Earlier today, Michael David Smith of Pro Football Talk (PFT) published an article that once again takes unnecessary cheap shots at Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston. The purpose of Mr. Smith’s article was to inform all of his readers that ESPN’s “The Undefeated” had released a profile on Jameis Winston’s maturity but failed to address that Bucs WR Louis Murphy feels that Winston faces unfair racial criticism. Really?
Let’s rewind a bit so that we are all on the same page. ESPN, the same network who essentially LED the witch hunt from the time news broke that Winston was under investigation in late 2013 up until the time his name was called on draft night in 2015, wrote a very positive piece on Jameis Winston and how he continues to mature both on and off the field. This profile comes after Winston made a special appearance at Louis Murphy’s football camp in St. Petersburg on June 13th in which he spent part of his day reflecting on his past mistakes and encouraging kids to always do the right thing and not make the same mistakes he once made.
Evidently, it was during the writing of that piece that Louis Murphy let the author, Alex Kennedy, in on an opinion of his that just so happens to be shared by many: Louis Murphy believes that much of the criticism Jameis Winston has faced and continues to face is due to the color of his skin. While this was not published in the profile piece, Kennedy shared and subsequently deleted these comments on twitter. This opened the door for our pal Michael David Smith at PFT to jump all over Murphy, and it did not stop there.
Smith went on to bring up the rape allegations that Winston faced while a student at Florida State and how that is the reason why many in the media make him out to be a bad person. He goes on to say that any “reasonable person” could think that his accuser told the truth. Smith even went as far as to cite the New York Times pathetically one-sided investigation into the case in 2014. Surprisingly, he stopped short of bringing up the CNN documentary “The Hunting Ground” to use in his futile attempts to dredge up the past and further slam Winston.
Before I continue, let’s get this out of the way. I am a life-long, die-hard Florida State Seminole. I have loved everything about that school, the city, and the football program since attending my first game with my family when I was 6 years old. I follow the team and its players as closely if not closer than anyone, from the recruiting trail to draft day. And yes, since the day he committed to us from Hueytown High School, I have been an avid fan of Jameis Winston and I am so happy to have him here in my hometown playing for my Bucs.
Having said that, there have been plenty of instances where a player messes up to the point where I want him off the team. See Deandre Johnson. But from the beginning, the accusations against Jameis Winston never sounded right. Never added up. Being closely involved with FSU athletics and people in Tallahassee and at Florida State, I was aware of what he was being accused of and I knew when the story broke in December of 2013 that there was nothing to worry about, as anyone who actually followed BOTH SIDES of the story would have concluded. There were far too many inconsistencies with the accuser’s story and far too many witness accounts that backed up Winston’s claim that this was a consensual encounter. But let us assume for argument’s sake that I, nor anyone else, knew anything about this case from either side. The fact is, to still believe that Jameis Winston committed rape against Erica Kinsman, you must believe the following:
The FSU Police Department, Tallahassee Police Department, Leon County Sheriff’s Office, State Prosecutor Willie Meggs, and the presiding judge over Winston’s student code of conduct hearing at FSU Justice Major Harding were ALL working together to cover up a rape. That’s right. After the law had done their part, Winston still could have been found guilty of violations of the student code of conduct by a judge that was mutually agreed upon. But he was not. Yes, this is substantially more believable than to finally accept the fact that Winston is innocent. If still, nearly 3 years later, you are a champion for the guilt of Jameis Winston, the issue lies with you. No one else.
I, like Michael David Smith of PFT, was not there the night of the encounter between Jameis Winston and Erica Kinsman. I don’t know what happened. I also do not typically play the race card. But as a white man, I must say, Louis Murphy could have a valid point. In how many different languages does this need to be spelled out for you? Has Jameis Winston made mistakes? Absolutely. He was young and immature once just like all of us. But since he stepped foot in Tampa he has been nothing short of a model athlete, leader, and citizen of this community. For Smith to take what ESPN published and follow it up with the piece he wrote shows a truly pathetic attempt to make the chatter about Winston’s character resurface. However, he may want to take a jump into 2016 and see that this young man is turning heads and impressing even his biggest doubters. So, Michael, Louis Murphy is off base in saying the criticism is racial? Maybe. But it makes me wonder why you wrote your piece in the first place, which is a combination attack of 2 black players, against one of which you managed to cite rape allegations from 3 years ago. Perhaps it’s not Winston or Murphy with the character flaws?