The NFL has had to deal with a lot of off-field incidents in the past years, and the public patience for NFL players' indiscretions appears to be wearing very, very thin. Players like Ray Rice, Adrian Peterson and Greg Hardy were deactivated for most or all of the season after getting caught inflicting violence on others away from a football game.
For a time, that looked like a sea change. But Mark Maske of the Washington Post reports that some NFL teams are already going back to "business as usual," citing Rex Ryan's signing Richie Incognito as one example of that kind of thing.
None of this is to say that Incognito shouldn't be signed or that Winston shouldn't be taken early in the NFL draft. There are compelling arguments to be made that players deserve chances to earn a living after dealing with any consequences arising from their off-field actions.
Rather, this is merely to point out that very soon after a season that clearly was not business as usual for the NFL, in some places within the league it seems to be back to something resembling business as usual.
This is at the heart of much of the disagreement over Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota, too. While Winston was never charged with rape, the accusation and his other off-field incidents give many fans pause. And while the NFL has become harsher in its treatment of off-field incidents, talent can wash away a lot of those concerns -- as can forgiveness, or a conviction that those incidents really weren't serious.
This is also relevant beyond Jameis Winston. Specifically with Greg Hardy, who was found guilty of assaulting his ex-girlfriend back in July, and whose jury trial will start on Monday. Update: Greg Hardy's case was dismissed after the accuser refused to show up.
The quirks of North Carolina law allow him an automatic jury trial to supersede the bench trial in which he was convicted. Hardy allegedly choked his then-girlfriend and threatened to kill her. Hardy would be a great fit for the Bucs defense on the field, but these off-field incidents are likely to disqualify him from playing in Tampa -- unless, of course, the Bucs are too enamored with his talent.
Lovie Smith doesn't have a particular history with off-field incidents. He coached a team with Brandon Marshall, although Marshall was open about his mental health problems, active about seeking help, and repentant about his actions. Smith also cut ties with Mike Williams after a few off-field incidents that amounted to the wide receiver partying too much.
How this will play out with Winston, Greg Hardy and others we don't know. All we can do is trust the Tampa Bay Buccaneers will do everything they can to figure out what's going on with each player, and then make the right decision -- whatever that means.