The Enabling of Jameis Winston
When you’re an Army football fan, you don’t get a “great” college football experience. You get a “unique” college football experience. Don’t get me wrong, I will always love watching Army Football and some of my best memories come from those games, but it’s hard to enjoy a decade of losing to Navy and boasting about one bowl game no one really cares about. For cadets there are no drinking-games, no tailgating in the parking lot from 10 AM until a 7 PM game televised on ESPN, there’s no chest-painting, no field-storming associated with your college football fandom. No, you kind of accept that your program plays D1 ball at this point because it’s a novelty (Our stadium boasts a seating capacity of 38,000, the “Big House” seats 109,000). You’re like a small fish in a big pond that routinely gets eaten by other fish, BUT you’re a completely different color than any of the other fish so… it’s kind of cool.
So last year when one of my best friends found out that I had only really been to one big college football game in my life (I saw Auburn get crushed by A&M two years ago when they absolutely sucked) he bought me a ticket to a Florida State game, loaded a 30-block of PBR into my car and we headed to Tallahassee.
The Maryland Terrapins had just cracked the Top-25 and they were coming into town to face a FSU team that was sitting just outside the top-10, so it was actually supposed to be a good game.
FSU won the game 63-0 behind the arm of Jameis Winston. I had heard the name before after he led the Noles’ comeback against Boston College just a few weeks before, but sort of forgot about him otherwise. After his first of I think 6 TD passes that day I heard the announcer say his name and I turned to the FSU alum that got us the tickets and asked him, “What’s his name again? Jay-MEEZ Winston?” To most college football fans like me, he was just one of many very exciting freshmen quarterbacks to emerge in the NCAA at that point.
But while Winston was a relative unknown to all of us, they called him “Jameis Christ” and “Famous Jameis” out at the bars in Tallahassee. If he could just muster up enough magic to squeeze by Clemson in a few weeks, the Noles would have an outside shot at winning the ACC (I can assure you – while they may not admit it – no one was thinking National Championship). And I have to admit, after seeing him disappear into a swarm of Terp defenders and then magically emerge out of that dogpile to throw another TD pass, I was a believer.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fpDhoph10qw “HELLO Sportscenter Top Ten!”
When you root for a team that could run the table and not even smell a BCS bowl because their schedule is so bad, you kind of adopt other teams to root for to keep the college football season interesting and last year I adopted Florida State and Jameis Winston after that game in Tallahassee.
All that talent, that strong 6’4”-230 lb. prototypical QB frame, his bright smile, overwhelming positivity and tremendous on-field leadership skills make you want to overlook Winston’s several character flaws SO badly. It’s like watching Don Draper on Mad Men. “I mean, yea he cheats on his wife a lot, treats women like dirt, and derides his employees but he’s so charming and handsome and interesting and smart and cooooool.”
It would be one thing if it were just the rape accusations. Not to make light of the situation, but you think to yourself, “I mean, women cry rape sometimes, look at the Duke Lacrosse team.” But it’s another thing when what you once viewed as a single point of failure turns into a clear pattern of misconduct.
Jameis Winston isn’t just getting in trouble for accidentally stealing crab legs. He’s deliberately stolen things on more than one occasion, and just generally seems to enjoy running around and causing trouble with his boys.
But this article isn’t about tearing Jameis Winston down. I’ve come to expect 19 and 20-year olds to do the things he’s done. But the last thing I will ever do is accept that behavior, and neither should the NCAA, neither should Florida State, and neither should you.
At the very least, Winston is guilty of putting himself in a bad position with a drunk girl on a night in Tallahassee. Our response was to say, “Wait, but they conducted an investigation and he wasn’t charged so play on, kid. Oh, and here’s your Heisman Trophy.”
At the very least, Winston is guilty of shoplifting high-class crustaceans and Diet Coke. Our response was to say, “You’re suspended for a weekend of baseball against Minnesota. Do some community service and cut it out.”
I’m disappointed in Jimbo Fisher.
We all went “oooh! Did you see Jimbo Fisher grab Jameis’ facemask during that game? He is TOUGH on his players! A real old-school dude!” But no one is outraged that Fisher refuses to send a message to his star quarterback to straighten up and fly right.
“He’s in baseball right now,” Fisher said Monday during the ACC spring meetings. “He’s not just a reliever, he’s a closer. This guy is a dominant player now, he’s a huge factor. So taking him off the team for three games until he got that done was a huge [deal], because baseball to him is no different than playing football… We did address other issues, yes. But to him, that’s just as devastating.”
Really, Jimbo? Being a closer on a college baseball team is as important to Jameis Winston as being a Heisman-winning quarterback bound to be next year’s #1 overall pick? I’m sure missing three games against the Golden Gophers in baseball sends the same message as missing a football game.
“I know what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger actually being suspended was the best days of my life!
“When I get older we gone laugh at this petty stuff IM GOOD that’s all that matters ignore minor comments or people that ain’t livin MY life”
– Winston’s text messages to his father after receiving his baseball suspension
Wow. Sounds like he really got the message.
I’m disappointed in the NCAA.
Where is the iron-fisted leadership of Mark Emmert right now? Perhaps he’s too busy fending off attacks that threaten the very existence of the NCAA as pressure mounts to treat players more fairly to have noticed that the most recognizable athlete in the NCAA was just caught shoplifting. That must be it right? I mean, because the NCAA hasn’t done anything to address this.
