First off, Jameis Winston is no victim, and he never was. Recent revelations hint at several attempts by Winston to manipulate public opinion whenever rumors of his transgressions would come to light. Whether it was the highly publicized allegations of sexual assault levied against him while still attending Florida State University or the manner in which his behavior following those allegations was indicative of a very thickheaded individual with no appreciation for the gravity of the accusations levied against him, Winston ultimately ends up looking like a doofus far too often.
He has even shown glimpses of immaturity while in the National Football League while representing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. With these new allegations regarding the groping of an Uber driver in 2016, we know that much of Winston’s problems with “manning up” appear to have something to do with the fact there’s always a teammate or friend willing to deflect any blame away from him. Tallahassee (FL) police were alleged to have botched the initial investigation by Winston’s accuser, and even the State Attorney appeared to be hostile toward its own witness during the trial.
Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs appeared to be hostile toward the victim and alleged a multitude of contradictions in her story. He was quoted as saying; “Her recall of the events of that night have been moving around quite a bit,” Meggs said.
Back in November, Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby immediately came to the defense of Famous Jameis when the alleged groping of an Uber driver first came to light. He told investigators that he was in the vehicle along with Winston at the time of the alleged incident.
Brandon Banks, a friend of Ronald Darby and former Vanderbilt football player now serving a 15-year prison sentence for aggravated rape and sexual assault, was training in Arizona at the time of the incident and reportedly rode with Winston and Banks in the Uber to a club on the night in question.
Banks’ legal counsel Mark Scruggs told the Tampa Bay Times on Friday night that Winston was inebriated and “unruly” and that a second Uber driver was called to take him home.
“It appeared that Winston was trying to lay this on Brandon,” Scruggs said in his reason for stepping forward. “They were together that night. They took an Uber to a club, the three of them did, and Brandon said nothing whatsoever happened while the three of them were in the Uber. For whatever reason, they felt they needed to put him, escort him into an Uber so he could go home on his own. There are two different Uber rides is what we’re talking about.”
Previously some observers supposed that the discrepancies between Winston and the Uber driver were due to a lack of information, but no one realized that dearth of facts had anything to do with the fact that there were actually two Uber rides that night. It’s also worth noting that Winston himself either didn’t know or didn’t disclose that he rode with two Uber drivers on the night in question.
That likely was a primary factor in the NFL announcing that Winston was suspended for three games of three games next season because of the incident, and I can’t say I don’t agree with the punishment. The league said in a press release that its investigation concluded that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by “touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.”
However, three games is a coddling slap on the wrist, in my opinion.
Winston, who strongly denied the allegation when it first became public in 2017, issued a statement Thursday shortly before the NFL’s announcement in which he apologized to the Uber driver for “the position I put you in.”
“It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize,” Winston said in the statement. “In the past 2 1/2 years, my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities, and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
“Although I am disappointed in the NFLs decision, I understand the NFLs process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.”