By Josh Brown
Florida State University
Jameis Winston. Anyone even remotely familiar with college football in the past two years recognizes the name. It is a moniker that brings to mind many things. To some, he is the beloved Heisman winning quarterback who revitalized a football program still living in the shadow of its glory days over a decade ago. To others, he is the seafood stealing, obscenity shouting alleged rapist who represents everything wrong with college athletics. But which of these definitions more closely aligns with who the true Jameis Winston is?
The court of public opinion is still out. But to understand who Winston is today, it is important to understand who he was as a child. Jameis was first identified as a football prodigy in middle school, living in a small suburban Alabama town. His tattered notebook in which he diligently began writing when he was only 12 years old contains notes, play charts, and insights which could teach even the most talented high school quarterbacks a thing or two. What stands out most from Winston’s faded notebook? A list of the qualities a good quarterback should possess. Number 6 on the list reads, “Character.”
In high school, he began turning heads at the national level. Winston visited the coaches at Alabama in 9th grade to show them what he could do. After a fairly disappointing posting of a 4.8 second 40 yard dash, Winston returned just three weeks later and cut his time down to 4.6, a margin of improvement which caused head coach Nick Saban to make Winston run two more times to ensure it wasn’t a mistake.
However, no one questions whether Jameis has talent, or a drive to succeed. That is indisputable. Even in the midst of what some would call a sophomore slump, he is undefeated at the college level. What people are questioning, however, is his integrity. When accusations of sexual assault perpetrated by Winston first made their media rounds, many were in disbelief. This type of crime did not align with the public image of the grinning, overly humble teen leading a college to its first national championship in almost fifteen years. However, as Jameis continued to make questionable off-the-field choices (shoplifting crab legs, shouting obscenities on campus), many people, even students at FSU, changed their opinion on the star. Even Charlie Ward, the famed Heisman winning FSU quarterback of the early 90s and mentor to Winston, said Winston “frustrates” him.
As the number 2 ranked team in the nation and a relatively easy remaining schedule, the Florida State Seminoles have a good chance of returning to the BCS National Championship Game and getting the opportunity to repeat as national champs. Such an occurrence would elate some, and intensely infuriate others, largely because of strong opinions held about Winston himself. With the results of Winston’s ongoing rape investigation still undetermined, it remains to be seen exactly how good, or how bad, of a person Winston truly is. Even if Winston is cleared of all wrongdoing, and he never again slips up for the rest of his time at FSU, he will go down in history as one of the most polarizing college quarterbacks ever to play the game. It is with this in mind that many are questioning the future of Winston in the NFL. Will he live up to his potential and become a star quarterback among the likes of Brett Favre and Tom Brady? Or will his immaturity and poor decision making turn him into an unwanted, washed up disappointment? Only time will tell.
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Which list will Jameis Winston join?