What should we be rooting for?

By JASON MARTIN

Tampa-Bay-Buccaneers-logoThe Tampa Bay Buccaneers are certainly a team in need of inspiration. It has been more than a decade since their last Super Bowl appearance in 2002 and they have not had a winning season since going ten and six in 2010. Thanks to their scurvy 2014 season, they were awarded the number one pick in the draft.

So, as they set sail on the 2015, season by now you have already heard a hundred times over: With the number one overall pick in the 2015 NFL Draft the Tampa Bay Buccaneers select Jameis Winston, Quarterback, Florida State
– Roger Godell.

Winston is the youngest player to date to win a Heisman Trophy, the NCAA Men’s Football’s top honor awarded. His on-the-field accolades are above reproach, showcasing fantastic arm strength and accuracy, outstanding athleticism matched with size and power and what most call that intangible “it factor.” He led his team in 2013 to a National Championship title in his first year as a starter. Throughout his playing days at Florida State, he consistently competed at a high level in two Division I sports, football and baseball. I should mention that he had already been drafted by the Texas Rangers out of high school to become a Major League Baseball pitcher.

Simply put, this young man is a special talent and I think that is great and something to be marveled at.

However, what I constantly find myself getting upset about is — in my opinion — some if not most of these achievements should not have been allowed to come to light. At least not in the timeline they did. I am not a parent or coach, or really even that great of an athlete but, I am a huge football fan and truly love the game. When played at its most basic level, it holds a lot to be admired: trust, hard work, determination, etc. …

The fact that Jameis Winston was almost as consistent off the field getting himself into trouble as he was at throwing touchdowns and strikeouts is a shame. I am not letting Winston off the hook. The truth is, only his accuser and he really know what happened between them, and that is an entire different can of worms I do not wish to open.

I will sum up the other idiotic moves this superstar pulled while wearing the crimson and gold in a simple phrase: Being a kid. That doesn’t mean it is okay to stand on a table and shout obscene things about women’s anatomy or that walking out of a store without paying for your King Crab Legs is no big deal. It just means the majority of us weren’t performing “Rocket Surgery” [sic] when we were in our late teens.

But who is really to blame? Is it the NCAA? Florida State University? Maybe just the Athletic Department or Football Coach at Florida State? The alumni that funnel money into a university like it is an underground stock market? What about the high school he attended where he was a superstar? I dare say it could go all the way back to his Pop-Warner days or tee-ball.

Tampa_Bay_BuccaneersShipIt’s a no-brainer that parents, always get some share of the blame. In reality, it’s a society that constantly teaches our children if you are really great at something, you don’t have to be accountable for your actions.

If anyone from top to bottom did the right thing and removed this young man from the games he so passionately plays, maybe he would see and understand the errors of his ways and correct them, earning back the privilege to play. Instead, he gets to sign an insanely lucrative contract and be put on a throne to lead an NFL team. The National Football League also had a chance to show that behavior off the field is just as important as on the field. Instead they allowed him to become the number one pick.

I am a believer in sportsmanship and upholding the integrity of the game. Doctoring equipment to gain a competitive edge is cheating, no two ways about it, but domestic violence is disgusting and makes me ashamed of the game I love. Everyone deserves a second chance, but could they maybe make them truly earn it?

Ultimately, I have no say in who plays in anything beside my fantasy league or a team I use while playing a video game. So what I will do instead is see the system for its corrupt ways, admit I have no idea what it is like to be in any of the aforementioned roles and try to believe more good than bad comes from it. Although the NFL has had more than its share of blemishes lately, the players and representatives of the NFL do a tremendous amount of good through charitable donations of time and money.

With that notion in mind I come to what I am truly, going to root for. Here we go Winston, here we go! This youngster has an opportunity to become a man that children can truly look up to for the right reasons, not just as a good football player but as a good person. I truly hope he finds a passion in the community and sails away with it. If he can capture some wins in the process, it will be something to be treasured. The ship is his, but ye be warned: If he does not go above and beyond to show that he was a young man under a giant microscope painted in an unfair light, I suggest he walk the plank.

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