Winston: I didn’t steal crab legs; store worker ‘hooked us up’
As part of his preparation for this month’s NFL Draft, Florida State quarterback and potential No. 2 overall pick Jameis Winston trained not only on the football field but also in the interview room. And one of those training sessions has suddenly provided a new insight into one of the most infamous moments of the 2014 Heisman winner’s career.
Sitting down with new Michigan head coach Jim Harbaugh and his quarterbacks coach Jedd Fisch as part of ESPN’s “Quarterback Academy” series, Winston was prodded by Harbaugh about his run-ins with coaches and police, and his off-the-field discipline.
But after Winston failed to mention his April 2014 citation for shoplifting crab legs at a Publix grocery store in Florida, Fisch prodded the 21-year-old.
“That’s the elephant in the room for you,” Fisch said during the program taped in February to prepare Winston for team interviews during the NFL Combine later that month. “Everyone’s going to want to know what happened. So don’t … forget about the fact that everybody on ‘SportsCenter’ read about that incident. Because then it looks like you’re covering it up or you’re hiding it.”
After some more guidance from Harbaugh, Winston then offers details never before made public, which you can see in the video clip below.
Last summer, in a sitdown with FOX Sports’ Bruce Feldman, FSU coach Jimbo Fisher explained the incident a little differently, calling it an "honest mistake."
Said Fisher: "There was no malice involved. It was an honest mistake because when you go back and look at it, after he leaves, he’s actually ordering wings from a local wing place two doors down. He walked back in, and he’s used to going to Winn Dixie (supermarket), where he always paid — and we checked this out. But when he came back, he was in a hurry. They were late. They waited on him. People started coming around him.
"You’re not trying to be malice (sic) when you walk out beside a sheriff carrying the crab legs in your hand. You’re not trying to hide it. There was no malice in what he did. It was an immature mistake, ’cause he walks two doors down and pays for the wings. See, people didn’t know that. He made a mistake but it wasn’t like he was trying to steal something. That’s part of growing up. He got his suspension in baseball, which is very critical to him. And we move on. He’ll educate himself. He’ll learn from that, but Jameis is a tremendous human being. He is a great people person. There is no ill will or malice in his body. There’s really not."
Fisher was asked about it this morning on the spring ACC media conference call and said "If he says it is (true), I guess it is." Fisher added that FSU compliance did look into it back then to make sure nothing was going on. FSU Compliance thinks it’s a totally isolated incident.
The "isolated" incident part would contradict Jameis saying the guy at Publix told him "Any time you come in here I got you"
Winston’s new explanation paints quite a different picture from the one in the public consciousness for a year and seems to confirm what some had suspected all along — that players getting free food from that particular supermarket was not an "honest mistake," but something that’s happened for a while.
But just because Winston has offered a little more clarity on the crab legs issue doesn’t mean Winston and his decision-making would be off the hook in the eyes of NFL coaches an executives. In fact, when Harbaugh advises Winston how to answer questions about the incident, he doesn’t even include mentioning the role others allegedly had in hooking Winston up:
H/t: CBS Sports
Jameis Winston's 'falling on the sword' 2 protect his teammates & 'higher ups' who knew of this Publix taking care of players for years! #YO
— Marcellus Wiley (@marcelluswiley) May 1, 2014
— Omar Kelly (@OmarKelly) May 1, 2014