Jameis Winston came awfully close to admitting he did something wrong. The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback released a statement on Thursday after the NFL announced his three-game suspension.
Winston is facing his second round of sexual assault allegations. Most recently, a female Uber driver accused Winston of groping her crotch. After a lengthy NFL investigation, the league responded with the suspension, which will hold Winston out of the beginning of the 2018 season.
Though the process, Winston told investigators he did not grope the Uber driver, according to NFL Network’s Tom Pelissero. He also wrote on Instagram that he didn’t do it, and that the driver must have been mistaken.
But when Winston addressed the issue in a public statement on Thursday, he took a different tone.
“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.”
If Winston didn’t do anything, then how did he put her into this situation? If Winston didn’t do anything, then what “uncharacteristic” action is he apologizing for?
He chose a strange, gray-area approach to the allegations where he takes ownership over a situation which he claimed is a misunderstanding. How noble.
“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.”
Without alcohol, he has matured, which is a nice story. But we didn’t ask about his substance use. Why does he even mention alcohol? Well, the incident took place at 2 a.m. on March 6, 2018. Winston was out late on a Saturday night into Sunday morning.
NFL Network’s Pelissero had more context on Thursday: “[Winston] was drinking that night, and said that he does not clearly remember the events.”
He thinks he didn’t do it. But he can’t remember because he was too drunk. Perhaps that’s why he has cut alcohol out of his life. And his reference to alcohol in the statement was an clumsy effort to show that he’s taking positive strides in his life while diffusing responsibility. But the mention of alcohol only further complicate his apology. How can he deny his actions if he wasn’t sober enough to remember them?
“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.”
Again, Winston is pointing toward an admission without actually saying he did something wrong. We’re all left confused about what he’s apologizing for. Because if he needs to apologize, then he did something wrong. And if he did something wrong, he should explain what that is.
And there’s reason to believe he doesn’t want to explain what that is. After all, he probably should have gotten a six-game suspension under the NFL’s new rule for sexual assault and domestic abuse. Instead, he got half that time based on a settlement that stated Winston and the NFL wouldn’t go to court, where Winston and the NFL would be forced to discuss the issue further and with greater detail.
He seems happy to brush those details under the rug while getting a shortened suspension.
Maybe he’s not trying to escape the truth. Maybe he simply can’t remember it. But there was someone sober in the car who said she remembers exactly what happened. In fact, she reported the incident to Uber that night, and Winston’s account got shut down the following day. She didn’t press charges, because she didn’t want money.
His wording — “the position I put you in” — is a cop out and a half-assed attempt at escaping the accusations. It’s a meaningless apology. There isn’t much to take away from Winston’s statement, because it’s nonsense.
But he affirmed what was already clear. He’s a irresponsible coward.