Winston says he knew he would ‘be vindicated’
Jameis Winston smiled and laughed, posing for pictures with the
other Heisman Trophy finalists and the big bronze statue that he is
expected to take home.
And when it came time to answer questions from the media on
Friday, the Florida State star quarterback did so confidently and
without hesitation, even when his protection broke down.
Winston and four of the other six Heisman finalists – Texas
A&M’s Johnny Manziel, Auburn’s Tre Mason, Boston College’s
Andre Williams and Northern Illinois’ Jordan Lynch – met with
reporters at a Midtown Manhattan hotel for short interviews.
Alabama’s AJ McCarron was in Baltimore accepting another award.
Florida State officials tried to limit questions that were even
vaguely related to the rape accusation against Winston. The state
attorney closed the investigation last week, saying there was not
enough evidence to win a conviction.
The 19-year-old, who hasn’t spoken directly about the details of
the investigation, seemed unfazed by the questions that did come
his way. He said he was fine remaining silent about the case.
”I knew I did nothing wrong. I knew I could respect the process
and I’d eventually be vindicated. It was more about me being silent
for my family because I didn’t want to put my family in those
”We had so much respect for Mr. (Tim) Jansen and everything
going around and knew I did nothing wrong and everything would be
Winston was the only Heisman finalist to show up with his
lawyer, Jansen, who strolled in with the Florida State entourage
for the media availability. Winston looked like a college student
going to class: Black Florida State sweatsuit with garnet trim, and
a matching backpack hanging off his shoulders.
Winston is the overwhelming favorite to win the Heisman after a
sensational season, leading No. 1 Florida State to the national
championship game against No. 2 Auburn.
But the celebration of his record-breaking performance has been
muted by a year-old sexual assault allegation that went from
dormant to active last month. The Tallahassee Police gave its
finding to prosecutors, who took three weeks to investigate further
and decide not to press charges.
Documents and reports, including the accuser’s accounts to
police, have been made public. They are less-than-flattering to
On Friday, the accuser’s attorney, Patricia Carroll, asked
Florida’s attorney general to independently examine the rape
investigation, claiming it was riddled with problems.
A few hours later, Winston was taking questions, mostly about
football and the Heisman and being in New York city for the first
He was asked about dealing with ”off-field issues” and two
other questions that were indirectly related to the
”It was stressful, but you’ve got to look forward,” he
Soon after, Florida State sports information director Kerwin
Lonzo said: ”He’s only answering football questions and about the
Heisman. Move on.”
Winston then left the media session too soon. Each finalist was
supposed to rotate through three tables of reporters. Winston came
back for a second session and Florida State spokesman Elliott
Finebloom apologized for the miscommunication.
Winston said he had yet to work on an acceptance speech, talked
about how he and his mom took Mason out to dinner on Thursday night
in Florida, when both were at the ESPN’s college football awards
show, and how he worked as a scout-team version of Lynch when the
Seminoles were preparing to play Northern Illinois in the Orange
Bowl last season.
Winston would be the second straight freshman to win the award
after Manziel last year, and he’d be the third Florida State player
– the first since Chris Weinke in 2000.
What can he do for an encore next year?
”Hopefully,” he said, ”I can do it over and over again.”