Winston case could be sign of things to come for NFL


As Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston continues to do dumb things, the most troubling allegation against him continues to linger.  And that most troubling allegation could soon be bubbling back to the surface.

Florida State has launched an internal investigation into the alleged sexual assault, and it intends to interview Winston.  His lawyer, David Cornwell, has sent to Florida State a 13-page, single-spaced letter outlining flaws in the investigation, concerns about its fairness, and claims of extortion against the alleged victim.

The letter, a copy of which PFT has obtained, explains that the alleged victim’s lawyer met with Cornwell in February 2014 and demanded $7 million to settle her potential claims.  “If we settle,” lawyer Patricia Carroll allegedly said to Cornwell, “you will never hear from my client or me again — in the press or anywhere.”

While indeed labeled as extortion by Cornwell, it’s common for potential plaintiffs in civil lawsuits to demand cash in exchange for a waiver of potential legal claims and silence.  Typically, the first number requested is ridiculously high.  The defendant often responds with a number that is ridiculously low, and the two sides chip away at the divide until a deal is either reached, or not.

With no settlement reached, Winston’s accuser continues to push the case against him, with a civil lawsuit apparently inevitable.

The situation has relevance to the NFL for two reasons.  First, Winston likely will be carrying this specific item of baggage with him to the NFL draft in 2015 or 2016.  (It’s hard to imagine him hanging around Tallahassee for another year in light of recent events.)  Second, NFL players will be facing similar efforts to extort, pry, or otherwise squeeze money out of them, in light of the league’s new focus on domestic violence and sexual assault.

Suddenly, the victims of actual, perceived, exaggerated, and/or fabricated incidents of domestic violence have unprecedented power over the NFL players who allegedly engaged in misconduct.  Faced with potentially lengthy suspensions with pay before trial and potentially lengthy suspensions without pay after the case ends, NFL players will have a strong incentive to write a check early, and to make it all go away.

Which in turn will attract lawyers who receive contingency fees to represent anyone who has the ability to exert that kind of leverage against someone with the resources to make a quick and large payment.  Whether the payment is 25 percent, 33 percent, or 40 percent of the gross amount recovered, the best kind of contingency fee is the kind that comes without having to spend hundreds of hours preparing the case for trial and then rolling the dice in front of a judge and a jury.

41 responses to “Winston case could be sign of things to come for NFL

  1. This is why baring any blatently obvious evidence (ie Peterson and Ray Rice cases), the players should be allowed to play until they get their day in court.

    How easy is it for some woman to tell Drew Brees, Brady, Manning, Rodgers the week before the Super Bowl: Pay me $500,000 or I’ll tell everyone you hit me.

    If the media gets their way- they would have to sit out the SB while the court proceedings take place. Thats pretty stupid if you ask me.

  2. Let them play and let due process run its course. Unless you have overwhelming evidence like in the Ray Rice case, then you need to let due process take its course. Innocent until proven guilty. Sometimes I don’t like it, but it’s the best way to handle these situations.

  3. Exactly what happens for Lawyers when they contemplate this sort of news?

    Do they salivate uncontrollably?

    Do their fingernails grow rapidly to a sharp point?

    Do they poop themselves?

  4. The best way to avoid this is to not draft him. Obviously he doesn’t have the intelligence to be a good player in the NFL.

  5. It doesn’t matter that he could be pissing away a fortune.. It really doesn’t.. All that matters to most of these uneducated practical illiterate morons, is that he keeps it real in the hood. And the world is out to get him,god given ability is the worst attribute if you have eggshells between your ears, his old man will enable him not to make his boy a man, but to cash in..sad, but true… Over and over again..doubt this will get posted.. But shall I say it…REAL

  6. Any NFL team that drafts this child – this man punk deserves what they get. He is a non discipline baby – has no grit – a child. He’s thrown away a 20 million dollar a year career because he is a weak minded child – un-draftable by any self respecting NFL team

  7. Hey, but she’s an upstanding citizen. I know “rape” victims who are asking for $7 mil to go away. As far as FSU goes, it’s a Title IX investigation, which you should be familiar with and is not a criminal investigation. There are actually 60 of these going on around the country at various campuses.

  8. Maybe, just maybe the NFL should act like the vast majority of other corporations and rely on the legal system to function as opposed to assuming that function itself. Not many other corporations out there automatically suspend their employees as a result of accusations of criminality, and there aren’t many who suspend their employees even after the law essentially exonerates previously charged employees. When leadership succumbs to the whims of the mob and/or those with the loudest voices rather than relying upon established judicial procedures, then it opens itself up to selective enforcement that is highly vulnerable to a loss of fairness. Yes, our judicial processes can be frustrating, unsatisfying, and even seemingly unfair but in the end, its principal end state is to provide justice. Not justice as interpreted by individuals, but justice as defined by the law. I’m not sure the NFL front office is equipped to provide that type of judicial process, nor do I think that they necessarily should.

  9. How can a college student afford a lawyer?

    I can still see the vikings drafting him to have some QB competition. I think they are counting on him getting punished at some point for some small part of his bad behavior as part of a growing up plan.

  10. You know some team is going to draft this guy and when they do, they can’t be surprised by anything he does, nothing at all.

