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Timeline of events that led to Jameis Winston suspension

Florida Football Insiders

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Reinhold Matay-USA TODAY Sports

On Thursday, an incident that occurred 27 months ago in Scottsdale, AZ, finally resulted in Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston being suspended by the NFL for three games in the upcoming season.

Here’s the timeline that led us all to today.

March 12th, 2016- While in Arizona working out with a personal trainer and also participating as a guest instructor at a Kurt Warner football camp, Winston and two others are out on a Saturday night of drinking and partying. The other two have now both been identified as his former FSU teammate Ronald Darby, who now plays for the Eagles, and former Vanderbilt football player Brandon Banks. Banks has since been convicted in a gang rape of a Vanderbilt student and is currently serving 15 years in prison.

Banks told the media last week (for the first time in 27 months), that three took an Uber to a nightclub together, but that Winston became drunk and unruly. So, he and Darby called another Uber to get Winston to his hotel, individually. It is that Uber ride that has been the one in question.

March 13, 2016- An unidentified female Uber driver files a formal complaint with her employer that Winston, while in the front seat of the Uber ride early Sunday morning first exhibited loud and confrontational behavior even towards pedestrians in a crosswalk. Then, after taking him to a fast food restaurant drive thru, he reached across the seat and put his hand inappropriately for several seconds on her crotch. Uber took immediate action on the complaint and banned Winston for life from the service.

The accuser never filed a police report with Arizona authorities to begin a criminal investigation.

November 17, 2017- In an exclusive story to the online site, Buzzfeed News, the Uber driver, who identified herself as “Kate,” publicized the incident for the first time. Here’s the recap from our Roy Cummings last year:

 The Uber driver told Buzzfeed she picked up Winston in Scottsdale, Arizona around 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13 2016 when two other men placed Winston in the front passenger seat of her car.

Kate, who asked not to be identified out of fear of negatitve retribution, told Buzzfeed Winston began behaving badly as soon as he entered the car.

She said he shouted homophobic slurs at pedestrians and then asked to stop for food, before he “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” further alleging that Winston held his hand there for several seconds.

“I wasn’t just creeped out,” Kate told Buzzfeed. “I was frozen. I mean, he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5-foot-6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze.

Kate told Buzzfeed she was not seeking money as a result of her revelation but simply wanted the truth known about “a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job.

 “I have been empowered by my sisters, who have forged this path by speaking up, and I must do my part to make it a little more well traveled,” Kate told BuzzFeed News.

 “If I’m silent, I fear that further harm will come to other women, if it hasn’t already. He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it.’’

Later on November 17th, Winston, who was rehabbing an injured shoulder and not scheduled to play in that weekend’s game with Atlanta, released his own statement:

“A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago,’’ Winston said in a statement.

 “The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.

 “The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately.

 “At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.

 “I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false.

 “While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.’’

November 19th, 2017- Darby releases a statement saying that the accusations are false and that he and Winston were not in the front seat of the Uber and that the third person (who we now know was Banks) was in the front seat.

“I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend, and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona,” Darby wrote.

“There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”

We now know from Banks’ statements that Winston and Darby were not telling the truth about a second Uber ride, where Winston was alone with the driver.

Later on November 19th, 2017- “Kate” hires John Clune, the attorney who represented Florida State student Erica Kinsman in her lawsuits against the school and against Winston, for her rape allegation in 2012 that he was never charged or punished for. Both the school and Winston eventually settled the suits with Kinsman. Clune, demanded to the media that the NFL not only investigate Winston but also Darby about the truthfulness of their statements and denials.

December 31st, 2017- The Bucs close out the regular season snapping a five game losing streak when Winston throws the game winning touchdown pass to WR Chris Godwin with :09 remaining to defeat the Saints. Tampa Bay finishes with a 5-11 record.

March 27th, 2018- Three months later, the Bucs organization from Coach Dirk Koetter, GM Jason Licht and Co-owner Joel Glazer, all publicly back Winston in separate media interviews at the NFL Scouting Combine in Indianapolis. While saying they didn’t know the status of the investigation, and respecting the process of the NFL, they are all hopeful that Winston will be vindicated and ready to play week one this fall.

June 21st, 2018- A Tallahassee radio host, Jeff Cameron, tells his radio audience that his “sources in the Winston camp” tell him that Winston is preparing to be suspended for as many as three, but possibly only one game by the NFL. Cameron, goes onto to say that the uncertainty is because the NFL is still investigating.

