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Full transcript of Manti Te’o interview

AP

Notre Dame linebacker Manti Te’o made a 15-minute appearance in the media room at NFL Scouting Combine Saturday. Here’s the full transcript of his comments:

Te’o (taking the stage and laughing): “That’s a lot of cameras.”

Q: How are you feeling?

Te’o: “ I’m kind of tired right now. A long day, medical exams. It’s all part of the process.”

Q: Are you tired of answering all the questions about the (fake dead girlfriend) incident?

“Yeah, about the incident, I’ve said all I need to say about that. How I’m handling it going forward is doing what I’m doing, focusing on the moment, focusing on football and the combine. Not everybody gets this opportunity to be here. I’m sure there’s

thousands and thousands of people who would like to be here in Indianapolis. Just trying to enjoy the moment.”

Q: How much have you been asked about it by NFL teams?

Te’o: “Quite a few teams asked me about it. Some go to certain lengths, some just ask me, ‘Just give me a brief overview of how it was’ then they get straight to business.”

Q: Why didn’t you play well in the national championship game?

“That’s because I didn’t. That’s all on me. I played hard and so did my team, but Alabama had a great game plan and so did we. They executed better than we did.”

Q: Was the other situation a distraction to you leading up to that game?

Te’o: “No.”

Q: Any teams not ask you about it?

Te’o: “No (laughs). They all ask me about it.”

Q: What are they asking you?

Te’o: “Just tell me the facts. They want to hear it from me. Just tell them basically what happened.”

Q: Do you think it might hurt you?

Te’o: “That I don’t know. That I don’t know.”

Q: Could you summarize the facts?

Te’o: “Just I care for somebody and that’s what I was taught to do. Ever since I was young if somebody needs help you help them out. Unfortunately it didn’t end up the way I thought it would.”

Q: Why wait so long to say something?

Te’o: “It was just a whirlwind of stuff. A 22-year-old, 21-year old at that time, just trying to get your thoughts right. Everybody was just kind of chaos for a little bit, so you let that chaos die down and wait until everybody’s ready to listen.”

Q: Do you understand people might doubt your version of events because it took you so long?

Te’o: “That I don’t know, people doubting because I took a while to come out. From our point of view we wanted everything to come out first and then have my side come out. The way we did I felt worked best for me. I’m very grateful for those who helped me to get through that time. I felt it went as smoothly as it could.”

Q: Have you gotten a sense from NFL people it might affect you in draft?

Te’o: “No, not really. They’ve told me that, . . . they’ve wanted to hear it from me what the truth was. They haven’t really said anything about it affecting me.

“Some guys just talk briefly for 30 seconds and the next 14 minutes is all plays and getting down to business. That’s how I prefer it to be.”

Q: Do you worry how you’ll be treated in the locker room, trouble assuming a leadership role?

Te’o: “No. I think I’ve learned the difference between the things I can control and the things I can’t control. And hopefully by doing the things I can control well I’ll have more favor in the other category. Whatever team I go to, I’m just going to be me, I’m going to work hard, I’m going to do my best to help the team win. And whatever happens happens.”

Q: Can you believe the fascination like this?

Te’o: “It’s pretty crazy. I’ve been in front of a few cameras, but not as many as this.”

Q: “What about when it came out, every news channel, lead story. You surprised?”

Te’o: “I was. It got overwhelming at times. The hardest part and I’ve said was just to see, not necessarily my first name, but my last name. Everybody here, you treasure your last name. That’s what you hold dear. That’s something that when you pass on, the only thing that stays with you, stays here is your last name. To see your last name everywhere and know I represented my family and all my cousins and aunties and uncles, . . .

Q: Are you prepared to deal with this for the next couple years?

Te’o: “Oh, yeah. For me, I hopefully I’m just looking forward to getting straight to football. I understand people have questions, but I’ve answered everything I could. For me I’d really like to talk about football.”

Q: Had you planned to go to the Senior Bowl, did this change your mind?

Te’o: “No. I didn’t get that far. I was still worrying about the national championship. I didn’t get that far.”

