas City 5

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Seattle 7, Toronto 0
Tampa Bay 5, Detroit 4
Boston 13, Baltimore 7
Cleveland 8, NY Yankees 4
Minnesota 6, Texas 3
Houston 4, Oakland 1
LA Angels 9, Chi White Sox 2

NATIONAL LEAGUE
St. Louis 5, Cincinnati 4
San Diego 3, Philadelphia 2
Atlanta 5, LA Dodgers 3
Washington 16, Milwaukee 8
Colorado 7, Miami 6, 10 innings
Arizona 6, San Francisco 1
Chi Cubs 7, Pittsburgh 1

WOMEN'S NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION
Connecticut 78, Dallas 68
Washington 107, Indiana 68
Las Vegas 100, Chicago 85
Phoenix 78, New York 72
Seattle 82, Minnesota 74

NATIONAL FOOTBALL LEAGUE PRESEASON
New Orleans 19, LA Chargers 17
Minnesota 25, Seattle 19

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iStock(NEW YORK) -- Three people were killed during riots before a soccer match in Honduras late Saturday when opposing fans attacked a team bus and chaos broke out between spectators and police. At least 10 other people were injured, some seriously, according to the Honduran Red Cross.

The game between Motagua and Olimpia was called off due to the riots.

The rioting broke out after a group of Olimpia fans allegedly attacked the team bus carrying Motagua players at the stadium. Three players suffered minor injuries, according to the team.

The club tweeted photos of their bus with holes in the windows from objects being thrown threw them.

"Motagua Soccer Club will not be present for the match against Olimpia due to the acts of vandalism that our team suffered by fans of the Ultra Faithful on their way to the national stadium, where we have several players injured by glass," the team wrote on Twitter in Spanish.

Defender Roberto Moreira, goalkeeper Jonathan Rougier and winger Emilio Izaguirre were the three players injured by broken glass, the team said. The club shared photos of them in a local hospital being treated for cuts from the glass shards.

Riot police were forced to fire off tear gas to subdue the fans who were fighting inside and outside the stadium.

Liga SalvaVida, the Honduran league both clubs compete in, apologized for the incident.

"La Liga SalvaVida condemns the deplorable acts of violence that took place tonight between fans of Club Deportiva Olimpia and Futbol Club Motagua on the outskirts of the national stadium of Tegucigalpa and in which, according to information from the capital's medical centers, there have been victims and those seriously injured," the league said in a statement translated from Spanish.

Motague is refusing to play a makeup game against Olimpia and wants the team sanctioned by the league, ESPN reported.

"La Liga SalvaVida strongly expresses its repudiation of violence inside and outside the stadium, because football must be and will be the passion that unites the Honduran family. To the families of the victims, our sincere condolences and solidarity in these moments," the league added.

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guvendemir/iStock(ELIZABETHON, Tenn.) -- NASCAR driver Dale Earnhardt Jr.'s plane bounced at least twice before "coming down hard" on the right main landing gear resulting in Thursday's fiery crash, officials said Friday.

Earnhardt, his wife and their 1-year-old daughter were on board with two pilots during the accident and they all escaped without serious injuries, officials said.

The Cessna Citation took off from Statesville, North Carolina, for a 20-minute afternoon flight before it crashed while landing at Elizabethton Municipal Airport in Elizabethton, Tennessee, Ralph Hicks of the National Transportation Safety Board (NTSB) said at a news conference on Friday.

The crash was captured on surveillance video, Hicks said, which showed the plane bounce "at least twice before coming down hard on the right main landing gear."

"You can actually see the right main landing gear collapsing on the video," he said.

The plane then continued down the runway, went through a fence, and came to a stop on a highway, Hicks said.

The Earnhardts were able to evacuate before the plane erupted in flames, Hicks said, adding that the fire appeared to start after the crash.

Elizabethton Fire Chief Barry Carrier attributed the blaze to fuel from the aircraft.

The former race car driver was taken to Johnson City Medical Center with cuts and abrasions. He was the only person on board who was hospitalized, according to the sheriff.

A spokesman for NBC Sports, where Earnhardt works as a NASCAR analyst, later said that Earnhardt was discharged from the hospital.

Elizabethton Mayor Curt Alexander said it's extremely lucky that no cars were involved in the accident.

"We're just happy everyone walked away and no one on the ground was injured as well," Alexander said at Friday's news conference.

Both pilots on board were professionally-trained, Hicks said, and when interviewed by the NTSB they provided information consistent with the surveillance video.

The Earnhardts were interviewed and their comments were also consistent with the video, said Hicks.

The surveillance footage of the accident will eventually be released to the public, he added.

The plane had a cockpit voice recorder which will be sent to NTSB headquarters in Washington, DC., Hicks said.

Earnhardt's family and employees expressed their relief after the crash.

