From Comcast SportsNetRENTON, Wash. (AP) -- Even when others were suggesting he drop his case and accept his punishment, Richard Sherman never strayed from his steadfast belief that his four-game suspension would be overturned.As unlikely as it seemed, Sherman was right.The Seattle Seahawks will now have one of the best young cornerbacks in the NFL available for the playoffs after Sherman won his appeal of a suspension for use of performance enhancing substances on Thursday.Gone is the lingering question about a possible suspension that hung over Sherman and the Seahawks for more than a month."I know what the truth is and anybody else who knows anything knows what the truth is. The truth has been told today," Sherman said on Thursday. "People can say what they want, there are always naysayers. I have great teammates and great coaches and great fans and that's all I care about."The decision that was made by former NFL executive Bob Wallace came early Thursday morning. Sherman was called by his lawyer and simply announced in the Seahawks locker room, "I won."High-fives ensued. Sherman took to Twitter and let his 40,000-plus followers know of his result.A team already rolling on the field with four straight wins and an offensive output unmatched in the last half-decade of the NFL got even more good news."There was obviously a good amount of stress because you just don't know," Sherman said. "You know how strong your case is, how strong everything is, but it was just great to get it over with."NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email the league is reviewing the decision, but was declining comment due to confidentiality provisions.Sherman was steadfast since news broke of his pending suspension that he believed he would win on appeal. Sherman's appeal was based on errors in the chain of custody of his urine sample and that there were mistakes made by the tester.His appeal took place late last week in St. Louis.A copy of Wallace's decision was obtained by The Associated Press. In his explanation, Wallace writes that the collection process of Sherman's urine sample on Sept. 17, the day after Seattle beat Dallas in Week 2, was not ordinary.According to the written decision, Sherman's sample cup began leaking, to which the tester grabbed another cup and transferred the sample. Documentation of the leaking cup was not originally on the submitted report following the test and only when asked by a supervisor in October did the tester acknowledge the sample being transferred from the original cup.The tester later gave testimony that he'd never experienced a leaking cup before, yet didn't feel the situation rose to the level of needing to be included on his report.Wallace wrote the omission of the leaking cup from the report was a "big deal," and that, "insuring a sample is collected properly is the cornerstone of the program and when an event occurs that does not happen routinely or that the collector has never experienced while collecting the sample it is incumbent upon that collector to note what happened.""Accordingly, Mr. Sherman's appeal is granted and the discipline is reversed," Wallace wrote.Sherman said when he got word on Nov. 12 of the failed test he knew it had to do with the sample collected in September."It was a weird day, a weird testing procedure," Sherman said. "A lot of things went wrong on that day and that's why the result came out the way it did because he made mistakes and he did things wrong."Seattle has played the last three weeks without fellow starting cornerback Brandon Browner, serving a four-game suspension for a banned substance violation.Browner's suspension expires after Sunday's game against the Rams, so Seattle will have both of its starting cornerbacks for the postseason."It definitely feels good for him to take this journey and keep being on this team with us," Seattle safety Earl Thomas said. "We're getting (Browner) back and the depth that we have and the young guys got a chance to prove who they are and it's all just coming together for us."According to STATS, Sherman is tied with Pittsburgh's Keenan Lewis for the NFL lead with 23 passes defensed. He is tied for second in interceptions with seven.Sherman was a surprise omission from the Pro Bowl roster announced Wednesday. Despite his impressive numbers, Sherman was a first alternate at cornerback for the NFC, behind the Chicago duo of Tim Jennings and Charles Tillman, and Arizona's Patrick Peterson."I appreciate the league for allowing justice to be served and allowing me to continue to play," Sherman said.
WALTHAM, Mass. – The Celtics are about to hit one of the toughest stretches of the season and they’ll have to do it for at least one more game without their leading scorer, Isaiah Thomas.
Thomas, who suffered a right groin injury on Monday against the Houston Rockets, did not play on Wednesday against Orlando and said that he will not play in Friday night’s game against the Toronto Raptors.
