The following statement was just released by the NFL Communications department.
“JAMEIS WINSTON of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers was notified today by NFL Special Counsel for Conduct TODD JONES that he has been suspended without pay for the Buccaneers’ first three regular-season games for a violation of the NFL’s Personal Conduct Policy.
In November 2017, the NFL learned of an incident involving Winston and a shared-ride service driver that had taken place in March 2016 in Scottsdale, AZ. The incident, which had been immediately reported by the driver to her employer and which resulted in Winston’s removal from the ride-sharing platform, was also publicly reported last November.
The league promptly initiated a comprehensive investigation that included interviews with several persons, including the driver, Winston and others with relevant information. The league also examined an extensive amount of other evidence, including telephone records, business records, data from electronic devices and other communications. Based on the investigation, the NFL found that Winston had violated the NFL Personal Conduct Policy, which allows for discipline to be imposed even when criminal charges are not presented.
In his letter advising Winston of the suspension, Jones stated after full consideration of the record, including a meeting with Winston and his representatives, and a written submission by his attorneys, that the driver’s account of the incident was consistent and credible. As a result, the investigation had concluded that Winston violated the Personal Conduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.
As part of the discipline, Winston is also required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention. A failure either to obtain the evaluation or to cooperate with treatment will result in further discipline. In addition, a future violation of the Personal Conduct Policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL.
Winston has advised the league office that he accepts this discipline. His suspension therefore will take effect as of the final roster reduction on September 1 and he will be eligible to return on September 25 following the Buccaneers’ game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Winston may participate in all of his club’s preseason activities, including games.”
The fact that Uber driver’s account was found credible and Winston’s required to “obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention” is a pretty telling sign that, in at least the NFL’s eyes, Winston did sexually assault the Uber driver and believes he has a problem that may require treatment or counseling.
It will be interesting to see how the Buccaneers handle this situation and whether the team will begin to entertain alternative plans.
Update: Statement by Jameis Winston:
“The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.
First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.
I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”