Let’s take some time to really evaluate the situation.
Yes, what Jameis Winston was accused of doing and subsequently suspended for is inexcusable. His checkered past puts the spotlight squarely on his shoulders as being a high risk investment for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, any potential future team, and the NFL. At the end of the day, this was a huge speed bump in the very young career of Mr. Winston.
But his story isn’t over yet.
Winston can get past this from both a football standpoint as well as an image standpoint. It’s going to take time and a lot of work, but it can be done.
Take a look at this column from Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones from a few days ago where he states that Winston can’t outplay this scandal and that no matter what he does, he’s a terrible human that the Buccaneers should have nothing to do with.
Basically, it comes down to this: The Bucs hope they can survive the public relations hit long enough for Winston to outplay his troubles.
Just like Ray Lewis. Just like Ben Roethlisberger. Just like Kobe Bryant.
All three were involved in ugly controversies that could have landed them in jail and certainly left their reputations in shambles. All three should have been let go by their teams, but none were. And on the surface, fans of those teams would argue those teams made the right decisions.
On the contrary, these guys have basically been forgiven for these past transgressions. Kobe Bryant had both of his numbers retired by the Los Angeles Lakers and is regarded as arguably the best player in NBA history. Ray Lewis has a cushy network television gig and is about to be enshrined in Canton, Ohio at the Pro Football Hall of Fame. Ben Roethlisberger is still playing at a high level for a consistent championship contender and is regarded as one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL.
No one speaks about Bryant’s rape allegation. No one speaks about Lewis’ alleged role in a homicide. No one speaks about Roethlisberger’s two rape allegations or 2010 suspension stemming from one of them. In fact, Mr. Jones himself ranked him as the third best quarterback in football just a few short years ago - with no mention whatsoever of the rape allegations Ben faced.
He also stated that Roethlisberger - along with Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson, Richie Incognito, and Pacman Jones - had all been forgiven for their various transgressions when he was pounding the table for Colin Kaepernick to be signed by a team.
And, while we’re at it, isn’t he the same guy who said that Tiger Woods’ second round performance in a meaningless PGA tournament was “one of the greatest days in Tampa sports history” despite the fact that Tiger admitted to having numerous extra-marital affairs, including with escorts - which is illegal pretty much every place he did so. But hey - let’s not bother to remember those questionable decisions, right?
The road to repair is long and winding, but that doesn’t mean it’s impossible to travel. Ultimately it boils down to what Winston does from here. He has to continue to be active in the community, of which he’s already done incredible things.
He must make better decisions on the field. It can’t be a case of him making bad reads or costly turnovers which of course lead to things like “well, if he can’t make smart decisions on the field he probably still isn’t making them off the field,” type of nonsense.
Finally, he has to keep his name out of the headlines. Period. He can’t slip up, even the tiniest bit. Something even as minute as getting cited in a fender-bender would set him back. Winston, for all intents and purposes, has to be the absolute model citizen. For the better part of the next decade.
Eventually, and slowly, the fans will begin to forgive. Then the media will begin to forgive. None of them will forget, but his past troubles also won’t be the first thing linked to him the second his name is mentioned.
Just like Kobe Bryant. Just like Ray Lewis. Just like Ben Roethlisberger, Michael Vick, Adrian Peterson. And yes, just like Tiger Woods.
Do You Believe Jameis Winston Has The Chance To Repair His Image?
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It’s Possible, But Unlikely