With Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, it’s always something. For multiple reasons.
At times, it’s always something because there’s always something he’s doing that attracts scrutiny. At other times, it’s always something because the media scrutinizes him more closely than other young players. Regardless, anything Winston does that is remotely controversial will now become a headline.
Case in point: Something Winston did on Thursday night became the top item for Richard Deitsch’s weekly sports media column. As explained by Deitsch, Winston deliberately circumvented a ping-pong arrangement between NFL Network and ESPN regarding dibs on interviewing the first pick in the draft.
This year, it was ESPN’s turn to go first. But Winston decided not to let ESPN go first.
According to Deitsch, Winston’s camp “was upset at the network’s overall coverage of the top pick prior to the draft.” Winston’s agent predictably told Deitsch that “it was simply our preference that his first interview be with NFL Network”; however, there’s no reason to dispute Deitsch’s reporting that Winston and company retaliated, at least a little, against the four-letter network.
Winston’s agent downplayed the snub, explaining that ESPN got its interview a “few seconds later.” But the damage was done. Deitsch explains that, by the time ESPN got the interview, the draft had progressed several picks beyond Winston. So the interview wasn’t played by ESPN until after the first round ended.
On one hand, it’s Winston’s right to choose NFL Network over ESPN. On the other hand, why alienate a network with much greater reach and influence than NFL Network at the front end of Winston’s career? Plenty of discretion will be exercised over the coming months and years by producers, analysts, and anchors regarding Winston. Moving forward, will ESPN be more inclined to pull punches with Winston — or will they be more inclined to go for a knockout?
While Winston’s decision doesn’t carry the same stink of sexism as the Floyd Mayweather passive-aggressive credential stunt with Rachel Nichols and Michelle Beadle, attempting to influence coverage by declining or delaying interviews is always a bad idea, especially when doing it to a network that employs a small army of NFL reporters that can (and possibly will) hold anything Winston says or does against him.