People, the haters, want to see Jameis Winston punished. . . at all costs. If he sneezes and does not cover his mouth, those who detest the Florida State Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback will scream infraction and call for a suspension.
In one sense, Winston created this animus by his insistence on showing the youthful silliness of being 20. In another sense, the money-grubbing, victory-seeking adults in the NCAA, ACC and at Florida State have at least magnified his bad judgment by not sufficiently admonishing the young man.
Now, whatever he does becomes grounds for punishment for those who cannot stomach the consistent drama Winston has sparked.
The latest came Saturday during FSU’s 20-17 victory over Boston College, another Seminoles late-game triumph. In the third quarter, with 5:20 left in a tied game, Winston approached the line of scrimmage to initiate a play. Official Mike Webster stood between Winston and his center.
To get to the line to start the play, Winston nudged Webster to the side so he could play football. The ref moved back, stumbled slightly and the play went on.
After the game, screams came from all points asking why Winston was not penalized at least, suspended at worse for touching an official. Really?
The bull’s eye is on the back of Winston’s jersey. The video clearly shows the referee impeding Winston’s progress. The referee was not offended, did not call a penalty and went on with the action. And yet there are cries of foul from outlets near and far.
Winston said: “He was just holding me because he said we had a substitution. It was actually a fast-tempo play, so I was trying to get up under there and let it ride.”
Critics say “so what?” The rules state you cannot touch an official. The spirit of the rule is about forcefully handling an official, particularly in the anxious moments during a shoving match or melee. Winston’s act was not malicious. He was just trying to play football, which is the reason he was on the field.
Others, like officiating stalwarts Dave Cutia of ESPN and Mike Pereira of Fox, said Winston should have been ejected and a 15-yard penalty should have been marked off. Seems ejection would have been a bit harsh when the referee caused the situation.
The ACC ruled the contact “incidental and insignificant,” coordinator of officials Doug Rhoads said in a statement Sunday. So that should be a wrap with this situation, right?
Because he is Winston and because he’s been embroiled in a sexual assault scandal, because he exited a grocery store without paying for crab legs, because he participated in a silly prank by yelling an obscenity on campus. . . and, essentially, has not been penalized for any of these situations, some people want him sidelined for this act.
Winston shows he’s in command of the game, and he should be suspended? It’s not like he grabbed and threw the ref to the ground. He nudged him to the side so he could execute a play.
But Winston’s history makes it easy for people to squawk when he’s involved in anything just a tad out of line. It would be a lot easier if Winston grew up. He doesn’t need to be punished to accomplish this. He just has to realize the outcomes of his drama could have been significantly different, and not in a good way.
Realizing that would inspire him to grow up and do what’s right. For some, that would be a good thing. For others, it will not be enough.