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CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Former Carolina Panthers wide receiver Rae Carruth, who has spent the past 17 years in a North Carolina prison for conspiracy to murder his pregnant girlfriend, opened up for the first time in a handwritten letter to the victim’s mother.

Carruth wrote a 15-page letter to Saundra Adams, the mother of Cherica Adams, that was sent to Charlotte television station WBTV. He also spoke at length by phone with the station about the letter, accepting responsibility for the 1999 conspiracy to murder Cherica Adams and expressing interest in gaining custody of their son.

“I’m apologizing for the loss of her daughter. I’m apologizing for the impairment of my son,” Carruth told WBTV. “I feel responsible for everything that happened. And I just want her to know that truly I am sorry for everything.”

Carruth is scheduled to be released from Sampson Correctional Institution in Clinton, North Carolina, on Oct. 22. He was sentenced to 18 to 24 years in 2001 after being found guilty of hiring Van Brett Watkins and Michael Kennedy to murder Adams. Watkins, who shot Adams multiple times, was sentenced to a minimum of 40 years. Kennedy, who drove the car, was released in 2011.

Adams died a month after the shooting. Her son, Chancellor Lee Adams, was born prematurely and has battled the challenges that come from cerebral palsy, which was the result of his traumatic birth after the shooting.

Saundra Adams has raised Chancellor, now 18. In past interviews with the Charlotte Observer, she has expressed that she would like to be present the day Carruth is released.

Carruth, who did not testify at his trial, said he wants custody of Chancellor when he is released.

“I should be raising my son. His mother should be raising her son,” Carruth said. “Ms. Adams should not be doing this and I want that responsibility back.

“I feel like he might not ever have his mother in his life but he could still have me and I could still make a difference and I don’t think that’s anyone’s responsibility when I’m still here.”

Saundra Adams told the Observer on Monday that she would not relinquish custody of Chancellor to Carruth.

“I’ve forgiven Rae already, but to have any type of relationship with him, there does have to be some repentance,” Adams told the newspaper. “And I think this opens the door. But I can say definitively he’s not ever going to have custody of Chancellor.

“Chancellor will be raised either by me or, after I’m gone, by someone else who loves him and who knows him. He will never be raised by a stranger — someone he doesn’t know and who tried to kill him.”

In the letter, Carruth wrote that he has “long accepted my lot as a social pariah.” He said in an introduction to the letter, which he began with “To whom it may concern,” that the purpose of the letter was to challenge allegations made by Saundra Adams on the “truthfulness of the statements she’s made about me.”

Carruth referred to several “lies” he claimed Adams made, beginning with saying he never apologized for what happened. He noted that he apologized on several occasions in correspondence from prison.

Carruth also accused Adams of creating a false impression of his relationship with her daughter. He said outside of a physical relationship, “me and your daughter were practically strangers.”

Carruth also challenged that his motive for having Cherica Adams killed was to avoid having to pay child support, noting child support never was mentioned as motive during the trial. He said the motive was more to do with Cherica being unwilling to get an abortion.

In the letter, Carruth said he wishes he could go back to 1999 and do things differently.

“If I could change anything, I’d change the whole situation,” he wrote. “His mother would still be here and I wouldn’t be where I’m at. So that’s what I’d want to change. I want the incident to never have happened at all.”

Carruth, 44, told WBTV that he has changed a lot since the Panthers selected him in the first round of the 1997 draft out of Colorado. He noted back then he was very “self-centered” and immature.

He talked about finding a relationship with God.

“I feel like I owe Chancellor,” Carruth said. “I let him down as he came into this world and the only way that I can make that right, the only way I can work out my relationship with my son, is to be there for him and to be a father and a dad to him going forward.”

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Houston Texans CEO Cal McNair wants Deshaun Watson part of hiring process for coach



HOUSTON — A week after Houston Texans chairman and CEO Cal McNair said he hadn’t heard back from quarterback Deshaun Watson since hiring general manager Nick Caserio, McNair said he has now “connected over texts” with Watson.

“It’s no secret he’s disappointed in the communication during the hiring process,” McNair said, according to an interview with the Houston Chronicle and Fox 26 Houston.

