Jameis WInston's legal counsel, David Cornwell, spoke publicly about his client today. As he's done so often, he reiterated in some very strong wordings that Winston is innocent of rape, and that Winston was unfairly persecuted. That is not really new: we know that Winston's lawyer feels that way. That's a lawyer's job, after all. What is new is what Cornwell had to say about Winston's other off-field incidents, or rather the level of maturity they implied on the likely number one pick's part:
"He's ready to be an NFL player on the field. But he's not ready to be an NFL player off the field" - Cornwell on Winston. Gotdamn.— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) April 10, 2015
"We have to assist him in growing and developing as a man. And it's not going to be easy" - Cornwell on Winston.— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) April 10, 2015
Just spoke with Cornwell. The implication is that Jameis still has some growing to do, not that he's unprepared to be in the NFL.— Joel D. Anderson (@byjoelanderson) April 10, 2015
Update: Cornwell later added this on Twitter:
This is kind of surprising, coming from a legal counsel who has staunchly and very vocally defended Jameis Winston against any and all accusations. That's Cornwell's job, of course -- which makes it all the more strange that he'd willing to publicly say that Winston has some maturing to do to be an NFL quarterback. But the concept that the quarterback still needs to grow is nothing: that has even been acknowledging by Lovie Smith and Jason Licht -- the question for them is now whether he was immature, but whether he can grow from that -- and they'll do everything they can to surround him with a system in which he can do so, if he's the number one pick.
To answer the question of Winston's immaturity, the Bucs have spent ages investigating Winston. In fact, Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report now says that Winston may be the most-investigated player in NFL history, with no expenses spared to figure out whether teams can trust him off the field.
One team executive said that Winston has been "the most investigated player in NFL history." Another estimated teams in total have spent $5-7 million investigating Winston. This figure was scoffed at by others in football (including a former team executive), who said it was ridiculously high.
What's become clear is that while it remains likely (but not a lock) Tampa Bay will pick Winston, teams at the top of draft, and even toward the middle, simply do not trust him. This is harsh but true.
The end result of all this investigating? No one knows for sure. Team officials believe all of the checks have turned up information that is making the Buccaneers reconsider Winston, but this could simply be draft spin.
That's good to see, because it means the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers are not taking this problem lightly, as was too often the case in the past. The Bucs want to draft a quarterback who can represent their franchise on, and off the field. Someone who they can truly put forward as the face of their organization. And that means investigating -- or spying -- on a player, apparently.
So far, it looks like Winston has passed all of those background as he's still on track be Tampa Bay's number one pick -- with Winston getting a head start in the PR department by attending Mike Alstott's charity event yesterday. Over the past few months, the Florida State's quarterback has done and said all the right things. All we can do now is hope and trust that the choice the Bucs make turns out to be the right one.