Seahawks’ Sherman wins ap­peal of drug sus­pen­sion

Austin American-Statesman - - C SPORTS - Washington quar­ter­back Robert Grif­fin III (left) and Dal­las’ Tony Romo meet on the field af­ter the Red­skins’ vic­tory on Nov. 22. They will meet again Sun­day night, with the Cow­boys need­ing a vic­tory to earn a play­off berth. Matt Strasen / AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

Seat­tle Seahawks cor­ner­back Richard Sherman won his ap­peal Thurs­day of a sus­pen­sion for use of per­for­mance en­hanc­ing sub­stances.

“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.

The de­ci­sion came from former NFL ex­ec­u­tive Bob Wal­lace. Sherman was called by his lawyer and sim­ply an­nounced in the Seahawks locker room, “I won.” Sherman then went on Twit­ter and tell his 40,000-plus fol­low­ers.

NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said in an email the league is re­view­ing the de­ci­sion, but was de­clin­ing com­ment.

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.

Browns: With Bran­don Wee­den and Colt McCoy not prac­tic­ing again be­cause of shoul­der in­juries, third-string quar­ter­back Thad Lewis worked with Cleve­land’s first­team of­fense in prepa­ra­tion for Sun­day’s game against Pitts­burgh.

Chiefs: Coach Romeo Cren­nel was on crutches af­ter hav­ing fluid drained from his left knee but said he plans to be on the side­line as usual Sun­day.

Ti­tans: Run­ning back Chris John­son said he will play de­spite miss­ing his sec­ond straight prac­tice with a sore right an­kle.

— As the only Washington Red­skins player born and bred in the na­tion’s cap­i­tal, Joshua Mor­gan went up against the Dal­las Cow­boys many times in his imag­i­na­tion long be­fore he did so in the NFL.

“I was ei­ther Art Monk beat­ing the Cow­boys,” Mor­gan said. “Or it was Jerry Rice in the Su­per Bowl.”

Red­skins fans will for­give the Rice fan­tasy for now. The part about beat­ing the Cow­boys? It’s rarely been more ur­gent than right now.

The NFC East ri­vals have met 105 times over 52 years. Some have been clas­sics. Some have been duds. Twice they’ve met in the NFC cham­pi­onship game. Eight times they’ve met to end the reg­u­lar sea­son, in­clud­ing a 1961 Washington vic­tory that kept the Red­skins from go­ing win­less and the last NFL game at RFK Sta­dium in 1996.

Only once have they met in the fi­nal week with play­off im­pli­ca­tions for both teams. Dal­las beat Washington 35-34 on Dec. 16, 1979, ral­ly­ing from 13 points down in the fourth quar­ter with two touch­down passes from Roger Staubach. The Cow­boys fin­ished 11-5 and won the NFC East. The Red­skins dropped to 10-6 and stayed home.

Nei­ther Mor­gan nor any­one else on ei­ther ros­ter was alive for that game, so Sun­day will be a new ex­pe­ri­ence for all when the Red­skins (9-6) and Cow­boys (8-7) play win­ner-take-all for the di­vi­sion crown.

“You have to get up for this game more than any other game,” Red­skins Pro Bowl left tackle Trent Wil­liams said. “We’ve had to get up for all of them, but I think this one has a lit­tle spe­cial place.”

The Cow­boys have to win to re­turn to the post­sea­son for the first time since 2009. The Red­skins, ab­sent from the play­offs since 2007, could lose and still get a wild-card berth, but only if both the Chicago Bears and Min­nesota Vik­ings lose ear­lier in the day.

The NFL, know­ing a good fin­ish when it sees it, flexed the game to prime­time, mak­ing it the 256th and fi­nal en­try in the 2012 reg­u­lar sea­son sched­ule.

Even if this weren’t a ri­valry, it would have the mak­ings of high-rat­ings drama. The Red­skins were once 3-6, the Cow­boys 35. Washington is rid­ing a six-game win­ning streak; Dal­las is on a 5-2 run, with the only losses against the Red­skins on Thanks­giv­ing Day and in over­time last week against the New Or­leans Saints.

Washington’s Robert Grif­fin III is set­ting new stan­dards for rookie quar­ter­backs with his tal­ent, lead­er­ship and star power. Un­less he has a bad day, he’ll break the sin­gle­sea­son NFL record for rookie passer rat­ing, set by Ben Roeth­lis­berger in 2004.

Even though he’s from Texas and went to col­lege at Bay­lor, Grif­fin didn’t grow up with a dis­pas­sion­ate view of Cow­boys-Red­skins love-hate. In­stead, he was a Den­ver Broncos fan.

“For guys like my­self (and) the other rook­ies, we’re fresh into this ri­valry,” Grif­fin said. “But we can def­i­nitely sense how the fans feel, how some of the guys who have been here for many years feel about the Cow­boys, and that’s the mind­set we have to take on. We’re do­ing it for them. We’re do­ing it for the fans.”

Tony Romo has set the Dal­las record for yards pass­ing and might hit 5,000 for the sea­son, but, like the Cow­boys in gen­eral in re­cent years, has been dogged by the in­abil­ity to win con­sis­tently af­ter Christ­mas. Romo has only one play­off win to his credit, and the fran­chise still stings from Week 17 play­offs-or-bust blowout road losses to the Philadel­phia Ea­gles in 2008 and the New York Giants last year.

“Ex­pe­ri­ence can be a really pos­i­tive thing. It doesn’t al­ways have to be a good ex­pe­ri­ence. Some­times it can be a bad ex­pe­ri­ence,” Dal­las coach Ja­son Gar­rett said. “When you didn’t get the job done, hopefully you can learn from what hap­pened.”

But, for the most part, Cow­boys play­ers this week were care­ful not to dwell on those past fail­ures, not­ing that ev­ery year’s team is dif­fer­ent from those that played be­fore. It took line­backer Brady Pop­pinga — a mid­sea­son pickup who has started one game — to seize the is­sue and of­fer it as a ral­ly­ing cry.

“This place is be­com­ing ac­cus­tomed to th­ese types of games,” Pop­pinga said. “Be­cause I un­der­stand last year was es­sen­tially the same sce­nario, but in­stead of play­ing the Washington Red­skins go­ing to Washington they were play­ing the New York Giants.

“I think this place is due. For cry­ing out loud, let’s get us one. What do you guys say? Is that a good idea? That’s what I think.”

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