Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston spoke Thursday for the first time about an incident that landed him a three-game suspension to start the season and vowed to do better for his teammates, fans and his family.
In June, the NFL suspended Winston after an investigation found he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver. The incident occurred in Arizona in March 2016 after Winston’s first season in the league and added to his checkered reputation. As a student at Florida State, he was accused of but never charged with raping a fellow student in 2012. He later settled that matter in a civil suit.
“I’m very disappointed,” Winston told reporters about the suspension. “I know a lot of fans are disappointed. But at the end of the day, the league made their decision and I have to put this behind me and grow and learn from it.
“I just learned you can’t put yourself in these situations. This happened after my rookie year. I think I’ve made a lot of positive changes since then.”
Veteran quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick will start the season in place of Winston.
In practice Thursday, Fitzpatrick took almost all the snaps with the first-team offense, and backup Ryan Griffin worked with the second unit, according to media reports. Winston rotated into both units and played with the third team.
“As a teammate first, I understand it’s about this team and I’m going to be there for Fitz as much as I can,” Winston said. “But it’s also about getting Ryan ready as well. So I have to take my position. My influence on this team is going to be positive and I’m going to be the best support system they have.
“This actually gives me an opportunity to lead behind the scenes. I get a chance to observe my teammates and be able to help them behind the scenes and let Ryan take the show. Ryan has been here in this situation before so I’m blessed to have a quarterback of that caliber taking on the ranks.”
Winston said he knows he also must be a positive influence on the latest member of his team: his son, born the day after the NFL suspension was handed down to his fiancée, Breion Allen.
“So seeing things from a different perspective and learning that I’m going to have to teach that man how to respect women and how to live his day to day life, I really took it upon myself to be proactive and make sure I’m being a great example for him and my fiancée,” the 24-year-old Winston said.
—Field Level Media