  11. I get that many NFL players are not choir boys but I just get a hunch this guy is some kind of ticking time bomb. Maybe I am wrong and he will get his act together but if I am a GM of a team in need of a QB I would have to think long and hard about drafting him.

  12. These players know they are high profile targets for possible extortion. Then why, why, why are they so ignorant and put themselves in a position to be extorted. Stay away from trouble in the first place and you wouldn’t have to worry about any of this. Although many of them think they can get away with anything because they have most of their lives. Good athletes have been given a pass from pee wee on up.

  13. “Suddenly, the victims of actual, perceived, exaggerated, and/or fabricated incidents of domestic violence have unprecedented power over the NFL players who allegedly engaged in misconduct. Faced with potentially lengthy suspensions with pay before trial and potentially lengthy suspensions without pay after the case ends, NFL players will have a strong incentive to write a check early, and to make it all go away.”

    And who created the witch hunt type atmosphere that will lead to many players being victimized? Thank you media. Maybe you should own up to your own responsibility here.

  14. I don’t like Winston, as he seems like a total idiot. That being said, this “most troubling allegation” against him is a perfect example of why you have to wait for the legal system to run its course. The details of his accuser’s story are sketchy at best: Several versions of the story told at different times, tox screens not supporting her version of events, texts to a friend immediately before and after the alleged attack not mentioning anything being wrong, etc. And if you enact a policy that essentially declares guys guilty until proven innocent, you’ll see even more false allegations and cases of blackmail where people demand money or else they’ll run to the cops.

  15. “just maybe the NFL should act like the vast majority of other corporations and rely on the legal system to function as opposed to assuming that function itself.”

    Sans other sports leagues, name one company that has to answer questions to billion dollar advertiser nervousness?

  16. Saw this coming.

    As an example look to hardy in NC.

    The case goes before an ELECTED judge and the only evidence needed to send to a jury trial is if both people were in a room together at some point. Basically this means that any player that sleeps with or hangs out with a woman has the potential of waking up the next day to her saying

    “give me $100k or I will accuse you of hitting me and you will be tarnished and suspended and your next contract will be less.”

  17. Love people biting the ignorance bullet on this one…all the assumptions about JW are crumbling, but the lemmings continue their crusade…FSU fans have known these accusations were false from the beginning, and now so will all the close-minded troglodytes who desperately want him and FSU to suffer…whatever teams pass on him will regret it…hope my boys in Arizona take him, and we’ll send the rest of y’all postcards from the Super Bowl…

  18. It’s not a surprise that an ignorant buffoon like Winston would get himself in a situation like that. This is exactly why the NFL should immediately cut any player who comes under any kind of allegation. This is the only way to protect the shield. Let the player fend for himself. The NFL should put immediate distance between themselves and the player.

  19. This idiot QB has already put himself in position to possibly fork over the great majority of his future earnings to a questionable accuser after the coming civil trial. What GM is willing to risk his job drafting this knucklehead before the 3rd day? Which set of coaches & teammates is willing to put their trust in him? To the FSU fan hoping the Cards draft him, be careful what you ask for from a Raiders fan still smarting from Al Davis over-ruling Kiffin wanting to draft Megatron over Jamarcus Russell.

  20. The NFL’s cowardly reaction to public pressure has resulted in a “policy” of punish on allegations. This article nailed it: The NFL is now inviting false accusations against players, some of who will be falsely accused and threatened with the loss of millions of dollars in income, and perhaps with the loss of their careers.
    Domestic abuse/domestic violence charges can include such acts as screaming and throwing a cup on the floor, touching another person on the shirt while telling them to leave you alone, grabbing a person by the arm while arguing with them, as well as more serious acts.
    Domestic violence accusations occur when people in relationships get upset, and many times they are just false. Child custody disputes often lead to false accusations. If a woman is expecting to marry an NFL player and he says he wants to break up, he may well face false accusations.
    Even with “due process” – a trial, for example – innocent people can and do get convicted. For the NFL to treat all accusations of domestic violence as true, and punish the accused even before there is a hearing or trial, is the worst kind of cowardly capitulation to pressure. That will undoubtedly result in punishment for innocent players.

  21. He is only 19 and if stays in school for 2 more years and stays clean(probably a BIG if) teams will be beating down his door.

    NFL shouldn’t suspend a player simply because someone accuses them of doing something (think Duke lacrosse). Let the process work itself out then determine course of action. The question of what to do become muddied with an out of court settlement.

  22. This dude is going to need to stay in school just for the purpose of settling this law suit before getting drafted… Just saying.

  23. amaf21 says:

    But some desperate team (cowboys) will draft him anyway.

    Jerry doesn’t draft black quarterbacks. He tried that once. I believe that dude is still in prison.

  24. Bisciotti tried to make this very point yesterday and Ms. Jackie of ESPN became very upset on Around the Horn.I don’t think we supposed to introduce facts or any alternative views into this issue.

  25. Immature knucklehead fits Winston perfect. That fits all these NFL players who get into trouble. They should make it a rule “get into trouble in college and you’re ineligible for the NFL draft.

  26. Great article Mike Florio (don’t often say that) it’s one of the first things that came to mind with this NFL abuse of women issue. There are people men and women looking to cash in whenever possible. The Ravens owner made good points on this issue. You can damn well bet it will not be long before a player claims this is happening to him. As soon as a relationship goes bad between an NFL player and his significant other, look out.

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