It was a good run for Jameis Winston, maybe the best of this adult life. For nearly two full years he had done nothing to embarrass himself, his team or his family until Wednesday when he told a whole room full of elementary school girls they needed to keep their mouths shut.
Of course he didn’t mean it that way, but that’s all that hits the news and we’re going to get 100 thinkpieces and a thousand tweets all comparing Winston and the Elizabeth Warren thing and the amount of column inches alone would choke a blue whale.
— Jenny Vrentas (@JennyVrentas) February 23, 2017
Just about two months ago Winston and Erica Kinsman, the woman who accused him of raping her in 2012, settled her civil suit. There have been plenty of words written on that as well and whether you’re convinced that he’s innocent or guilty, one thing was clear by the way the news of the settlement just dissipated like a fart in the wind, Winston was going to finally get to put it all behind him. Close that book.
Then he blasted it back open again by putting his foot in his mouth and his head up his ass.
(And regardless of your feelings on Winston and what side of the guilt question you fall on, I can assure you of this. No one in the NFL, not a player, coach or administrator, thinks he raped anybody. The only time you will ever see it brought up is when shit like this occurs by people like me.)
It took 2 years, 2 months, and 7 days post-draft for Jameis Winston to look like an idiot. Gotta hand it to him; Much longer than expected.
— A Tomlinson (@arietomlinson) February 23, 2017
What happened? Well, here’s the soundbite that’s causing all the hub-bub.
“All my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right?” Winston said to the students iasks. “All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. [The call-back isn’t as loud as Winston would like.] Now, a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice, like this [he dropped his voice deeper]. One day you’ll have a very, very deep voice. But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men are supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”
Here’s the video.
And here’s Winston’s explanation for what he’s calling a “poor word choice.”
“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention,” Winston said in the statement. “And I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up. During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
Now, watching that video, you would have to be a special kind of asshole not to see that’s exactly what happened. It takes a special set of tools to be a good public speaker, especially to kids. Winston does not have those tools. He said something stupid and, if a little girl who heard that got pissed, she had every right to feel that way. Reportedly one of the female students turned to her teacher and said, “I’m strong too.”
As someone who's covered Jameis Winston ever day and happens to be female, I don't believe his intent was to disparage women.
— JennaLaineESPN (@JennaLaineESPN) February 23, 2017
And you know what? She’s damn right she’s strong too. She definitely didn’t deserve to be forced to sit through some boring lecture that had half the kids in the room fidgeting and falling asleep on their fists, then told she’s supposed to stay silent and be polite. Screw that.
This is, ultimately, Jameis Winston’s biggest problem has always been; his inability to read the room. When he wasn’t charged or even arrested for raping Kinsman and was cleared twice, once by the cops and once by Florida State University. he should have taken a lesson from that and chilled out for a good, long time.
For a while, that was the end of the Jameis Winston clown car. He put two solid NFL seasons together and has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers seemingly in playoff contention. Really, all he needs to do now is stay out of the limelight. It’s so hard for Winston to make good news, even when he’s trying.
And ultimately Wednesday, that’s what he was attempting to do. Winston was using his day off for community outreach, something for which any other professional athlete would be praised. But Winston isn’t like any other professional athlete. Whether he feels he deserves the extra scrutiny or not, it’s there. He’s not the guy that needs to be out there talking to grade school kids.
He needs to sit down, stay polite, and shut the f–k up.
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