A discussion on local sports talk radio here in Jacksonville about the alleged sexual assault of a Florida State coed by Heisman hopeful Jameis Winston can be summed up easily.
“This is not about leading your team to a national title. It is not about winning a Heisman Trophy. For Jameis Winston, this is about the rest of his life.”
While it sounds dramatic, the events that have unfolded since last week have made things as clear as Windex that Winston’s life will be affected whether he is innocent of charges of sexual assault, or found guilty of the accusations before him.
I am not going to bore you with the facts that we already know. I spoke about this last week and now – after seeing a lot what has been unfolding before everyone on television and in the media, Winston has more on his hands than learning the playbook for FSU’s game on Saturday against Idaho. As a fan, an alum and someone who has worked in the State Attorney’s office, there may be plenty of evidence in this case, but there are plenty of loop holes as well.
- Evidence that was withheld.
- Investigation notes that were not released.
- The conversation between the Tallahassee Police Department and the alleged victim
- The statement by the victim’s lawyer
- Whether or not the case was still open or closed
- DNA samples
- Two young adults who have two sides to the story
- And then there is the truth.
In all of this, a football game will be played. A quarterback will lead his team out on the field and try to win the team’s 11th straight contest. The Associate Press polls will not be affected, nor will the BCS standings. Bowl officials will still look at FSU and smile. They will still look at Alabama and smile. Pasadena will still be in California. And hopefully, justice at some point will be served – guilt or no guilt.
What this does affect is a myriad of things. The college football’s biggest stage. The importance of a Heisman winner to be held to the highest standards of the award. The possibility of Winston not being eligible to play in the national title game and possible suspension from the school. And the fact that another football player has been involved in an off field situation that soils the school’s image as well as his.
But in reality, none of those things matter. What matters is a woman is accusing a man of violating her. Guilt or innocence that is the issue. And that issue is more important than a game played on Saturday’s or a title to hang in the trophy case. The timing of the incident, the timing of the public allegation is all odd. But when it comes right down to it, those things should matter more than a pigskin.
And for right now, I would hope Winston is worried more about winning a battle in court than adding to a legacy that until last Thursday was perfect, and seems like it is as tarnished as old silver.