Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston arrived in Tampa a year ago with plenty of questions. While at Florida State, Winston was investigated for sexual assault but never charged, caught shoplifting crab legs and suspended for one game after yelling an obscenity in the student union.
Bucs general manager Mark Licht even told TheMMQB.com's Peter King, "I'd be lying if I said I don't spend a lot of time thinking about the off-field stuff," in the months leading up to the 2015 NFL Draft. But Winston was a model citizen as a rookie, and he showed glimpses of why Tampa selected him with the first overall pick.
In an article for The Undefeated, Alex Kennedy writes that Winston's teammates continue to come to his defense, and have praised his character in the process. But the most controversial quote, from teammate Louis Murphy, on why Winston is perceived differently than other young players didn't make the final edit. Kennedy tweeted out the quote later, though it appears to have since been deleted. Deadspin posted a screencap of the tweet in question.
"That's just how the media plays it; you would think Johnny Manziel is this freaking great kid, but he's f--ing terrible," Murphy said, according to Kennedy. "Jameis didn't do half of the s--- that [Johnny] has done. And I'm sorry, excuse my language, but I'm just passionate about it.
"It really frustrates me to see the media try to make a guy out to be a bad person, just because of the color of his skin. That's not right. If you're a different color, it's like, 'Oh, it's not a big deal.' But if you're a black kid who makes a mistake or gets falsely accused, they're going to make it seem like the kid is terrible.
"This dude didn't do nothing wrong. He was a 19-year-old kid in college who made some of the same little mistakes that everybody else made. But because the color of his skin, he gets labeled a bad person and that stigma rides with him. Meanwhile, Johnny Manziel beat a woman, [did] drugs and was in and out of rehab, and you barely hear about it. It's a story for a day and then it's gone. I'm tired of that."
Murphy was asked if being a black quarterback in the NFL has its challenges.
"Racism is still prevalent today," he continued. "I don't want to get into it too much, but yeah, he deals with stuff [in rival stadiums]. Everybody deals with stuff. Racism is still alive. It's real."
Murphy's not entirely wrong when looking at how the quarterbacks were compared in the predraft process. In the weeks and months leading up to the draft, an anonymous NFL executive compared Winston to all-time draft bust JaMarcus Russell, which is the laziest of comparisons, one that was immediately dismissed and appears to be wholly off base.
Meanwhile, media types and draft pundits were falling all over themselves after Manziel's 2014 pro day, because, as best as we can tell, the former Heisman Trophy winner made the peculiar decision to wear his helmet during his scripted workout. Of course, things went sideways for Manziel in the two years since, and the media has been there to document each and every misstep.
Either way, credit to Winston, whose play has quieted his critics, while Manziel's NFL career already appears to be over.