The third rider of the Uber ride the night of the alleged incident has spoken out about Jameis Winston.
Brandon Banks, a former football player for Vanderbilt, is currently serving fifteen years for aggravated sexual battery and aggravated rape for an incident that occurred in 2013 at Vanderbilt. Banks spoke through his attorney Mark Scruggs to ESPN’s Outside The Lines. Paula Lavigne recounted the conversation;
"“Winston, former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks and Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby were at a Scottsdale, Arizona, nightclub in March 2016 when Winston became intoxicated and “unruly,” prompting his friends to send him away in an Uber, Banks’ attorney, Mark Scruggs, told Outside the Lines. “What happened after that,” Scruggs said, “they cannot say.” Banks has never been identified publicly as being at the scene until now."
At the time of the incident, the allegations against Banks were public knowledge. This goes back to what I was saying on the Locked On Bucs podcast (listen below) that at some point, the finger needs to be pointed at Winston to stop putting himself in these situations. The company he keeps isn’t great – at least from his days at Florida State up until this incident in 2016 – and it is landing him in hot water. Twice the accusations of sexual assault have been levied against Winston and twice Ronald Darby has been a witness.
Greg Auman of the Tampa Bay Times reported that Banks was a friend of Darby’s and merely an acquaintance of Winston’s, but it stems back to Winston hanging around Darby. With that, came more unflattering company in Banks.
Another possibility we can’t rule out is Banks spinning things to look bad for Winston. If Darby’s side of the story is true, that places Banks in the passenger seat and making him the likely candidate to have groped the driver. With Banks’ current sentence, it’s not something that can be ruled out completely.
At the end of the day, this looks really bad for Winston. Buccaneers’ PR, front office, and ownership are likely scrambling at this point to try and extinguish some of these fires but all in all this could lead to the Bucs moving on from Winston if they feel they can no longer trust him to keep better company and stay out of trouble.