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Jameis Winston: Crab legs were given to me by store employee

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Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the presumptive No. 1 pick in the draft, received a shoplifting citation last April for taking crab legs from a Tallahassee grocery store, but now is saying he received them for free from a store employee.


» NFL teams believe Winston's new crab legs story


Winston, Michigan coach Jim Harbaugh and Michigan offensive coordinator Jedd Fisch -- both of whom came to Michigan from the NFL -- were featured in an "ESPN Draft Academy" segment, and during the segment, Winston told them the crab legs story.

"The week before it was my buddy's birthday and we had got a cake and we met a dude who was inside Publix," Winston told them. "And he said, 'Hey, any time you come in here, I got you.' So that day, we just walked up and he hooked us up with that.

"And when I came in to get crab legs, he did the same thing. And he just gave them to me and I walked out. Someone from inside the store said I didn't pay for them and that's how the whole thing started."

When he was arrested, he told deputies he had forgotten to pay; he eventually paid the $32.72 and did 20 hours of community service.

Interestingly, ESPN's Marcellus Wiley tweeted last May that Winston was " 'falling on the sword' 2 protect his teammates & 'higher ups' who knew of this Publix taking care of players for years!"

During an ACC spring coaches' teleconference Wednesday, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher was asked about Winston's admission. "If he says it is (true), I guess it is," said Fisher, who also said FSU's compliance office talked to Publix officials at the time and again Wednesday morning. He said the compliance people believe it was an "isolated incident."

But in a statement released Wednesday afternoon, FSU AD Stan Wilcox said, "The details disclosed by Winston in that interview were not previously known to the University. As is the case with all matters of this type, we will work in partnership with the NCAA to determine whether a violation occurred."

For its part, a Publix spokeswoman told USA Today that when the grocery-store chain investigated the incident last year, "we found no information that would corroborate the story that there was any arrangement for Jameis or any other FSU athlete to get any product for free." She also told the newspaper that if Winston has any new information, "we'd be glad to follow up on it."

The whole situation, as with many things with Winston, is head-scratching. He's the presumptive No. 1 pick: Why talk about this now -- and especially with the cameras rolling? Did he, indeed, take the fall because that Publix had been "taking care of players for years"? If he did take the fall, why re-open things? Better yet, why not tell the truth when it happened?


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In addition, has he told this "I was given the crab legs" story to NFL teams who have talked with him? NFL Media Insider Ian Rapoport reported that Winston did tell NFL teams about the situation. Still, chances are some teams are wondering (again) about his motives and his maturity.

Mike Huguenin can be reached at mike.huguenin@nfl.com. You also can follow him on Twitter @MikeHuguenin.

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