According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter and the Tampa Bay Times’ Rick Stroud, Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston will be suspended for 3 games for violating the NFL’s personal conduct policy and the suspension could be increased it Winston doesn’t meet unspecified demands by the league.
Another personal conduct incident would net Winston a full year’s suspension.
Bucs QB Jameis Winston is expecting to be suspended three games by the NFL for as early as Friday but before July 4 after an 8 month probe into allegations he groped a female Uber driver in March 2016. He’s not expected to appeal.
— Rick Stroud (@NFLSTROUD) June 21, 2018
Stroud says Winston isn’t expected to appeal the decision, meaning he will miss the season opener at New Orleans, the home opener against the Super Bowl Champion Eagles and the Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
Ryan Fitzpatrick is expected to be the quarterback to start those games. He was 2-1 as a starter last season for the Bucs.
Schefter reports,”NFL investigator Lisa Friel helped spearhead the investigation that would see the suspension of another NFL star.
The alleged incident occurred in March 2016 but did not surface until BuzzFeed reported the accusation in November 2017. The NFL initiated its investigation — with Friel at the forefront of it — and the Buccaneers have been waiting to hear from the league.
The league began its investigation in November 2017 when a woman, who identified herself as “Kate,” told BuzzFeed that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while waiting at a drive-thru at Los Betos Mexican Food at 2 a.m.
Restaurant management told ESPN that they did not have security footage of the drive-thru. No police charges were filed but the driver did file a formal complaint with Uber. She told BuzzFeed that she wanted to tell the truth “about a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job.” Uber confirmed to ESPN that Winston’s riding privileges were revoked, but Winston did not notify the league of the complaint.
Last month, multiple sources said they did not expect Winston to be disciplined. But whatever the facts were unnerved the NFL and Friel enough that is now preparing to hand down a three-game suspension that still could be altered based on any last-minute findings. The decision will come as a major disappointment to a Buccaneers’ team looking to rebound this season, especially considering the type of behavior that Winston has demonstrated around them.”
The most disturbing aspect was added by NFL Network’s Ian Rappaport,
In addition to his suspension, Winston must meet a certain criteria related to his conduct to return to the field. This suspension could come tomorrow, but next week is more likely.
— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) June 21, 2018
This level of punishment could mean that the NFL has found enough evidence to believe Winston did indeed perpetrate the alleged act and does not believe his story (and that of Eagles DB Ronald Darby) that it was a case of mistaken identity.
Needless to say, a tough start for the Bucs may have gotten just that much tougher.