Tony Gonzalez

Peyton Manning, Steve Spurrier appear on College Football Hall of Fame ballot

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After sailing into the sunset as a Super Bowl champion, Peyton Manning is sure to be inducted into the Pro Football Hall of Fame in a few more years. He may not have to wait much longer to earn a spot in the College Football Hall of Fame. Manning is among the 15 first-year candidates appearing on this year’s ballot for the College Football Hall of Fame, released today by the National Football Foundation and the College Football Hall of Fame. He may also be going in with one of his former rivals, Steve Spurrier.

Manning is finally eligible this year because he no longer plays professional football. Being active in the professional game prohibits a player from being eligible for the ballot. Manning is joined by Marshall Faulk, Troy Polamalu, Tony Gonzalez, Craig Heyward, Jake Plummer, and Troy Vincent among others. Manning should be a lock for induction given his accolades while at Tennessee. Manning was a consensus First Team All-American and a Heisman Trophy runner-up in 1997 and took home the Maxwell Award and Davey O’Brien Award while setting Tennessee records for all-time passing yards and touchdowns.

Spurrier is a virtual lock to be inducted as a head coach after stepping in to his own retirement in the midst of the 2015 season at South Carolina. Spurrier owns the most wins at Florida and South Carolina and has the second-most all-time wins in the SEC, trailing only one Bear Bryant. Spurrier led the Gators to the 1996 national championship and six SEC crowns and has accumulated nine conference coach of the year awards and 21 bowl appearances between his stops at Duke, Florida and South Carolina.

You can see the full release and the names of all players on this year’s ballot HERE. The announcement of the Class of 2017 will be announced on January 6, 2017 in Tampa. The new class will be inducted later that year on December 5, 2017 in New York City.

Two ex-Vanderbilt players found guilty in rape trial

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The trial of former Vanderbilt players Brandon Vandenburg and Cory Batey concluded Tuesday with both players being found guilty of all charges. The pair was on trial together but were represented by different lawyers.

The pair was accused of a July 2013 rape, along with two other players – Jaborian “Tip” McKenzie and Brandon Banks – who still await trial.

Deputy district attorney Tom Thurman told the jury the accused thought their status as Vanderbilt football players allowed them to escape justice. “That’s the culture that you really saw here. Their mindset that they can get away with anything,” Thurman said.

The jury deliberated for close to three hours and found both men guilty of all seven counts of aggravated rape or sexual battery. Vandenburg, who was accused of initiating the events of that fateful day, also faced two more counts of tampering with evidence and unlawful photography.

Sentencing is set for March 6.

“I was just drunk out of my mind,” Batey said Monday. “This is something I would never do in my right state of mind. I’m just sorry.”

Vanderburg’s attorney Fletcher Long argued his client took pictures of the acts but did not participate himself. “He took photographs that he never should have taken,” said Long.