Revel in becoming the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft – and likely a Tampa Bay Buccaneer – at your parents’ house in Bessemer, Ala. with your family if you want to. There’s nothing wrong with that, and don’t let anyone convince you otherwise.
NFL commissioner Roger Goodell and Bucs general manager Jason Licht have both said that it’s fine to miss the NFL Draft in Chicago. Cleveland left tackle Joe Thomas was the third overall pick in 2007 and he decided to skip the draft and go fishing with his father instead.
What is Winston actually missing anyway? He’s missing a walk across the stage, a handshake with the Commissioner and holding up a Bucs jersey? Big deal.
That moment takes all of about three minutes, but he’ll have a camera shoved in his face for 30 minutes prior to that, and for 30 minutes afterwards. I think that’s what he wants to avoid, and I don’t blame him.
And to those who desperately want Winston and his entire family to travel to Chicago and celebrate with him there, are you paying for all of the airplane tickets, lodging, transportation and meals?
Out of the 256 players that will be drafted this year, realize that only about 20 of them will actually attend the NFL Draft. That’s less than 10 percent.
Don’t think that Winston is making this all about him by electing to stay home from the NFL Draft in Chicago. The media is the one making a big deal about it, and it’s stupid.
Winston isn’t snubbing the NFL. I guarantee you that he’ll show up to the team facility of the franchise that drafts him the next day – likely One Buccaneer Place. And I guarantee you that he will be at that team’s rookie mini-camp the following weekend.
Winston will allow NFL Network and ESPN cameras in his parents’ house to capture the moment he gets drafted, too. We won’t miss that famous smile after he hears his name called by Goodell. Winston just wants to spend that moment with his family at home, and there’s nothing wrong with that.
He already shook Goodell’s hand in a meeting that he requested with the commissioner in his New York office last month. No need to do that again.
Winston walking across the stage and shaking hands with Goodell on camera won’t necessarily get his NFL career off to a good start either, as some might suggest. How did that work out for Johnny Manziel last year?
After seeing his draft stock plummet on live TV until Cleveland stopped his first-round free fall by taking him with the 22nd overall pick, Manziel failed to beat out Brian Hoyer for the starting job in training camp. Then once he supplanted him as the starter later on after Hoyer melted down and took the Browns’ playoff hopes with him, Manziel stunk with an embarrassing two-interception, 80-yard performance in a 30-0 loss against Cincinnati. He then checked himself into rehab when the season was over.
But at least he was at the draft last year and shook the commissioner’s hand, right?
What most fail to understand about Winston is that he simply doesn’t care about the media spotlight or the notoriety. This isn’t Deion “Primetime” Sanders or even Manziel we’re talking about here.
Winston doesn’t revel in the limelight. He revels in winning football games. That’s what matters to a quarterback that was 26-1 at Florida State, while winning a national championship and a Heisman Trophy as a redshirt freshman.
Winston is a family-oriented person, who happens to be close with his parents. Is that wrong? Don’t we need more of that in this society where family values are under constant attack?
Did you hear about what Winston did for his 21st birthday on January 6? Of course you didn’t. Winston wasn’t at the bars, the nightclubs or some raging party.
Instead, Winston was at home with his family praying over whether to enter the NFL Draft or return to Florida State for his junior season. His father, Antonor, let the media know the next morning, January 7, that his son was leaving the Seminoles for the NFL.
What did I do on my 21st birthday? Went out for a night on the town at the college bars with my girlfriend. My “night that I couldn’t forget” was kind of hard to remember the next morning. I can guarantee you that Winston’s head was much clearer than mine was the next morning when he elected to turn pro.
Despite what some may think, Winston is not some out-of-control, party animal that Manziel is or was.
It’s not important for Winston to look good in a Bucs hat in Chicago on primetime TV. What is important is Winston looking good under center in the rookie mini-camp and OTAs, training camp, the preseason and the 2015 regular season.
Where Winston is on the night of April 30 really doesn’t matter in the grand scheme of things, and it’s silly that so much has been made about his decision to watch the NFL Draft at home. Winston choosing to stay home with his family if he wants to shouldn’t be attacked. It should be celebrated.
Sweet Home Alabama.
Stay home, Jameis.
Chances are we’ll see you in Tampa on May 1 where you can shake Lovie Smith’s hand instead, put on a Bucs hat, and hold up a Bucs jersey for the cameras.
Scott Reynolds is in his 25th year of covering the Tampa Bay Buccaneers as the vice president, publisher and senior Bucs beat writer for PewterReport.com. Author of the popular SR's Fab 5 column on Fridays, Reynolds oversees web development and forges marketing partnerships for PewterReport.com in addition to his editorial duties. A graduate of Kansas State University in 1995, Reynolds spent six years giving back to the community as the defensive line coach for his sons' Pop Warner team, the South Pasco Predators. Reynolds can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org