No matter what you think of Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback and 2015 No. 1 overall pick Jameis Winston, it’s impossible to deny that he just knows how to say all of the right things. He’s clearly very dialed in to this part of NFL life or he’s smart enough to have surrounded himself with people who are.
It’s always been true, even when he was at Florida State. He talked about how he needed to grow up, to learn from his mistakes. He missed a game and talked about how he just wished he could have been there for his teammates, how that desire would push him to be a better person. To improve himself.
It was a constant refrain in pre-draft interviews. Winston persistently cited that missed game, where he had to sit on the bench, when asked what he’d learned. It was the perfect answer, showing he cared about the team and wanted to change all at once.
Even now, at the Rookie Symposium, he’s back at it again. He’s been talking about how positive social media can be if it’s used the right way. He’s said he tries not to get caught up in the negative and just focuses on being a better player and a better person.
It’s the actions that matter, according to Winston. “I got to be a quarterback,” he said. “When I’m off the field, I got to be a quarterback; when I’m on the field, I got to be a quarterback.”
Winston has been covered in criticism for more than a year now, and he’s always kept up this same attitude. He smiles a lot. He gives off a friendly, open vibe. He seems like he’s really a nice guy, and he always knows what to say.
Ironically, for how much he stresses the importance of actions, that’s what keeps getting him in trouble. He’s been saying the right thing the whole time, every time. Then he goes out and does something to make a mess of the whole situation. Then he says the right thing some more.
To his credit, everything’s been quiet out of his camp since the draft. Winston hasn’t run into legal issues, social media issues, or anything else. He appears to be doing exactly what he’s said he has to do: Focusing on football.
This year will test Winston in many ways. On the field, he’ll have to find out if he can compete at the highest level in the world. Not only will he need to play well, but he’ll need to learn how to react when he doesn’t play well. That’s perhaps the most important thing for a guy who lost one college game in his entire life, the last one he played.
Jameis Winston is going to lose in Tampa. A lot. He’s going to throw picks and make mistakes. He has to bounce back.
But the year will also test him because the spotlight is bigger than ever. The lights were bright when he won the Heisman Trophy and when he won the title in college. But that’s nothing in the NFL. College titles don’t matter and Heisman Trophy winners are forgotten.
Can Winston really stay out of trouble? Can he follow up all of those perfect answers with actions that match? Can he handle himself when everyone is watching, all the time?
Whether he can or not, it could have as much of an impact on his transition to the NFL as his play on the field. It’s the whole package, these days. If Winston messes up or lets it go to his head, he could be finished. If he turns things around and gives his all for the team and his teammates, only then will he have a real chance to develop his physical talents and attempt to be an elite quarterback.