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Jameis Winston, NFL’s Newest Criminal? By Jeff Crouere, May 1, 2015

Jameis-Winston.jpgThe first selection by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in the NFL draft was former Heisman Trophy winner and Florida State Quarterback Jameis Winston. It was no surprise to many analysts who predicted Winston would be chosen due to his superior athletic talent. Undoubtedly, Winston is a gifted athlete, but he also comes with a tremendous amount of baggage.


Winston was accused of rape by a classmate, who is now suing him and Florida State University. While he was exonerated by local prosecutors and the university, the investigation, which was spearheaded by a police officer with ties to the Florida State athletic program, was a total sham. The New York Times discovered that Winston was never questioned by authorities, nor was he asked to provide a DNA sample. Even worse, a teammate’s video of the incident was never subpoenaed by law enforcement officials. In her lawsuit, the alleged victim, Erica Kinsman, maintains that Winston falsely imprisoned, raped and assaulted her in an off-campus apartment in 2012. As evidence, the medical report cited her bruised knees and discovered semen on Kinsman’s body.  


The detailed lawsuit also included multiple witness statements verifying Kinsman’s charges against Winston. According to David Weinstein, a former federal prosecutor, Kinsman’s chances of prevailing in a trial are “good,” due to the amount of specific information included in the lawsuit. Kinsman’s attorney, John Klune, believes that Winston is “an entitled athlete who believes he can take what he wants. He took something here that he was not entitled to and he hurt someone." Due to overwhelming evidence, it is likely that Winston will settle out of court in an attempt to limit a potential public relations nightmare.


The lawsuit was filed just two weeks ago, but, today, Winston seems unconcerned about this potentially serious problem. Upon his first round selection, Winston posted a celebratory picture on Instagram. It showed the star athlete in front of a plate of crab legs. This is particularly insulting since Winston was cited for shoplifting crab legs from a Publix store in Tallahassee in 2014. The picture indicates that Winston believes he can do whatever he wants with no consequences. It shows his immaturity and disdain for lawful behavior.


The new quarterback for the Tampa Bay Bucs is no stranger to the criminal justice system. In 2012, he was detained by Florida State University police for using a BB gun to shoot squirrels near the campus. In 2013, he was accused of stealing soda from a Burger King restaurant. Last year, he was suspended for a full game for shouting a string of profane comments about women at the student union.


In all of these cases, Winston was able to evade justice due to his celebrity status. Obviously, no one in the Tallahassee area is ever going to arrest Winston for anything short of a murder charge. It shows once again that there is a double standard of justice in our society and star athletes are treated with kid gloves in many cases.


Now, Winston is the project of the Tampa Bay Bucs. Sadly, his track record shows he will continue to use bad judgment and he could very well turn into another NFL embarrassment.


In the past year, the league has dealt with the scandals involving Adrian Peterson and Ray Rice, both implicated in abusive behavior. Cowboys Defensive End Greg Hardy was suspended by the NFL for ten games for four documented incidents of domestic violence against his former girlfriend.


As the new season begins, Winston will be in the spotlight. The question remains whether he will turn his life around and become a person of integrity or become the latest to join the NFL line-up of criminals.


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