Thursday, September 18, 2014

Jameis Winston. Today and tomorrow

College football fans know Jameis Winston as the Heisman trophy winning quarterback that led Florida State to the national championship last year. Immensely talented, Winston can definitely get it done on the field.

Alas, it appears Jameis is one of a growing breed that seems to think he's "entitled" to get away with misdeeds that would land your average history or biology major in big trouble -- because he's such a terrific athlete. After all, Tallahassee is another college football crazy town, and the Seminoles need him if they want to have another terrific season -- perhaps even repeating as champions. Jameis Winston is smart enough to know that. But in another way, he keeps proving his dumbness over and over again.

Barely 20 years old and in his sophomore year at FSU, consider the things Winston has already been accused of doing. Shooting out windows with a BB gun and swiping too many soda refills from Burger King? OK, that's kid stuff. Swiping crab legs from a supermarket? No biggy, but still an alleged crime, and most kids know better than to shoplift. Their parents taught them better than that.

Mixed in between was a charge of sexual assault. That's no laughing matter to be brushed off. Yet the local cops in charge of investigating the matter, likely 'Noles fans themselves, sat on the case for nine months so Winston and FSU could complete their run to a championship. That's inexcusable. A math major would have been jammed up right away. Who's kidding who?

But Jameis Winston evidently hasn't learned anything from his "entitled" brushes with the law over the last couple years. Just recently, he jumped up on a table at the school cafeteria and yelled a phrase that was deemed to be politically incorrect at best, and downright offensive to many at worst.

Jameis has since publicly apologized for that little moment of indiscretion. But Jameis always apologizes for his misdeeds, and says he'll straighten up. And then he'll go on to do something else dumb. The young man seems to be incapable of appreciating just how fortunate he has been to date, let alone showing the slightest sign of maturing.

That's today. But "tomorrow" opens up another can of worms.

It's highly likely Winston will forego future years at FSU, and declare for the NFL after this season. Based on football talent alone, many NFL teams might covet his services as their franchise QB of the future. A high first round draft choice for sure, if not #1 overall.

But look at it from the NFL's point of view. They've already got a handful of messes on their hands (see notables Adrian Petersen, Greg Hardy, Ray Rice, and recently Jonathan Dwyer, amongst others).

Deep pocketed sponsors and/or endorsers are either chastising or outright bailing in the wake of some of these "incidents". For the NFL, it's a public relations nightmare, with no clear cut solutions in sight.

Now imagine you're the general manager of an NFL team. You'll call the shots next year on who your team drafts. With the heightened awareness of so many recent players stepping out of line, even your billionaire owner has become sensitive to taking on a previous "bad apple" that might embarrass his franchise in the future. What do you do if Jameis is on the board and it's your turn to pick? Take him, pay him millions of your owner's money, and hope he finally grows up into a mature superstar? Or pass on him, wary he'll continue to be a bonehead and bring yet another public relations disaster crashing down on your team in the future? Your job might well depend on it. A tough decision indeed.

But that's the situation Jameis Winston has put himself in through his past foibles. It might be fair to say right now Winston is on double secret probation, ala the Delta Tau Chi fraternity in the classic 1978 movie Animal House. If he can straighten up and fly right for the rest of the year, chances are good an NFL team will snatch him up in the 2015 draft. But given his history, even one more little "infraction", despite how trivial it might be all by itself, would not bode well for him. Not even a parking ticket, much less a food fight.

And heaven forbid he should have his way with the dean's wife at a drunken frat party and the press gets wind of it. Though it would make everybody forget about the BBs, pop refills, and crab legs, it's probably not the best career move Winston could make at this point.

Former NFL player, head coach, and current analyst Herman Edwards probably said it best. Somebody somewhere needs to make Jameis Winston understand two words -- "stop it".

Idle thought: Perhaps a few private moments with Adrian Petersen and a switch in a woodshed would do the trick. If nothing else, Winston would definitely sit up and take notice.

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