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Saturday, Oct 20, 2018
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Jameis Winston’s Uber ride will never be forgotten, and shouldn’t

Just when you thought it was fun to be a Bucs fan again. Just when you were blissfully under the spell of FitzMagic. Just when the Bucs were becoming the cool kids in the NFL with the latest greatest show on turf.

Just as the good times have arrived, we are reminded of what a creep Jameis Winston is.


The story that won't go away. The story that shouldn't go away.

Winston and that awful night in an Uber.

We are, once again, reminded of the sordid details of that night in March 2016 in Arizona because of a civil lawsuit filed Tuesday by a female Uber driver, identified only as Kate P.

There's nothing in the suit that we hadn't already heard. Allegedly Winston had been drinking. And was belligerent. And was cursing. And was using racial slurs. Then he grabbed the driver's her crotch against her will, the lawsuit claims.

It's a story, by the way, that the NFL thoroughly investigated and, ultimately, believed.

RELATED: Bucs' Jameis Winston sued by Arizona Uber driver

That part needs to be repeated. One and only one entity out there actually put in extensive time and resources to do a thorough investigation. That was the NFL and it concluded, with no ambiguity, that Winston touched the driver "in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent."

In other words, the NFL concluded, yep, he did it.

Don't blame the media for keeping this story alive. Don't blame Kate P. for doing what is fully within her rights by filing a lawsuit.

The reason this has been, is and will continue to be a story is because of Winston's actions.

If Winston had behaved like a responsible adult that night, this would not be a topic today. If Winston had respect for women that night, he would be getting ready to start Monday night's game against the Steelers.

Instead, Monday Night Football will certainly spend part of its broadcast talking about why the 24-year-old isn't playing and why he isn't even allowed anywhere near Raymond James Stadium.

Instead of celebrating Winston's talent as a quarterback, the MNF crew will have to discuss Winston's inability to act the way people are supposed to act in normal society.

For Bucs fans, that moment will be cringe-worthy.

One day, Tampa Bay is caught up in the magic of Ryan Fitzpatrick and wearing fake beards while the rest of the country is looking at this incredible feel-good story of the Bucs.

The next, Bucs fans must suffer the embarrassment of Winston, while the rest of the country looks at him and the Bucs with scorn and loathing.

Because of Winston, a wet blanket has been thrown over so much of what the Bucs have done the past two weeks.

And here's the thing: This is always going to be a story, even if it's just under the surface.

Not because of the media. Not because of the victim. But because of Winston and that night.

Winston can visit all the schools he wants. He can pass out all the Thanksgiving turkeys he can. He can lob footballs to little kids until his right arm falls off. It doesn't excuse his behavior.

So, you might ask, can he ever get past this? Doesn't he deserve a chance to prove himself? Can't a person change?

At some point, doesn't he have to be forgiven?

Perhaps he can be forgiven. But this is something that will never be forgotten. Not totally. Not by everybody.

This will always be with Winston because of the seriousness of the allegations and because this wasn't the first time he was accused of disturbing behavior.

Clearly, the Bucs are okay with that. They drafted him No. 1 overall in 2015 despite warning signs, despite the sexual assault allegations at Florida State, and are sticking with him now.

And the guess is most Bucs are okay with Winston and will be even more okay with him as soon as he starts throwing touchdowns again. Many are already victim-shaming Kate P. and assuming that just because she filed a civil suit, she is only in it for the money and, therefore, must be lying.

Just glance at some of the comments supporting Winston on social media and you'll quickly learn why so many women are hesitant to report sexual assault.

Why do some fans support him?

Because he can throw a football really well. Because he plays for the Bucs. Because he was a 'Nole.

There will come a time later this season, I predict, when Winston will again stand behind center for the Bucs. He will receive a standing ovation. He will do great things. He will win football games.

But there will always be a stain on everything he does.

Because of that night in the Uber. Because of a lot of things.

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