Young, Griffin asks Governor, Board to review Julius Jones case

A pair of former Sooners asked members of the Oklahoma Pardon and Parole Board, Governor Kevin Stitt to commute the sentence of thirty-nine-year-old Julius Jones.

In a letters published by NonDoc Media, Trae Young and Blake Griffin asked Stitt, members of the board to review Jones' case.

“I am writing in support of Julius Jones’ application for a commutation. I hope you will determine in reviewing Julius’s case and subsequent trial that he is innocent and should be released from prison, ” Griffin wrote in a letter published on NonDoc.com on Wednesday.

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Jurors convicted Jones, a then 18-year-old, of the murder of Paul Howell, a white businessman in Edmond, Okla., 21 years ago, Jones currently sits on Oklahoma's death row.

A commutation is described as a tool to ‘correct an unjust or excessive sentence,’ that can be recommended by the board, and only under the authority of the Governor of Oklahoma that can one be issued to reduce a sentence.

Young, 21, echoed his responsibility as an athlete to bring attention to Jones' case.

“I and so many other people have been called to raise concerns regarding Julius Jones’ case because of the many obvious ways in which the legal system failed him. Julius’ co-defendant, who testified against him, changed his story no fewer than six times when interviewed by the police, ” Young wrote.

Jones and co-defendant Christopher Jordan were convicted, however, Young, Griffin, and Russell Westbrook of the Houston Rockets urged all parties to consider commutation.

“To hear that a juror allegedly used the N-word when referring to Julius during trial, yet remained on the jury, is deeply disturbing to me, “ Westbrook, National Basketball Association M.V.P. in 2016-17 while playing for Oklahoma City Thunder, wrote in a letter dated April 27.

At a Black Lives Matter rally in Oklahoma City on Sunday, Howell's daughter, who didn’t want to be identified, talked of the importance of racial inequality and gun violence in communities.

“Personally, coming from someone who has been a victim of gun violence and witnessed the murder of my father that happened to be by an African American man, this extremely traumatic experience for me has NEVER skewed my views against people of color,” Howell’s daughter told KOCO-TV, who was nine-year-old at the time of his murder.

“While I do not agree with the individuals attempting and advocating for my father’s murderer’s release. I do believe the innocent people of color and innocent minorities out there deserve a chance. A chance at life. A chance at opportunity.”

Griffin, 31, argued as ‘proud son of Oklahoma, ’  the jurors weren’t allowed to hear testimony during trial deliberations.

‘The jury also did not see a photo that would have shown that Julius did not fit the eyewitness’ description, however, the co-defendant did. Two of the key witnesses, who were implicated in the crime and did no time for the murder of car robbery, were given deals on other charges in exchange for their testimony against Julius,” Griffin added.

Young suggested the five-member board to look beyond their roles, “When I am not sure what to do, I seek guidance from God.”

To find more about this case visit: Justiceforjuliusjones.com


Former Sooners respond to the death of George Floyd

“Save the bullshit, ” Kenny Stillsresponse via Twitter to Roger Goodell's statement following protest across America after the death of George Floyd.

Floyd, an unarmed 59-year-old African-American, died while in police custody after a Minneapolis police officer knelt on the back his neck.

Goodell, the Commissioner of the National Football League, offered sentiment recognizing the impact of the league, that is largely minority, on society.

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“The protesters’ reactions to these incidents reflect the pain, anger and frustration that so many of us feel, ” Goodell issued in a  statement on the league’s official Twitter account on Saturday.

"As current events dramatically underscore, there remains much more to do as a country and as a league. These tragedies inform the NFL's commitment and our ongoing efforts," Gooddell added.

"There remains an urgent need for action. We recognize the power of our platform in communities and as part of the fabric of American society."

Stills known for being outspoken regarding social inequality isn’t alone as Kyler Murray, the top overall NFL draft pick in 2019, retweeted former President Barack Obama’s tweet.

On Tuesday, Murray called for accountability via Twitter.

Stills, Murray aren't alone as Adrian Peterson, who played ten seasons in Minneapolis, called for accountability of officers, too.

“There’s no way that I personally could sit there and watch another human being be murdered by hands of those who swore to protect us, ” Peterson tweeted on Wednesday.

On Monday, Atlanta Hawks guard Trae Young joined protestors at Andrews Park in Norman.

“I know this country’s in a messed up place right now,” Young told the peaceful demonstrators, via KOCO. “And for me, I just think it’s important that we all stick together and we stand up for what’s right."


Trent Williams, 49ers restructure final season of contract

Trent Williams, San Francisco 49ers have restructured the tackle’s final year of his 5-year, $68M contract, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport.

Williams joined Rapoport’s “Rapsheet + Friends” podcast for an in-depth conversation, including an alleged misdiagnosed medical condition, a fresh start in San Francisco after the end of his relationship with Washington Redskins organization.

