Here’s What You Might Have Missed in Jameis Winston’s Apology and the NFL’s Statement

After violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy, Winston negotiated a deal with the NFL and the NFLPA and accepted his three-game suspension—reduced from the normal six games. But why the reduction? It’s not that clear.

Once we reach the statement-releasing phase of any NFL controversy, the place beyond the sought-after penalty announcement where the findings are released and the true desires of parties are laid out in banal legalese, our eyes tend to gloss over.

Winston, in his own statement, said that he was sorry to the driver for the position I put you in but did not apologize specifically for the alleged crime. He also added that I have eliminated alcohol from my life. This is after Winston initially called the accusation false, saying I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact.

This was, as many have pointed out, a negotiation between the NFL, Winston and the NFLPA. Much like Tom Brady had the option to apologize and take a much shorter suspension during the Deflategate incident (he declined), Winston essentially had the chance to say he was sorry for … something … and avoid the league’s baseline standard for offenses of this nature, which is a six-game suspension.

Try to put yourself in Ahkello Witherspoon’s shoes. You’re 23, a third-round pick out of Colorado in 2017, and you had no idea what to expect in the NFL. Most guys say they knew back in college they’d make it in the league, but you’re honest, and you’ll admit you had no idea until you stepped onto the field in August 2017 and saw your first action as a 49er. Yet you thrived on a losing football team, earning the starting gig in late October. The team traded for a quarterback who led you to five straight wins to finish the season. A few months later they signed a three-time All-Pro cornerback to play opposite you. It’s all happening now, and there’s more.

In a year, he says, the football world will know your name. He invites you to a gathering that’s the first of its kind. On a sun-soaked practice field at Stanford University in late June, you meet Aqib Talib, Darius Slay, Xavier Rhodes and the guy who invited you, Richard Sherman. Between them they have 12 Pro Bowl nods, six first-team All-Pro selections, two Super Bowl rings and something like $155 million in career earnings before taxes.

You work out with them, running cone drills to fine-tune your footwork, and then you watch film of each of your targets and explain to the room what you were thinking on each play. Talib, Slay, Rhodes and Sherman do the same, and you start to think maybe you deserve to be in this room with these giants of the position.

I was watching these guys on TV in college, on Monday Night Football, in the playoffs, and to be around them is just a blessing. It’s surreal, Witherspoon says. I think this is the group I belong in, and turning on the tape confirms that.

NFL free agency: DeMarco Murray says he wants to ‘have an opportunity to win a championship’ with next team

DeMarco Murray wants to sign a new contract soon.

It’s all about being transparent and, for me, I’m not looking to lead the league in rushing yards, Murray said (via NBC Sports). Obviously I would work and do everything to give me the opportunity to do that, but it’s all about having an opportunity to get to the playoffs and have an opportunity to win a championship.

Murray rushed for 1,946 yards and 15 touchdowns over his two seasons with the Titans.

No one could have ever guessed an Aaron Rodgers-led squad would have offensive questions entering a season, but here the Packers stand, with fans wondering if they have the right tools to help Rodgers get them back into the playoffs.

The league is also facing a labor grievance from Colin Kaepernick, who claims he has been blackballed for kneeling during the anthem to protest social injustice.

Delicia’s lawyer forced me to remove that post, the woman wrote. I stand by what I said. I’ve personally addressed LeSean McCoy on everything that was stated many many times over the years. Lie to these people if you want Shady, but you know I know everything.

According to NFL Media, police in Georgia released a statement on the incident leading to the accusations, saying authorities responded to a home invasion around 3 a.m. ET early Tuesday. Upon arrival, officers discovered one victim who had been physically assaulted by a lone intruder.

Whatever it was, was. This is now. This is going to be an open place. There’s not going to be non-disclosure agreements no matter what in this new place. That was then, this is now. This is going to be an open place for people to have the right people to talk to; to (bring up) problems. And by the way, if I do something incredibly stupid, they should be talking about me. That’s what this place is going to be.

Flyers come back to tie things up 3-3, and every Bruins fan in the country starts having heart palpitations.

