The Year In Sports: North Texas’ Biggest Headlines Of 2017

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Sports news coming out of North Texas made a lot of national headlines in 2017. Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones made a lot of people mad, the nation’s longest winning streak came to an end and a local legend was enshrined by his sport.

Here’s a look back at some of the top sports stories of the year.

Tony Romo Turns Broadcaster

When former Dallas Cowboy quarterback Tony Romo retired, nobody really expected him to trade in his helmet for a CBS microphone.

Romo’s transformed his enthusiasm, and football I.Q., into an impressive rookie broadcast season. Some consider him one of the best football broadcasters since John Madden.

His ability to predict plays before they happen has made him a fan favorite this year no matter who you root for.

Down Goes UCONN

The University of Connecticut women’s basketball team had not lost in 867 days before rolling into Dallas. The Huskies put their 111-game winning streak on the line in the national championship at the American Airlines Center in March.

UCONN was favored big time against South Carolina. That is, until the game went into overtime, where the Gamecocks stunned the Huskies 66-64 with a buzzer beating finish. Making for one of the biggest upsets in sports history.

NFL Players Protest Police Brutality

Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones had himself quite a year. He entered the NFL Hall of Fame, and inserted himself into one of the biggest controversies of the year.

Jones said any player who doesn’t stand for the National Anthem will be benched, and a day later President Trump saluted Jones on Twitter for that stance.

Jones created a friction among NFL players, fans and even sponsors. He thought it was disrespectful for the players to protest police brutality by taking a knee during the anthem.

After an organizational meeting, including players and Jones, some voiced their frustration at the policy. In the end, the team solution was taking a knee before the national anthem at their game against the Cardinals in October.

Pudge Goes To Cooperstown

The bright spot in a down year on the field for the Texas Rangers came in the form of a Hall of Fame induction. One of the club’s best players to put on the uniform, Pudge Rodriguez, entered the Baseball Hall of Fame. Pudge made his debut with the Rangers when he was just 19.

I interviewed him in August and he described his first tryout with Texas.

“The Rangers came, and they asked me to put the catching gear on,” he said. “And the first throw that I threw to second base, I threw it 92 miles per hour. That’s the only one I threw to second base. Just one throw, and I became a Texas Ranger.”

Zeke Elliott Versus The NFL

The biggest sports headline of the year in North Texas had to be the on-and-off again six-game NFL suspension of Dallas Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott.

Elliott violated the league’s personal conduct policy for being accused of domestic violence by his former girlfriend. Jerry Jones and Elliott’s legal team fought off the NFL’s suspension until week nine of the NFL season.

Dallas eventually lost the first-three games during Elliott’s suspension; essentially dashing them from playoff contention.

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Has all this rain ended North Texas’ drought? And what will Christmas bring?

The official numbers don’t come out until next week. But it’s possible North Texas could enter 2018 drought-free.

WFAA-TV (Channel 8) chief meteorologist Pete Delkus tweeted this week’s rains and above average precipitation for the year might be enough to end the drought.

As of Tuesday — before Friday’s buckets of rain — most of Dallas County and all of Ellis County were in moderate drought, according to the U.S. Drought Monitor. A sliver of the northwest corner of Dallas County was in severe drought, along with Collin, Denton and more than half of Tarrant counties.

Delkus also tweeted Saturday that the area will end the year with above-normal rainfall. In 2017, Dallas-Fort Worth has had 36.59 inches of rain — 1.14 more inches than usual.

There’s no glimmer of rain in the forecast until Tuesday — and that’s just a 20 percent chance — dashing hopes for a white Christmas.

Shoppers bundled against a cold rain in the Wheatland Towne Crossing parking lot on Friday in Dallas.

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Village At Allen, a 180-acre North Texas shopping center, set to change hands

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One of North Texas’ biggest shopping centers is changing hands.

