Jameis Winston has issued a statement on his suspension from the NFL stemming from an incident where he groped an Uber driver.
For the first three weeks of the upcoming season, the NFL won’t have to deal with Jameis Winston. The shadow of his absence will cast itself across the entire league, but it’s not a new shadow. Therein lies the problem at the heart of this suspension.
Winston’s suspension stems from an incident where he stands accused of groping an Uber driver in Arizona. The timeline of events matches up, and his multiple attempts at establishing an alibi have been destroyed.
As a result, the NFL has decided to suspend Winston, which for many is the first time he’s actually been punished for his behavior. He received slaps on the wrist at Florida State, but it’s impossible to talk about Winston and punishment without mentioning he was accused of rape and was never punished. To make things worse, he was winning a Heisman Trophy in the middle of it all.
Officially, the investigation was dropped and he settled out of court, but the grey area is a murky and unsettling place for anyone who shines a light into it. In the eyes of many, justice was never served and Winston groping an Uber driver years after the fact breaks any sort of trust he could have hoped to build.
Here’s Winston’s statement, which came from Ian Rapoport of NFL Network:
"“The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. 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.I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s 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.I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”"
How you interpret that statement is up to the individual.
Winston’s suspension won’t be appealed, something the Buccaneers made clear in their brief, measured response. The question now becomes whether Winston cleans up his act or simply continues his harmful behavior, a question we, unfortunately, have been asking since he days at Florida State.
That uneasiness has and will last a lot longer than just three games.