Jameis Winston is the headline player in the BCS National Championship Game between Florida State and Auburn. He won the Heisman Trophy this season, the Walter Camp Award, the Davey O’Brien Award, and he was voted AP Player of the Year. He has Florida State 13-0 and looking to become recognized as one of the best college teams ever (a notion I laugh at) if he can pull off the win over Auburn. He’s also one of the more controversial players starring in a national title game in recent memory.
Winston turned 20 on Monday, the day of the national title game. He was 19 when he won the Heisman Trophy, making him the youngest Heisman winner ever and second freshman to win the award. The only other freshman to win the Heisman is Johnny Manziel, who won it last season. The two young quarterbacks have actually become close, with Winston seeking advice from Manziel on dealing with distractions, and Johnny Football expressing his support for FSU.
But the off-field distractions for each player have been much different.
Winston has been at Florida State for two years. Last year, he redshirted behind star quarterback E.J. Manuel, who later became the first quarterback selected in the 2013 NFL draft. Though Winston didn’t play football last season, he played baseball for the Seminoles as a true freshman.
A pitcher and outfielder, Winston was drafted in the 15th round of the MLB draft by the Texas Rangers in 2012, but he elected to go to college. He played in 41 games last season, starting 32: 20 as a right fielder, 2 as a left fielder, and 10 as a DH. He batted .235 with 9 RBIs. He made 17 appearances as a reliever, going 1-2 with a 3.00 ERA with 21 strikeouts in 27 innings. The point is that Winston was an athlete on campus in the 2012-2013 school year, but not a star when he first was investigated for an alleged sexual assault.
A sexual assault complaint was filed on Dec. 7 2012 by a woman who accused Winston of raping her. Remember, as we just explained, Winston was not a star athlete at the time the charge was filed. The accuser claims she was discouraged by Tallahassee police from moving forward with an investigation because Tallahassee is a football town and her life might be made miserable. She supposedly stopped pursuing an investigation, so the case moved from open-active to open-inactive. That was until November, when the case turned active again.
One of the most common questions I received regarding the case was: why was the case suddenly investigated again, nearly a year after the original charge was filed, and while FSU was in the middle of a great season? Was it some sort of ploy to sabotage FSU’s season and derail Winston? The answer is that new information supposedly was presented to the police, which led them to begin investigating again.
Based on hearing two sides of the story, there are some things we know for certain about the case.
Winston met the accuser at a bar by the Florida State campus. He and his teammates made it sound like she was jersey chasing that night and looking for an athlete. The accuser admitted to having five cups of vodka and a shot at the bar, and her spotty memory of the night’s events made her case shaky. (you can read the story she gave to police here)
The accuser went back to the home where Winston and his teammates lived, and Winston had sex with her in his room. One of the teammates gave an eyewitness account of events because Winston’s door was broken, allowing him to see in.
The teammates, in signed affidavits written by lawyers, said the sex was consensual. Winston, through his lawyer, admitted to having sex with the woman, but he said it was consensual. Winston’s DNA was found on the accuser’s clothes. The accuser claims she was inebriated but that she was forced to have sex against her will and tried pushing Winston off of her. She was disturbed over the night’s events and later went to report the alleged sexual assault. A sexual assault investigation was conducted and bruises were found on her body. Again, because she was drunk, her shaky memory of the night’s events made it difficult to discern the facts. Also, DNA from a second man, believed to be her boyfriend, was supposedly found on her clothing, further complicating the case.
On Dec. 5, the Florida state attorney announced that Winston would not be charged with a crime.
Even though Winston was not charged with a crime, one thing we almost certainly know is that he cheated on his girlfriend.
Winston began dating Breion Allen, a women’s basketball player at Rice, when they were in high school. Though they attended different high schools, they are from the same area in Alabama. Winston isn’t very active on Twitter, but most of his tweets this past summer were about Allen, so obviously the two were very close then. Allen also accompanied Winston to New York for his Heisman Trophy ceremony, and she was extremely happy when he won the award. It’s possible the two were on a break when Winston had sex with the accuser. Whatever the case, he and Allen have worked things out.
Winston easily won the Heisman Trophy this season, but he was left off 115 ballots. Obviously there were still some people uncomfortable about voting for him because of the sexual assault investigation, even though he was not charged.
We will never really know what happened that night. Maybe the accuser, because of her impaired memory, might not even know. But we do know that Winston has moved past it.
Winston will have another college football season after this one before he is eligible for the NFL. Maybe because of all he has gone through and accomplished he’ll consider turning pro. He has made it clear that he wants to follow in the footsteps of Bo Jackson and Deion Sanders by becoming a two-sport professional athlete.
He said in the lead up to the title game that he wants to play pro baseball and football.
“But if I put my mind to it — and the one thing I always seem to do is gain the trust of my teammates — if I can convince those guys I can be your quarterback and still go play baseball for the Atlanta Braves or New York Yankees …”
“No one can be Bo Jackson,” Winston said. “I mean, the guy if he wouldn’t have gotten hurt probably would have been in the Hall of Fame in both baseball and football. So that’s something that’s unrealistic. But I’m not going to tell myself I can’t do that.”
Will he be able to pull it off? By the numbers, it looks like his best chance of playing baseball will be as a pitcher, and his numbers weren’t bad for a freshman playing in the ACC. His chances of playing in the NFL look much stronger. And whatever he does pursue, it looks like he has put the sexual assault charge behind him, and his girlfriend Breion Allen by his side.
What’s Breion’s mental state like? Let’s just say she’s been pretty amped for the game.
I can't watch ESPN til Monday, they are getting me to anxious for this game right now.
— Breion A. (@_LifeIsBreezi_) January 4, 2014