Earlier this year, and after his father did it, Jameis Winston again stoked the flames that he might (unexpectedly) stay at Florida State beyond the 2014 season and eschew (for now) early entry into the NFL.
In very passionate comments, Winston left no doubt as to the value he places on the education he’s receiving at FSU.
“It’s very important to me. I was always raised as a student first and an athlete second,” Winston said to NFL.com in regards to earning his degree before moving on to the NFL.
“I think that’s the main purpose in college. Some athletes lose that perspective. It’s about being a student-athlete, and not just getting that easy money and going to the league. Even if kids leave early, I would want them to come back and get that degree.”
Given the huge amount of money pouring into school coffers off the backs of these student-athletes, there’s been a push like never before to see them benefit from a financial windfall that grows exponentially from year to year. Winston, based on his star power earned through winning the Heisman and his Seminoles claiming the final BCS title last season, would be one of the players who could very easily cash in on his image before turning professional.
Winston, though, has no desire.
(Writer’s note: feel free to get the “he stole crab legs, he obviously needs the money” jokes out of your system. Go ahead. I’ll wait.)
(OK, we good? Good.)
Speaking of ill-gotten seafood, Winston, for all the highs, has seen his share of lows over the past several months. In addition to the shoplifting citation, Winston was wrapped up in an in-season controversy involving the alleged rape the year before of an FSU student and subsequent investigation. Winston was never charged, but the off-field incidents — one also involving the theft of soda from a Burger King as well as a long-running BB gun battle that caused property damage — have put a dent in his image to varying degrees.
In regards to the crab caper, Winston said in a statement of apology at the time that his ” conduct needs to be above reproach.” Sunday afternoon, Winston reiterated that stance and expounded it.
“Definitely not, because I fixed everything,” Winston said when asked if the way he looks at people, the media and law enforcement has changed. “I was cleared, and I mean, I’ve got to hold myself to a certain standard that the media may view me in, that the regular people may view me in, but I know I can do that because I’ve learned the true definition of being a leader and being a leader on and off the field. As a leader for the Florida State Seminoles, I not only have to respect the name on the back of my jersey, but I have a great university that is looking for me to be a great student athlete, and more importantly I have teammates that are counting on me.
“Accountability is something that’s very important to me, and so, yes, I have learned, and I’ve learned that leadership is more important playing the quarterback position than anything else.”
FSU and head coach Jimbo Fisher can only hope that Winston is as loud or louder on the field as he was in 2013, and much, much quieter off of it since December of last year.