“I know the NFL has a process that they have to go through and I respect that process. It’s not my job to speculate on that process,” Winston said Monday, the Bucs’ first day of their offseason program. “My focus has been with this organization, getting the guys back in here and focusing what we can do to become a better team this offseason.”
Co-chairman Joel Glazer, general manager Jason Licht and coach Dirk Koetter all said at NFL owners meetings last month that it was “frustrating” how slowly the league was moving. When asked if he was frustrated by how long this has dragged on, Winston again said his focus was on the offseason program.
“It is not my job to speculate on that process,” Winston said. “And I do respect it, but again, I’ve been focused on getting better this offseason and being the best teammate that I can possibly be.”
In November 2017, a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona, alleged that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while he was a passenger in her vehicle in March 2016. She said it happened while they were stopped at a drive-thru for the Los Betos Mexican Restaurant. The woman did not press charges but came forward in an article on BuzzFeed. When contacted by ESPN, the restaurant said it did not have surveillance of its drive-thru.
Winston said he was not the only passenger in the car and he believes the driver was mistaken about his position in the vehicle. Winston was, however, the person who ordered the Uber ride and the company confirmed to ESPN that he did have his riding privileges revoked. Former Florida State teammate and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby said he was also a passenger in the vehicle and corroborated Winston’s account.
NFL spokesperson Brian McCarthy said Monday: “We do not comment on specifics of investigations.”
When Glazer was asked last month if the allegations changed his perception of Winston, whom the Bucs selected with the first overall pick in the 2015 NFL draft, Glazer responded emphatically, “Absolutely not.”
Winston had also been investigated multiple times at Florida State for an alleged sexual assault while he was a student there, coincidentally on a night when he was also with Darby.
“Jameis Winston that has been on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers since the day we drafted him has been a model in the community, a model in the locker room,” Glazer said. “All we can do is focus on the offseason and doing what we can control, and I know Jameis is working hard and doing all the things he does — not only preparing for the season, but in the community and off the field, and being the person he’s been since we’ve drafted him.”
Winston said he appreciated the strong show of support from Glazer.
“It meant a lot to me because I know my work ethic for this organization and for this team is unparalleled,” Winston said. “Every day I walk into this building, I’m trying to be the best I can possibly be and be a great leader for this organization. So to have support of ownership, it really inspires me to continue to work hard and continue to be the leader that I am.”