Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston walked into his weekly press conference on Wednesday with a football in his hands. He wasn’t looking to throw a few extra passes before practice.
Winston’s intention was to throw some credit toward the Buccaneers fan base for the support it gave during the Bucs 14-5 victory over the Seahawks at Raymond James Stadium last Sunday.
“I really just want to give this game ball to the fans,’’ Winston said. “They did an amazing job and really helped us out so this game ball goes to the fans and I hope that’s in our future every Sunday at Ray-Jay.’’
Just add this to Winston’s seemingly ever-growing legacy. First there was the letter he wrote to all his teammates a few weeks ago, thanking them for all their support. Now, a gesture that is guaranteed to resonate in Tampa Bay.
Both are examples of why Bucs general manager Jason Licht considered it a no-brainer to spend the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft on Winston.
“Jameis was obviously a very talented, extremely competitive college quarterback,’’ Licht told FloridaFootballInsiders.com. “But the authentic leadership that everyone is now seeing played an equivalent role in (our decision to) draft him first overall.’’
Authentic. That’s the key word. As wide receiver Mike Evans said after word of the letter leaked out, there’s nothing fake about what Winston does. It may seem a bit hokey at times, but it’s not fake.
This certainly wasn’t.
“That was the loudest it’s been since I’ve been here,’’ Winston said of the crowd of 63,674 that filled RJS for the Seahawks game. “And I’m telling you, when you have your fans involved in the game like that it makes a difference.
“It messes with the defense and the offenses. It just gives us that extra boost. So, I just want to thank the fans for supporting us and for being out there. It was a great experience at Ray-Jay this past Sunday.’’