The Buccaneers have reported to training camp, and the face of the franchise didn’t show his face when the time came to speak to the media.
As explained by Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times, quarterback Jameis Winston wasn’t made available to reporters on Wednesday. Which meant that the players who were made available were made to answer questions about Jameis Winston. Which made for, as Stroud put it, a “clunky, awkward and uncomfortable” launch of training camp.
Linebacker Lavonte David, one of three players who spoke, called Winston’s alleged/actual groping of an Uber driver in March 2016 a “silly mistake.”
“He knows it, we all know it,” David told reporters. “He knows we’ve got his back and he’s going to learn from it because from whenever it happened until now, he’s matured a lot. Jameis is a guy who is all about his business. He’s going to come to work, do what’s right. He’s going to have your back and we’re going to have his back. All he can do is keep his spirits up and we’ll hold it down until he gets back.”
Said receiver Mike Evans, “I mean I don’t know the whole situation and nobody does but the people that were there so I don’t speak too much on that.”
The one guy who knows the “whole situation” is Winston. But Winston was nowhere to be seen. And so players like David, Evans, and Ali Marpet had to explain for Winston’s behavior. Which is hardly an ideal way to start the season.
Meanwhile, coach Dirk Koetter also didn’t speak to reporters. As Stroud notes, Koetter usually talks to the media after the first training-camp practice. Given these unusual circumstances, however, it would have made sense for Koetter to go first, to address all questions, and to help take some of the heat away from the players who surely were wondering why they and not Winston were expected to talk about Winston.