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National Columnist

One suspension for stolen crabs is enough -- even for Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston is suspended indefinitely from the Florida State baseball team. (USATSI)
Jameis Winston is suspended indefinitely from the Florida State baseball team. (USATSI)

Suspending Jameis Winston for football makes all the sense in the world. He's a football player, the best in the country, but even the best football player in the country gets suspended when he's been cited by police for shoplifting $32.72 worth of crab legs from Publix.

Suspend Winston? That's an easy call.

Except for this:

He already has been suspended. From the FSU baseball team. You know, the season underway right now.

You're spitting up soda at me, maybe soda you got from Burger King. Hopefully you paid for that soda. Several months back, according to a Burger King employee in Tallahassee, Jameis Winston didn't pay for all the soda he drank. The employee filed a report with the police, and although nothing came of it, the report was filed and the Associated Press found it and broke that story -- along with another report that Winston was among a handful of FSU football players questioned by police for a BB gun battle in November 2012.

November 2012? That was one month before Winston was accused by another FSU student of rape.

He's having quite the college career off the field, is Jameis Winston, though until this week he had been as elusive legally as he has been athletically. The Burger King report produced no charges. Neither did the BB gun battle. Nor the rape accusation. Does that mean Winston is literally innocent of all of the above? No. It means, literally, he wasn't charged.

Now this. The stolen crab legs. Winston said it was an accident, which is possible. He said he realized his mistake after he reached his home, but that he didn't return to Publix to pay for the crab legs. If that's the truth, that admission is troubling. He knew he hadn't paid for the food, but didn't go back to make it right? Troubling.

Whatever happened at Publix, whether he intended to steal the crab legs or not, he has been suspended indefinitely from the FSU baseball team.

And that's enough. More than enough, it's fair. And if he were to be suspended a second time, from the FSU football team in the fall? That wouldn't be fair.

Stop spitting up your soda and listen to me. People want a pound of flesh from this guy, one way or another, but this isn't the way. Hypotheticals are mostly useless, but consider this: If Winston played just baseball, and were suspended indefinitely, that would be enough, right? Nobody would say, "He should be suspended from the baseball team and lose his privileges at the campus swimming pool this summer!"

No. We'd say, "Baseball player does something stupid and gets suspended? Sounds right."

Because it is right.

Granted, Jameis Winston isn't just a baseball player. He is, as noted, a football player -- and not just that, but the best football player in America last season, on the best football team in America last season. And people want their pound of flesh from the football star who screws up, especially when that football star was accused of something as horrific as rape. And when his school has been questioned about not doing right by the alleged victim. And when the local police department has been accused of not conducting that investigation in the most sensitive or even competent way.

There's a lot to wonder about when it comes to Jameis Winston. This column here, saying a football suspension would be unfair, isn't an implication that he was unfairly accused of the sexual assault. We just don't know, but the legal system has spoken, and for the sake of today's argument -- should Winston be suspended for baseball and football? -- that allegation isn't an issue beyond this:

Jameis Winston has to be smarter than this. I'm pretty sure Jeremy Fowler is writing something along those lines in his column calling for a football suspension for Winston, and as far as that goes, Fowler is dead-on correct: Jameis Winston has to be smarter than this. If there's any college football player in America who needs to make sure he dots every 'i' and crosses every 't' away from the field, it's Winston. After everything he's been accused of, given the way America is trying to decide just who this guy is, he has every motivation to do things the right way. Walking out of Publix with $32.72 in unpaid-for crab legs? Forgetting to pay?

That's not the right way. Most people can forget to pay, but not Jameis Winston. Come on. Really, Jameis?

But again, one suspension is enough. He's not a baseball player on a lark, killing time at the end of the bench. If he were, this suspension would be a joke. But he's the closer on the No. 6 baseball team in America. He's one of the top college prospects not just on his team, but in the country. He has a 1.50 ERA and a team-best five saves in 16 appearances. In 24 innings he has allowed just 14 hits. Any idea how ridiculously good that is for college baseball?

Winston is a baseball star. His baseball team is a College World Series candidate. And he just got suspended indefinitely.

It's fair. And it's enough. Whether he plays football is immaterial to this argument. As is, you know. The other stuff.

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