FAB 5. SR’s BUC SHOTS
• You have to feel for Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who showed up at Melrose Elementary after being invited during an event he attended for defensive tackle Clinton McDonald. Winston, who does a ton of community service work on behalf of the Bucs and thoroughly enjoys it, scheduled his visit to Melrose without the Bucs even knowing about it until the last minute. Here’s some inside information on what transpired during and after the visit.
Winston spent approximately 40 minutes visiting and speaking with the kids during his time off during the offseason. The Tampa Bay Times was the only media outlet that attended the event. Everything went well at the visit until after Winston left. That’s when a school teacher called the Times to say that a few students and adults were uncomfortable that Winston said that girls needed to be silent and suggested that in telling the boys that they needed to be strong that it sent the message that girls either didn’t need to be strong or shouldn’t be strong, which was not Winston’s intent.
Upon receiving the call from the school staff member, The Times staff watched the video and columnist Tom Jones wrote a scathing column about Winston, which brought forth some criticism from some national media outlets, which were pursuing a sexist angle and another reason to pile on Winston’s character. When notified by the Bucs public relations staff of the negative slant coming from The Times, Winston was blindsided and beside himself him, but issued an explanation for what he said.
You have to wonder how this will sit with the 23-year old Winston, who spent 40 minutes of his free time speaking with kids with a 10-second snippet and the fact that he misspoke derailing all of the good he was trying to do by showing up at Melrose and speaking with kids. Will this deter Winston from doing as many community events in the future as a result?
And what about the faculty member who was apparently so upset that she called The Times, but was apparently not upset enough at the time to mention something to Winston when it happened, which would have allowed him use a more appropriate word choice to deliver his message and avoid all this? Why report this to the Times and not go directly to Winston himself? Was there some motivation to make Winston look bad and highlight his mistake publicly?
Will this experience jade Winston, who has been very media friendly in his two years in Tampa Bay? And how will this affect his relationship with The Times, the newspaper that first brought the spotlight to his sexual assault allegations in Tallahassee from his days at Florida State? The Times has also been doing analytic stories continually pointing out that Tennessee quarterback Marcus Mariota has been statistically better than Winston since they entered the league together in 2015 as the first and second overall picks.
You can’t blame Winston if he wants nothing to do with The Times after Jones’ column and the character hit it caused. Former USF coach Willie Taggert, who is now the head coach at Oregon, has blacklisted the Oregonian beat writer who may have erred in some of his reporting about the offseason workouts that sent three Ducks football players to the hospital and shed some negative light on Taggert and the Oregon program this offseason.
For every action there is also a reaction. I’ve written some critical things in the past about members of the Bucs organization and there are some consequences in doing so. I was the first to call for former head coaches Greg Schiano and Lovie Smith to be fired. Although Schiano and I had a meeting of the minds after that to better understand each other’s position during the 2013 season, which I give him a lot of credit for, Smith shunned PewterReport.com during the rest of the 2015 season outside of general press conferences.
That was okay. I figured that would likely be Smith’s reaction and I can’t blame him after I called for him to be replaced by then offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter in-season. I probably would have not talked to me, or PewterReport.com, either if I were in Smith’s shoes. Former Bucs defensive coordinator Monte Kiffin also stopped talking to me during the 2001 season after something I had written until we patched things up in the 2002 offseason.
I would suspect that the Tampa Bay Times will need to do some serious bridge building with Winston after taking such a negative slant towards Tampa Bay’s star quarterback. Winston won’t shun them in press conferences, but I wouldn’t be shocked if any one-on-one interview requests were turned down in the immediate future.
• Here’s one last thing about Winston. I’m just curious when the boilerplate about his alleged sexual assault – that resulted in no charges being filed and his complete exoneration at Florida State – will expire? For those of you who didn’t attend journalism school, a boilerplate is a brief paragraph on a person, place or thing’s background usually found towards the bottom of a story and regurgitated from story to story on the same subject.
I’m done writing about and referencing it. It would be one thing if Winston was found guilty of committing a crime, but that wasn’t the case. The alleged incident took place five years ago and I think there should be some journalistic statute of limitations that applies here and I challenge my media colleagues to also leave it in the past rather than continually drag it out and hang it around Winston’s neck like an albatross. It’s time to move on from that negative narrative, especially when the young quarterback has been a model citizen since his time as a Buccaneer.
• As PewterReport.com had forecast last month, the Bucs released cornerback Alterraun Verner, who was scheduled to make $6.5 million in base salary this season. That move creates an additional $6.5 million in salary cap room for Tampa Bay. Verner, who lost his starting job after the team drafted Vernon Hargreaves III in the first round last year, signed a four-year, $25.75 million deal that included $14 million in guaranteed money.
Verner recorded just four interceptions, three forced fumbles and half a sack in three seasons and didn’t come close to earning the lucrative contract he signed after becoming a Pro Bowl cornerback in Tennessee in 2013 when he had a career-high five interceptions. Yet Verner was one of the best teammates in the locker room and one of the classiest, most professional Buccaneer I’ve ever covered in my 23 years on the job.
Verner was always gracious with his time with the media after both wins and losses, and I greatly thank him for participating in PewterReport.com’s Training Camp Diary this past summer. I certainly wish Verner and his family the best in his future NFL endeavors.
• I hope you enjoyed reading the PewterReport.com 2017 Offseason Bucs’ Battle Plan series this week where each PewterReport.com staff member came up with his plan for improving the Buccaneers through free agency and the draft. We had a lot of fun doing these fantasy football exercises. You can read my Bucs’ Battle Plan right here, and you can click here to read Mark Cook’s. Trevor Sikkema’s Bucs’ Battle Plan will be posted at noon on Friday. Let us know which Bucs’ Battle Plan you liked the best.
• Spring is right around the corner, and if you are interested in buying a luxury home or selling yours, turn to Jennifer Zales, the official real estate agent or PewterReport.com, the Bucs Radio Network and the Tampa Bay Rays. Nobody knows the Tampa Bay area and the luxury real estate market better than Jennifer Zales Real Estate.
Zales is co-representing a home built for former New York Yankees star Jorge Posada at nearly $6 million and has had some record-breaking home sales in the Tampa Bay area’s luxury home market. Be sure to check out a list of properties on Zales’ amazing website, TampaBayLuxuryHomes.com. For inquiries you can reach Zales at (813) 758-3443 or via e-mail at [email protected]