Let’s start here: What Jameis Winston did on Florida State’s campus this week was wrong, for multiple reasons. He’s easily the most high-profile member of the student body. Winston won the Heisman Trophy last year, led the Seminoles to the National Championship, and is projected to be a 1st round pick in the 2015 NFL draft, assuming he enters.
He’s also 20 years old, and the idiocy of immature, 20-year old college kids knows no bounds. But Florida State was right – Winston is an ambassador to the University, one who is regularly on television. When he’s standing up on campus shouting obscene things – internet memes or not – that’s a horrible look for the school and Seminoles. His two-quarter suspension was warranted.
As a reminder of how dumb college kids can be, here’s an old story about Peyton Manning – clean cut Peyton Manning! – from his days at Tennessee. One thing to remember: this happened in 1996, when Manning, then a junior, was the star QB for the Volunteers. These were the very early days of the internet. Surely you remember: AOL dial-up, Netscape, chat rooms.
Social media wasn’t a glimmer in the eye of Silicon Valley.
The setting: The Vols training room. Peyton wrote in his book, Manning: A Father, His Sons, a Football Legacy, a “track athlete” made a remark, and he mooned the athlete. He “didn’t think the [female] trainer would see” but when she did, “it seemed like something she’d have laughed at, considering” the locker room environment.
“Crude maybe, but harmless,” were his words.
Manning, for whatever reason, also added in the book that the trainer had a “vulgar mouth.” The trainer, however, told a different version of events in a court filing.
she was examining Manning to see why Manning was having pain in one of his feet and was crouched behind him when “entirely unprovoked, Peyton Manning decided to pull down his shorts and sit on Dr. Naughright’s head and face.”
As Naughright described it in a deposition entered into the court record: “It was the gluteus maximus, the rectum, the testicles and the area in between the testicles. And all that was on my face when I pushed him up. … To get leverage, I took my head out to push him up and off.”
Before you downplay it as a he said/she said, let the record show that the track athlete Manning claimed to have mooned wrote the QB a letter in 2002 saying, “you might as well maintain some dignity and admit what happened … do the right thing here.”
Within hours of the incident, the trainer reported it to the Sexual Assault Crisis Center in Knoxville. She reached a settlement with the University in 1997 and left Knoxville.
Why is any of this relevant? In 2001, she was the program director of the Athletic Training Educational Program at Florida Southern College. In 2002, Manning’s book came out and the “vulgar” label hit the trainer. She lost her job as the program director.
In 1996, this story doesn’t get out. Even in 2002 the court filing got some attention, but nothing like it would have in 2014.
To recap: College kids have always done really stupid things, and will continue to. In the past, some (many?) got away with things that they’d be crucified for in 2014.