As the Tampa Bay Buccaneers prepare for the 2015 NFL draft, one question they will have to answer is whether Jameis Winston is the kind of person they want to be the face of their franchise. Not just on the field, but off the field. Winston has faced a slew of off-field incidents -- most of them minor, but a rape accusation for which he was never charged continues to be the focal point of the questions surrounding him.
The Bucs will have to determine whether they're comfortable with his explanation. To that end, the Bucs met with the Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa Bay, the New York Times reports.
"The larger issue is that there have been many allegations against Jameis Winston, yet there is no question that Jameis Winston will be chosen by an N.F.L. team to play next season," Amanda Brennan of the task force told the New York Times. "As an N.F.L. player, he is a role model for boys and young men across the country. The Sexual Violence Task Force of Tampa Bay would like to know that Jameis Winston will be expected to adhere to a strict standard of conduct."
The Bucs will do a lot more than just talk to this task force to figure out whether Winston's behavior will be a problem, but apart from his behavior they also face a public relations problem if they draft the Florida State quarterback. A documentary about rape on college campuses called The Hunting Ground features Winston's accuser telling her story, and will air on CNN later this year.
As is the case with Ben Roethlisberger, Winston's name will be tied to this rape accusation for a while -- probably the rest of his career. And while that may not hinder his on-field prowess, and it doesn't make him guilty, that doesn't mean the front office, the coaching staff, or the Glazers are going to be comfortable dealing with that.