Topeka, Kansas — Two Washburn University football players who were shot outside of an off-campus house party hours after one of them was drafted by the New York Giants were “in the wrong place at the wrong time,” authorities said Monday.
The shooting early Sunday killed defensive back Dwane Simmons and injured cornerback Corey Ballentine, whom the Giants drafted in the sixth round on Saturday.
Giants general manager Dave Gettleman told SiriusXM NFL radio Monday that Ballentine was expected to join the team for its minicamp this weekend.
“He’s a really bright kid and he’s a great kid,” Gettleman said. “What happened is tragic and unfortunate. That’s his best friend he was with. We spoke to him on Sunday. He’s coming along fine. He’ll be here Thursday for the minicamp this weekend.”
Topeka Police Chief Bill Cochran said a preliminary investigation showed that Simmons and Ballentine were among roughly 50 people at the party, which was not specifically to celebrate Ballentine being drafted, The Topeka Capital-Journal reported. After a disturbance inside the home, the two 23-year-old players and some other partygoers went outside, he said.
A car containing two to four people — who were strangers to the men — pulled up and exchanged words with people in the street.
“We have no indication that any of the conversation was confrontational,” Cochran said.
Someone from the car apparently shot Simmons and Ballentine, but it was unclear Monday if the shots came from inside or outside the car, Cochran said.
The altercation inside the home and the shooting don’t appear to be linked, he said, and the people inside the car apparently didn’t attend the party.
Police were questioning more than 20 potential witnesses Monday. They also questioned Ballentine but hoped to do a longer interview later, Cochran said.
Police haven’t said how many times Simmons and Ballentine were shot. And no information on possible suspects or the vehicle has been released.
A candlelight vigil for Simmons will be held at 7 p.m. Tuesday on the Washburn campus.
On Sunday, Simmons’ father said his son’s death had “shattered a lot of people.”
“This was a senseless murder,” Navarro Simmons said at a gathering of family and friends in Kansas City.
Craig Schurig, the Division II program’s head coach, said Simmons’ death is heartbreaking. He said Simmons, a junior from Lee’s Summit, Missouri, maintained a great attitude, even while battling through two knee injuries. The team gathered Sunday to mourn his death.
Simmons told The Topeka Capital-Journal last fall how his injuries had affected his outlook.
“It’s more than a game to me now,” Simmons said. “I came in as a walk-on and had to earn a scholarship, then tore an ACL, redshirted and tore another one. It really puts everything in perspective that this game can be taken away from you in a blink of an eye. So I take this game to heart. I get emotional about this stuff and I take this game very, very seriously, and I’m having a great time.”
The Giants in a statement Sunday said, “Our thoughts are with Dwane Simmons’ family, friends and teammates and the rest of the Washburn community.”
Ballentine played in 46 games for the Ichabods, finishing with 186 tackles, four forced fumbles, three fumble recoveries and five interceptions. He blocked four kicks and averaged 24.81 yards on kickoff returns.
Twitter, NFL extend deal
The NFL and Twitter have announced a multiyear extension, including six new live shows for the league’s 100th season.
The deal will feature live programming built around some of the NFL’s biggest events and more game highlights each week.
The six shows will be focused on some of the league’s highest-profile events, including the NFL Kickoff, Thanksgiving games, conference championship games, Super Bowl, combine and draft.
In addition to the live shows, fans will see new content during the season, including NFL Twitter “Moments” – curated Twitter feeds featuring top plays and tweets every week of the season.
And each week, the NFL will produce highlight packages of “best touchdowns” and “best touchdown celebrations” for Twitter.
Since announcing their first partnership agreement in 2013, the NFL has developed live programming and distributed on-demand content for the social media site.
Janikowski makes it official
Former Raiders and Seahawks kicker Sebastian Janikowski is set to retire after an 18-year career.
Janikowski spent 17 seasons with Oakland before kicking last season with Seattle after signing a one-year deal. Janikowski’s agent, Paul Healy, confirmed to The Associated Press on Monday that his client intends to retire. Janikowski, 41, told ESPN over the weekend he didn’t believe his body could handle kicking in the NFL anymore.
The Raiders took Janikowski with the 17th overall pick in the 2000 draft out of Florida State. Nicknamed “Seabass,” Janikowski converted 80.4% of his field goal attempts during his career, including a career long of 63 yards during the 2011 season, the only time he was selected for the Pro Bowl. The kick at the time matched the NFL record for longest field goal made.
Seahawks trade for tight end
The Seahawks have acquired tight end Jacob Hollister from the Patriots in exchange for a conditional 2020 seventh-round draft pick.
Seattle chose not to address the tight end position in the draft last week. But the Seahawks do need depth there with Will Dissly coming off a patellar tendon tear suffered last season. The Seahawks also have Nick Vannett, Ed Dickson and Tyrone Swoopes on the roster.
Hollister appeared in eight games last season for New England and 23 over his two years with the Patriots. He’s rarely been a factor in the passing game, with only eight career catches on 16 targets. Hollister was primarily a special teams contributor in New England.
Injured Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier will miss a second straight season while recovering from spinal surgery.
The team placed Shazier on the physically unable to perform list on Monday, allowing him more time to continue his rehabilitation from a lower spine injury suffered against Cincinnati in December 2017.
The 26-year-old Shazier, a two-time Pro Bowler, remains committed to playing in the NFL again. He has chronicled his physical progress over the last 18 months through various social media accounts and continues to be heavily involved in team activities, including scouting college players and serving as a de facto coach for the team’s inside linebackers.
... The NFL Draft drew record numbers both on site and on television.
The league said Monday that more than 600,000 attended over the three days in Nashville, easily eclipsing the 250,000 that came to watch two years ago in Philadelphia.
Nielsen reports that the draft on ESPN, ABC and NFL Network averaged 6.1 million viewers at any given time over the three days. The draft averaged 5.5 million viewers last year, which was the first time all seven rounds were on broadcast television.