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"One thing that Trent Williams told me during the interview is that he did get an agreement on the restructured final year of his contract due to make $12.5 million," Rapoport said, via Yahoo! Sports.

Williams, 31, will receive a portion his $12.5M salary prorated, effectively becoming a signing bonus allowing the team to clear cap space this season and rolling over the portion into 2021 season.

"Still going to make about that sum, but the 49ers put some of this money upfront. A little help for a guy who remember didn't make anything in 2019,” Rapoport added.

While in Washington, Williams' representative Vincent Taylor denied reports, his client was demanding quarterback money that would align him with top-tier of linemen including former Oklahoma lineman Lane Johnson.

Last season, Johnson signed a record 4-year, $68M contract with Philadelphia Eagles, meanwhile, Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler, is currently the eighth highest-paid left tackle in the league, according to Spotrac figures.

In his conversation with Rapoport, Williams said he was prepared to return to the team after being fitted for a specialized helmet despite medical concerns.

However, the team’s front-office upended his return by placing him on NFI – voiding the remaining $6M of his non-guaranteed 2019-20 base salary.

"The competitive juices started to flow, so I was really prepared to make my return last year," Williams told Rapoport, via NFL.com.

“I was literally waiting on my new helmet to come in. I was getting ready to kind of gear up and it was going to be somewhat of a surprise to some, but I think for the people who know me best they know how competitive I am, ” Williams said.

John Lynch, 49ers general manager, didn’t hesitate to acquire Williams despite not securing the All-Pro tackle to a long-term contract.

"I think the plan was to land him right now and then let the rest kind of work itself out,"  Lynch told ESPN in April.

Rapoport’s conversation with Williams will be available on Tuesday.


Free agent Tony Jefferson shows progression in workout

Safety Tony Jefferson showed off his agility on social media on Wednesday.

The 28-year-old free agent has been “waiting for this virus to settle down, ” Jefferson said in March, after being released by Baltimore Ravens in a $4.5M salary cap cost-saving move.

He suffered a torn ACL, LCL in his left knee in week five against Pittsburgh Steelers last season.

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Jefferson was due $11.2M in the final season of four-year, $34M-plus contract, according to Spotrac figures.

Jefferson has 451 tackles, 8.5 sacks in 66 starts after being signed by Arizona Cardinals as an undrafted free agent in 2013.


'It's time to work' – Baker Mayfield

Expect to hear less of Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield this season.

"It's just time to work,” Mayfield said, in his first media availability on Wednesday.

“I think everybody who’s been interviewed on our team has hit the nail on the head over and over about ‘it’s time to work. It is time to do our thing, instead of talking about it,’” Mayfield said during a video conference, via Cleveland.com.

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“This is the first media thing I’ve done just because there’s no need to be talking about it. It’s just time to go do it. Right now, it’s kind of moving in silence, which is fine with me.”

It’s a different approach for the vocal  quarterback, as he has reportedly turned down multiple interview requests, according to ESPN's Jake Trotter.

Mayfield is entering his third season with fourth different coach – Kevin Stefanski takes the reigns after the Browns posted a disappointing 6-10 last season.

The 25-year-old is reverting back to learning the fundamentals of football in preparation for the upcoming season, while the nation combats the COVID-19 virus.

“There’s been a lot of learning throughout this process,’’ he said, via cleveland.com.

“During all this, it’s kind of made everybody go back to the just shear fundamentals. You can’t do so many complex drills and all the stuff you might and everybody might not have the same equipment, but we can teach the very base fundamentals of what this new coaching staff wants to do and go from there.”

I think that has been the best thing is essentially just getting back to the basics.”

Mayfield, Browns open regular season against Baltimore Ravens, September 13.

Marquise Brown makes bold prediction

Marquise Brown predicts big things for Baltimore Ravens this season.

Brown appearing on FS1’s “First Things First, ” predicted the Ravens will represent the AFC in Super Bowl LV in Tampa Bay, Fla.

“I don’t know who we’re going to be playing,” Brown said, via OUinsider.com. “I just know we’re going to be there. So I’ll be ready to see who we face.”

Brown, 22, is entering his second season in the National Football League using his work ethic to land a scholarship at Oklahoma after attending College of the Canyons.

He would reach the league within three years after beginning his journey at the junior college in Santa Clarita, Cali.

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“I think it’s just, you know, coming into the league, everyone told me the locker room’s going to be different from college, it’s not that much excitement, it’s about business,” Brown said.

Brown has spent much of his offseason training improving his skill set.

“ [Sic] when it’s down to business, we fly around. When you’re at practice, you’re flying around and guys are giving you tips on how to get better, and it’s just a fun environment.”

Ravens, Brown open the regular season against Cleveland Browns, September 13.