The NCAA continues to show that they will crush their players, coaches, and programs (i.e. USC, UConn, Ohio State, Penn State) after the offenders (Jim Calhoun, Reggie Bush, Pete Carroll, Jim Tressel, Joe Pa/Sandusky) have already moved on for crimes that most of the time we don’t even care they’ve committed (academic performance, getting free tattoos, paying for Reggie’s family to watch him play football). And yet, if the stage is too bright, they back down. That half-game suspension for Johnny Manziel against Rice to start this year was an absolute joke.
Oh but I’m glad you crushed the college career of Mitch McGary because he smoked trees with his boys once. Way worse than filming sex with drunk chicks and shoplifting. You know what? Let me back up. Kudos for sending a strong message to Mitch, NCAA. I guess I’m just craving a little discretion and consistency.
Discretion. You know, where you don’t punish those kids at Penn State for doing nothing wrong. But again, thanks for sending them a strong message to… not molest kids? Because they weren’t doing that? Or when you punished Dez Bryant for lying about doing something that wasn’t even wrong to do because he thought he would get in trouble if he didn’t.
Consistency. I mean, why didn’t Mark Emmert enlist an investigator to illegally gather information on the Winston rape case like he did to drag Miami through the dirt during the Nevin Shapiro scandal?
I think I’m a bit disappointed in Winston’s friends and family.
“He’s supposed to have somebody around him 24/7,” says Antonor Winston. “He a Heisman Trophy winner so (he’s) definitely not supposed to be by (himself).”
– Winston’s father commenting on his son’s shoplifting
Yes! Mr. Winston is absolutely right. Jameis Winston needs a handler. Someone provided by FSU to be with Jameis constantly, telling him what’s right and wrong. He’s too important to be allowed to make mistakes and suffer the consequences of those mistakes. After all, “He a Heisman Trophy winner” right!? Because when he gets drafted he’ll definitely have a handler. Just like Josh Brent and Dante Stallworth had handlers telling them not to drive drunk and kill people.
Look, I’m not a father and I don’t want to come off preachy here, but isn’t it your job to teach Jameis right and wrong? Isn’t it your job to tell your son to stop acting like an idiot before he winds up like Maurice Clarrett? I think my dad would have told the cops to lock me up for a few days so I could see where I’d be spending the rest of my life if I decided to steal something bigger next time.
And finally, to a certain degree I’m disappointed in the NFL.
“I think some of the things that have happened are regular day-to-day life for the average student at Florida State,” says Otis Leverette, a former NFL player who trained Winston in high school, “but their life is being viewed on a $10 microscope and his is being viewed on a $3 million microscope.”
Why are we so quick to cry “hypocrisy!” when we hold potential professional athletes to higher standards than others but so easily look over the hypocrisy of excusing the behaviors of adults we teach our kids not to emulate? “Oh it was just crab legs.” If your kid stole a candy bar would you say, “Oh it’s just a candy bar”?
We live in a time where every second of the NFL draft is broadcast on ESPN. Consider the fact that on a night where two playoff NHL and NBA basketball games were being played, they were overshadowed by the NFL Draft on ESPN. You can watch every second of the pre-draft process. We’ve got McShay and Kiper, the NFL Combine live, Draft Academy, Gruden’s QB Camp, and so much more. We stick a microscope up these kids’ butts and conduct thorough character background checks going back to what 4th grade teachers had to say about certain prospects growing up.
And still, the Patriots play dumb when they hear Aaron Hernandez murdered three people. We’ve got Belichick saying, “Well, I didn’t know anything about that and I’m here to talk about the players that are going to be playing for us next year.” Robert Kraft is like, “Yea, that’s unfortunate. Wish we knew about that whole double-murder that happened six weeks before that massive contract extension we gave him!”
Look I’m not saying the Patriots should have known Hernandez was a serial killer (allegedly). I’m saying that at some point in being recruited by a respected coach like Urban Meyer, going through the ridiculous character vetting process that is the NFL Draft, and hearing his own teammates speak out against him in the locker room, someone should have said, “We may want to take a closer look at Hernandez before giving him a huge contract extension.” Or someone would have grabbed hold of Hernandez and gotten him some help. I’m saying that I’m tired of hearing, “Well, you just NEVER know do you?” Maybe you don’t know but you can probably connect some dots that lead you to say that certain guys might need some extra attention.
I’m disappointed in the NFL because all execs and management care about is the bottom line. Dollars and cents, yards, touchdowns, and 40-yard dash times. Character flaws are the difference between if a player gets drafted in the first or second round, not the difference between whether or not they get drafted at all. I’m disappointed because Jameis knows that if he comes out after having a year that even resembles the year he had last year he’s going to get drafted in the first round and we’ll forget all about the whole him being a thief thing. I would love to hear a GM say, “Well I’m not drafting Winston because I don’t want thieves on my football team and I don’t think the guy has learned his lesson at all.” But that will never, ever happen because no one has the guts to say that and no one in Tallahassee seems to have the guts to put Jameis Winston in timeout like the child he’s acting like.
That game I watched in Tallahassee was terrible, but it meant a lot to me because I felt like I was watching a star being born before my eyes. It was cool to watch FSU QB #5 turn into Famous Jameis. He went from anonymous football player to someone I cared about and wanted to root for. It wasn’t about the football game.
At the end of the day if we don’t give a shit about the character of the players who play the sports we watch, sports are just games we observe for entertainment. If we don’t care about character and the people who play these games and the stories that go along with them, why should anyone care about who the hell Michael Sam is? Why would it matter that some kid with Down Syndrome is blowing up my Twitter feed and draining threes on Sportscenter? We might as well rip the names off the backs of all those jerseys because sports lose all ability to transcend what happens on a field from kickoff until the clock runs out.