Jameis Winston sat down with CBS Sports’ Brandon Tierney and Tiki Barber before the Super Bowl on Saturday and spoke about everything from his new head coach, to DeSean Jackson, to the off-the-field issues he’s had in the past.
Per usual when bringing in a new coaching staff, Winston opened the segment talking about his new head coach, Bruce Arians, and how Winston’s relationship is with him.
“From his first interview, he addressed me as Jaboo and that’s because he’s known me for quite a long time,” Winston said. “He didn’t address me as Jameis and that hit home for me because that’s family, you know, my family calls me that. I’m excited to have him and I know he’s going to bring in a great culture for us.”
Culture was a hot topic for Bucs fans this season, but so was Winston’s play and if he is the team’s answer at quarterback entering the final year of his contract. When asked how he could improve on going forward, he answered with a focus on personal responsibility.
“By actions,” Winston said. “I think I developed a mentality where I’m from making those rash decisions with the football. I’m just playing more of a game where I’m doing whatever it takes to win the game, but making sure that I’m not the reason that our team loses the game. So I think the more I can give our team an opportunity to win and not be the one to mess it up for our team, we’ll be in a good situation.”
Winston started the year with a suspension, forcing him to be away from the team while a wave of Fitzmagic took over the city of Tampa.
“The toughest thing about that was that I wasn’t there. Seeing Ryan [Fitzpatrick] have great success, I expected it, he’s a great quarterback in my eyes. But not being a part of the team victories, not being part of coming home from a huge win at New Orleans, not being a part of beating the reigning Super Bowl champs at home, that was more frustrating than anything because as a teammate you know how much those wins actual mean and when you’re not a part of that it’s like you’re nonexistent.”
But Winston embraced the success, despite not being the man to lead it. He said the whole city of Tampa changed with the buzz around Fitzpatrick, claiming that he “saw what the city of Tampa had to offer.”
Eventually Winston would return, with the fan base as divided as ever when it came to the former first overall pick. Winston was asked if he thought the city of Tampa was still behind him.
“Community-wise, I think everyone knows my efforts and what I stand for in the community, off the field, in Tampa Bay,” Winston said. “Obviously perception is reality so whatever people hear, they can be easily persuaded, but I think actions speak louder than words. You make mistakes and you live and you learn, but at the end of the day winning cures everything. It’s as simple as that, winning cures everything. It doesn’t matter how many touchdowns I throw for, we win games and the fans will love you. You’re going to have some fans that don’t like you just because I’m right handed and have a messed up finger, but you’re going to have fans that love you just because you went to Florida State and your name is Jameis Winston and their favorite number is three. You can’t really look the negative things. You’ve got to be grateful for what you do have and work with that, but at the end of the day winning cures everything.”
Then Winston, never one to be associated with a lack of confidence, was asked about if there’s any pressure entering that final, fifth-year on his contract.
“I don’t feel pressure, I feel a duty,” Winston said. “It is my duty to be the quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. It is my duty to go out there and execute with precision and to be an elite quarterback in this league. God blessed me with this platform and I’ve got to take advantage of it. I don’t feel any pressure, this is what I do. I’ve been playing this game since I was four-years-old.”
The focus then shifted to his teammate DeSean Jackson and Winston’s relationship with the three-time Pro Bower.
“I think, as a player like myself, I breed hard work,” Winston said. “I have to build a chemistry with my wide receivers and players like DeSean Jackson, he was born one of the greatest players to play this game.”
“So he just wants to show up and do his thing?” Tierney asked.
“He’s a veteran and he deserves to do that,” Winston replied. “I had to adjust to him and sometimes it’s tough to adjust to special players like that. When you have superstars on your team it can be challenging and I know that every little bit of frustration that DeSean has displayed with me, I respect that fully because DeSean’s going to be honest with you. When you’re able to connect with everyone else but DeSean, there’s a problem there, and I think that problem is with me. Not with DeSean because he’s an incredible player. If he comes back again he’s going to know. Me and DeSean have a good relationship but he’s a superstar, he wants the ball just like any good receiver. Every receiver wants the ball and I haven’t been doing an effective job of feeding him. I think we can feed him better and I think BA is going to add that and our offense, for us to get him the ball in different ways so it doesn’t have to be down the field all the time.”
Following some brief talk about the great quarterbacks in the NFC South and Kyler Murray’s future, the conversation then shifted to Winston’s off-the-field issues.
Tierney insisted that, despite the mistakes, he thinks Winston is a good person and that he didn’t want to come at him sideways with the question, but had to ask, “Are you ready to do the right thing all the time?”
“I’m going to do the right thing,” Winston answered.
“But you’ve had a few [incidents], you know what I’m saying,” Tierney replied.
“Everyone’s had that, but I’m accountable for whatever the perceptions are about me,” Winston said. “I’m accountable for everything because I own that. I know that perception is reality and I know that I have to change the perception that I have in this sports world and in this real world. But I’m the father of a seven-month-old, I’m getting ready to marry my high school sweetheart in a year or two and more importantly I’m a man of God. To chase him every day I have to do my Christ work and live a great life. There’s no two people, I am a good person.”
Winston finished the segment by answering a question Barber – the son of Arians’ former roommate at Virginia Tech – posed about the importance of Arians bringing in such a minority-heavy staff at a time when the league is taking serious criticism in that category, and Winston’s reply again came back to family.
“I think through time,” Winston said. “Time is the cure of everything but I believe that people are starting to see that when you have people in that room, whether they’re white, black or Hispanic, when you have guys that are relatable to the players it’s easy for the players to learn from them. If you’re in the room coaching the running backs or over an offense it’s easy for players to relate to you because they know that you’re credible doing that.”
“The crazy thing about BA, all of his coaches were players for him at Temple. It’s not just a black staff, it’s a family. It’s family for him and that’s what football is all about. You’ve been in a locker room, it’s the ultimate team game, and as long as you have an organization that’s built around family… Look at the Patriots, why are they back? Why are they where they’re at every year? It’s because they’re a family. Bryan Stork played with me at Florida State, he was my center, and the next year he went and won a Super Bowl with Tom Brady. I said, ‘Bryan, what is it about the Patriots?’ He said, ‘Bro, it’s a family.’ Whether you like the system or you don’t, just like whether you like your brother or sister or not, you’re family. As long as we understand that the sport we love, America’s greatest game, football, is all about teamwork makes the dream work. As long as you have people in there that are all about family and not about themselves, not just selfish individuals that are worried about, ‘as long as I have me a job.’ It’s got to be about, we’re in this together, if I’m not here, he’s not here.”