Tuesday, May 6, 2014

'Noles, Crabs, and Tough Love

"Tough Love" - what is it? Well, Mirriam-Webster's online dictionary defines it as "love or affectionate concern expressed in a stern or insentimental manner (as through discipline) especially to promote responsible behavior." Wikipedia says it "is an expression used, usually for the purpose of justification, when someone treats another person harshly or sternly with the intent to help them in the long run." Wikipedia goes on to add "there must be some actual love or feeling of affection behind the harsh or stern treatment to be defined as tough love." Now, you're probably wondering, "Sheepdog, where you going with this?"

Florida State University
Florida State University (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I bring this up today, because I'm am getting concerned about a young, talented athlete - Jameis Winston of Florida State. A year ago few knew much about him, but by now most of us know of him and his accomplishments. He won the Heisman Trophy this year and led my Florida State (FSU) Seminoles to the NCAA football championship. He's a pretty good baseball player, too. On the FSU baseball team, he serves as the closer. I've seen the dude play baseball in person a couple of times. I hope to watch him play football in Tallahassee, soon.

The problem with Winston is not what he does on the ball field, it's what he does off. First, there was the rape allegation. Then, there was the BB gun fight with numerous apartment windows being shot out. Next, there were allegations of stealing soft drinks at a fast food restaurant, and now we hear about a "5 fingered discount" on crab legs at Publix. Really Jameis? C'mon man.

The crab legs incident led to a civil citation and 20 hours of community service for Winston and resulted in FSU Baseball Coach Mike Martin suspending Winston from the team until he completed the community service. The question is, was this suspension enough? As an FSU fan, my two cents follows.

Don't get me wrong - I like this kid. He can play. There's no doubt about that. He seems to be a likable guy, too. He's been a leader on his football team. When the sexual assault allegations swirled, I gave him the benefit of the doubt. "Innocent until proven guilty," I said. I thought the evidence reported in the media was "iffy" at best, but I also felt like if Winston did it, by all means he should be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, but - be sure. Rape is a serious crime. Don't ruin a kid's life unless the evidence shows that he did it. Rape and / or sexual assault is one of my pet peeves. I've got a serious problem with any cowardly male, notice I didn't say man, who mistreats a woman.

The problem now is that these other off-the-field issues could be looked at as giving credibility to the previous, more serious allegation of rape. Think about it - how does a 20-year-old man walk out of a grocery store and "forget" to pay for the crab legs he's carrying? I don't get that one. In fact, just today, a report, on CBSsports.com, suggests that Winston didn't forget to pay for the crab legs - he walked off with them intentionally by alluding an off-duty Sheriff's Deputy who was working security at the store. When you couple this with the soft drink deal at the fast food restaurant where apparently Winston asked for a water cup, and then helped himself to the soft drinks instead, folks could make a pretty good case that he's got an "entitlement complex," no respect for the law, or worse. So, once again, was the baseball suspension enough?

English: Mike Martin (11) visits the mound to ...
English: Mike Martin (11) visits the mound to coach members of the 2010 Florida State University baseball team at the 2010 College World Series at Johnny Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Nebraska, USA. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I said after the rape allegation cleared up that Winston has got a bright future in front of him if he can stay healthy and stay out of trouble. I still feel that way. However, when I saw Monday where Winston has completed his community service and already been reinstated to the FSU baseball team, I had a problem with it, because it only amounted to a 3-game suspension.

I feel like with the crab incident, it's time for the FSU coaching staff to dish out some "tough love" on Winston and send him a message. If I had been Coach Martin, the suspension would have been for the rest of the baseball season, even through the College World Series, if FSU made it that far, because Winston keeps behaving badly. And yes, before my fellow FSU fans jump on me, I know he was not charged in the alleged rape case. Based upon what had been reported in regards to the evidence in the case, my opinion was that it was the correct decision. However, he did admit to being out drinking, partying, etc., and then sleeping with his accuser - bad behavior, bad moral decision, poor judgment. Keep your pants zipped.

I'd like to see this kid go far and have a great career in the NFL or Major League Baseball. However, I am concerned that since he has only received a slap on the wrist for these incidents, he could get in a mindset that, "I can do whatever I want, and there won't be any consequences." That's a dangerous place for a 20-year-old man to be in, star athlete or not. Most men Winston's age already think they're invincible. Fuel should not be added, such as slaps on the wrist, to that fire.

FSU is gonna do what it wants. The baseball team wants to keep winning and donors must be kept happy. I get that. But which is more important? Wins and money, or helping a young man mature, become responsible, and learn how to behave properly so that he stays out of trouble? You often hear coaches described as mentors, and even as father figures, to young players. Coaches will talk about helping players develop not just into good ball players, but also into good men. It appears the FSU coaching staff could do a better job of that with Winston.

I really hope to see Winston get it together and the crab incident be the end of his run-ins with the law, but I think it's gonna take someone dishing out some "tough love" for it to happen. If his behavior doesn't improve, I'm concerned it's only a matter of time until he does something really foolish that gets either himself or someone else hurt really bad. We've all seen young athletes do stupid stuff and subsequently go down in flames. I'd hate to see that happen with Winston. That would be a real shame.

The logo of the Florida State Seminoles.
The logo of the Florida State Seminoles. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
I'm not sure Winston understands that his off the field shenanigans not only affect him, but also his teammates, both football and baseball, too. His football teammates and coaches had his back during the fall when the hailstorm of a rape allegation was coming down on him. It's time for him to have theirs by acting like a responsible adult with some sense off the field, as well as on. I'd hate to see his nickname of "Famous Jameis" become something like "Infamous Jameis" or "Shame Us Jameis."

I'll be pulling for ya, Jameis, to get your stuff together. I enjoy watching you play and wish you the best. I'll continue to root for my 'Noles, too, but in my opinion, the FSU coaching staff has dropped the ball in this situation.

C'mon man.  
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1 comment:

The Second Chance Sheepdog said...

Noticed a typo after this article posted. In the 5th paragraph down, the sentence that now reads, "Rape and/or sexual assault is one of my pet peeves," originally read "sexual thought" instead of "sexual assault." I apologize for the error.