"We are so grateful for the outpouring of concern and support. Everyone is doing well enough. Lots of hugs. Lots of prayers to the Good Lord," tweeted Mike Davis, a spokesman for the former NASCAR star.

I know I speak for everyone here in saying we are so grateful for the outpouring of concern and support. Everyone is doing well enough. Lots of hugs. Lots of prayers to the Good Lord. 🙏🏼

— Mike Davis (@MikeDavis88) August 16, 2019

Earnhardt's sister, Kelley Earnhardt, added on Twitter: "Thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all."

Finally laying down for the night and want to say thank you to God, the angels among us, our pilots, first responders, medical staff, our NASCAR family and everyone that has reached out in whatever way to support us all. ❤️

— Kelley Earnhardt (@EarnhardtKelley) August 16, 2019

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skynesher/iStock(NEW YORK) --  A former West Point offensive tackle has been granted an exception by the Army in order to sign a three-year deal to play football for the Philadelphia Eagles, according to ESPN.

Brett Toth, an Army second lieutenant, graduated from West Point as a nuclear engineer in May 2018 and has fulfilled his first year of active duty service. But an executive order from President Donald Trump has now allowed him to be recruited by the Eagles.

On June 26, Trump issued an executive order that directed the Pentagon to develop a policy that authorizes new graduates of the service academies and ROTC programs to pursue professional sports immediately following graduation but prior to completing their service requirement.

Under the old policy crafted by former defense secretary James Mattis, graduates were required to fulfill two years of commissioned service in the military before pursuing a professional sports career.

"Such cadets and midshipmen have a short window of time to take advantage of their athletic talents during which playing professional sports is realistically possible," Trump said in the executive order. "At the same time, these student-athletes should honor the commitment they made to serve in the Armed Forces in exchange for the extraordinary benefits afforded to them at taxpayer expense at the Academies or ROTC programs. A revised policy will benefit the student-athletes, the Academies and ROTC programs, and the Armed Forces."

The executive order gave the Pentagon 120 days to develop the new policy, which has yet to be implemented. But based on the directive, two military services have gone ahead and granted exceptions allowing their graduates to go pro.

Prior to Toth's exception, the Air Force last month signed an exception for long snapper Austin Cutting, a seventh-round pick of the Minnesota Vikings in the 2019 NFL draft.

Army officials did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the exception signed for Toth.

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Scott Clarke / ESPN Images(NEW YORK) -- Twenty-year-old Naomi Osaka faced her childhood hero Serena Williams in the 2018 U.S. Open Women’s Final and won, becoming the first Japanese woman to win a Grand Slam title in a match that many thought would go to Williams.

Her triumph, however, was marred by arguments between Williams and the match’s umpire, Carlos Ramos, sparking a controversy that would have the world talking about tennis for weeks.

As part of the new ESPN series Backstory, Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist Don Van Natta peeled back the layers of the event and delved into the lives of both Williams and Ramos to understand how the two came together for one of the most divisive moments in recent tennis history during one of the world’s most celebrated finals in sports.

Ramos was only 16 when he began working as a chair umpire in Portugal. One of his friends told Van Natta that Ramos was so focused that he would treat satellite events as if they were the Wimbledon final. But Ramos had big dreams of one day becoming a world-class umpire, a goal that he said would allow him to see the world, Van Natta said.

Williams and her sister, Venus Williams, meanwhile, would rise out of Compton, Calif., to become two of the biggest sports stars in the world by dominating a sport played mostly by white athletes.

With her fierce will to win, Williams did not get to the top without shaking things up. In May 2018, for example, she received criticism for wearing a so-called “catsuit” bodysuit to the French Open. She said the suit was designed to prevent blood clots since she had given birth a few months earlier. French Open President Bernard Giudicelli later said the suit “would no longer be accepted" and that players in future tournaments would have to dress more conservatively.

The heated dispute between Ramos and Williams, who was vying for a record-tying 24th Grand Slam singles title, began when Williams was losing to Osaka two games into the second set after Ramos said he witnessed a code violation for coaching — Williams’ coach, Patrick Mouratoglou, had given her a thumbs up — and gave Williams a warning.

“If he gives me a thumbs-up, he is telling me to come on,” Williams told Ramos at the time. “We don’t have any code and I know you don’t know that, and [I] understand why you may have thought that that was coaching, but it is not. I don't cheat to win; I would rather lose. I am just letting you know.”

Retired tennis champion Chrissie Evert told Van Natta that Mouratoglou, who has coached Williams for seven years, “is not known to be one of those coaches who coaches all the time and Serena never looks at her box. She...figures it out herself.”

From that moment, the tension between Williams and Ramos would escalate. Williams accused Ramos of questioning her integrity and punishing her more harshly than male players. “I have a daughter and I stand for what’s right,” she told him. “I have never cheated.”