The 180-acre Village at Allen retail center is at the southeast corner of U.S. Highway 75 and Stacy Lane and opened starting in 2008. The more than 800,000-square-foot development has major retailers including Best Buy, Toys R Us, Pier 1 Imports, the Leather Sofa Co., Tuesday Morning, Total Wine, Dick’s Sporting Goods and Sleep Experts.

New York-based shopping center investor DLC Management is buying the huge Allen retail complex from owners Prudential Insurance and MGHerring Group. The acquisition is set to close before the end of the year and has been widely discussed in real estate industry circles.

Officials with DLC Management did not respond to requests for information about their purchase or plans for the shopping center.

The sale of the Village at Allen comes a year after Prudential sold the neighboring Village at Fairview development to Dallas-based Lincoln Property Co. Lincoln Property has renamed the project Fairview Town Center and is remodeling the property.

DLC Management has been in business since 1991 and owns shopping centers in about 20 states stretching from Texas to Maine. In Texas, its sole holding has been the Whiterock Marketplace shopping center in northeast Dallas.

The intersection of U.S. 75 and Stacy Road, which includes the Village at Allen, is one of North Texas’ busiest retail locations.

Shopping center owner Simon just completed renovations to its Allen Premium Outlets retail project at the northwest corner.

Developers also recently received zoning for a large mixed-use retail, residential and commercial project on the vacant southwest corner.

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Part of DISD’s old Ross Avenue headquarters would be reused in development plan

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Developers who are buying the Dallas Independent School District’s longtime headquarters on Ross Avenue hope to save part of the old office complex.

Leon Capital Group is paying more that $9 million for the 4-acre property just east of downtown Dallas.

The Dallas-based real estate firm won a bid for the DISD digs earlier this year.

Now Leon Capital has filed plans with the City of Dallas for the apartment community it plans to construct on the block at Ross and Washington and Washington Avenue.

Leon Capital’s plans show a 380-unit rental complex in 5-story buildings. A 6-level parking garage would be built at the south end of the block.

A courtyard would be located in the center of the new apartment complex.

The development plan by Architecture Demarest also includes the existing central building of the DISD headquarters that faces Ross.

The 2-story mid-century modern building is the most recognizable among the hodge-podge of structures built on the site in the last 60-plus years.

DISD has already moved much of its operations out of the Ross Avenue buildings to an office tower on North Central Expressway south of Walnut Hill Lane.

The school district put the old headquarters along with dozens of other "surplus" properties around the city.

Leon Capital representatives did not respond to requests for details of their proposal and a timeline for construction.

The commercial real estate firm has done apartment developments in Uptown and near Dallas’ Victory Park.

The Ross Avenue stretch running east from downtown has seen a big transformation in the last 10 years, with new apartments and retail.

The DISD property is one of the largest development sites remaining in that area.

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Will the Dallas Cowboys season be ended by Eli Manning?

With the Dallas Cowboys season all but over with one more loss, they face a huge obstacle in Eli Manning and the New York Giants.

It seems like quarterback Eli Manning and the New York Giants always have some say in determining the fate of the Dallas Cowboys year after year. As this season was unfolding and losses were piling up for the Giants, it was looking like this could be a season where the Cowboys may be able to put the Giants in the rear view mirror and focus on their own success.

Well, here we are going into week 14 with the Giants being one of the worst teams in the NFL all year and they are going to, again, potentially determine the fate of the Cowboys 2017 season.

With as bad as the Giants have been all year, it all came to a head last week when Manning was benched in an unheralded and extremely unpopular manner; being unbelievably benched for Geno Smith. This was the icing on the cake for the disaster that has been the Giants 2017 season. This was the move that waved the white flag saying “we give up.”

The Cowboys had to have been sitting back and breathing a sigh of relief with Smith at the helm right? Well, in typical Cowboys fashion, think again.

The day after the failed Manning benching and Smith looking like the same quarterback the New York Jets decided to move on from, the coach and general manager responsible for the historical benching were relieved of their duties with the Giants and Manning was named the starter again for the Giants; just in time for the Cowboys coming to MetLife Stadium desperate to keep their playoff hopes alive.