“It’s day to day. I want to play. I want to be out there but it’s the smart decision to hold out and wait until it’s 100 percent,” Thomas said during a Season of Giving event for children of the Military Friends Foundation held at the Celtics’ practice facility. “If it was a playoff game I would be out there for sure.”
However, after consulting with a number of medical personnel, Thomas decided the best thing for him and the Celtics was to sit out Friday’s game which, along with Wednesday in Orlando, will be the first two he has missed since the 2014-2015 season.
Thomas said there’s no specific timetable for his return, but he said he is planning to travel with the team to Oklahoma City for their matchup against the Thunder on Sunday.
“It’s eating me a live to sit, but I have to do what’s best for my body, I have to do what’s best for this team,” Thomas said. “I need to be 100 percent healthy to give this team what I can give them.”
The Celtics are hoping for similar success they had Wednesday in Orlando (a 117-87 victory) on Friday against Toronto.
“They played a hell of a game last night,” Thomas said. “They’ll be ready tomorrow.”
The fact that Thomas intends to travel with the team is a good sign that the groin injury isn’t too serious.
If he doesn’t play at Oklahoma City, that likely means he’ll return to action on Wednesday at San Antonio.
“I’m going to do what I can to get back out there on the court,” Thomas said. “I gotta be smart about this. I don’t want this to linger on this season.”
Replacing Smart in the lineup against Toronto will most likely be Marcus Smart.
Smart, who has been a replacement starter at small forward and point guard this season, had 13 points, three rebounds, three assists and two steals against the Magic.
Mitch Moreland put up mediocre numbers and won a Gold Glove in a walk year. For his efforts, he received a one-year, $5.5 million contract on the open market.
That’s not a lot. Maybe his .233 average stood out to teams more than his 22 homers, but either way it’s somewhat surprising that a one-year deal on low money is the best he could do given the fact that his career average was .258 prior to last year and he’d hit .275 or higher in two of his previous four seasons.
The contract might not be a major score for Moreland, but he said choosing Boston was.
“I had a couple options, but really just the whole fact that it’s place that I really wanted to play,” he said of Boston. “Getting an opportunity to come here and be a part of a winning environment, being part of a winning environment and having a chance to go out and play for a championship is huge to me, personally, and this is a great option.
“What they were able to do last year, you know you were in for a fight when you were playing these guys. It was a gritty group of guys that had a ton of talent. I like to think of myself as that type player, as a gritty type player and hopefully I felt like I could fit in here and move forward and try to help out and make that goal happen of winning a championship.
“That’s the main goal as far as playing this game for me. I feel like we’ve got a great opportunity here, and that was before the [Chris] Sale news broke, too, you know? So seeing that also, it just shows you that we’re in it. We’re in it and trying to go all out to make that happen. I’m happy to be a part of it.”
It doesn’t hurt that his batting average is higher at Fenway Park than it is in any other stadium in which he’s had at least 30 at-bats. Moreland has hit .341/.378/.683 with four homers and eight RBI in 41 career at-bats at Fenway. Asked to explain his success in Boston, he noted that “comfortable” was the only word that came to mind.
So what is the Red Sox’ plan for the former Rangers first baseman? To play him at first against righties and let Hanley Ramirez DH, John Farrell said.
Farrell did also point to Moreland’s recent work against lefties. Last season was one of two in his career (the other being 2013) in which Moreland had a better average against lefties than against righties. Moreland hit .277/.320/.479 against southpaws last season, with .221/.293/.407 marks against righties.
“Against right-handed starters, Mitch will be the first baseman,” Farrell said. “That gives us the flexibility to DH Hanley in that spot. One thing I also mentioned to Mitch is we’re certainly open to his at-bats growing in number against left-handers, last year was his best year against left-handers in his big league career.
"With Mitch, getting everyday at-bats against right-handed starters at first base and Hanley moving to the DH slot, that alignment, we also have the ability against quality left-handers, where Hanley would go back to first base and then we’ve got the ability to rotate some guys through the DH slot.
Added Farrell: “His strengths as a player are many, but we feel this is a very good fit in a number of ways, and positionally first and foremost.”