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FOXBOROUGH, Mass. — New England Patriots running back Dion Lewis is set to become an unrestricted free agent, and he’s unsure whether he will return to the team.

“I love it here,” Lewis said on The Adam Schefter Podcast. “I’ve grown great relationships in this area the past three years, and I’m close to home — Albany, New York, is 2½ hours [away], so I’m real close to my family. At the same time, it’s a business. Hopefully it will work out, but at the same time, you can’t really think that way. You have to take care of yourself and your family at the same time.”

Lewis said that he thinks it will work out for him to return to the Patriots. “At the same time, I’m not putting all my eggs in one basket,” he said. “I know how the team likes to handle their business, and as a running back, you have to make the most of your opportunity, and me being the player I am, my main thing is making sure I can go out there next year and show people what type of player I can be. I still think I can improve from what I did this past year. My main thing is just making sure I’m valued. That’s my biggest thing — to make sure I’m valued the way I value myself.”

Lewis, 27, earned a base salary of $1.2 million in the 2017 season and is likely to receive a significant increase as a free agent after leading the Patriots with 896 rushing yards on 180 carries (5.0 average) and six touchdowns in the 2017 regular season. He added 32 catches for 214 yards and three receiving touchdowns while also serving as the team’s primary kickoff returner (23 returns, 570 yards, 1 TD). He had opened the year as the No. 4 option on the depth chart behind free-agent signings Mike Gillislee and Rex Burkhead and third-down passing back James White before decisively taking over lead duties in the sixth week of the season.

Lewis had initially been signed by the Patriots on Feb. 6, 2015, a deal that was an afterthought to many at the time. It proved to be brilliant for the club when Lewis got off to a strong start that year before tearing his ACL in his seventh game.

Lewis then missed half of the 2016 season after a setback in his recovery, but he played in every game this past season, missing just one practice thanks to illness. He said it was the “best I’ve felt in a long time.”

“I think I have a lot to give. I think my career is just getting started,” he said on the podcast. “I don’t feel 27, I feel 22, 23.”

Agents for players scheduled for unrestricted free agency can begin negotiating with other teams on March 12 at noon ET.

Lewis’ agent, JR Rickert, is free to negotiate with the Patriots on an extension at any time before that, although if the past is any indication, the club might be more inclined to have Lewis explore the open market while maintaining an open dialogue with Rickert. That is how things unfolded with some top free agents in the past, such as safety Devin McCourty and Dont’a Hightower, both of whom ultimately re-signed with the Patriots.

Said Lewis on the podcast, “It’s a weird time. I don’t really know what’s going to happen. [I was] relaxing and resting my body for a few weeks, and just starting working out again. … I don’t know where I’m going to be. I don’t know if I’m going to be here or somewhere else, so just staying patient and not really thinking about [it]. Whatever happens, happens. It will all work out.”

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Jodie Foster thanked Aaron Rodgers in her Golden Globes acceptance speech

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Jodie Foster won a Golden Globe award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role for her role in the legal drama “The Mauritanian,” where she plays the lawyer of a man imprisoned in Guantanamo Bay. Now, Jodie Foster winning an award isn’t unusual — she’s an actress and director with an incredible career that’s spanned decades. She’s been in “Taxi Driver,” “The Silence of the Lambs,” “Contact,” and has directed episodes of “Black Mirror” and “House of Cards.” Her trophy case is pretty full.

No, what’s unusual is that she thanked Green Bay Packers quarterback Aaron Rodgers during her acceptance speech.

Now, upon further review, there are at least two connections here. One, Shailene Woodley, who is engaged to Rodgers, is one of Foster’s co-stars. Two, Jodie Foster is a huge Packers fan — and Rodgers thanked her during his NFL MVP acceptance speech earlier this month.

Foster was coy when addressing Rodgers thanking her on a recent episode of Jimmy Kimmel Live, saying that she didn’t know Rodgers, that the Woodley connection was a coincidence, and that she’d thank him next time she got a chance. Well, she got a chance and kept her promise.



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Irv Cross, pioneering Black sports analyst, dies at 81

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PHILADELPHIA — Irv Cross, the former Pro Bowl defensive back who became the first Black man to work full time as a sports analyst on national television with CBS, died Sunday. He was 81.

The Philadelphia Eagles, the team Cross spent his six of his nine seasons with, said Cross’ son, Matthew, confirmed his father died near his home in Roseville, Minnesota. The cause of death was not provided.

“All of us at CBS Sports are saddened by the news of Irv Cross’ passing,” CBS Sports chairman Sean McManus said in a statement. “Irv was a pioneer who made significant contributions to the storied history and tradition of CBS Sports and, along with Phyllis George and Brent Musburger, set the standard for NFL pregame shows with THE NFL TODAY.

“He was a true gentleman and a trailblazer in the sports television industry and will be remembered for his accomplishments and the paths he paved for those who followed.”

Cross spent 23 years at CBS and won the Pro Football Hall of Fame’s Pete Rozelle Radio-Television Award in 2009. He was the first Black recipient of the annual award, which seeks to recognize “longtime exceptional contributions to radio and television in professional football.”

Cross, a two-time Pro Bowl cornerback, had 22 interceptions, 14 fumble recoveries, eight forced fumbles and a pair of defensive touchdowns for his career. He also averaged 27.9 yards on kickoff returns and returned punts.

He joined CBS after retiring from the game, covering a variety of sports before teaming up with Musburger, George and Jimmy “The Greek” Snyder on “The NFL Today” in 1975. The show broke a variety of barriers, including featuring the first woman network sports show anchor in George. It also was the first live pregame show.

Cross left the network in 1994 and later served as athletic director at Idaho State and Macalester College in Minnesota.

Musburger called Cross “one of the finest gentleman I’ve been with” in a statement posted to Twitter on Sunday.

“No one ever had a bad thing to say about Irv,” Musburger wrote. “He led the way for African Americans to host NFL and other sports shows. Rest in peace my friend.”

The eighth of 15 children, Cross is survived by wife, Liz; children Susan, Lisa, Matthew and Sarah; grandson Aiden; brothers Raymond, Teal and Sam; and sisters Joan, Jackie, Julia, Pat and Gwen.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Ex-Notre Dame football star Louis Nix, 29, found dead after reported missing

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JACKSONVILLE, Fla. — Former Notre Dame and NFL football player Louis Nix, who had been reported missing earlier this week, was found dead on Saturday, family members told two Jacksonville television stations. He was 29.

Nix’s family reported him missing on Wednesday to police. After several days of searching, the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office tweeted at 8 p.m. ET Saturday that Nix had been located but did not report Nix’s condition. CBS/Fox affiliate Action News Jax reported that Nix’s mother confirmed that Nix had died. WJXT TV-4 reported Nix’s death via another family member.

According to the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, Nix was last seen at 10 a.m. ET on Wednesday, leaving his father’s Jacksonville residence. Notre Dame football coach Brian Kelly sent out a tweet Saturday morning asking for the public’s help in finding Nix.

Nix was injured in a shooting in December while filling his car’s tires at a gas station near the Jacksonville airport. He said on social media that he spent 10 days in the hospital and that a bullet ricocheted off his sternum and went into his lung.

Nix starred at Jacksonville’s Raines High School and played three seasons at Notre Dame before being drafted in the third round by the Houston Texans in 2014. Nix, a defensive tackle, never played a game for the Texans because of knee injuries and played in just four games in 2015 for the New York Giants. He also spent time on the practice squads with Washington and the Jacksonville Jaguars in 2016.

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