Former Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston is widely expected to be the first overall pick in this year’s NFL draft, and there are few questions that he has the talent to be an NFL quarterback. But there are major questions about whether he has the character to be the face of a franchise.
At least, there are questions for many people. Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher says that not only does he not think there are any questions about Winston, but he doesn’t even understand why anyone else has any questions.
“Why is there a question?” Fisher said on WDAE. “Because of the character assassination that he’s lived through in the media, and the misinformation that has been printed and half-truths that have been printed. What amazes me about this whole process is the unprofessionalism of a lot of major newspapers, a lot of major outlets that did not report the whole truth of the situation and only slanted it for their own opinion. And when you go through that you have to answer those questions. Jameis has great characte Did he make mistakes? Yes. Did he make silly mistakes? Yes. I mean, he’s still a 20-year-old kid.”
Does Fisher really not understand why there is a question about Winston’s character? I suspect he does, but just in case he doesn’t, I’m going to explain it to him: There’s a question about Winston’s character because a woman says he raped her.
That’s what all those questions about Winston’s character are about. The other stuff — the shoplifting of crab legs, the screaming of an inappropriate phrase on campus, an incident with a BB gun — that stuff doesn’t help. But that stuff is so trivial compared to a rape accusation that it’s hardly even worth mentioning.
The rape accusation is a real red flag, and it’s wrong for Fisher to pretend it’s not. The Tallahassee Police Department botched the investigation so thoroughly that prosecutors decided not to charge Winston because they said they couldn’t prove his guilt. But prosecutors found no reason to believe Winston’s accuser lied, either. The Winston case is not like the Duke Lacrosse case, in which the accused were eventually declared innocent. The Winston case is one in which we will probably never know for certain what happened. If Fisher really thinks Winston is innocent, the people he should be criticizing are the Tallahassee Police, whose sub-par investigation leaves very valid questions about Winston’s innocence or guilt.
If Fisher chooses to believe his player’s side of the story, he’s free to do so. But to claim that those who take seriously the accuser’s side of the story are engaged in “character assassination” is absurd.