A second violation, costing her a point, came after the fifth game of the second set when she slammed a broken racket to the ground in frustration. After repeatedly demanding that Ramos apologize, she received her third violation for what Ramos called “verbal abuse” — a game penalty — after she called him a “thief.”

“You stole a point from me,” she said. “You’re a thief, too.”

Although Williams would go on to win the next game in an excellent display of tennis, Osaka would finish her off in the ensuing match, winning the set and the title.

Mouratoglou told Van Natta that it was the first time he had ever sent a signal to Williams and that he did it “because it felt like it was an important moment.”

“It was probably one of the biggest moments of her career,” Mouratoglou told Van Natta. “She’s in a Grand Slam final to equal the record of all time and she’s losing, and she’s — I [felt] at that moment — she’s lost on the court. So, I tried to help her. That’s my job.”

Yet, even though the incident was a setback for Williams, Mouratoglou said that it was a “fantastic” moment for tennis.

“It’s unbelievable. That was the best moment of tennis [in the] last 10 years,” he told Van Natta. “We don’t have any drama in tennis. We have drama in all other sports, but not tennis.”

Williams gave Osaka a congratulatory hug following the match, but as the crowd booed, Osaka sat down and cried.

“I was down on the court because I was supposed to present the trophy to the winner," Evert told Van Natta. “The floor was shaking, the roof was shaking, the boos were thundering. I could not hear a thing.”

Williams continues to deny that there was a clear coaching violation or that she ever lost control of her emotions, Van Natta said. In a press conference following the match, she said, “The fact that I have to go through this is just an example for the next person that has emotions and that wants to express themselves...they want to be a strong woman and they are going to be allowed to do that because of today.”

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iStock (NEW YORK) -- Here are the scores from Thursday's sports events:

MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL

AMERICAN LEAGUE
Seattle 7, Detroit 2  
Cleveland 19, NY Yankees 5
Minnesota 13, Texas 6    
LA Angels 8, Chi White Sox 7
Oakland 7, Houston 6

NATIONAL LEAGUE
Miami 13, LA Dodgers 7
Cincinnati 2, St. Louis 1
Philadelphia 7, Chi Cubs 5
NY Mets 10, Atlanta 8
San Francisco 7, Arizona 0

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ChiccoDodiFC/iStock(LOS ANGELES) -- An undocumented immigration activist was freed from an ICE detention center in Southern California nearly three months after he was first detained, thanks to the help of some NFL players and multiple organizations, his lawyers said.

Jose Bello, 22, was released from the Mesa Verde ICE Detention Center in Bakersfield on Monday, according to a press release from the ACLU of Southern California. He was arrested by ICE in May after he presented a poem he wrote criticizing family separations and the Trump administration at a public forum on immigration issues.

 His $50,000 bond was paid for by Josh Norman, a cornerback for the Washington Redskins, and Demario Davis, a linebacker for the New Orleans Saints.

“For 87 days we kept a man from his freedom & family for reciting a poem,” Davis tweeted on Tuesday. “Yesterday he was able to post bail. This dehumanizing, psychological torture needs to stop. And we can stop it.”

Norman called Bello’s story “unfortunately … not unique.”

“ICE is using detention and deportation as weapons to silence immigrant activists and I’ve seen this 1st hand through our work at the border with my brother,” Norman tweeted, referring to his and Davis' work together.

Davis and Norman are members of the Players Coalition, a group of professional athletes working to improve social justice and racial equality. The New York Immigrant Freedom Fund and the National Bail Fund Network also contributed to paying Bello’s bail.

A spokesperson for U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement could not immediately be reached for comment.

Bello’s arrest came about two days after he recited a poem at a Kern County public forum on the impact of California's sanctuary laws, The poem, which was subsequently posted to YouTube by the ACLU, accused those in power of causing fear through separation.

“We don’t want your jobs. We don’t your money. We’re here to work, pay taxes and study,” Bello said in his poem on May 14.

“It’s time to begin standing up for what’s right,” he continued. “Criminalizing children, separating families. ‘Our national security.’ Does that make it alright? No it doesn’t and it won’t.”

 The poem was called “Dear America.”

He was unable to pay his own bail because his job as a farm worker only brings in about $20,000 a year, the ACLU said.

Bello said he saw his “whole future go out the window" while he was in ICE custody, he told Bakersfield ABC affiliate KERO-TV.

The American Civil Liberties Union Foundations of Southern California and Northern California filed a federal lawsuit on Bello's behalf, charging that ICE violated his free speech rights.

Norman said that Bello was exercising his first amendment right to free speech by reciting the poem.

“If he was detained for reciting a peaceful poem then we should really ask ourselves, are our words truly free? This is America right? Where the 1st Amendment is freedom of speech unless I missed the memo somewhere,” Normal said in a statement.

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