June 22nd, 2018- ESPN’s Adam Schefer, arguably the premier media insider in the NFL, reports that the Winston suspension will be at least three games and will be announced no later than July 1st.

June 28th, 2018- The NFL formally notifies Winston that he is being suspended for at least the first three games of the 2018 season. That is pending him completing a psychological evaluation and getting “any recommended program of therapeutic intervention.” And, that any failure by Winston to do so could increase the suspension this fall.

The league further finds “Kate” the Uber driver as, “consistent and credible” in her testimony to them about the events of early Sunday March 13th, 2016.

The league makes no mention of Ronald Darby, his testimony or possible punishment for him.

Winston releases a statement that in part apologizes to the Uber driver, his teammates and the Bucs organization and says he will not appeal the NFL ‘s findings and punishment.

Winston will therefore miss Tampa Bay’s first three games: at the Saints, at home with the Eagles and at home with the Steelers.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Buccaneers cornerstone player in 2018?

Florida Football Insiders

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Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

(This is the first look at all three state NFL teams’ roster and identifying a player that we at F.F.I. believe is the foundation starter for their potential success in 2018)

It’s still a couple of weeks before the Buccaneers gather for training camp at One Buc Place and there’s already uncertainty everywhere. Off a disappointing showing down the stretch with a 5-11 finish in 2017, both head coach Dirk Koetter and GM Jason Licht were already feeling warmth under their seats.

Now, the perceived team leader, QB Jameis Winston, is suspended for the first three games of the season for violation of the NFL personal conduct policy. And, this has called into question whether he Winston is going to be on borrowed time himself, once he comes back.

So, who is the player that the Bucs will look to for leadership, stability and to help them get through tough times this year? Well, it’s not clear cut in Tampa Bay, but we have a strong guess.

If we are talking cornerstone player for 2018, we are talking yearly Pro Bowl DT Gerald McCoy.

The reasons are apparent.

McCoy has tenure in the Bucs locker room and has played at the high level for the past six seasons (under three different head coaches) and made the Pro Bowl in each one.

Most importantly, he provides a veteran presence to what is an uncertain situation.

And with the additions of former Eagles DE Vinny Curry in free agency, a trade for Giants Pro Bowler and Superbowl champion Jason Pierre Paul and the drafting of Washington All American DT Vita Vea in the first round, McCoy has more help than at any point in his career.

This means the former #1 pick out of Oklahoma will have a chance to excel, especially right away, this season.

Sure, the Bucs have a “franchise receiver” in Mike Evans, and gave him a huge extension in March. And they have one of the top star defenders in the NFL that few on the national level talk much about in LB LaVonte David.

However, with Winston’s future with the Buccaneers uncertain, Gerald McCoy is the guy to count on for this and the next few seasons.

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Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Hall of Fame WR Randy mentoring Bucs QB Jameis Winston in Tampa

Florida Football Insiders

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Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Controversy has followed Jameis Winston throughout his college and NFL careers and now, former controversial NFL star receiver turned ESPN analyst Randy Moss, is trying to help.

As you probably know by now, the Bucs QB is suspended for the first three games this season by the NFL for violation of the personal conduct policy after he inappropriately touched a female Uber driver in Arizona in 2016. It’s the latest in a long line of personal missteps and problems that have dogged Winston off the field, since his days at Florida State.

Meanwhile, Moss, who will be enshrined at the Pro Football Hall of Fame in Canton, OH, later this month, has been in Tampa recently working with and apparently trying to help mentor Winston.

Tampa TV station, Fox 13 and reporter Kevin O’Donnell, got exclusive comments from Moss on helping Winston on Tuesday:

“He’s doing things right,” Moss told the station.  “It’s a bump in the road…Man, just continue to fight. It happens…. What he did was wrong. You know. I’m not saying right or wrong. There was a woman involved. So, I’m not going to get into all of that. What he did was wrong. He know (sic) it was wrong. So, I think it’s up to him as a man to understand what he did wrong….to live and learn from it and let it go.”

Moss had early controversies and arrests in his own college career, as he was denied entry at Notre Dame and later kicked off the FSU football team while red-shirting for arrests and probation violations that led him to being back behind bars.

He later thrived at Marshall University, was a Heisman Trophy Finalist, a first round pick by the Vikings and had a 14 year career as one of the most explosive NFL receivers of all time. Moss, who caught for 1,000 or more yards in 10 NFL seasons and is second all time with 156 TD receptions, was voted into the Hall of Fame (above) in his first time on the ballot back in January.