Q: Who are some of the teams you’ve met with?

Te’o: “I’ve met with the Texans and I met with the Packers.”

Q: Why didn’t you attempt to go see a girl you cared so much about?

Te’o: “I did. We made plans, obviously it didn’t work out.”

Q: How many more teams do you expect to talk to and which ones?

Te’o: “I don’t know, I’m not sure. I know I’ll be meeting formally with 18 more teams. I don’t know specifically who they are. I’ll find out soon. I’m meeting with 20 total.”

Q: What are you telling teams you bring to the table as a player?

Te’o: “I think what I bring to the table is a lot of heart, a lot of energy and somebody that works hard. Somebody who hates to lose. I always say, ‘I hate losing more than I love to win.’ The reason why I love to win is because I don’t have to go through that feeling of losing. It’s those times where I lose that feeling that will stick with me. For teams I tell them, ‘You’ll always get somebody who’s humble, works hard, doesn’t say much and will do everything it takes to win.’”

Q: Have any lingering regret over all this?

Te’o: “I could have done some things different, obviously, done a lot of things different to avoid all this stuff. But throughout my experience my senior year, I wouldn’t do anything different.”

Q: Has this been embarrassing?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. For anybody to go through, it’s definitely embarrassing. When you’re walking through grocery stores and you’re kind of like giving people double-takes to see if they’re starting at you ,it’s definitely embarrassing. I guess it’s part of the process, it’s part of the journey. You know it’s only going to make me stronger and it definitely has.”

Q: Have you gotten past the point of being embarrassed about it?

Te’o: “Oh, definitely. It definitely has gone. Obviously I’m here. If I was still embarrassed I wouldn’t be standing in front of you.”

Q: Can you understand what NFL teams are trying to get at?

Te’o: “Yeah, they want to be able to trust their player. You don’t want to invest in somebody you can’t trust. With everybody here, they’re just trying to get to know you, get to know you as a person and as a football player. I understand where they’re coming from.”

Q: Does that make you feel you’ve got a hurdle to overcome in the honesty department?

Te’o: “It could be a hurdle, but it could also be a great opportunity to show who you really are. That’s the way I’ve approached it and it’s been a great growing experience for me.”

Q: Ravens have been mentioned a lot as a destination for you. How much would you like to follow Ray Lewis?

Te’o: “Aw, definitely, whatever team I go to, but definitely the Ravens. Ray Lewis, I’ve grown up watching Ray Lewis. Just watching his intensity, his passion for the game, his love for the game, his work ethic. Everything in a linebacker that you want to be is in Ray Lewis, from leadership qualities, all that. He’ll be definitely missed in Baltimore and in the NFL as a whole.

“If I get to go to Baltimore, it will definitely be some big shoes to fill, but an opportunity I’ll be honored to have.”

Q: What’s different about you now?

Te’o: “For me I’ve learned just to be honest in anything and everything you do, from the big things to the small things. Secondly, to keep your circle very small and to understand who’s really in your corner and who’s not. I think going off of the season my team and I had, there’s a lot of people in our corner. Then when Jan. 16 happened, there’s a lot of people in the other corner. I just learned to appreciate the people that I have that are with me and to just make sure you always try to turn a negative thing into a positive.”

Q: What’s been the toughest moment since all this came out?

Te’o: “I think the toughest moment, to be honest with you, was a phone call that I got from my sister where she told me that they had to sneak my own family in their home because there were people parked out in the yard and stuff like that. That had to be the hardest part.

“And for me, something that I’ve always had a problem with is when I can’t do something about it; I can’t help. To know that my family was in this situation because of the actions I committed was definitely the hardest part for me.”

Q: As a player what kind of challenges can you anticipate at the next level?

Te’o: “The game gets even faster, a lot more complex. What I have to do as a player is I have to remember why I’m playing this game. It’s the same game I played when I was a little kid on the streets, same thing, football’s still the same shape. Obviously people are going to be professionals. This is where the best play. But as long as I don’t stray too far from who I am and what I believe in, I think the journey will be worth it.”

