Olympic champ accused of assault

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Olympic champ accused of assault

From Comcast SportsNet Thursday, September 8, 2011
UPPER ARLINGTON, Ohio (AP) -- Olympic gymnastics champion Paul Hamm has been accused of hitting and kicking a taxi driver in suburban Columbus, damaging a cab window and refusing to pay a 23 fare. The 28-year-old Hamm can be heard on an Upper Arlington police video telling an officer he'd had about eight drinks, WBNS-TV in Columbus reported. As Hamm sits handcuffed in the back of a cruiser, he asks officers to let him go and says, "I don't understand. I'm gonna kill you guys." Hamm, who is working as an assistant coach at Ohio State while he trains for the London Olympics, is charged with assault and two other misdemeanors. He was charged Saturday and is free on bond awaiting a Sept. 15 arraignment, according to online court records. His agent, Sheryl Shade, declined to comment Wednesday. "We have read about the unfortunate situation involving Paul Hamm in media reports, and we are certainly concerned for Paul," USA Gymnastics President Steve Penny said. "USA Gymnastics will wait for more information before commenting further." Ohio State told the station that officials were aware of the arrest and would determine how to handle the matter after it is dealt with in court. Hamm, who grew up in Waukesha, Wisconsin, is the only American man to win the Olympic (2004) or world (2003) all-around titles. The three-time Olympic medalist missed the Beijing Games with an injury, then got a job in Chicago as a finance trader. But he quit his job last summer and announced a comeback in hopes of making the U.S. team for London. Hamm is recuperating from January shoulder surgery, but is expected to return to competition in February in what would be a boost for the U.S. men's medal hopes. Hamm returned to Ohio State, where he and twin brother Morgan earned their degrees and trained before the Beijing Olympics, earlier this summer as an assistant to new coach Rustam Sharipov. WBNS says a police report shows Hamm had fallen asleep as he was being driven home in the taxi. The taxi driver, identified by the station as Abdinasir Elmi, told a reporter that Hamm had unintentionally locked the cab door and was trying to get out through the window. He said Hamm swore at him and elbowed him in the mouth as he tried to help him open the window. Messages seeking additional details were left with Upper Arlington police spokeswomen.

Raiders fourth-round OL refutes pre-draft rumors: 'I'm not legally blind'

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Raiders fourth-round OL refutes pre-draft rumors: 'I'm not legally blind'

ALAMEDA – Florida offensive tackle David Sharpe spent part of his pre-draft process dispelling rumors that he was legally blind in his right eye. The report came out this spring, and Sharpe denied it quickly.

The information reappeared Saturday morning, when NFL Network analyst Mike Mayock mentioned it shortly after the Raiders drafted Sharpe No. 129 overall. The draft analyst said Sharpe might be restricted to the offensive line’s left side.

Sharpe said that isn’t the case. He can play left or right tackle. And his vision is just fine, thank you very much.

“I’m not blind. I’m not legally blind,” Sharpe said. “The information is false, all of it is false. I just had a little cataract removal when I was younger and I’ve been battling that since I was young. But it doesn’t affect my play or vision or anything. I’m not blind.”

Sharpe said his right eye is a little blurrier than the left, but it doesn’t impact his play in any way.

The 6-foot-6, 343-pound blocker was projected to go in the first three rounds, but fell to the fourth. He wasn’t upset about an issue that was a non-issue.

“It doesn’t really make me mad,” Sharpe said. “I just brush it off. It was just false and I addressed it.”

The Raiders had some inside info on Sharpe’s play. Head coach Jack Del Rio’s son Luke is Florida’s quarterback, and vouched for Sharpe’s effectiveness before Oakland made the official selection.

“He actually texted me this morning and said his dad called him and asked about me,” Sharpe said. “There was a little hint there, so that was cool.”

Melifonwu might serve as solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

Melifonwu might serve as solution to Raiders' problem covering tight ends

ALAMEDA – The Raiders have struggled mightily covering tight ends. It hasn’t been a one-year thing. They’re notorious for letting that position run rampant over the past four years, allowing talent ranging from Travis Kelce to Gary Barnidge to tally huge totals against the Silver and Black.

The Raiders may have found a solution to that problem Friday in the second round. They selected massive combine freak and Connecticut safety Obi Melifonwu, a 6-foot-4 speedster who can match up well with most anyone.

“Look, this is no secret, we’ve struggled for the last couple of years covering the opponents’ tight ends,” Raiders head coach Jack Del Rio said. “We think this is a guy that can help out with his length, matchup against some of the bigger tight ends, some of the better tight ends. We’ll put him right in the mix.”

Del Rio can get creative with this kid. Melifonwu is a safety by trade, but can play cornerback – he proved that during Senior Bowl practices – and functions well from the slot. He can also play well in the box against the run game or deep in the pattern, providing versatility to the secondary.

The Raiders have incumbent starters at safety, with free safety Reggie Nelson and strong safety Karl Joseph. Nelson is 33 and entering a contract year, so Melifonwu could develop into a long-term partnership with Joseph, last year’s first-round pick.

Expect Melifonwu to help right away, especially against the recently bothersome tight end position.

“I feel like I’m a solid cover guy, especially versus tight ends,” Melifonwu said. “I feel like the majority of tight ends that I go up against I’m going to be faster than and really be able to cover them.”

The London, England native put on a show at the NFL scouting combine. He ran 40 yards in 4.40 seconds there, and did most every drill well.

“I think it did a lot for me,” Melifonwu said. “I think it showed my character, my poise and the ability to perform under pressure. And really the fact that not only am I an explosive player, I’m a player that has great hips and great range for somebody my size.”

Del Rio supported Melifonwu's solid game tape, which improved as his college career progressed. He finished with a career-high 118 tackles and four interceptions. He also had 2.5 tackles for a loss and three passes defensed. He accounts the improvement to improved football knowledge.

“Just having a better sense of the game of football,” Melifonwu said. “My defensive back coach Anthony Poindexter was a great college safety and a great NFL safety. He really did a great job of helping me fine tune things like run fits, formations and really keyed every week to watch and how to watch the game of football, how to study the game of football which in result, helped me have the season I had.”