After an off-season of doubt, the Tampa Bay Buccaneers from top-to-bottom are standing behind their starting quarterback, Jameis Winston, in regards to the NFL investigation into an incident with a female Uber driver. As the league’s investigation chugs along, the decision could determine the fate of the 2018 season.
Belief In Jameis
At the NFL Owner’s meeting in Orlando, each level of Bucs brass – ownership, front office and the head coach each had the same tune. We don’t have control over the process, but we believe in Jameis and we think the investigation will find him innocent and he won’t miss any time.
No endorsement was any more direct than Bucs co-chairman Joel Glazer, who told the Tampa Bay Times, “Jameis has been nothing but a great person since he’s been with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and he’s done everything we’ve asked of him. He’s been a great leader. He’s been unbelievable in the community and we have great confidence in Jameis. So we focus on the great things Jameis has done. I can only speak to the person that I know, the person I have known. And the person everyone I know knows. That’s what I’ll speak to, and that’s a first-class individual, hard-working, wonderful in the community, a leader and everything that we would’ve hoped for in our quarterback.”
That’s a heck of an statement by Glazer. Think about it for a second. He just threw his full support behind Winston. If the NFL comes back and says they have enough evidence to suspend Winston for the incident, this would make Glazer look pretty bad in the public eye.
That tells me there’s got to be a strong belief in the organization that Jameis will not be suspended.
Heavy Handed Roger
It’s interesting the Bucs might be feeling that way. NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell has suspended players for less or with little to no evidence of their guilt. If it’s a conduct against women policy violation, the suspension could be up to 6 games which basically would destroy the 2018 season. Yes, Tampa Bay re-signed Ryan Fitzpatrick, who went 2-1 as a starter in 2017, but to expect Fitz to sustain the team for that long a period of time is unrealistic.
Of course, Winston could appeal and go through that process, as Tom Brady and Zeke Elliot have done. Ultimately though, the NFL always seems to win.
So it’s at the Commissioner’s discretion to decide whether or not Winston deserves to be punished and to be honest, no one knows what he’s thinking.
The odd thing about this situation is there is no lawsuit or legal proceeding that is the impetus for this. No district attorney has pursued an assault charge against Winston and the alleged victim isn’t suing him for money. That could speak to her honesty – she’s not doing this for fame or money. At the same time, it also speaks to the facts of the case. Is there no evidence to prove the alleged incident happened?
Eagles CB Ronald Darby claims he was in the car with Winston and he did nothing wrong. The Uber driver claims Winston was alone. Perhaps it’s a case of mistaken identity?
Who knows? And that’s really what it boils down to for the NFL. They have no subpoena power so they can’t exactly go to establishments and demand to see surveillance footage. They can ask, but the business doesn’t have to comply.
Why Is It Taking So Long
The NFL has to be careful here. Number one, they can’t set a precedent that they’re going to suspend players on rumors and innuendo. Unlike the Zeke Elliot case, there are no pictures to support the accuser. Its her word against his and another NFL player. While Winston has a sordid past that has to be considered, he was never convicted of a crime and has been a model citizen with the Buccaneers.
Number two, they can’t absolve Winston only to have TMZ post a video showing Winston committing the act. In the post-Ray Rice era, the NFL is very leery of finding itself in those situations again.
The bottom line is the organization is behind their quarterback, which is important and good to see. If we were still getting the silent “We have no information on the investigation,” quotes without the support for Winston, there would definitely be reason for Bucs fans to worry.