Star athletes who get into off-field trouble rarely lose the support of their teams’ fans, no matter what they do — as long as they keep helping their team win. Will Buccaneers fans be any different with quarterback Jameis Winston be any different?
Probably not. There’s a long history of sports fans gladly looking the other way about a player who has committed sexual assault or domestic violence or anything else, as long as he helps the team win. But there are some indications that at least a few Buccaneers fans have had it with Winston after he was suspended three games for groping an Uber driver.
John Schuzer, who has been a Buccaneers fan since the franchise was founded in 1976, and who has kept up his season tickets even though he lives in Chicago, told the Tampa Bay Times he’s done cheering for Winston. A longtime Winston fan, Schuzer shipped his Winston jersey to the Buccaneers’ headquarters with a note telling them he can no longer support Winston, after both the statement from the NFL finding the Uber driver’s accusation credible, and Winston’s insincere apology.
“That was the breaking point. I just didn’t find it sincere,” Schuzer said. “He was just covering his own [butt]. To me, I didn’t think there was anything tangible in there in terms of owning up to what he did. It was the final straw. You create more chaos by giving a half-hearted apology than by giving none at all.”
Another Bucs fan wrote on Reddit that he now feels guilty for having ever supported Winston, who was accused of rape at Florida State and also repeatedly got in trouble for other off-field issues.
“Winston’s serial tomfoolery and repeated allegations of sexual misconduct are characteristic of him after all; and just as Jameis realized his actions could ‘bring great embarrassment’ while at FSU, the Buccaneers and our fans now have the embarrassment and predatory manchild on our hands that is Jameis Winston,” the fan wrote, while adding that this incident is worse than anything the team has ever done on the field. “All of these continued failures pale in comparison to the shame of having a sexual predator not only as a player on our franchise, but the face of our franchise.”
A big question facing the Glazer family now is how many fans share those opinions. They may soon decide that Winston is just too toxic for the ownership to continue to support.