By Matt Rogers
Another year, another investigation and suspension by the NCAA due to the distribution of current FBS football athletes’ autographed memorabilia. This year the culprits are University of Georgia Running Back, Todd Gurley, and Florida State Quarterback, Jameis Winston. One thing that both of these players have in common is they are both two of the most recognizable names in college football and they are, or were, both prominent leading candidates to win for the 2014 Heisman Memorial Trophy.
It seems that every year in recent seasons, a star player has been either investigated or suspended for an incident that most people of the general public would not consider wrongdoing. Receiving benefit for their own autographed jerseys does not seem to be something worthy of receiving a suspension that could harm the player’s stock in the upcoming draft.
Anything Jameis Winston does, especially anything that Jameis Winston does wrong, is going to be discussed countless times on all of the national news and sports channels, especially ESPN, the most viewed sports channel on television. Since the incident broke, SportsCenter has run the story on every episode of the show, at least once, sometimes multiple times per show.
It does not help Jameis Winston’s case that he has already been in the news for all of the wrong reasons since this past summer. First it was the criminal sexual assault case stemming from a December 2012 incident. Then, it was for shoplifting crab legs from a local Tallahassee grocery store. In recent weeks, it has been for publicly yelling obscenities that resulted in a game suspension from Florida State’s game against Clemson. After mentioning all of these incidents, the investigation that Florida State University is currently conducting into the sexual assault case for a possible code of conduct violation this week is also worthy of a mention because of the attention it is receiving from the national media.
Whether Jameis Winston is actually guilty of any of these crimes is meaningless at this point. The incidents have received so much attention from the media that the public consumes that Winston has been assumed guilty of all of them in the court of public opinion. This may or may not be fair, but it is what it has come to when dealing with the multiple incidents that Winston has been involved in. The media and NCAA are solely responsible for all of the praise and criticism that the most successful players, like Winston, receive from the opinions of the public.