Jameis Winston was once the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Now he’s just trying to stay out of the spotlight.
During the post-game interviews of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers preseason opener, Jameis Winston wasn’t the guy going to the podium to field questions after head coach Dirk Koetter. Ryan Fitzpatrick will man that role for the next few weeks.
Now, Winston will more than likely return to the starting quarterback role when his three-game suspension is over but it must feel weird for the former number one overall pick to sit in the shadow of a 14-year veteran.
After the aftermath of yet another sexual assault scandal, Winston is lucky that he only was suspended three games, whether he did it or not. Winston’s history of off-field issues, including allegations of sexual assault back in 2013, gave the NFL reason to come down hard on him.
It seems that he made a “plea deal” of sorts with the NFL. By agreeing to the suspension and not appealing the decision, the shield may have chosen to cut it in half as long as Winston handled himself well as the season began.
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His actions and ensuing punishment have caused him to face plenty of backlash. The media was all over him, the team hasn’t advertised him and the fanbase has been conflicted. Many fans aren’t sure if they can support him.
With all the scandals in college, ranging from yelling profanities on a table to a sexual assault case, the Buccaneers knew what they were getting when they drafted him. They were getting a guy with baggage and they were hoping he would grow up.
While the Uber incident occurred over two years ago, although it doesn’t make it any better, it’s an embarrassment for the executives and coaches who put their faith in him.
His teammates and coaches stood behind Winston after the suspension, but what else could they really say without creating another public relations disaster?
What Jameis Winston has to do now is to avoid making headlines.
He needs to stay out of the spotlight as much as possible and say all the right things. He still should make appearances and continue with all the charitable organizations. The work he does in the community is important and needs to be acknowledged. He just needs to be careful with what he says.
While during his passionate speech was an attempt to interact with some of the less interested boys in the audience, the message did not sit well with the media. He should never say anything that could offend a good portion of the population. With his past transgressions, it became a much larger story than it should have.
With a history like Jameis’ people don’t forget the negative things he’s done. He can do 100 good deeds but one bad decision will always be amplified with his NFL status.
While it’s a good thing that Winston has seemed to have toned it down a lot since the incident he needs to keep the profile as low as possible right now. With that, he needs to say all the right things because he can’t run away from all the media.
There will be plenty of attention on him now with the season starting and he has said all the right things of late.
After the first preseason game, during the locker room interviews, Winston seemed poised and respectful. Not that he hasn’t before, but he needs to more now than ever. He politely answered all the questions thrown at him and while none of them were difficult, he answered them a well as he could’ve. One quote that really stood out was when he spoke about playing with the second-string team.
"“…It was great to get that experience and it great to get a confidence with those guys. We are just playing football. We love to do that and it’s a privilege for us to be out there and we executed.”"
Winston is right, it is a privilege for every NFL player. These are words he needs to live by this season and the rest of his career.
Other teams could’ve cut Jameis and he might have been without a job, the Bucs have stuck with him. It takes rare skill to even make it into the NFL, but to succeed you have to do everything else right. To have a long career, a quarterback not only has to win games but he has to make a difference in the sport.
Winston right now just needs to win games to recover some of the damage he’s done. Winston may never completely repair the damage done, if he continues to act like a professional, his career could take off.
The road to redemption will be a long one but right now he seems to have a level head and a good support group. He’s stopped drinking alcohol and is making changes within his inner circle, which is the right thing to do.
This process is hard for anyone, let alone a 24-year-old. He was accustomed to being the man in college, partying, winning a national championship and numerous accolades but now everything has to change.
If Jameis wants to be the Buccaneers guy his primary focus should be winning football games and staying out of the news. His contract could be up at the end of this season and the Buccaneers might have to start another rebuild.
Having a quarterback already on the roster that currently has the NFL record for most career passing yards by 24-year-old is a great start.
Winston has the potential to be a good, maybe even a great quarterback in this league. He just needs to get his mind right and it looks like he’s taken a more than a few steps in the right direction. There is still a long way to go to rebuild his image but hopefully, he can stay on course.