Last week, the NFL suspended Jameis Winston, quarterback for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, after an investigation concerning allegations that he sexually assaulted an Uber driver in 2016. The NFL has decided to suspend Winston for three games.
The incident concerning the Uber driver occurred on March 13, 2016. She was called to Scottsdale, Arizona, to pick up Winston at around 2 a.m. in an area known for its party scene. It was then that Winston inappropriately grabbed the driver, who immediately filed a complaint saying that “a big athlete in the NFL reached over and put his fingers on my crotch.” Winston’s account was immediately suspended before the investigation was launched.
The investigation lasted eight months and resulted in investigators finding that the “driver’s account of the incident was consistent and credible.” Despite the odds being against him, Winston continued to deny the claims. He was later required to submit an apology to the Uber driver.
In an official statement, the NFL announced that, “The investigation had concluded that Winston violated the Personal Conduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.” They are requiring that Winston complete a clinical evaluation and attend the recommended therapeutic intervention. Failure to do so could result in a lifetime ban from the NFL.
In his official apology, he said, “I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize.” Winston also apologized to his team, teammates and fans, adding that he was sorry that he would not be out there for the first three games of the season. He also mentioned that he has eliminated alcohol from his life since the incident.
In addition to Winston’s statement, the Uber driver also released her own assertions, in which she mentions that Winston’s apology “needs some work.” The driver then acknowledged how helpful and respectful the NFL investigators were before saying, “My experience should highlight the importance of believing women when they have the courage to come forward about sexual assault. Perhaps that night could have been prevented if others had been believed before me.”
She finished her declaration with a quote from Winston himself, saying, “Girls should be silent, polite, and gentle.” The driver expressed her disagreement with this idea, hash-tagging the post with #MeToo.
This particular instance of sexual assault from a high-profile man is another important example for the #MeToo movement, exhibiting that just because a man is famous does not mean that he holds the power or the right to access a women’s body without her consent.
Winston has been accused of sexual assault and rape in the past, specifically concerning an incident in college, and is known to make sexist comments. The fact that the Uber driver was willing to stand up against a famous athlete shows a lot of courage and strength and is inspiring many others to stand for what’s right in the #MeToo movement, because far too many people have had to say, “Me too.”