Now, State Attorney Willie Meggs’ decision to not charge Florida State QB Jameis Winston with rape may have been right. But what was up with all the quips and laughter at Thursday’s press conference and the pep rally atmosphere outside?
While Meggs may have determined there was not enough evidence to charge Winston, he didn’t prove there was no rape, and even acknowledged that the decision did not vindicate Winston. So the light mood at the announcement seemed seriously inappropriate.
As FOX Sports’ David Whitley reported from Tallahassee, there were plenty of people celebrating the decision — and the possiblity of a Heisman for Winston and a national championship for Florida State. And the perception that local and state authorities were among those who were relieved by the outcome? The chuckles and jocularity of the men in front of the microphones did nothing to dispell it.
In fact, the mood at the press conference was not much more serious than the gameday atmosphere outside the court house, illustrated by these guys.
"I was a little disappointed to see just the cavalier attitude of a lot of the people there like they just won the national championship," former FSU QB Chris Rix said on FOX Sports Live. "I mean, this thing is bigger than football, guys."
Everyone got in on the act, including NBC Sports Radio, which sent this tweet that soon had them apologizing …
We regret the poor choice of words and in no way meant to minimize the seriousness of the situation
…and this reporter promoting college football conspiracy theories:
Even Winston, who released a statement through his lawyer, made sure to end it by saying "I’m excited I can now get back to helping our team achieve its goals."
His lawyer, Timothy Jansen, said: "His career is important to him. … He did nothing wrong. If he did nothing wrong, and someone accused him of rape – he was falsely accused.”
But as FOX Sports’ Clay Travis points out, the accuser will not be charged with making a false statement because, Travis writes, "this case dwelt in a legal gray area, somewhere between a rape and consensual sex."
Not exactly a happy ending, which the accuser’s lawyer illustrated in a statement of her own.
“The victim,” the statement said, “has grave concerns that her experience, as it unfolded in the public eye and through social media, will discourage other victims of rape from coming forward and reporting.”