Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston officially received notification of his three-game suspension recently. It wasn’t a surprise at this point. The rumors and reports of the punishment have been floating around for a very long week now.
What may have come as a surprise to some Tampa Bay Buccaneers fans and media was the lack of finality which came with Jameis Winston’s announcement, reaction and further statements by the team and NFL.
Starting with Winston himself. As reported by Ian Rapoport:
What stands out here for each of us may be different, and it’s fair for each of us to read things differently. Here’s what I took out of it though.
First, there’s no admission and no defense. What there is, is an apology to the unnamed Uber driver for ‘the position I put you in.’ This is about as much an acceptance of responsibility as we’re going to get. It conveys regret without admitting to liable action.
Smart. From a legal standpoint.
Next up is his reference to the last two and a half years. This is the time since the end of his rookie season. Much has been made to connect his latest controversy with his previous situations as a student-athlete at Florida State.
Winston has long claimed innocence in the two biggest incidents from his time in college, and this continues that trend by specifically identifying a period of time beyond those previous dramas.
Eliminating alcohol is obviously a big one. This all but confirms he was at least under the influence of alcohol the night in question, if not drunk. Now, most of us have been there, but it doesn’t excuse the behavior – nor does he use it as such.
If the young star has truly made this move, then it’s a good sign for his future. As they say, accepting you have a problem is the first step. Right?
The rest speaks to his maturation as a professional. Not a professional quarterback, football player, member of the NFL, just a professional.
Understanding how our individual behaviors and actions impact those around us, and not just in our immediate circles, is a lesson all professionals must learn. Some need harder lessons than others.
The next statement I wanted to pay attention to was from the team, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers themselves.
What can we really say about this statement? Not much. There isn’t much to the statement, which is the damning part.
Again, it doesn’t admit guilt or knowledge of guilt. What it says is very generic in truth. However, what it doesn’t say is their player didn’t do the things he’s accused of.
Now, again, this could all be part of agreements put in place, etc…..
Still, in incidents in the past, teams have either come out and condemned the action of their player while still supporting them as an individual in growth or defended their player in proclamation of innocence or misunderstanding.
None of those things are there in this statement, and we all really wish there were.
Then there’s this:
Not a statement so much as a loud declaration of what isn’t being said. In this case, clarity is missing. From all sides.
There is a precedent for the NFL to release details of their investigation in detail. You can read Ezekiel Elliott’s six-page investigation recap in the post by PFT. I’ve never read it before today. When you do, you can see why the NFL went for the full six-game suspension and then stuck to it.
I never questioned it personally, which is why I never bothered to dive in. However, now it’s interesting not because of what it’s release tells us, but because of what the lack of releasing Jameis Winston’s document doesn’t tell us.
Just about all the questions you good people have should be in the document. What did who say? What other experts or sources did they speak to? And so on.
Barring pressure from the media and fans (you and I) we’ll likely never see the letter. Perhaps the NFL is simply adapting.
The Elliot drama dragged on way longer than it should have. It made the player look bad. The franchise looked bad. The league looked bad. The victim had her own credibility into question. Fans were left wondering what would or would not happen with their favorite team. Nobody won.
However, at the end of the day, there was some clarity in Elliot’s case. Some closure when it was all said and done.
This? This is shrouded in shady behavior, reporting (by the team and/or player and league), and even shadier resolution.
Honestly. Hopefully, this is the end. Hopefully, we can all move on. Not just Winston, but all of us. Fandom may be trivial when stacking it up to the ‘real’ problems in life, but it exists nonetheless.
At this point, the only type of closure there can be is for this to be the end. Not for just the Uber incident, but all incidents. No more.
For the sake of all our sanity, please, can we just get to Tampa Bay Buccaneers football now?