Q: Players have been arrested, had drug issues, does it bother you that you’re under the same scrutiny as guys who have been in jail?

Te’o: “Everybody makes mistakes and one of the positive things about what I went through is I’ve learned to empathize with those who are going through the same thing. Those who are going through some hard times, who are getting attention that they don’t necessarily want. It just taught me to always give somebody the benefit of the doubt and say, ‘You never know, you never know what’s going on with a person.’”

Q: What about the difference between situations?

Te’o: “That’s something I don’t believe I can comment on.”

Q: Did you consider legal action against Ronaiah Tuisasosopo?

Te’o: “I think that’s the worst thing you could do. Both families are going through chaos. There’s not only people camped out at my house, there’s people camped out at his house. I went through what I went through and he went through his own share of stuff.

“I think that’s the worst thing for me to do is to do that. Always try and forgive. If you forgive, you’ll get the majority of the blessings. I always try to forgive and it’s definitely benefited me.”

Q: Are you dating anybody in real life?

Te’o: “No, not right now.”

Q: When your sister called about sneaking parents in, what was your emotion?

Te’o: “Just why? It should never get that way. As people we have to realize that we’re all people, somebody is somebody’s son, somebody is somebody’s daughter. And I try to picture it that way. Would you want somebody doing that to your son? Would you want somebody doing that to your daughter? If not, why do it? Through this whole experience I’ve learned that.

“Since I’ve experienced it, the things I see, the things I do, I try to always think ‘That’s somebody/s son. That’s somebody’s daughter. That’s somebody’s mom, dad. Whatever I do try to base what I do off of that.”

Te’o: “In closing, I’d like to thank everybody for being here. It’s been a hard but tremendous ride for me and my family and the University of Notre Dame. I’d like to thank my parents, my family, my friends, the University of Notre Dame and everybody who supports me. I couldn’t do it without all of you.

“Hopefully after this I answered the things I needed to answer and we can move on with football. So thank you, everybody.”

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Jerry Jones dismisses allegations from Ezekiel Elliott’s accuser

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The initial quotes that emerged from Cowboys owner Jerry Jones’ Sunday remarks to the media suggested that he attached no credibility to the accusations made against running back Ezekiel Elliott. Other quotes make it obvious that Jones has decided that the alleged victim simply isn’t telling the truth.

“My opinion is there’s not even an issue over he said/she said,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com. “There’s not even an issue there.”

Given that the alleged victim clearly believes something happened, it’s clear Jones doesn’t believe her. More accurately, it’s clear Jones believes Elliott.

And that’s the way this one will go, truth be damned. Those who want to see Elliott on the field for the Cowboys will be inclined to believe him, those who don’t like the Cowboys will be inclined to believe the alleged victim, and whatever actually happened doesn’t matter because there’s only two people who know for sure and they’re locked in to their versions of the events.

A full-blown he said/she said hasn’t really emerged yet, because the “she” in that equation has yet to go public with specific claims and contentions against Elliott. Jones’ decision to publicly dismiss her story could potentially prompt her to react by telling her story, fully and completely.

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Titans’ Sebastian Tretola suffers minor injury in shooting

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Titans guard Sebastian Tretola suffered a minor injury early this morning when he was shot in the leg.

The Titans released a statement saying Tretola was grazed by a bullet.

“We are aware of the reports that [Tretola] received treatment for a wound when he was grazed by a bullet,” the statement said, via Paul Kuharsky. “He has been released from the hospital and is thankful for only a minor injury.”

The shooting took place in Fayetteville, Arkansas, where Tretola played his college football for the Razorbacks. Tretola was a 2016 sixth-round pick of the Titans who played in one game as a rookie.

Tretola has recently been in the news because he and Titans receiver Tajae Sharpe were accused of assaulting a man outside a Nashville bar. Tretola and Sharpe say they defended themselves after the man attacked them, and they have filed a lawsuit against the man alleging that he falsely accused them.