Bruins fan: Wow, huh, Simon Gagne has had a decent amount of ice team tonight but I haven’t really felt his impact in any major way.

Simon Gagne almost immediately scores a goal on the power play to win the game and series 4-3.

And that, dear reader, is the story of how I learned to shut the hell up during important games. — Whitney McIntosh

I thought Blaine Gabbert would be better than Cam Newton before the 2011 NFL Draft. I’m going to let this serve as my catharsis, because I’m ashamed of this one to this day. Before the 2011 draft, it was really unclear who the best quarterback was going to be. It was an honest-to-goodness crap shoot between Newton, Gabbert and Ryan Mallett.

That put some offseason pressure on Carroll, but the ant-frying lens of the offseason news cycle quickly moved on to another former Seahawk. Cassius Marsh spent just nine games with the Patriots last fall because being released, but even that was too much time for the pass-rushing defensive end. The now-49er took aim at his former franchise in an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle:

They asked me to do a bunch of stuff that I had never done: covering running backs and receivers and basically almost never rushing the passer, which is what I did in playing defensive line, Marsh told reporter Eric Branch. They don’t have fun there. There’s nothing fun about it. There’s nothing happy about it. I didn’t enjoy any of my time there, you know what I’m saying? It made me for the first time in my life think about not playing football because I hated it that much.

That brought an interesting question back into the NFL’s orbit.

For simplicity’s sake, let’s say you’re not getting the Patriots or the Seahawks for this rhetorical question — you’re just getting a randomly assembled roster of NFL talent led by either coach. So who would you prefer as your boss?

The Browns signed Duke Johnson to a 3-year contract extension.

The Pro Football Hall of Fame has snubbed Owens in the past, so he’s snubbing them — just in a different way.

If Owens is still holding a grudge against the Hall of Fame over last year’s snub, it’s hard to blame him. But some of the outrage folks are having on Twitter is funny, considering how peaceful Owens was in declining the invite. There was no salt (emphasis ours):

While I am incredibly appreciative of this opportunity, I have made the decision to publicly decline my invitation to attend the induction ceremony in Canton, Owens said in a statement Thursday. I have already shared this information with the hall. After visiting Canton earlier this year, I came to the realization that I wish to celebrate what will be one of the most memorable days of my life, elsewhere. At a later date, I will announce where and when I will celebrate my induction.

This is the final week of OTAs and mandatory minicamp around the NFL before a month and a half vacation prior to the start of training camp.

People often say there’s no offseason in the NFL because news never stops. But if there’s any period of the year that’s really quiet, we’re about to reach it. So before that arrives, let’s embrace the final week of pad-free NFL practices!

Over in Kansas City, the early thought is Patrick Mahomes’ unique talent will help him create separation on quick throws. Mahomes has been seen starting his throwing motion while he is still turning his body, before his feet are set. That has created some concern regarding his footwork, but it could be beneficial, too. There’s only so much Chiefs fans can read into Mahomes’ NFL ability after one start. But by golly, they’ll analyze all they can from that one game.

Over in Detroit, Matt Patricia is impressing his new players and the media. It’s only spring, but people have opinions on everything from his cursing to his player punishments. I think the one thing that sticks out is expectations are high, Lions guard T.J. Lang said via NFL Network. We realize that we’ve got a short offseason. We’re going to be in training camp and before you know it, we’ll be playing in preseason games. So we don’t have a lot of time to waste. We expect to go out there every day and be on top of the things and get it right.

Colin Moran crunches a grand slam in the fifth inning as the Pirates take a 6-3 lead over the Padres.

Rookie Colin Moran isn’t big on showing emotion, so he took it in stride after hitting his second grand slam of the season.

Manager Clint Hurdle, though, put the feat in perspective.

O’Reilly completed his third season in Buffalo since being acquired in a trade with Colorado, after which the Sabres signed him to a seven-year, $52.5 million contract. He’s one of the league’s most dependable two-way forwards, and set the NHL record by winning 1,273 faceoffs last year.

