Now, sadly, it is about how there’s no way he can win it.
Not as long as his name is attached to an ongoing sexual assault investigation.
Obviously, we need to see how this plays out in the next few weeks, but right now the captivating Famous Jameis – at least in the court of public opinion – has become the focus of another dark and infamous college scandal to sports fans and Heisman voters across the country.
I don’t know about my fellow Heisman voters, but I would have a hard time voting for player who is being investigated in connection with a sexual assault. I’d rather take my chances with A.J. McCarron of Alabama or Bryce Petty of Baylor.
Back in 1999, Florida State’s Peter Warrick was the front-runner to win the Heisman, but his chances were derailed when he was charged with small-scale shoplifting at a Tallahassee Dillard’s. The accusations against Winston are obviously more serious; so serious in fact that it seems almost trivial to say this will cost him the Heisman.
This could cost him his future.
This is about more than just some bronze trophy or crystal football being at stake; it’s about a woman saying she was sexually battered by a man who is now the quarterback of the No. 2-ranked college football team in the country.
All we know so far is this: The Tallahassee Police Department in December received a complaint of sexual battery against Winston – although the police report does not mention the player by name. It says the complaint was received at 4:10 a.m. and that the sexual battery occurred between 1:30 and 2 a.m. on Dec. 7, 2012. No arrests have been made, but the investigation is ongoing.
Winston has retained an attorney and did not discuss the matter during an interview session with reporters Wednesday. The university released a statement saying coach Jimbo Fisher also wouldn’t address the matter because of the ongoing criminal investigation.
There are questions, many questions: Why has this investigation been going on for nearly a year without any arrests being made? Why did Winston’s attorney tell reporters that police haven’t even questioned Winston during the investigation? And in this instantaneous Internet age of texting and tweeting, how can it be that such a famous football player being accused of such a serious crime is kept secret for 11 months?
Only time will tell whether these accusations are true, but they have already tainted Florida State’s season. Unless this year-long investigation is suddenly wrapped up and Winston’s name is cleared, this story is going to become bigger and bigger and BIGGER as the days and weeks pass.
How do the Seminoles proceed with a quarterback who is being accused of one of the worst crimes you can imagine – sexually assaulting a woman?
If Winston keeps playing and Florida State keeps winning, there will be those who question why he is playing at all. Can you imagine the headline on TMZ or in the supermarket tabloids should Florida State win it all: “Accused rapist quarterbacks FSU to national title!”
Or what happens if in two weeks police decide they have enough evidence to bring felony charges against Winston? He would, per school policy, then be suspended and FSU’s championship hopes would be all but dashed.
I started writing this column Wednesday afternoon and it was supposed to be about how nobody could stop Famous Jameis from winning the Heisman. Not Johnny Manziel, nor McCarron, nor Petty, nor any of the other candidates.
Sadly, as I finish writing this column on Wednesday night, it turns out there is one man capable of standing between Famous Jameis and the sporting world’s most prestigious individual award.
Willie Meggs, the state attorney in Leon County.