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Eagles make moves as camp opens

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The Eagles commence the process of digging out of the NFC East basement, where they landed with a respectable 7-9 record, by making some moves before the opening of camp.

Gone is cornerback Dwayne Gratz, who joined the team last December. His roster spot was taken by quarterback Dane Evans, who has now officially signed with the team, several weeks after agreeing to terms.

Also, the Eagles have placed cornerback Sidney Jones and defensive tackle Beau Allen on the active/non-football injury list. Jones was drafted in April while recovering from a torn Achilles tendon suffered at his Pro Day workout. Allen suffered a torn pectoral muscle while working out on his own in April.

The overriding question for both players will be whether they move to the active roster before Week One. If not, they’ll be required to spend at least six weeks of the regular season on the NFI list.

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DeAndre Hopkins expected to report to Texans camp unlike Duane Brown

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While the impasse between the Texans and left tackle Duane Brown likely will continue into training camp, receiver DeAndre Hopkins will report, according to Aaron Wilson of the Houston Chronicle.

Hopkins held out one day last year as he seeks a new contract.

Negotiations on a long-term deal for the Pro Bowl receiver have been quiet as the Texans head to camp, according to Wilson, but both sides are highly motivated to reach an agreement.

Steelers receiver Antonio Brown signed a four-year, $68 million deal that included a $19 million signing bonus in the offseason. Brown’s $17 million average tops all NFL receivers, with A.J. Green making $15 million a year, Julio Jones $14.3 million a year and Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both at $14 million a year.

Brown, though, is expected to continue to stay away after skipping the voluntary offseason program. The collective bargaining agreement allows for fines of $40,000 for each day missed.

Brown’s deal has two years remaining, including a non-guaranteed base salary of $9.65 million this season. The Texans have an unofficial policy not to renegotiate deals with two years left, with J.J. Watt and Andre Johnson being the exceptions.

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Eagles still expected to cut Ryan Mathews, but not at this moment

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The Eagles are still expected to cut Ryan Mathews, but just not yet, as they attempt to save some cash.

According to Les Bowen of the Philadelphia Daily News, the veteran running back is expected to hang around the roster for another few weeks, even though he isn’t expected to take the field.

Rookies, quarterbacks and veterans coming off injuries reported to Eagles camp Sunday. Since Mathews is coming off neck disk surgery, he’s not going to be on the field for practice Monday, or probably not ever.

If the Eagles cut him with a failed physical designation now, they’d be on the hook for $1.1 million. If they cut him later when he’s ready to pass a physical, they’d still eat the $1 million in dead money against the cap, but wouldn’t have to pay him if he passes a physical. His doctors apparently want to reevaluate him in August, so the Eagles seem inclined to wait.

They’ve moved on already, in terms of the depth chart. They signed veteran running back LeGarrette Blount, and drafted Donnell Pumphrey in the fourth round.

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Jerry Jones reiterates support for Ezekiel Elliott

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At a time when Ezekiel Elliott is reportedly bracing for a suspension, his boss may be bracing for a fight.

Cowboys owner and G.M. Jerry Jones addressed with reporters on the first day of camp the one-year-old allegations of domestic violence against Elliott. And Jones has not wavered from his belief that Elliott is innocent.

“I have reviewed everything and there is absolutely nothing — not one thing — that had anything to do with domestic violence,” Jones said, via Todd Archer of ESPN.com.

This statement implies that Jones hasn’t truly reviewed everything, because the alleged victim’s version of the events undoubtedly has something to do with domestic violence. Otherwise, there would be nothing to investigate.

While Jones technically has no control over what happens, that won’t keep him from trying to push the outcome in a given direction. Or, more accurately, to continue to pressure the league office to exonerate Elliott.

It’s believed that he’s already made it clear that he won’t be as compliant as Patriots owner Robert Kraft was when the league suspended Tom Brady four games, and Jones’ comments from earlier this afternoon make it clear that the passage of time has put Jones in the mood for a compromise or any other outcome that entails not having Elliott available to play football for the Dallas Cowboys.

