We won't know when the Tampa Bay Buccaneers finally decided that Jameis Winston was their guy. The pick has been known for weeks, and strong indicators for far longer,
We do know what convinced the Bucs, though: one specific conversation on his off-field issues. An earnest one, recounted by Mike Freeman of Bleacher Report in his latest column.
Winston was asked by the Buccaneers about the various troubles in college including the ugly accusation of sexual assault. Winston didn't flinch at the question.
According to several people familiar with the conversation, Winston said something like this: You will never see me get in trouble again. This is not a lie or me saying something you want to hear. This is the truth. I don't like what I became and I will be better. I promise you.
Winston admitted to his immaturity. He ticked down the incidents, one by one, with little prodding from the team. He took the blame for each. I'm told he talked about the sexual-assault accusation as well. There was no stonewalling or evasion. It was all on the table.
I would love to have been a fly on the wall during that conversation, but alas, it was not to be. All we're going to get are second-hand reports, at best. But those reports coincide with what the Bucs have been telling everyone for quite some time now: Jameis Winston convinced them. They trust him. They have confidence in his character. Because if they didn't, they wouldn't have drafted him.
The Bucs have spent the past months slowly telling their fans as much, and at their press conferences today, they did so explicitly. Lovie Smith said he trusts his gut when it comes to people, and his gut told him to be confident in Winston. All we can do is trust that the Buccaneers did all they could, and hope that they're correct.