He delivered a private apology to his teammates on the eve of training camp but after one practice, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston acknowledged that he has a long way to go to regain the trust of Bucs fans.
“I understand that they’re disappointed. I’m disappointed,” Winston said. “I should have never put myself in that situation.”
The situation is the now infamous Uber incident in Arizona in 2016.
Winston’s alleged inappropriate contact with a female driver was investigated by the NFL.
A three game suspension was the result.
For weeks during the summer, Bucs fans debated the direction the team should take.
Has Winston outworn his welcome in Tampa Bay?
These are honest opinions that Winston is well aware of and he spoke of changing minds, one at a time.
“I’m just focusing on moving forward. That’s all I can do,” Winston said. “I’ve grown and learned from this situation and so it’s a learning experience. I’ve worked hard in this community since I’ve gotten here and I’m going to continue to work hard on and off the field.”
There is a football side to Winston’s dilemma. He now shares first team repetitions with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who is slated to start the first three games of the regular season. The third quarterback on the depth chart, Ryan Griffin, is also stepping up his role. He will be Fitzpatrick’s backup.
It’s a scenario that has forced head coach Dirk Koetter to be diligent with work loads and keep the quarterback rotation moving in practice.
“I think your team has a lot of leaders. And being a leader starts with being a leader of yourself,” Koetter said. “Where we stand right now with the three game suspension, it’s time that Jameis leads from the rear. And there’s nothing wrong with that.”
Winston recalled the past two years of community service and his efforts to be considered a leader off the field. The suspension is a setback in the belief from that very community.
“When I tell the fans, it’s continue to support this team. Continue to support me,” Winston said. “Since I’ve been here my main goal was to grow as a leader, be a huge advocate in the community and I’ve done that.”
A difficult summer for Winston has actually led to much happiness away from football. He became a father and is engaged to be married. He wants to repair his image and win games. But he admits now there is a bigger purpose.
“My son was born the day after the decision was made,” Winston said. “So seeing things from a different perspective, learning that I’m going to have to teach that man how to respect women and how to live his day to day life. I really took it upon myself to be proactive and make sure I’m a great example for him and my fiance.”