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PFT preseason power rankings No. 5: Oakland Raiders

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The biggest news of the Raiders offseason had little to do with the team they’ll be putting on the field in September.

That news was, of course, that they’ll be moving to Las Vegas after a long and fruitless attempt to find a stadium deal in Oakland. The fact that they’re on their way out hasn’t done much to damper excitement about what lies ahead for the team in 2017, however.

General Manager Reggie McKenzie’s rebuilding effort was a lengthy one, but it has resulted in a team positioned for a long run of success wherever they are playing their home games. Quarterback Derek Carr, wide receiver Amari Cooper, a talented offensive line and 2016 defensive player of the year Khalil Mack are the foundation of that promise and will be major drivers for the team again this year.

Adding running back Marshawn Lynch was an intriguing move as the prospect of putting Beast Mode behind that line is one that leads to visions of great offensive success. We’ll have to see what’s left in the tank after Lynch sat out last season, however, and the Raiders’ ultimate hopes rest heavily on a defense that remains a work in progress outside of Mack.

Biggest positive change: Carr ended last season on the sideline because of a fractured fibula, which created a painful game of “What if?” for the Raiders after a 27-14 playoff loss to the Texans with Connor Cook at quarterback. Had Carr avoided injury, the Raiders were well positioned to win the division and get a bye that would have allowed them to open the postseason on their home field.

While there’s no way to guarantee that he’ll remain that way, Carr is healthy now and his contract extension further cements him as the biggest reason to believe that the Raiders can fulfill the highest of expectations for the 2017 season.

Biggest negative change: The Raiders didn’t lose any major contributors this offseason and the biggest staff change involved bumping quarterbacks coach Todd Downing up to offensive coordinator. That move seems unlikely to lead to much of a difference for a unit with talent across the board.

As mentioned, the defense doesn’t have the same kind of talent and the Raiders added former Chargers defensive coordinator John Pagano to Ken Norton’s defensive staff in hopes of maximizing what is on hand. Should the unit fail to improve and friction exist between them, it could put a cap on the team’s upside.

Coaching thermometer: Jack Del Rio took over a team that went 3-13 in 2014 and went 7-9 in his first year on the job before taking the Raiders to their first playoff appearance since 2002. That’s enough to avoid any concerns about a coaching change and the desire to keep building around a strong core of talent should keep it that way unless things go terribly wrong in the near future.

We’d like to crack a beer with … Gabe Jackson. Jackson also got a lucrative extension this offseason, which makes him part of that strong core and another example of how well Oakland’s rebuild has turned out. For these purposes, though, the right guard is the representative of a line that can sometimes get undervalued due to the other star power. We’ll give him the chance to shed some light on a big reason for the Raiders’ success.

How they can prove us wrong: Lynch having nothing in the tank would be a blow, but the biggest obstacle to the Raiders taking a spot at the top of the AFC would almost certainly be another year with a defense that forces the offense to be nearly flawless in order to win games.

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Steve Atwater rejoins Broncos, in multiple roles

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One of the greatest defensive players in Broncos history has returned to the team.

Safety Steve Atwater will become both an insider for the team-owned website and the fan development manager, via Nicki Jhabvala of the Denver Post.

Atwater, 50, spent 10 years with the team, winning a pair of Super Bowls and making it to the Pro Bowl eight teams. He was one of 15 finalists for the Pro Football Hall of Fame earlier this year.

He also was responsible for one of the most memorable hits in league history, flattening monstrous Chiefs running back Christian Okoye.

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Sam Bradford feels more comfortable in Vikings offense this year

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Though it was hard to tell, Sam Bradford struggled to learn what was expected of him last year.

But even with a mid-season change at coordinator complicating his hi-nice-to-meet-you first season with the Vikings, Bradford still set a record for highest completion percentage (71.6) in league history.

The good news is, he feels a little more settled this year.

