A Final Word on Jameis Winston

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I hate writing about Jameis Winston. Doing so often feels like conjuring an army of zombies who want nothing more than to eat my brain.

Alas, as one of the best players on one of the best teams in college football, doing so was unavoidable for the last year.

From a purely selfish perspective, Winston’s decision to enter the NFL draft elicits a sigh of relief from the author. The baggage that comes with addressing him is now a problem left to NFL scribes.

Now, I don’t hate writing about Jameis Winston because I harbor any bias against him, so angry Noles fan, spare me the diatribe.

Rather, I struggle with Winston because delving into him, regardless of context, means tiptoeing around a serious topic that is, frankly, better left to people more qualified than yours truly.

Gluttons for punishment will spend the next four months reading draft evaluations that use some variation of the phrase “character issues.” The words have different meanings for different players — it would refer to one’s penchant for smoking jazz cigarettes, partying a little too hard or failing to conduct himself properly in the locker room.

Run those words through Babelfish as it relates to Jameis Winston, and the result you get is harsh and unsettling: He was accused of rape.

It may be difficult taking proper note of the word “accused” because of the ugly, four-letter word that concludes the above sentence. However, it’s of equal importance.

Jamies Winston was never formally charged with a crime, let alone convicted. The only conviction came from a boisterous court of public opinion, which was apparently privy to some evidence Meggs was not.

…which isn’t to say nothing happened, as I have seen some partisans steadfastly and incredulously declare. There are bloggers who have claimed Jameis Winston exonerated against all odds, improbably. Obviously these folks are in the wrong line of work and should consider opening PI firms.

If you declare beyond a shadow of a doubt Winston is guilty, you are failing to account for a cornerstone principle of the American judiciary system: due process. If you say that you know Winston is completely innocent based on the public information available, you are calling his accuser a liar.

And she’s spending an awful lot of time and energy pursuing a lie (and presumably money) if that’s the case. On the same day Winston’s NFL draft declaration was made, his accuser filed a Title IX lawsuit against Florida State.

The timing is sadly fitting. Jameis Winston and this accusation are intertwined in such a way that feels almost impossible to reference the former without the latter lingering over the topic.