Last Friday Jameis Winston, Heisman-winning quarterback of Florida State and No. 1 NFL draft pick, had his first practice for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, the same day he filed a countersuit against Erica Kinsman to challenge her accusation that he raped her.
As reported in the Tampa Bay Times, Kinsman claims to have been assaulted by Winston in December of 2012 and has since had her testimony deemed “problematic” by the State Attorney’s Office. According to the International Business Times, the case even got Title IX, the federal law that protects against sex-based discrimination, involved as Kinsman claimed FSU officials concealed information and purposefully did not notify the Title IX coordinator. Despite Kinsman’s battle to be heard, the state attorney and FSU administrators never charged Winston of the assault.
The case of Winston and Kinsman is murky at best, with FSU’s timeline in handling the case questionable and Kinsman climbing the legal ladder to see her alleged attacker charged. While Winston, according to the Times, believes Kinsman meddled with witnesses and purposefully launched an attack on the public’s perception of him.
Additionally, Winston, a man now signed to a $25.35 million contract, is seeking in excess of $75,000 in damages. The new Buc seems to be playing the part of a pirate very well thus far.
The counterclaim, regardless of Winston’s innocence, is ridiculous given that he was able to be the No. 1 pick for the NFL draft and was signed to a multi-million dollar contract. If a hurt image can allow a recent college graduate to become a millionaire overnight and the face of a franchise, then it is hard to fathom what a blemish-free image would wash ashore.
After a season for the Bucs that involved a crying quarterback and a 2-14 losing record, the Tampa Bay team has nothing to lose in bringing on a young quarterback that excels on the field.
As reported by ESPN, Bucs’ coach Lovie Smith and general manager Jason Licht found nothing wrong with Winston’s character — the same character that walked out of the supermarket with stolen crab legs and is willing to countersue a woman that has already faced repeated scrutiny from those meant to hear her case.
A real question of integrity will lay in Tampa’s acceptance of the star quarterback. At this point, there is likely no way to ever know for sure if Winston assaulted Kinsman, but fans should not walk into Raymond James Stadium and cheer for the hero they want without reflecting on who he may really be.
The response by FSU and the repeated rejection Kinsman faced and challenged speaks in ways that require a deeper understanding of the case. Bucs fans should rethink the history of the man they will see leading the field and decide if they really want to sport a number-three jersey on gameday.
Adam Mathieu is a senior majoring in studio art.