Apologies if you’ve heard this one before.
Jameis Winston has been suspended from playing football for an act of sexual misconduct.
Yes, the same Jameis Winston who faced similar accusations throughout his time at Florida State University will miss the first three games of the 2018 season under the NFL’s personal conduct policy.
At Florida State, Winston was never officially suspended by the school, or then head coach Jimbo Fisher, from any football activities. The university eventually settled the case with that particular victim, and Winston went on to be drafted No. 1 overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in 2015.
In this latest complaint, a female Uber driver has accused Winston of inappropriately groping her during a ride she provided for him and a few other passengers in March 2016. The victim in this case has yet to press charges against Winston, only reporting it to Uber, who then suspended Winston’s account.
Not The First Time, Unfortunately
When details of these allegations hit mainstream media in 2017, Winston quickly came to his own defense, staunchly denying the driver’s allegations in a statement on his Instagram page.
“A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her. 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. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account. 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.”
Enter the NFL, who then launched one of its patented “investigations” into these allegations following the November 2017 post. As is the case with most of these NFL investigations, facts, findings and justification for the length of the suspension are not only rare, they hardly exist.
Just last summer, the NFL led a tumultuous investigation into similar accusations against Dallas Cowboys running back, Ezekiel Elliot. Elliot was slapped with a six-game suspension prior to the season but appealed the decision all the way to federal court. Elliot eventually served the entirety of the suspension over the final six games of the 2017 regular season. At the time, Elliot’s six-game suspension seemed to follow the NFL’s comprehension of its own conduct policies.
So although the NFL said in a statement that Winston did in fact touch the driver “inappropriately and without her consent,” Winston will only serve three games. Under the league’s current domestic violence policies, Winston should face similar discipline to that of Ezekiel Elliot.
A Genuine Apology?
After learning of the NFL’s decision, Winston released the following statement:
“First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years, my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.”
Ahem, excuse me while I rebut, Jameis.
That last statement is a far cry from the November 2017 denial. Uncharacteristic? An apology for something you claim not to have done? Eliminating alcohol from your life although, according to you, you’ve never mistreated a female, drunk or sober? You know the people in Florida can read this, right? You know the entire country is aware that this is not your first accusation of sexual misconduct, right?
It’s time for the Buc to stop here.
It’s time for an NFL organization to show the league they don’t need to wait for the results of yet another shotty investigation that not only ends with alleged guilt, but inconsistent discipline.
It’s time for the Bucs to stand up to it all.
It’s time for the Bucs to cut all ties with Jameis Winston.