Winston was shown by the station running sprints and making throws to some other prospective NFL receivers at the workout Tuesday, but refused to talk on camera. He has not spoken publicly, since the NFL suspended him two weeks ago. He told the station he will talk at Bucs training camp later in July.

As for Moss, he further said Tuesday that he’s trying to give Winston and other young players advice from his own experiences and failures off the field.

“One of the things that I always told my people: ‘Don’t be scared or shy to tell me no, because I check my pride in at the door….I’ll thank you later, you know, when I’m not behind bars, or when I’m still on a football team.” Moss continued, “A lot of these guys don’t realize that they’re being watched under a microscope and they don’t realize it until it happens to them and they’re out of  job.”

At this point, the fourth year Bucs QB Winston, has to realize that he is on the verge of being out of a job in Tampa. That’s if he doesn’t respond well from the suspension by staying out of trouble and performing well on the field.

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New Bucs DE Jason Pierre Paul still great reminder of July 4th safety

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Robert Deutsch-USA TODAY Sports

The Buccaneers are excited to see what former USF and New York Giants star Jason Pierre-Paul can do on the field in Tampa Bay this fall. After being acquired in a trade with the G-men in March, Pierre Paul hopes to energize an almost non-existent Bucs pass rush from last year.

One thing is for sure, as much as he’s known for being a star on the field, Pierre Paul has become a reminder of “what not to do” and specifically fireworks safety on July 4th.

It was three years ago Wednesday night that Pierre Paul’s decision to celebrate and ignite amateur hand-held fireworks in South Florida led to a horrific and potentially, career threatening right hand injury.

But, out of what could have been football tragedy involving his  hand, Pierre-Paul has made a comeback and is now a national PSA symbol for firework safety.

The beginning of Pierre Paul’s football story is the Deerfield Beach, as a native of Hatian immigrant parents playing  as a Juco star in both California and Kansas. Then, he was brought back to Florida, by coach Jim Leavitt and staff, as USF’s dominant pass rusher in 2009. That year he attained All Big East honors with 6.5 sacks and 16.5 tackles for loss for the Bulls.

This fast tracked Pierre Paul to the NFL after only one season in Tampa and he was drafted 15th overall by the Giants in the 2010 NFL Draft.

After a rookie year with 4.5 sacks, he burst on the pro scene in season two with 16.5 sacks for the G-men leading to a Pro Bowl selection and was part of the New York Superbowl victory over the Patriots that February.

Pierre-Paul continued to be regarded as the Giants most consistent pass rushing threat and had another double digit sack season with 12.5 in 2014.

Then came the off season of 2015, where he chose not to sign his one year Franchise Player free agent tender (the Giants still had his exclusive rights) seeking a longer term deal. And, he remained unsigned as of July 4th that year.

That night in 2015 he loaded up a van with handheld amateur fireworks and with friends and neighbors began shooting them off until one obviously malfunctioned and mangled his right hand. Pierre-Paul was hospitalized and eventually had multiple surgeries on the hand and his right index finger amputated.

The Giants stood by him, when they could have dumped him for non-football injury, and he eventually made his way back onto the field in November of 2015. Signing a “pro rated” week to week one year deal, his debut came as New York traveled to Raymond James Stadium (Pierre-Paul’s USF home for a season) and he played with a padded “club” protecting his right hand against the Bucs.

He would play in eight total games that season with one sack and then, as further proof of the Giants being in his corner, they re-signed him on a one year $10 million deal for 2016. Pierre-Paul then worked a year ago with the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission on a July 4th fireworks safety video:

The gnarly image and video of Pierre-Pauls right hand is obviously the deterrent the agency is looking for with the PSA campaign about safety. He played 2016 with a special padded glove to protect the hand/fingers registering another seven sacks before being placed on I.R. with a sports hernia.

Finally, and happiest of all financial endings after the fireworks disaster, Pierre-Paul inked a four year $62 million deal with $40 million guaranteed in March of last year to stay, so he thought, in New York.

Alas, the Giants had a nightmare of a 2017 season that finished at 3-13. Pierre-Paul had a solid season with 8.5 sacks and 68 total tackles despite the dismal team finish.
Then, Bucs GM Jason Licht swung the deal for Pierre-Paul and Tampa Bay agreed to assume his $12.1 million dollar salary for 2018.

So, while it all worked out in the end, obviously, the Jason Pierre-Paul July 4th fireworks mess could have had a much different ending all the way around for he, the Giants and now, the Bucs.

It’s a reminder to stay safe Wednesday night. Leave the handheld fireworks to someone else.

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