High-profile Florida State University quarterback Jameis Winston (“Famous Jameis”) seemingly has found life off the football field a lot tougher than the rigors of big-time football. His recent on-campus boorish behavior led to a one-game suspension, and has not helped his potential draft position. Actually, the initial suspension was for only one-half of a game, but FSU increased the penalty as additional information came to light. That is not a good look for anyone, much less someone in the public eye. One wonders why Winston needed to engage in any more “look at me” behavior given his larger-than-life status in Tallahassee.
Boorish behavior, of course, pales in comparison to possible criminal behavior. The New York Times recently devoted front-page coverage to an extensive examination of the questionable work of local police in reaction to an accusation of rape made against Winston. The article presents a disturbing picture of the relationship of local law enforcement to the powerful FSU football program. I think even those whose initial reaction would be to claim that Winston has somehow been exonerated because after all, nothing further has yet been done about the rape allegation, will be shaken by this article.
Now comes word that FSU recently informed Winston that he will face an institutional disciplinary hearing concerning allegations that he raped a fellow FSU student in December 2012. I recommend this article by Michael McCann, who suggests that Winston’s best move at this point might be to drop out of FSU and prepare for the draft. When I read the headline of McCann’s article (“Jameis Winston’s best legal move may be to drop out of Florida State”) my first reaction was to think that was far too extreme. After reading the article, I think McCann makes some very good points. I encourage you to read the article and draw your own conclusions. Can Winston really afford to participate in the upcoming institutional proceedings? Can his attorney somehow delay them in order to get Winston through the football season?
The picture that emerges from all this is a nightmare scenario. We have an entitled star player (if you’re interested, you can easily check out the video online of Winston’s shoplifting incident), a football program whose success seemingly is of paramount concern to local law enforcement, accusations of domestic violence and now scrutiny from the national media. I don’t see how this will end well for Winston or for Florida State, except of course perhaps on the football field.
Of course, it already has not ended well for the young woman who has accused Winston of raping her. She has reportedly left FSU and Tallahassee. Here is a description from this article of what happened to her:
“The slaughtering of this victim on social media, the threats made against her sorority and her sorority sisters, the fact that she couldn’t stay here — she was driven out of town by the reaction to her exercising her rights as a citizen to complain of a crime — all of those effects were magnified clearly because of the visibility of Mr. Winston.”
Finally, here is a link to a powerful article written by a rape victim who did not report her rape.
It will be fascinating to watch developments at Florida State University in the coming days and weeks. I have no bone to pick with FSU, and don’t care whether they win all or none of their remaining football games this season, but I do care about what happens in the institutional disciplinary hearing regarding Jameis Winston. I hope Winston stays in school and participates in the hearing.
I hesitate to bring this up in the same breadth as a case involving an allegation of rape, but Winston also must deal with allegations that he participated in an organized effort to sell his autographs. This article by ESPN describes the issues and potential eligibility concerns.
I don’t recall a high-profile player who has managed to do more to ruin his reputation than Jameis Winston. How much longer can Florida State University put up with him? Oh wait, he’s the current Heisman Trophy holder. I guess the answer is, we’ll put up with him as long as we’re winning football games.
I welcome your thoughts.