“Obviously last year was pretty unique, I have never been in that situation, and I don’t think many people have been in that situation,” Bradford told Sid Hartman of the Minneapolis Star Tribune. “But just to be here this offseason, to be able to go through the program, go through the meetings, the installs, really sit down and learn this offense and what we’re trying to do, it’s a much better situation than showing up here however many days, eight or nine, before the first game last year and trying to learn everything on the fly.”

While the trade from the Eagles just before the season was a shock to him, he benefited from the next change, as his background with Pat Shurmur eased the next transition after the departure of Norv Turner.

“I think the later we got in the year the better I felt with it,” Bradford said. “Obviously going through the change that we did kind of halfway through the season, having worked with Pat, I think that really helped me just because we have a really good relationship and I felt like we were able to communicate. Towards the end of the year I felt like I had a pretty good grasp on things.”

He responded with career highs in passer rating (99.3) and passing yards (3,877), but enters another season with uncertainty looming over him. Between the fact he’s entering the last year of his contract and the recovery of former starter Teddy Bridgewater from last year’s traumatic knee injury, Bradford knows there’s little beyond the immediate in his control, which makes familiar surroundings a good thing.

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OBJ visits Texas cancer patient, thanks to social media

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Say what you will about social media, but it allows for connections to be made that previously were impossible.

Case in point, via NJ.com: Through social media, Giants receiver Odell Beckham Jr. learned about a boy in Texas with a rare form of cancer. So Beckham visited him.

Danny Richburg, the father of Giants center Weston Richburg, got the assist, bringing to Beckham’s attention via twitter a Facebook post regarding Jayro Ponce’s wish to meet Beckham. Beckham responded almost immediately, and only a few days after it all got started, Beckham was in Amarillo to meet with the boy.

If you’re inclined to kick in a little cash to help with Jayro’s treatment, feel free. It will be a lot cheaper and take a lot less time than hopping a plane to Texas.

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Bills hoping Sammy Watkins is close to 100 percent for camp

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The Bills are bringing veteran wide receiver Anquan Boldin in for a visit Monday. But the receiver they most want to see next week is one already on their roster.

One of the biggest questions for the Bills this season will be the availability of Sammy Watkins, after he underwent a second surgery on his left foot earlier this offseason. He hasn’t spoken to reporters this spring, though he did do some team drills near the end of the minicamp, creating the expectation that he should be at least close to 100 percent when camp opens later this week.

“Credit to Sammy, credit to our training staff and the way he’s attacked the rehab with them,” coach Sean McDermott said then, via Jay Skurski of the Buffalo News. “That has to continue, though. This is one step in that process of getting Sammy back to where he needs to be and where we need him to be.”

The Bills will likely keep the reins pulled back on Watkins, so as not to create any setbacks in what has been a career marked by injuries.

He played in the first two games last year before foot problems sent him to injured reserve. He came back to play the final six games of the season, but was far from the dynamic player they anticipated. Because of that, and the lingering health questions, they didn’t pick up the fifth-year option on his rookie contract.

He’s shown when he’s been well that he can be a playmaker. He just hasn’t been often enough, making this a crucial season for him.

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Richard Sherman confirms choice words in practice for Russell Wilson

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The Seahawks may dispute talk of hard feelings in the locker room toward their quarterback, but one of their most prominent players doesn’t deny using a little locker-room talk toward Russell Wilson.

In an interview with Josina Anderson of ESPN, cornerback Richard Sherman admitted that, during a June 2014 practice, he intercepted Wilson and shouted “you f–king suck!” at him.

“That’s 100% true, and I’ve said worse,” Sherman said, via TheBigLead.com. “I’ve said worse to Doug [Baldwin], I’ve said worse to [Jermaine] Kearse. Iron sharpens iron, as one man sharpens another. . . . I’m sorry that our competition, that the way we sharpen our iron, isn’t pretty and cordial. I’m sure if you went to see bad teams, they probably get along great, probably slapping high fives, but then you go 4-12.”

Sherman is right, but the whole “iron sharpens iron” thing doesn’t apply only to rough words or flared tempers. The notion that the best try to get the best out of those around the best includes the reality that if the best isn’t being generated by the best, there should be accountability.

