Are you ready for the Jameis Winston rehabilitation tour? Winston did his part in getting it started by putting together a decent rookie campaign—nobody cares about cleaning up a crappy player’s image—and now it’s up to the ever-deferential NFL media to tell us all about What Jameis Winston Learned, before finally letting us know that He Is Ready To Step Up. Peter King’s latest entry at The MMQB finds itself squarely in that second stage.
King brings us an in-his-own-words interview with Winston under the headline “Jameis Winston: What I Learned.” There’s a bunch of deeply uninteresting thoughts about leadership and what have you, and then comes this part:
On the sexual assault accusations in college and handling the spotlight off the field
Winston: “In college, I was up under this microscope everywhere I went. I couldn’t go to class without somebody stalking me or asking me for something, an autograph or a picture. In the NFL, not only am I the face of a community, but people know my face. People are looking up to me basically as a springboard for the Tampa Bay community. Every time I go out and I have chance to make a difference or make someone smile, I try to do that to the best of my abilities. In college, I could try to do that, and no matter what, it would mean something, but everyone just wanted something from me. Give me that, Jameis, gimme, gimme, gimme. In the NFL, I can be myself, and everyone doesn’t have their hand out. In the NFL, I wasn’t the best player in the league. I just do what I do.”
I wish we knew the exact question King asked, but no matter how it was phrased, Winston’s answer is complete mush. Lucky’s soliloquy from Waiting for Godot would have made more sense.
This is probably how Winston is going to talk about the sexual assault allegations going forward, or at least until his civil suit with Erica Kinsman, which is set to go to trial in spring of 2017, is settled. He’ll keep answering questions like a man who’s been told not to say too much by his lawyers, and people like Peter King will go right on zooming past it, so that they can get to the part about how much Winston has grown.