Update, Thursday, June 28: The NFL officially suspended Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston for three games Thursday. The suspension is the result of a settlement among the league, the NFLPA, and Winston, Sports Illustrated’s Albert Breer reported. There will be no appeal. In a statement, Winston said he was “sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in.”
The NFL flat out says that Jameis touched “the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent.”— Will Brinson (@WillBrinson) June 28, 2018
And they still only gave him three games. pic.twitter.com/LygDvz2AKg
Tampa Bay quarterback Jameis Winston will reportedly be suspended for the first three games of the NFL season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy, according to ESPN’s Adam Schefter. The league has yet to announce its final decision, and Winston has reportedly not yet been formally notified. The suspension could be levied as soon as Friday but is expected to be announced next week, according to Schefter.
In November, BuzzFeed News reported that the NFL was investigating the then-third-year quarterback after a female Uber driver told the company that Winston groped her in Scottsdale, Arizona, on March 13, 2016. The driver told BuzzFeed that Winston was the only other person in the car, and that, from the front passenger seat, he “reached over and he just grabbed my crotch” for approximately three to five seconds in the drive-thru of a Mexican restaurant. The driver, who no longer works with Uber, reported the incident to the company immediately after the ride ended, and Uber suspended Winston’s account.
After the BuzzFeed report, Winston refuted the driver’s statement, saying, “I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.” Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, one of Winston’s former teammates at Florida State, said in a statement that he was in the car with Winston that night and “nothing inappropriate” happened.
In December 2012, when Winston was a redshirt freshman quarterback for the Seminoles, a Florida State student said he raped her. Winston was ultimately never charged, and he and the woman reached a civil settlement in 2016.
The NFL’s investigation into the 2016 allegation was led by Lisa Friel, who was also involved in the Ezekiel Elliott domestic violence investigation that ultimately led to the Cowboys running back serving a six-game suspension last season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
Winston is reportedly not expected to appeal the suspension because, according to Schefter’s report, it may cost Winston more money should the appeal drag into 2019. His suspension will cost three-seventeenths of his base salary, according to ProFootballTalk, which in 2018 is $705,000. But in 2019, that salary increases to nearly $21 million after the Bucs picked up the fifth-year option on his rookie deal. If Winston chooses to appeal and ultimately loses a case that drags into 2019, it could cost him millions of dollars as opposed to roughly $124,000 this season.
The Buccaneers open the season at New Orleans, host Philadelphia in Week 2, and host Pittsburgh in Week 3.