The Bucs were back in their Tampa facility Monday, as part of conditioning work beginning for many teams around the NFL. And, as is always the case, star QB Jameis Winston is the focal point of this off season.
But, more important than him updating his off season work, or his expectations for a bounce back year in 2018, the story lingering off the field from the end of last year continues.
An NFL investigation into inappropriate contact has been ongoing against Winston from March of 2016 accusation by a female Uber driver in Arizona. We know this, because the league confirmed previously that they were looking into it. And, everyone from Bucs head coach Dirk Koetter, to GM Jason Licht and even team co-chairman Joel Glazer openly discussed their slight frustration with the lack an update on the timeline for a decision from the league last month at the NFL owner’s meetings.
Well, Monday afternoon came another interesting fact. Winston says that more six months after the 2016 incident was made public in the media, he still hasn’t been interviewed by NFL investigators.
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Winston told the media, “I know the NFL has a process to go through and I respect that process. And, it’s not my job to speculate on that process.”
That’s similar to what the others have said in this type situation, but the disturbing part is that he is one of two central figures at the heart of the accusation by the driver. And, if the league has yet to talk to him for his side, then either the NFL is moving at a molasses pace or they are potentially waiting until the very end of their findings to talk with him.
The uncertainty involving the Bucs leader is troubling for everyone involved for the upcoming year.
From a football standpoint, Tampa Bay needs to know if Winston is potentially going to miss games due to possible suspension for the league’s conduct policy.
And before you dismiss that outcome because there have been no formal criminal charges, there is previous precedent.
Without a criminal charge much less a conviction, the NFL suspended Cowboys RB Ezekiel Elliott for six games before last season. While Elliott fought for months through the legal system and federal appeals, he lost the most important stages and chose finally to sit out the six games late in 2017.
So, not interviewing Winston yet, is the latest sub-plot.
It’s also not known, if the accuser has talked to the NFL, either. Perhaps, it’s all coming soon or perhaps, the waiting will continue.
Not knowing is tough on Winston, the team and it’s fans.
However, this is serious, and the NFL must take it seriously, too.
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