Experience is one of the greatest educators in life. It’s hard sometimes to see the forest through the trees, and most struggle at times with listening to those on the other side of a given situation when navigating their own way through.
These things can be said of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston as well. Experience has taught him a lot.
One big lesson he’s learned is to be grateful for what he’s been blessed with and to pass it on to as many people as he realistically can, while he can.
Earlier this month Evan Winter and I had the opportunity to speak exclusively to Winston ahead of one of his Dream Forever Foundation events where he welcomed Special Olympics Florida as his special guests for a day of football and fun.
Recently, he and his foundation held another camp, this time back in his home state of Alabama.
Again, he spoke to media who were on hand to witness the events, and he delivered some wise words which caught my attention.
At one point, Winston was asked about delivering his message to high school players looking to take the next step into college football with dreams of making it to the NFL.
During his answer, Winston mentioned the importance of the mental side of football by saying,
“This game, it’s 99.9 percent mental, so we had a guy come in and teach them breathing exercises, to teach them the ‘next-play mentality,’ because a lot of us get in trouble, I’ve gotten in trouble that way. Something bad may happen, and I harp on that play too long instead of moving on to the next play.”
Raise your hand if you can remember a time when Jameis Winston went for it all, and did so in an unwise fashion. Was in a bad spot, whether it be pressure or coverage or both. The throw just didn’t make sense when you really lay out the facts of the play. And what made it worse, it was first or second down, or maybe third and manageable. Perfect spot for a dump off or a five-yard tuck and run.
I have one moment I love to recall when thinking about this part of Winston’s game. His 39-yard completion to Mike Evans against the Chicago Bears during Week 10 of the 2016 season.
Granted, Winston was talking about players forgiving themselves for bad plays and moving on from them, but the residual impact of understanding there’s a next play is remembering there’s a next play if you allow it.
This type of growth of course means fewer plays like the one illustrated above, but it also means less of the heart pounding, blood pressure raising, no-no-no inducing moments like some other moments in Winston’s career.
Good thing that was pre-season. And it was ruled a sack. But you get the point.
Winston getting better mentally means his decision making should continue to get better. Some contend, myself included, his decision making and the mental side of his game have gotten better year-to-year so a continued focus on this by Winston himself should lead to even more growth in the area.
Eventually he was asked about the new coaching staff as expected. Specifically, he was asked about his expectations heading into the 2019 season.
“No expectations. Actions, man. We’re happy to have BA. Great energy. Great team. We’re ready to play....”
Simple. Expectations surround the team. And pressure is certainly on. If Winston is going to be this franchise’s future, then many believe he either proves he is this year, or the team moves on the next.
Much more will be expected from this player and this team as we move forward. For now, Winston is focusing on giving back, being mentally prepared for what comes next, and has his eyes set on actions, not expectations.
All good news. All good things to talk about as we get closer to July and the opening of training camp.