Lovie puts Winston’s character concerns to rest

So many folks were appalled when publications like this very one were writing stories that referenced Florida State’s quarterback Jameis Winston‘s character as being a non-issue for teams. When Bucs’ head coach Lovie Smith met with the media on Wednesday, those same folks were floored with his comments. 

When asked about Winston’s character and if he would be fine with making him the franchise quarterback, Smith said he would be comfortable with the idea.

“He’s been accused. Let’s talk about the elephant in the room,” Smith said via the Tampa Bay TImes. “He’s been accused of a crime. There’s an allegation. He went through our court system. I have faith in our court system. He went through it. He went through the school justice system. He was cleared. He went through our court system and he was cleared. Exonerated. So what else can you do? I  would like to think that when people go through that, you wouldn’t bring that up the rest of your life on a young teenager, 20, 21-year-old, whatever … you wouldn’t bring that up. That’s what we have to go on. We’ve done a lot of research. We’re going to do a lot more research on both guys. But from what I know right now, yeah, we’re okay with where he is.”

Later on in the day, Smith would say that the off-field issues the NFL dealt with last season do not change how he views Winston. Putting to rest any concerns the team may have on the Florida State product.

“No, it can’t.  We’re going to go and evaluate each player based on what they’ve done and their individual situation, period. We can’t let things that have happened with others – that doesn’t affect these athletes right here. We’re going to judge Jameis, [Marcus Mariota], the rest of the players based on what they’ve done in their career up to this point individually.”

The process of looking into a player’s background is one that some felt would reveal Winston’s character flaws. General manager Jason Licht also spoke to the media regarding Winston’s character and assured everyone that their research is leading them to feel pretty good.

“We are using a lot of resources – a lot – to dig into every player’s background, some more than others,” Licht said. “I don’t want to get into the whole process here, but the fans can know that we will have – for lack of using the cliché – crossed every ‘T’ and dotted every ‘I’ before we make the decision. And keep in mind, our head coach is one of the finest human beings I have ever met, inside or outside of football. Character is very important to him, it’s very important to me, so we will make sure that the decision we make is best for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

“We’ve done a lot of work on all the players in the Draft this year so far, some more than others, and we’re very pleased with things that we’ve found out about all the players that we have under consideration. So that’s where we are.”

The Buccaneers will get 15-minute sessions with players they elect to sit down with at the combine and of course Winston is one they want to get some alone time with in the interview room.

There have been so many folks assassinate the 21-year-old’s character for everything that has been reported on him. It’s understandable. We live in a world where so many are quick to judge a person based on reports. Tampa Bay is not holding much against Winston. Smith doesn’t condone his actions, however, adds that everyone does stupid stuff in college.

Smith also put things into perspective by saying that what Winston has been highly criticized of doing — B.B gun fight, the obscene gesture, stealing crab legs — he has been “drug across the mud” for them. But Smith would offer a brief comment on that obscene gesture so many had an issue with.

“We’ve all been to college, right? I’ve done some stupid things. It’s not a crime, though. We’re not going to give a death sentence on that.”


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