By Wanda Wiedman // @WandaW63
Tampa Bay Buccanneers quarterback Jameis Winston was hoping that his past actions would somehow get lost in mini-camp news, but that was not the case. On Thursday, ESPN Insider Adam Schefter tweeted this:
NFL is planning to suspend Buccaneers’ QB Jameis Winston the first three games of the season for violating the personal conduct policy, league sources tell ESPN.
ESPN’s Tallahassee host Jeff Cameron initially reported Winston was bracing to be suspended – and he will be.
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 21, 2018
Winston is being investigated by the league for a possible incident that occurred more than two years ago.
In March of 2016, a female Uber driver claims that while she and Winston were waiting in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant in Scottsdale Arizona, he reached over and grabbed her crotch. The driver declared to BuzzFeed News that he continued to keep his hand in place for about three seconds and failed to remove his hand until she asked him. “What’s up with that?”
The young quarterback has denied the accusations stating, “I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.” He also stated that “the accusation is false and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately.”
A witness to the alleged groping was Philadelphia Eagles cornerback, Ronald Darby who immediately came to Winston’s defense as he was one of the passengers in the car that night. He has stated that nothing improper happened.
Despite his claim of innocence, Winston would still be in violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy, due to the fact that he knew about the allegations and failed to report it to the NFL. Basically, he should have given the NFL a heads up about the situation so that they could have investigated and prepare for any damage control that was necessary.
With the #MeToo movement in full swing, these allegations cannot be ignored by both the NFL and Winston himself. However, both sides of the story must be shared and investigated.
The driver stated that she was informed by a small group of men that she would be escorting a celebrity home after an evening out. She claimed that Winston was her only passenger, seated in the passenger seat (first mistake on driver’s part) and allegedly shouted homophobic slurs at pedestrians. She further stated to the New York Post, “As I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly. He reached over and grabbed my crotch.” She stated she froze when the incident happened due to her size at 5’-6” and his stature of 6’-4”.
Winston concluded his public statement by saying, “I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.”
The Buccaneers’ quarterback stands to lose $124,000 in base salary for three game suspension with a 2017 salary at $705,000. Next season he is scheduled to receive $20.9 million, which reduces the chance that Winston would appeal the suspension and allow it to drag out.
Backup quarterback and former Buccaneers’ starter Ryan Fitzpatrick will be stepping in the starting position if Winston is indeed suspended.
President Abraham Lincoln once said, “Nearly all men can stand adversity, but if you want to test a man’s character, give him power.” Only those in the Uber car know the truth of what actually took place. Hopefully, Jameis will learn from this event. Whether it is true or not, he must grow to be a man of integrity on and off the field.
Talk NFL with Wanda on Twitter // @WandaW63