Now here we are with Manning making a return to the starting lineup after seeing his historical 210 consecutive start streak coming to an end and playing the rival Cowboys. Not only do the Cowboys have to deal with a highly motivated Manning, they have some of their own roster issues they will have to deal with on Sunday. They will be without standout defensive tackle David Irving and cornerback Orlando Scandrick.

Without Irving, even more will be asked of NFL sack leader DeMarcus Lawrence. A rotation of rookie tackle Lewis Neal and former practice squad tackle Richard Ash will most likely be used to fill Irving’s void. Without one of their top two pass rushers, a slight drop off in pressure should be expected against Manning.

The Cowboys have made their intentions clear to play their rookies in the secondary with three rookies expected to start against the Giants. The time is now to see what they have in rookies Chidobe Awuzie, Jourdan Lewis, and Xavier Woods.

Manning will once again have the chance to play spoiler for the Cowboys much like he did in 2007 when he eliminated Dallas from the playoffs after a 13-3 season, much like he did in 2009 when he beat the Cowboys in their first regular season game at AT&T Stadium and autographed the wall inside the stadium. Will this Sunday be the next chapter in a series of forgettable encounters with Eli Manning?

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Top Stories: ‘Cite And Release’ Begins Today For Dallas Residents; Cowboys End Losing Streak

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The top local stories this morning from KERA News:

Dallas launches a new policy on marijuana possession today.

Under the cite and release program, Dallas County residents caught inside the city with less than four ounces of marijuana won’t automatically go to jail.

Cite and release is only for Dallas County residents with a valid state ID or driver’s license who have no other convictions or outstanding warrants. The marijuana offense also can’t take place in drug-free zones, like schools. Houston, San Antonio and Austin have similar cite-and-release programs.

Other stories this morning:

The Dallas School District will likely close or consolidate four schools it had hoped to convert to charters. The new CEO tapped to wind down Dallas County Schools has made a career of fixing financial messes. The Dallas Cowboys snapped out of their three-game losing streak last night against the Washington Redskins, 38-14.

You can listen to North Texas stories weekdays at 8:22 a.m. and 6:20 p.m. on KERA 90.1 FM.

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City of Dallas employees accused in major theft ring

DALLAS — Dallas police have arrested several city employees and acquaintances around North Texas in a major theft ring involving those who maintain city-owned buildings and vehicles.

The department’s fugitive unit was sent out Thursday morning to make the arrests.

The Dallas Police Department’s Public Integrity Unit is in charge of the criminal investigation and found that the illegal activity took place between Jan. 1 and Aug. 19.

The following people were arrested:

Michael Golden for tampering with a government record Jeffrey Landsbaum for tampering with a government record and criminal trespass Alan Ramos for criminal trespass Nicholas Smith for criminal trespass Brian Mallett for organized criminal activity-theft and tampering with a government record Arturo Molinar for organized criminal activity-theft and tampering with a government record Hector Botello for organized criminal activity-theft and tampering with a government record

Sources said several employees with Dallas equipment and building services were stealing things like freon and air conditioning equipment then re-selling them at businesses they owned and profiting off the stolen items.

"But at the end of the day, we will not tolerate any of it and wherever we find it, there should be action and there should be immediate action, criminal action if necessary, and sending a signal that this will not be tolerated,” said Mayor Pro Tem Dwaine Caraway.

Some were allegedly falsifying time cards to reflect overtime hours they never worked.

“That’s frustrating but any organization of this size is going to have a bad apple or 2, and you have to have systems in place to weed them out,” said Councilman Phillip Kingston.

Dallas police said the ring had been operating from January 1 of this year until mid-August. The ring also included some former employees.

The investigation began after an audit was done of city departments, sources said.

"This might not be the only area, but this is a signal a very strong signal. Straighten up. We are being looked at and when it is found something will be done about it,” said Caraway.

At this time, police are not saying exactly how much was stolen and what the cost has been to taxpayers, but sources said it was a significant amount and the investigation is ongoing.

© 2017 WFAA-TV

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