If I had my way, Jameis Winston would change his twitter user name from @jabowins to @jabolearns. Looking at his accomplishments, it’s sometimes hard to remember that he’s only 19. During his freshman year, he won the Heisman Trophy and college football National Championship game.
His stats are incredible…he was the youngest to win the Heisman Trophy (which recognizes the most outstanding player in college football) and he led the Florida State Seminoles to an undefeated 14-0 season and National Championship.
He was voted ACC player of the year, AP player of the year, Sporting News player of the year, Consensus All American, ACC rookie of the year, ACC athlete of the year, Walter Camp Award (for player of the year), Manning Award (for best QB in the United States), amongst other awards and recognitions.
By all means, he appears to be headed for greatness! Yet, each of his achievements seems to be countered with negative publicity and bad judgement. His timing couldn’t be worse, with all of the recent news coming out of the National Football League.
The negative attention with professional football players started with a public outcry from the NFL’s handling of Baltimore Raven’s star Ray Rice after TMZ released a video, incriminating Rice in an act of domestic violence. Initially, Rice was suspended for two games. However, he was later suspended indefinitely and then released by the Ravens, after the video surfaced. Just a few weeks later, the NFL stiffened their policies on domestic violence.
In that same time-frame:
-Adrian Peterson, one of the NFL’s top rusher’s was indicted on charges of reckless or negligent injury to a child and then admitted to smoking marijuana after being released on bond (a violation of his release). He has been suspended indefinitely…although he continues to receive this year’s $11.75 million salary, while not playing.
-The Vikings also released wide receiver, Jerome Simpson for multiple misdemeanors.
-The Arizona Cardinals running back, Jonathan Dwyer was deactivated after domestic violence charges.
-Carolina Panthers, defensive end, Greg Hardy was sidelined for assaulting a former girlfriend.
-Cleveland Brown’s hopeful, Josh Gordon, who was a top rookie in 2012 and finished the 2013 season as the NFL’s leader in receiving yards, was arrested and suspended for the 2014 season.
-The Pittsburgh Steeler’s top two running backs jeopardized their season when they were arrested for possession of marijuana after an officer smelled marijuana coming from their car.
-Just yesterday, Dallas Cowboy’s running back, Joseph Randle was arrested for shoplifting approximately $123 worth of cologne and underwear from a suburban department store. A guy with a $2.3 million rookie contract and base salary of $495,000 for this season jeopardizes his career for less than $200 in merchandise.
Last week, UGA’s star tailback and #1 Heisman candidate Todd Gurley was suspend indefinitely after allegations that he had received money for signing autographs (which is an NCAA violation).
So back to Winston…who was accused of stealing $32 worth of crab legs in the off season and is now under scrutiny for allegations similar to those of Gurley. FSU is currently investigating whether or not he may have received money for signing autographs.
So far, head coach, Jimbo Fisher has stood his ground and believes in Winston saying he’s confident he’ll be cleared of all allegations.
With each incident, it seems that more stories abound about Winston’s NFL stock value dropping. Yesterday, a SportsNation poll showed that 75% of their pollsters would not want their NFL team to draft Winston, even if they needed a quarterback.
Like most people, I find it difficult to fathom why these guys would risk multi-million dollar careers on a few bucks for autographs, crab legs, or a sample bottle of cologne. Yes, they are human and we all make mistakes. However, isn’t that also why they are getting paid the salaries that they are…because they chose a career that puts them in the spot-light and holds them to a higher standard? I also understand that many of these guys may have had to overcome other obstacles or may have come from underprivileged homes. Yet, I would like to think that their involvement in sports would teach them about discipline, hard work and other valuable lessons.
After his crab leg incident, Winston issued a public apology and stated “I realize that I am in the public spotlight and my conduct needs to be above reproach…I make no excuses for my actions and will learn and grow from this unfortunate situation.” One has to wonder if he’s doing this though, as his name has continued to come up since then. It seems that Winston (and others) could only benefit from taking more personal accountability. By focusing on always trying to do the next right thing, our quality of life tends to improve. Hopefully, Winston is learning this lesson now so that he does not have to continue to follow down a path of more problems in the future.
Good luck to Jameis and Go Noles!