The Bucs concluded their first week of training camp workouts and due to his pending three game NFL suspension, Jameis Winston has begun to fade from prominence and leadership at this point with the team.
First, and understandably, the team is not featuring Winston in any of their video marketing, season ticket campaigns or promotions leading up to September. Also, Winston is not one of the four players being featured with massive “player banners” for the upcoming season at the four entrances of Raymond James Stadium.
It’s understandable because most have a negative view of Winston at the moment and there’s not much benefit from having him be part of those things. And, the negative and backlash would outweigh the benefit under the current scenario.
Next, once practice began, veteran QB Ryan Fitzpatrick was taking the first team reps and assuming the leadership role of the offense. And, coach Dirk Koetter even made it clear and also to motivate Winston even more, that the former #1 overall pick of 2015 isn’t guaranteed his job, when he’s back week four.
So, watching Winston work with the second team young players and reserves against the first team defense in 11 on 11 drills is definitely interesting.
And so was this from Friday, as star defensive tackle and arguably leader of the defense, Gerald McCoy took charge of talking to the team as a leader would at the end of practice:
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) August 3, 2018
Then came a Friday afternoon report that shouldn’t come as a huge surprise, either. Winston has been dropped by Nike as a player/endorser of their products after his initial deal expired in June.
ESPN’s Darren Rovell had the story and explanation on the timing, first.
BREAKING: Jameis Winston’s Nike contract expires, Nike elects not to renew https://t.co/woz3As2Zx9
— Darren Rovell (@darrenrovell) August 3, 2018
As Rovell points out, Nike has previously used quarterbacks Tim Tebow and Johnny Manziel also, and dropped both after their initial deals ended.
Still, it’s yet another example that Winston isn’t going to be prominently featured, as the season gets underway.
It’s definitely an awkward situation for all involved, but it’s important to remember that Winston self-inflicted all of this with his behavior that got him suspended. The rest is a natural response to that.
And, Winston can begin to get some or all of it back by working hard, and coming back from suspension ready to help the Bucs win games. That’s all he can control, now.
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