Jameis Winston has prepared himself for scrutiny as much as he’s prepared himself as a passer leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft.
And that preparation seems to have steeled him, to have made him more resolute that he’s worth the risk, if he’s a risk at all.
In an ESPN Magazine story by Kurt Streeter that details his controversial past, Winston spoke before the Scouting Combine between his two kinds of trouble — the young-and-dumb, and the more serious kind.
Beginning with jumping on a table in the student union and blurting out a popular internet obscenity, Winston admits to playing to the crowd.
“I was with my friends,” he says. “I was quoting — it was a meme. Like it’s just something people say, and me being, wanting the attention, I burst it out. I got a bunch of laughs. You know, that’s childish, but I did it. I’m going to own that. That was stupid.”
Then he asked the reporter: “So what other off-the-field issues am I having?”
In order to help him and the questioner out, this was his way of transitioning to the rape allegations at Florida State, for which no charges were filed.
“So many people try to dehumanize me,” Winston said. “They say, ‘Off-field issues.’ They say, ‘The sexual allegation stuff.’ People view me as a convict, and I didn’t even do nothing. People say, ‘How does he play like this and all this stuff going on?’ Like by me playing well during that adversity, that made people think about me worse, thinking I’m a sociopath.”
Winston said the allegation “hurts the women that I respect,” a group which includes his mother and grandmother (the one with diabetes he’s skipping the draft to be with) and his girlfriend, a high school sweetheart who “remains by his side” (despite what is at least his stepping out with another woman, and perhaps something more sinister).
And summing up the charges, Winston couldn’t or wouldn’t say the word.
“I’m not, . . .” he said, with a pause, “You know what I’m saying?”
Winston’s football ability is clear, and he’s tested appropriately at every level. The Buccaneers, who pick first, have indicated they trust him as it relates to off-field issues, and that might be the only one that matters.
But he’s also smart enough to know that he has a long way to go before he convinces everyone, as that will only come with time.