Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston did not waste time before addressing his off-field issues during his NFL Combine news conference Friday.
“First off, before we start anything, I want to let you all know I know made mistakes and I know I have a past, but right now it’s about me moving forward and earning the trust of all these 32 teams out there,” Winston said in his opening statement. “And by saying that, I’m a competitor and I know what I’m capable of doing so I will be throwing tomorrow at the combine.”
It was an interesting opening for Winston, the 21-year-old quarterback, whose past includes a sexual assault allegation and some far less serious incidents, including shoplifting crab legs from a Florida grocery store and shouting a lewd comment on campus.
Winston said he understands that whichever team drafts him will be counting on him to be the face of its franchise, which is an enormous burden.
“I have to do everything by my actions,” Winston said, when asked how he plans to earn the trust of teams. “It’s not time to explain about what I’m going through but when I do get to a city and a team, I plan on getting involved in the community and create an image, a positive image, and put everything else behind me.”
Winston also addressed a recent photo released by his quarterback coach, George Whitfield Jr., that inadvertently made it seem like he was overweight during his preparations for the draft.
“A lot of people thought I was fat, but I’m here, I’m proving everybody wrong,” Winston said. “I look good and I know it.”
Winston also addressed a report by ESPN’s Chris Mortensen that he’d undergone additional testing on his shoulder at the combine.
“I had an MRI, just like everyone else,” Winston said. “I’ve been playing football since I was four years old and my shoulder has been fine.”
So no discomfort at all?
“No sir,” Winston said. “I’ve got the same shoulder I had the last two years at Florida State.”
Winston is expected to be in the running to be the No. 1 pick in the draft, along with Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota. The quarterback-needy Tampa Bay Buccaneers have the first pick.