Eagles CB Ronald Darby has come forward and vowed for Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston that he did nothing inappropriate to an Uber driver back in 2016, 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 his 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.”
Adam Schefter reports that the NFL has not informed the NFLPA that there is an investigation of a player as of Sunday morning, which the league is required to do.
Schefter says that this raises more questions about the NFL’s checkered history into looking into high-profile cases that involve high-profile stars. According to Schefter, many around the NFL are bracing for a “long, drawn out, messy process” involving Winston.
It’s worth mentioning that this is the second time Darby has vouched for Winston in regards to sexual assault allegations, as he former FSU DE Chris Casher said they were in Winston’s apartment the night he was accused of sexually assaulting FSU student Erica Kinsman back in December 2012.
Talal Ansari of BuzzFeed reported that the NFL has officially opened an investigation after an allegation surfaced that Winston grabbed a female Uber driver’s crotch back in 2016.
The NFL’s special counsel for investigations, Lisa Friel, issued the following letter to the Uber driver on Thursday.
“The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston. The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter.”
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 to Uber describing in detail what had occurred.
Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, issued the following statement denying the allegations:
“We categorically deny this allegation. It is our understanding the uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged in to this is that his uber account was used to call the ride.”
Winston previously settled a civil lawsuit with a woman who accused him of rape back in 2012 while he was playing for Florida State.
Winston, 23, is a former first-round pick of the Buccaneers back in 2015. He’s currently in the third year of his four-year, $25.35 million contract and stands to make base salaries of $615,000 and $705,000 over the next two years of the agreement.
In 2017, Winston has appeared in eight games and thrown for 1,920 yards while completing 61.4 percent of his passes to go along with 10 touchdowns and six interceptions. He has also rushed for 51 yards. Pro Football Focus has him rated as the No. 15 quarterback out of 34 qualifying players.
We’ll have more regarding Winston as the news is available.