Jameis Winston explains ‘poor word choice’ in speech to grade schoolers

Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has apologized for making “a poor word choice” during an appearance at a St. Petersburg, Fla., elementary school Wednesday.

During a motivational portion of his talk, he called on boys to stand up and girls to sit down, then advised boys to be “strong” and girls to be “silent, polite, gentle.” His words, according to the Tampa Bay Times:

“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.

“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”

When asked about the gender stereotypical comments, Winston later explained his thought process to the Times:

“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up. During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”

Winston, who is entering his third season with the Buccaneers, was the subject of a widely publicized sexual assault allegation while at Florida State University. He was never charged with a crime, but he settled a civil lawsuit with his accuser last year, and the university paid that accuser $950,000 in a separate Title IX lawsuit involving its handling of her complaint.