Jeff Cameron of ESPN Tallahassee (via JoeBucsFan.com) reports that Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston and his camp are preparing for the possibility that the NFL will hand down a suspension regarding the allegations made by an Uber driver last year.
“What he’ll be suspended over is a failure to report,” Cameron said Wednesday. “And that’s frustrating. That’s a league obviously attempting, and understandably because they’ve made previous missteps, transgressions, they’re now apt to protect themselves to the nth degree and protect the shield and so on and so forth.
“… The league can’t worry about what’s real and what isn’t. They have to go by perception and PR and protect themselves.
“This is what I do know: the Winston camp is prepared for the NFL to levy a suspension of some kind,” Cameron continued. “The thought from the Winston camp is that would be a maximum of three games. I do not know at this time whether or not they plan to appeal, and I do not know that three games is an accurate number. I’ve been told that would seem to be the maximum number of games that the suspension could be. It’s also likely that it’s less than that and it’s one game.”
Last weekend, NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times that the league is still reviewing the allegations made against Winston by female Uber driver from last year.
As things stand right now, we’re currently eight months removed from the first time allegations surfaced that Winston groped the female driver and it remains to be seen whether he’ll face any disciplinary action under the league’s personal conduct policy.
Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed reported last year the NFL has officially opened an investigation after an allegation surfaced that Winston grabbed a female Uber driver’s crotch back in 2016.
According to Ansari, the female Uber driver, stopped outside of a party in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona to pick up a passenger around 2 a.m. on Sunday, March 13, 2016.
The woman said that Winston “behaved poorly” by shouting homophobic slurs at pedestrians and later “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” while they were waiting in line at a drive-thru.
“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said the woman. “I was frozen.”
“I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” she said.
“I have been empowered by my sisters who have forged this path by speaking up, and I must do my part to make it a little more well traveled,” she said. “If I’m silent, I fear that further harm will come to other women, if it hasn’t already.”
She added, “He sexually assaulted me, and I have every right to tell the damn truth about it.”
The woman later filed an incident report with Uber describing in detail what had occurred.
Eagles CB Ronald Darby, who happened to be with Winston at the time of the incident, said he did nothing inappropriate with the driver, despite the claim that he groped her.
“I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona,” Darby said in a statement. “There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true.”
Winston, 24, is a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers back in 2015. He’s set to make a base salary of $705,000 for the 2018 season, but the Bucs picked up his fifth-year option a few months ago, which will pay him $20.922 million for the 2019 season.
In 2017, Winston appeared in 13 games for the Buccaneers and threw for 3,504 yards while completing 63.8 percent of his passes to go along with 19 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. He also rushed for 135 yards and a touchdown. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 16 quarterback out of 39 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding Winston as the news is available.