As the Ezekiel Elliott fiasco comes to an end with the Dallas Cowboys running back giving up his legal battle and accepting his 6-game suspension, one of the NFLs young stars, Tampa Bay Bucs QB Jameis Winston, enters into another sticky situation in which hes accused of groping an Uber Driver in 2016.
First reports claimed that the woman says she was alone in the car with Winston, but Winston and his lawyers have maintained that he was not the only passenger in the car. As the social media mill began to turn and anti-NFL folks came out the woodwork pointing fingers and saying, Same old NFL, we are now finding out that the situation isnt as clear cut and somebody is lying about something.
According to Adam Schefter, who appeared on Sportscenter on Sunday morning, a new player in this situation has emerged in Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby who has publicly come out and said he was one of two other passengers in that Uber with Winston. No player wants to be involved in a situation where a sexual assault allegedly occurred, but Darby felt like he had to come forward.
Ronald Darby vouches for Jameis Winston, says accusations against QB ‘are just not true’: https://t.co/gOTaNNF5oy https://t.co/ba8go6yRNr
I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona,” Darby said in his statement. “There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”
The driver, who declined to give her name and was labeled as Kate, told BuzzFeed News that she picked Winston up at around 2 a.m. on March 13, 2016, in Scottsdale, Arizona. Winston asked her to stop at a drive-thru restaurant during the ride, and while in line, the driver said Winston reached over and “grabbed” her crotch for three to five seconds, only removing his hand when she said something.
This alleged incident reached the desk of Lisa Friel, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Investigations, who then launched the league’s investigation.
There seems to be a lot going on with this situation, same as the Ezekiel Elliott case. The NFL cant afford to be seen as soft on domestic violence or any kind of sexual abuse allegation and they cant be slow to react even without all of the facts of the case, because trying to thoroughly investigate a situation before casting judgement or punishment has made them appear to be apathetic and insensitive to these situations. So to avoid any mishaps, now the NFL appears to levy the punishment and then deals with the facts of the case later.
In light of Darby’s statement, that there were two other players in the car, the investigation will take a different turn. A Scottsdale Police Department spokesperson told ESPN’s Jenna Laine that the driver “did not call us or file a report with us.” The Phoenix Police Department also confirmed to Laine that they were not contacted about an incident involving Winston and an Uber driver.
Adam Schefter reported the information, but he was also editorializing, saying, Give me a break, when mentioning the fact that Darby was also in the Florida apartment in 2012 with Winston when the QB was accused of sexually assaulting student Erica Kinsman. Darby testified to what he saw that night and Winston was never criminally charged by Florida authorities in the incident and he was cleared of violating FSU’s student conduct code by a retired Florida state supreme court justice.
I guess Schefter was trying to discredit Darbys statement because he is close friends with Winston and because Darby was also involved in the investigation surrounding the incident in 2012. Social media has also been discrediting Darby and labeling him as a “fall guy” for Winston.
Ronald Darby has now witnessed two incidents that resulted in Jameis Winston being accused of sexual misconduct https://t.co/IxoZjVs61T
Darby, to his credit, wasnt even named in the allegations by the alleged victim and he stepped up and threw himself into the boiling pot, risking his livelihood to get what he calls the truth out. This isn’t college anymore. Darby’s not going to fall on the sword for the star QB. They play on different teams and have different lives now. They have families who come first.
So now Friel, the leader of the Ezekiel Elliott situation, will test her teams investigative skills on another young, African-American NFL star. She already has her hands full with the accounts from each side which are totally contradictory. Somebody is lying. Unfortunately it will probably take us a bunch of news cycles for the NFL to tell us what they came up with and now as the plot thickens and with all of the drama going on with protests and Jerry Jones vs. Roger Goodell and the NFL, this situation is sure to incite anger, curiosity, more frustration, bad press and a call to action by fans for the NFL to settle this quickly.