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Echoes from the Cave: Tom Jones talks to Bucs Nation

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Gil’s weekly column features the local columnist weighing in on Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston.

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston. Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

On Tuesday, I published an article discussing the media coverage when it came to the suspension of Jameis Winston. The article was to point out how some people can be easily swayed by words they read.

In it, there were links to articles from Tampa Bay Times columnist Tom Jones that referenced Ben Roethlisberger as being forgiven by society and ranked as a Top 3 quarterback. Those were referenced to provide examples of how people can base their opinions or judgments on an athlete off of what they read.

This is happening with Winston.

However, that piece was in no way to knock the work of Jones – although many viewed it that way and that was nowhere near the case despite the fact that was specifically written in the article.

I don’t have to necessarily agree with some of the things Jones writes, which goes both ways. But there are some things that I do agree with him on. The main issue here is where no one should disagree and that is that what Winston did was downright wrong on many levels.

To show there were no hard feelings between both sides, Jones agreed to be a special guest for Echoes from the Cave and answered several questions on Winston. He and I discussed his articles and more.

He stayed true to the words he’s already written, just like any journalist should.

Enjoy.

Gil Arcia: You wrote in your first piece after news broke of Winston’s potential three-game suspension that he should seek counseling of some kind. He later released a statement after learning of his suspension saying that he has removed alcohol from his life. Do you think there is a chance he tried to get out in front of his problems?

Tom Jones: Winston said he has removed alcohol from his life and, if that is true, I can’t really say what his motivation was for doing so. As far as getting, as you say, “out in front of his problems’’ that’s simply something I really can’t comment on because I honestly don’t know. That’s probably a question best answered by Winston himself.

GA: There was a line in that first column that got me thinking the most, a line from Jason Licht from Hard Knocks: “He’s the best leader I think I’ve been around. In anything. He inspires me.” Is there a chance here that the organization was, for a lack of a better term, “fooled” by Winston?

TJ: I don’t know if it’s fair to say the Bucs were “fooled’’ by Winston. My guess is the Bucs looked into Winston, both on and off the field, and clearly they felt comfortable drafting him. I don’t know who all they talked to and how deeply they looked into all aspects of his life. But it’s obvious that if there were any concerns, there weren’t enough to stop them from taking him.

GA: I feel that Winston will be able to play through this (if he plays well, they’ll keep him around). But as you stated, his past will always follow him. Do you think that despite how well he plays, the Buccaneers should still cut ties? I mean, that can become reality if sponsors start threatening to part ways with the team, right?

TJ: I would be shocked if the Bucs cut ties with Winston. And I also believe that the Bucs’ decision on Winston’s long-term future here will be based on how he plays on the field. That’s assuming there are no other off-field incidents. I’m on record several times now saying the Bucs should cut ties with Winston, and I still feel that way. I’ve written three columns explaining my position, but if I were to sum it up in one sentence it would be that I don’t feel Winston, because of his off-field behavior, can been trusted, especially as the face of the franchise and keeping him sends a horrible message to the community and the fan base. Ultimately, I don’t care what the sponsors think. It comes down to doing what’s right and I think cutting ties with Winston is the right thing to do.

GA: I would imagine that the line of trust has been broken in some way between Winston and the team. How short is his leash now or do you feel the team will go on with this tucked into their back pockets?

TJ: Again, that’s something only the Bucs can answer. But I would guess that if there are any more off-field issues, the Bucs would have to seriously consider Winston’s future in Tampa Bay.

GA: You are general manager Jason Licht. The quarterback you drafted first overall in 2015 has just let you down because of his actions away from the football field. He is now a risk moving forward for any future disciplinary actions. Fast forward Week 13 of the 2018 season and Winston has played lights out to this point. The team is in position to finally make the playoffs. Do you open up talks for a new contract to keep him in Tampa Bay?

TJ: For me, the reason to get rid of Winston has absolutely nothing to do with his play on the field. But I’m guessing the Bucs future plans will be based solely on his play. It’s hard for me to say what the Bucs should do 15 months from now because I think they already should be rid of him.

GA: This is something that happened over two years ago but it is affecting the team NOW. Let’s say winning will help with repairing his image, how quickly will he have to win for it to be “OK” for the fan base to stand by him?

TJ: Some fans are going to stick with him no matter what and they are already okay with him. Some fans are never going to be okay with him. I’m not sure how he plays on the field will change anyone’s mind. He will always have those who support and defend him. And he will always have those who will never be okay with him.

GA: You said that we will find out what kind of people the Glazers are. How long can they go on without addressing their franchise quarterback’s transgressions, aside from the team releasing such a vague statement?

TJ: Based on the reaction I’ve received, the fan base is pretty split on Winston. Certainly, many still support him and the Bucs’ decision to keep him. But I can tell you that, of the several hundred e-mails I’ve received about Winston, about 75 percent of those are very much of the idea that the Bucs should cut ties with Winston. The Glazers probably need to speak publicly regarding their thoughts on Winston and his future in Tampa Bay. A statement probably wouldn’t be as effective as talking to some legitimate media outlet and answering tough questions in a detailed interview about why they are sticking with Winston. Their quarterback has just been suspended by the NFL, and the NFL was not at all vague as for the reason why he has been suspended. I don’t think it’s a topic that can be ignored or brushed aside by the organization, especially the owners.

Poll

Do You Believe Jameis Winston Has The Chance To Repair His Image?

This poll is closed

  • 59%
    Yes
    (963 votes)
  • 14%
    No
    (226 votes)
  • 23%
    It’s Possible, But Unlikely
    (380 votes)
  • 2%
    Not Sure
    (42 votes)
1611 votes total Vote Now