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Jameis Winston explains that Publix crab legs incident to Jim Harbaugh (updated)

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston runs the 40-yard dash at the NFL football scouting combine. (Julio Cortez / AP)
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[This post has been updated with comment from Florida State Coach Jimbo Fisher.]

Of all people, it took Jim Harbaugh to get Jameis Winston to open up about that incident in which he was caught taking crab legs from a Publix grocery story.

The confession, which came in a February sitdown with the Michigan coach, quarterback guru George Whitfield, Baylor quarterback Bryce Petty and Wolverines quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch, turned up Tuesday night on ESPN’s “Draft Academy,” a show that was interesting for what it revealed about Harbaugh and Winston, the Florida State quarterback who is expected to be one of the two top picks in the NFL draft next week.

Winston, you will recall, made a ton of headlines after he was shown taking the crab legs, which FSU Coach Jimbo Fisher explained at the time happened because Winston was used to shopping at Winn-Dixie rather than Publix and was preoccupied by the wings order he had just placed. Winston was cited, fined and given community service, apologizing for his “youthful ignorance.”

Harbaugh told Winston he needed to address that incident and Winston explained how that a Publix employee had hooked him up with free food, a revelation that will be of some interest to the NCAA, one would think.

Fisher was asked during an ACC football coaches’ conference call on Wednesday morning if it was true that Winston had been given the food.

“If he says it is, I guess it is,” the coach said. “I had no knowledge of it until I came in this morning. But FSU, we did make contact with Publix back then to make sure there was nothing going on. Talking with our compliance this morning, they’ve had communications about that before and they’ve had communications today. They think it’s totally an isolated incident that happened, and they’re in the process of working with it right now. I don’t think there’s anything else more than that.”

Asked about the effect the revelations might have on Winston’s much-debated draft stock, Fisher told reporters: “I have no idea. I have no idea. That’s for them to decide. It was totally news to me, but that’s a decision they’ll have to make on what they’ll have to do. I have no idea what will be the impact or anything else.”

An ACC spokesman then cut off further questions about the incident, citing time constraints.

In the ESPN segment, Harbaugh explained how he approached pre-draft interviews, saying, “My mindset going into this as a coach is, it’s not going to be confrontational, if I think you’re an [expletive that rhymes with glass bowl], I’ll let someone else deal with you,” Harbaugh said. “I’m not trying to get in some type of confrontation with you or try to teach you anything in one of these meetings. But what you’re trying to find out: Is he an [expletive] or not?”

Interestingly, the elephant in the room was the crab-legs incident, not the alleged 2012 rape involving Winston. He was not charged, but the alleged victim is suing him. Harbaugh addressed generally how NFL coaches look at college players in interviews.

“If you don’t want to go into full detail, just say ‘hey, I screwed up, I [expletive] up and I learned from it,” Harbaugh said. “Be as serious as a heart attack.”

And one other tip from Harbaugh: NFL coaches like team players.

“It’s a job, it’s a grind,” he said. “I don’t want to hear that it’s a platform for you, I don’t want to hear about your brand, I care about our team. You’ve got to take another man’s job away from him.”

Isabelle Khurshudyan contributed to this report.

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