Analyst: Trent Williams among 'the best' tackles in league

San Francisco tackle Trent Williams is still amongst the elite in the league.

‘If he's healthy, “ Brian Baldinger, a former veteran lineman in the league, said of Williams, “he’s the best left tackle in football.”

Washington Redskins traded Williams to the 49ers, who ranked second in rushing last season, for multiple draft picks in April.

Mark Tenally/Associated Press

“With Trent Williams, there are maybe two or three other players in the league who can run block like that, " Baldinger told The Athletic's Davis Lombardi, via NBCSports.com.

Williams was ranked the third-best left tackle between 2016-18, according to advance metrics released by Pro Football Focus, last offseason.

Williams, a seven-time Pro Bowler, held out much last season with Washington after over concerns regarding an alleged misdiagnose tumor on his scalp that led to tension with the front office.

“That’s why I think this team, as good as they were running the football last year, if Trent is on his game -- and with a year off, there’s no reason to think he won’t be -- if he’s on his game, they’ll be a much better run-blocking offense,” Baldinger added.

Williams, 31, is entering the final season of 5-year, $68M contract.


'Moment is now' for Cardinals, Kyler Murray says GM

It’s time.

Cardinals added All-Pro DeAndre Hopkins in the off-season ahead of Kyler Murray’s second season in the league.

“Philosophically, you have to say: ‘The moment is now. Let’s strike, ’” Arizona General Manager Steve Keim said, via Washington Post.

Murray is in-store for hefty pay raise after signing a 4-year, $35.1M rookie contract, and Hopkins is entering the third season of 5-year, $81M contract this season, according to OverTheCap figures.

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“You have to be extremely aggressive. You can’t sit back and wait. As long as everything pans out, you’re hoping that you’re paying this quarterback an exorbitant amount of money in three years, ” Keim added, who is 57-53 as team manager.

RelatedKyler Murray ahead of Mayfield, Bradford in NFL Draft rankings

After being drafted first overall in last year's National Football League draft, Murray threw 64.4%, completing 349 of 542 passes for 20 touchdowns and throwing 12 interceptions leading the Cardinals to 5-10-1.

“To me, looking at our offense, being able to add a perimeter receiver like him in the prime of his career is something that is pretty unusual, to say the least,” Keim said.

Cardinals, Murray are scheduled to open training camp in July.

Adrian Peterson's goal is to pass Barry Sanders in record book

Adrian Peterson has his sights on Barry Sanders' mark on the career rushing leaderboard in the National Football League.

Barry Sanders, who played for Oklahoma State 1986-88 and nine seasons in the league, is fourth in total rushing yards accumulated over 15,269 yards while with the Detroit Lions.

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Peterson, 35, has 14,216 yards in his 13 seasons in the league – 1,053 yards behind Sanders to tie the Hall of Famer in the record book. However, Peterson wants to achieve “something better than Barry Sanders,” Peterson told NFL Network, via Pro Football Talk.

“That’s definitely one of the goals, passing Barry Sanders would definitely be one of the highlights of my career. What he accomplished, and how I’ve looked up to him, I’ve always wanted to say I did something better than Barry Sanders,” Peterson said, via PFT'S Michael David Smith.

Related: Mack Brown: Adrian Peterson is recruit that 'got away'

Washington Redskins, Peterson open their season hosting Baltimore Ravens September 13.


WR CeeDee Lamb among those in best position to succeed

Former Oklahoma WR CeeDee Lamb is among those in the best positions to succeed in the 2020 rookie class.

Lamb drafted 17th overall by Dallas Cowboys in April's National Football League draft, the third receiver taken behind Alabama wide receivers Henry Ruggs III (Las Vegas Raiders, 12th), Jerry Jeudy (Denver Broncos (15th).

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However, NFL.com's Dan Parr predicts Lamb as the most likely among them to succeed, at ninth, this season among a talented pool of receivers, including Ruggs (10th), Juedy (11th) and Minnesota Vikings WR Justin Jefferson (12th).

Parr writes regarding Lamb on NFL.com:

Dallas had the No. 1 pass offense in the league last season, and while there are mouths to feed in Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup, there still should be plenty of opportunities for the rookie to catch passes from two-time Pro Bowl QB Dak Prescott. Randall Cobb and Jason Witten departed this offseason, and they accounted for 166 targets last season, per Pro Football Reference. That's nearly 30 percent of the team's targets that need to be filled by someone. Enter Lamb, who averaged an eye-popping 21.4 yards per catch (most of any FBS receiver with more than 30 receptions) for the Sooners last season.

Last season, Lamb earned All-American honors as a junior before forgoing his senior season  – recording 62 receptions for 1,327 yards, 14 touchdowns.

RELATED: CeeDee Lamb predicted as breakout player

Defensive end Chase Young selected second overall by Washing Redskins is the rookie in the best position to succeed, writes Parr.