Which gets back to one of the primary points made in the disputed story from Seth Wickersham of ESPN The Magazine that led with the “you f–king suck” quote. For the same reason Sherman would bark that at Wilson in the heat of the moment, Sherman and other teammates also would reasonably expect the coaching staff to coach Wilson as hard as the other players on the team are coached, and not to have any sacred cows or untouchable teammates who don’t get the same treatment.

Iron sharpens iron. So if a piece of iron is being sharpened with a velvet glove, it’s not going to be a sharp as it could be.

But Sherman and his teammates won’t admit that. They shouldn’t admit that. It all goes back to iron sharpening iron, and it’s a process that those who are iron believe those who aren’t iron would misunderstand, turning into something that it isn’t.

It’s not personal. It’s not mean spirited. It’s not petty. It’s about winning games, pursuing championships, and cementing legacies.

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PFT Live returns Monday, with a vengeance

My mandatory vacation is nearly over. And while four weeks of the PFT Live podcast (plus several interviews during the break, including sit-downs with Dak Prescott, Bruce Arians, Adam Gase, Rob Ninkovich, Wes Welker, and Drew Rosenhaus) helped fill the void, there was no replacement for three hours per day, five days per week, of radio and TV.

It resumes Monday morning, when I’ll be joined by Barstool Big Cat. The co-host of the wildly popular Pardon My Take podcast will be in studio for the final two hours of Monday’s and Tuesday’s show. And maybe we’ll open the phone lines at some point for a phone call from his podcast partner and my Internet son, PFT Commenter.

So join us at 6:00 a.m. ET on NBC Sports Radio, and/or at 7:00 a.m. ET on NBCSN, as we all get ready for the 2017 season.

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Latavius Murray finds motivation in memory of friend

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Vikings running back Latavius Murray was believed to be the successor to Adrian Peterson, until the team drafted Dalvin Cook. With Murray’s role now vague and undetermined, especially since he was unable to participate in the offseason program, one thing is clear — he finds motivation from the memory of a friend who died last year in a shooting.

Matt Vensel of the Minneapolis Star Tribune has the story on Murray’s tumultuous November, when his best friend, Jonathan Diaz, was shot and killed.

“You’re used to talking to somebody every day, telling him everything and you spent so much time with a person, and then they’re just not there,” Murray said last month. “It’s an unreal feeling. It still doesn’t feel real.”

Murray, then playing for the Raiders, suited up in the next game after Diaz died. He gained only 45 yards on 19 carries against Carolina.

“I went to work and was a mess,” Murray said. “I felt I had no choice. A part of me feels guilty, but what do you do in that situation? It also put it into perspective the game of football. I didn’t care for nothing that game. But I had to be out there, I guess.”

Murray now must also process the reality that the man who killed Diaz was acquitted of murder, based on self-defense. And Murray’s decision to change from No. 28 to No. 25 means he’ll be wearing Diaz’s high-school number.

The extra motivation to honor Diaz can’t hurt. But here’s the reality: Murray’s three-year, $15 million contract is actually a one-year deal worth as little as $3.4 million. Those financial realities should be more than enough reason to Murray to practice and play as well as he can.

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Ezekiel Elliott’s accuser speaks out, a year after alleged abuse

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A year after Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott allegedly engaged in domestic violence five times in a six-day period, his accuser has spoken out.

“Exactly 1 year ago today my life changed forever,” the woman accusing Elliott of domestic violence posted on social media, via TMZ. “I finally got the strength to be the strong woman I was and got myself out of a very toxic relationship. Ladies never think you’re too in love or too scared to leave because at one point that was me. There’s plenty of opportunities out there for you. Love yourself first. Speak up and stop domestic violence.”

The statement underscores the reality that, if the NFL doesn’t take action against Elliott, the alleged victim may decide to tell her full and complete story, either by doing an interview or filing a lawsuit. Which would put the league in the awkward spot of having to decide whether to leak or publish details that would refute her claims — or whether to weather the inevitable P.R. storm.

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