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The NFL has suspended Jameis Winston for three games for a violation of the NFL’s personal conduct policy. The suspension arises from an incident more than two years ago in which he allegedly groped an Uber driver.
The three-game suspension had been anticipated for at least a week, and Winston released a statement that did not indicate any intention to appeal.
Winston is due a significant pay raise for the 2019 season, and an appeal of the incident could end up costing him far more if it fell during a year in which he would be making more than his current rookie deal.
Details of alleged Arizona incident
On March 13, 2016, Winston, was in an Uber in Scottsdale, Arizona. A Buzzfeed article detailed the incident, as told by the driver, Kate (she withheld her last name to avoid harassment):
Waiting in line at the drive-thru of Los Betos Mexican Food, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” Kate said, alleging that Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only after she looked up in shock and said, “What’s up with that?”
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said Kate, who had been driving with Uber for more than two years at that point. (She no longer drives for the service.) “I was frozen.” She described Winston as “very physically imposing.”
The driver also charged that Winston shouted homophobic slurs at passerby. Winston had denied all the allegations.
The NFL made the decision to suspend Winston under the terms of its personal conduct policy, which holds players to a standard of behavior that does not require a conviction.
“The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.
“First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
“I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.
“I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”
Effects of Winston’s suspension
In football terms, Winston will miss games against the New Orleans Saints and Philadelphia Eagles, and a Monday night game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. But it’s worth asking whether Winston will ever become the kind of quarterback Tampa Bay needs: one that can deliver on the field while staying out of trouble off it.
Tampa Bay released a statement shortly after the news of the suspension arrived:
For now, it appears Tampa Bay will stick with Winston. But the question, of course, is what might happen next … because with Winston, it seems something always does.
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