How much trust did Winston lose with his deal?

by Gary Shelton on June 22, 2018 · 4 comments

in general, NFL, Tampa Bay Bucs

Friday, 4 a.m.

We still do not know what he did in that Uber car. Because Jameis Winston is so adept at avoiding discussing details, we probably never will.

But this much, we do know.

He did not protest his innocence until his last breath. He did not sing his purity from the highest mountain top. He did not compete until the final whistle. He did not fight with his last ounce of courage. He did not yell that the NFL was out of order, and Roger Goodell was out order. He did not insist that the charges were false until they hauled him away. He did not continue to swear he was innocent until the rest of us bled from our ears.

In the end, he made a deal.

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And, man, does that feel less than satisfactory.

By now, you have heard that Winston copped a plea in his case against the Uber driver. Despite his initial denials that the charges were false, and that the driver was confused as to how many people were in the car, in the end, Winston decided to take his punishment from the NFL while it was relatively light and proceed, as if he had suffered an incompletion and it was now third-and-10.

Granted, Goodell is a hanging judge, and Winston's plea might have turned a six-game suspension into three. But does an innocent man think that's a bargain?

What that does is make the rest of us his jurors. By taking the punishment, Winston leaves it up to the rest of us to decide if he is guilty or not. Whatever words he says later will not matter. He took the punishment. To some, that will always be an admission that he did the crime.

That's what Winston allowed with this deal. He may miss fewer games than he would have without a deal. But he lost so much more of his reputation. His critics -- and they are growing -- will get loud now. They should. That makes this a bad deal for Winston. An awful deal.

There will be some, too, who think the Bucs should dump Winston immediately. Get serious. The Bucs see Winston as a multi-million dollar investment.

So Winston will explain that he accepted the punishment so he could get back on the field sooner, and that it's not an admission of guilt. His coaches, and his teammates, will cut off the questions early. Once again, Winston will try to outlast the critics.

This time, it might be harder. When this happened before, back when Winston was in college, a bumbling Tallahassee police force got in the way of the investigation. So Winston was always able to shrug off questions with "I was never charged."

This time, however, Winston nodded and took the suspension. Does an innocent man do that? Doesn't he fight back as hard as he can?

If Winston didn't grope the driver, it seems he would start by trying to prove his assertion that he was one of three riders in the Uber. A receipt might have handled that. Maybe a receipt to the fast food joint where the players stopped.

It will be interesting to see the fan reaction to this. Turnovers have caused Winston's star to fade already. Throw this on the stack, and it's going to be hard to believe in him with the same fervor.

Of course, some fans are such boosters of the uniform that they automatically defend the men inside of it. There will be some of that, too. Of course there will. At the very least, it is a little harder today to trust Winston than it was.<\ What about his bosses? What do the Glazers think of this? What do they think of their initial reaction to defend Winston against accusations? Could this cause enough damage that the Bucs might not offer Winston a new contract? Should they? A day ago, I defended Winston against a suggestion that he might be a bust. Statistically, he isn't. Morally, it's a different question.

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{ 4 comments… read them below or add one }

Richard Kinning June 22, 2018 at 4:10 pm

It does not matter how good your stats are if you cannot stay on the field. He is the starter because he offers the best chance to win. If he does dumb things and gets suspended he is not worth the contract or draft pick that is being spent on him.

We should resign him, but at a MUCH less of a contract than he has now. He needs to grow up.

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Gary Shelton June 22, 2018 at 4:32 pm

I’ve said that about Winston for a very long time. He does need to grow up.

My fear is that neither he nor his agent will take less money. He’ll still get filthy rich. Sad, but it’s thew way of the world for quarterbacks.

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Bill MYERS June 22, 2018 at 8:58 am

I have never been impressed with Winston. His off field antics in college gave me the gut feeling that the Bucs were getting another Manzel! A smart kid dose not put himself in situations that cause embarrassing questions about his morals and focus. Only the most talented of players can get away with the baggage that Winston is carrying around! I do not see him lasting much longer in Tampa. Another bad season and he will probably be gone along with the coach and manager!

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Gary Shelton June 22, 2018 at 5:46 pm

He is on the last year of his contract, if the Glazers decide it’s time to cut the cord. My feeling is that they will not, but I’ve been wrong before. Winstons stats are hugely superior to Manziel’s, however.

I’ve written often (including this week) that he has to win more and suffer fewer turnovers. He has to grow up. But if you compare him to Hall of Famers in their first three seasons, his numbers aren’t awful.

Still, he is a trouble magnet. Eventually, that will wear down ownership if he doesn’t change.

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