Just one short year ago, the media was captivated by the young man under center for the Florida State Seminoles, Jameis Winston. He had just won the Heisman Trophy and was bound for a national championship appearance.
While he was also subjected to accusations of rape, that were still hanging over his head, Winston was still highly revered by the press. Most of us couldn’t wait for Winston to get to the NFL and start making a name for himself there. Talent wise, the quarterback was/is easily a first round draft pick.
But as we fast forward a year, we see that things have changed, and there is a lot more negative light cast on Winston in the media. On Sunday, Winston was cleared of the accusations he faced from the Florida State University student code of conduct hearing. The accusations were dismissed just as those he was criminally investigated for two years ago involving the sexual assault case.
Former Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Harding said the evidence was “insufficient to satisfy the burden of proof.”
The possible range of consequences for the allegations against Winston scaled anywhere from a reprimand to expulsion from FSU, but somehow Winston made it out scot-free once again.
Baine Kerr, one of the attorneys for the woman making the allegations against Winston, said, “At some point we have to recognize that Florida State is never going to hold Winston responsible.”
Winston has faced a series of what some have called sophomoric or youthful indiscretions including but not limited to stealing crab legs from a convenience store to shouting profane things in the middle of campus.
While these are seemingly normal activities for a college age kid to engage in, it is high time we stop acting like college athletes come anywhere close to being treated like normal students. Winston in particular has shown a knack for getting into trouble off the field, and that is something that is contributing to his reputation with the media and no doubt with prospective NFL teams.
Eventually, it has to be time to cut the cord with one’s youthful follies and start acting like an adult. Winston hasn’t shown any signs of reverting his child-like ways, and the media is starting to take notice.
Professional athletes are paid millions upon millions of dollars to play a game, and to do it better than everyone else. So, some of their extracurricular activities seem inevitable when you consider the trend in attitude that comes with the abundance of wealth. We are used to seeing Rob Gronkowski and Johnny Manziel causing a stir on the sidelines, and it is passed off as something we just shake our heads at. But there is a line in the sand when it comes to acceptable behavior, and Winston isn’t too aware of its existence.
It is also important to remember that these guys represent something bigger than themselves. They represent a franchise, and even more so, they represent the fans of that franchise. With his current string of behavior leading to the reputation he now has in the media, and NFL team would be taking a highly calculated risk making Winston the face of their franchise.
Winston has been living in a safe and secure Seminole bubble, with Papa Fisher keeping a close eye on him, and slapping his wrists every now and again to keep him in line. But, as soon as he elects to declare for the draft, that bubble will burst and his world could just as easily be turned upside down, should he step one toe out of bounds.
The sophomore media magnet thinks he is living in a world where big time accusations do not lead to matching consequences.
“Somehow Jameis Winston still wins,” Kerr said.
However, that luck will no doubt run out when Winston tries to make a career out of football if he doesn’t do something to clean up his reputation.
The Seminoles have been undefeated since Winston stepped on the field at the beginning of the 2013 season, and are headed to their next postseason journey against Oregon in the Rose Bowl on January 1.
*Section Photo credit to Ronald Martinez, Getty Images; Featured Photo (above) credit to Melina Vastola, USA Today Sports