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Seattle Seahawks WR Josh Gordon suspended indefinitely again



SEATTLE — Seahawks wide receiver Josh Gordon has been suspended indefinitely again after the NFL rescinded his conditional reinstatement.

An NFL spokesperson told ESPN that the decision stems from Gordon violating the terms of his conditional reinstatement under the league’s substance-abuse policy. No other details were provided from the league.

ESPN’s Jeremy Fowler reported last month that Gordon, 29, had another setback in his recovery from substance abuse as he was nearing his return to the field after a yearlong suspension. A source told Fowler at the time that Gordon was grappling with the reality that he might never be allowed to play in the NFL again as indications throughout the process of his reinstatement from that suspension were that this was probably his final strike.

The league suspended Gordon indefinitely in December of 2019 for violations of its policies on substances of abuse and performance-enhancing substances. That was Gordon’s sixth suspension since the 2013 season and his fifth for some form of substance abuse, according to ESPN Stats & Information research.

Gordon was conditionally reinstated by the NFL last month and was set to practice with the Seahawks in Week 16. Coach Pete Carroll said he had a chance to play that Sunday against the Los Angeles Rams. But a day before what would have been Gordon’s first official practice in a year, the NFL placed him on the commissioner’s exempt list after deeming that he had not satisfied the terms of his conditional reinstatement.

Gordon’s tweet Friday — “wasn’t this old news” — suggests his indefinite return to the reserve/suspended by commissioner list stems from last month’s events.

Gordon was allowed back at Seahawks headquarters on Dec. 9 after completing his COVID-19 testing. He tweeted that day that he was “excited as hell to be back amongst the family like this.”

When Gordon’s comeback bid was halted, Carroll said he was not allowed to comment on any specifics of the receiver’s situation, including the nature of his setback.

“We’re not able to comment about any of it, really, other than to say that he’s still coming in, working out with our trainers, and getting his work done conditioning-wise,” Carroll said at the time. “We’ll revisit it again next week. Certainly disappointed not to have him for his sake and for a lot of things, but we’ll stay with it and we’ll see what happens next week.”

Asked how Gordon was handling the situation, Carroll said: “Very frustrated that he’s not out here. Frustrated by it.”

Gordon signed a one-year deal with the Seahawks before last season. He would become a free agent if he is reinstated by the NFL again.

Gordon’s attorney, Adam Kenner, confirmed to ESPN in June that Gordon’s 2019 suspension was the result of a setback he experienced after the death of his brother that fall. Gordon posted on social media on Nov. 11, 2019, the day he made his Seahawks debut, about losing his older brother.

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Chicago Bears DE Mario Edwards Jr. suspended for first 2 games of 2021 season



CHICAGO — Bears defensive end Mario Edwards Jr. has been suspended without pay for the first two games of the 2021 regular season for violating the NFL’s policy on performance-enhancing substances, the league announced Friday.

Edwards Jr. is no longer under contract with the Bears and will be a free agent in March. He will have to serve the suspension whenever he signs with a team but will be eligible to participate in preseason games and practices.

Edwards Jr. had a career-high four sacks while a member of the Bears in 2020.

The NFL is also investigating a legal issue involving Edwards Jr. that stemmed from an incident last year at a hotel in Charlotte, North Carolina.

Edwards Jr., 26, was issued a criminal summons on a charge of misdemeanor assault on a female, according to a spokesperson for the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office in North Carolina in December.

A court date has not yet been set, but the summons arose from a situation at the Hilton Charlotte City Center hotel on Oct. 17, the night before the Bears played the Carolina Panthers.

Police documents said officers responded to reports of a woman hitting a man with her hand and scratching his forehead. Edwards and a woman both had bruises and scratches and both were listed as victims in the police report.

North Carolina court documents, obtained by TMZ, said the woman in question accused Edwards of hitting her in the eye and dragging her out of his hotel room after she began recording him during an argument. The woman stated that she was pregnant at the time of the attack and required hospitalization.

Peter Schaffer, Edwards’ agent, denied that his client was involved in any wrongdoing.

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