Cubs: LHP Mike Montgomery (2-2, 3.39 ERA) starts Friday against Minnesota in the opener of an eight-game homestand. It will be his seventh start to go with 18 relief appearances.

Dodgers: LHP Rich Hill (1-2, 5.30) starts Friday against Colorado. He is 0-3 with a 7.52 ERA in four career starts against the Rockies.Marquez pitches Rockies to 3-1 win over Dodgers

Tonight was really special for me, he said. It’s a night I’ll never forget.

Musgrove was relieved by Steven Brault, a 2010 Grossmont grad. Brault had a short night, allowing two runs on two hits while getting just one out in the eighth.

It was cool, Brault said. Felt good coming in, felt confident. Some things didn’t go my way, and that happens. Overall the experience is something that is priceless. Something I never knew I’d actually get to have.

The Giants are 40-1 to win the Super Bowl, which is a far cry from last season, when they entered with 12-1 odds. Arguably, no team will face a tougher start to the season than New York, which is currently an underdog in each of its first seven games. While the over is a -135 favorite on the Giants’ win total of 7, keep in mind that they have won six games or fewer in three of the past four seasons.

Expectations are low for the Redskins, who are currently tied with the Arizona Cardinals for the worst Super Bowl odds at 100-1. Washington’s division odds are 8-1, but we’ve seen this franchise overcome long odds to win the NFC East before. Washington won the division in both 2012 and 2015, despite entering each season as the long shot to claim the NFC East (10-1 in 2012 and 35-1 in 2015).

Mercer homered to center field leading off the fourth to make it 6-0. It was his fifth.

Lauer allowed six runs, three earned, on nine hits in five innings, struck out three and walked none.

Padres manager Andy Green was ejected before the top of the fourth inning by plate umpire Angel Hernandez. Green apparently was unhappy about a balk call against Lauer while trying to pick off Polanco in the second. The Pirates did not score that inning.

Athletics: 3B Matt Chapman could play a couple rehab games before returning from a hand injury. Chapman had a cortisone shot on Monday and was hoping to swing a bat on Thursday or Friday.

The Phillies pitcher actually spent his junior season in high school as a lefty-throwing center fielder due to bone chips in his pitching arm that prevented him from taking the mound.

And on Friday night, Velasquez startled Phillies first baseman Carlos Santana by throwing a ball to him left-handed from the dugout in between innings.

Kind of warmed up for that play today, Velasquez joked.

So, Velasquez knew he could throw left-handed — he just didn’t know if he could make an accurate toss.

I actually surprised myself throwing a strike right there, he said.

After completing the play, Velasquez then dropped to the ground, writhing in pain and clutching his right arm. He was pulled from the game with a bruise, having allowed one run and three hits.

NBA free agency rumors: Derrick Favors meeting with Jazz, wants to re-sign

Derrick Favors will meet with the Jazz when free agency begins Sunday, according to a report from ESPN. He has no other visits planned.

Jazz unrestricted free agent big man Derrick Favors will meet with the Jazz on the first day of free agency on Sunday in his hometown of Atlanta but currently has no other meetings with any other NBA teams set up, a source told ESPN’s The Undefeated.

The 26-year-old forward said in a recent interview with The Salt Lake Tribune he is hoping to sign a new contract with Utah. But he said he wanted to explore what other opportunities were available.

The Jazz finished last season with a 48-34 record and earned the fifth seed in the Western Conference playoffs. Utah topped the Thunder in its opening-round series before falling to the Rockets.

McGee and the Lakers reached agreement on a one-year deal worth the minimum, league sources told ESPN. McGee has played the past two years for the Golden State Warriors.

Caldwell-Pope, 25, will head into his second season with the Lakers after finishing a one-year, $18 million deal. He is a 3-D, catch-and-shoot player who figures to fit well alongside James.

Stephenson, 27, is known as a LeBron antagonist, and the two have had testy moments in the playoffs, but James has never had a personal issue with the defensive guard, sources said.

The 6-foot-5 guard became available after the Indiana Pacers declined his option for the 2018-19 season. Indiana wanted to go after bigger names in free agency and planned to discuss bringing Stephenson back.