Father Antonor Winston Says Family, Florida State Failed Jameis Winston

Jameis Winston, signing an autograph, has been getting more attention from fans, the news media and the NFL in recent months. (Photo: Melina Vastola, USA TODAY Sports)
Jameis Winston, signing an autograph, has been getting more attention from fans, the news media and the NFL in recent months. (Photo: Melina Vastola, USA TODAY Sports)

A week after Florida State’s Jameis Winston had been cited for leaving a supermarket without paying for crab legs, the quarterback sent a lengthy text message to his father.

In short, he told Antonor Winston he was fine and ready to return to the baseball team after being banned for four days.

“I know what doesn’t kill you makes you stronger actually being suspended was the best days of my life!

“When I get older we gone laugh at this petty stuff IM GOOD that’s all that matters ignore minor comments or people that ain’t livin MY life”

Winston’s citation for leaving a Tallahassee, Fla., Publix on April 29 without paying for $32 of crab legs and crawfish was the latest off-field issue for the Hueytown native.

None is more serious than the alleged sexual assault for which Winston was not charged. But as the NFL draft concluded this weekend and the attention inevitably turns to next year’s class, for which the 20-year-old Heisman Trophy winner will be eligible to enter, questions about such incidents and character will increase.

Winston’s supermarket episode almost immediately became the butt of jokes. An Alabama grocery store advertised “Jameis Winston King Crab Legs” the day after a press conference that included multiple questions about whether the QB also took butter. Stetson fans held up crab legs in its game against FSU on Tuesday. And Taiwanese animators created a video showing Winston using Heisman moves to elude security officers on Segways.

Those close to the quarterback say the citation, for which he has performed 20 hours of community service, is the honest mistake of a college kid adjusting to the intense spotlight. If he wasn’t aware of its glare, he should be now, they say.

“We hope so,” Antonor Winston tells USA TODAY Sports. “Not only him. I think it should show the university and us, I think we probably kind of dropped the ball on that a little bit.”

Florida State declined to make Winston available for an interview about the incident, but after it was reported he released a statement through his attorney, Tim Jansen, in which he accepted responsibility for a “moment of youthful ignorance.”

Speaking from his home, where four of Winston’s football trophies sit on the floor and photos and framed newspaper clippings cover the walls of the living room, Antonor Winston says he feels comfortable with his son’s blunder. His only advice would be that Jameis Winston should have called the store when he realized he’d forgotten to pay. But he also says he is working with the school on how to manage his son’s notoriety.

“He’s supposed to have somebody around him 24/7,” says Antonor Winston. “He a Heisman Trophy winner so (he’s) definitely not supposed to be by (himself).”

Since Winston won the Heisman in December, FSU has provided additional security on athletics trips and road baseball games, athletic director Stan Wilcox said in a statement to USA TODAY Sports.

“We are committed to doing everything in our power within NCAA rules to provide Jameis Winston with the resources he needs to thrive as a student and an athlete,” said Wilcox. “We will continue to work with Jameis and his family to make them aware of all the support services the university has to offer.”

Antonor Winston says few have experienced what his son is going through — winning the Heisman and a national championship as a freshman.

He mentions Texas A&M’s Johnny Manziel, who was the first player to win the trophy as a freshman when he captured the award in 2012. Manziel, who was drafted No. 22 overall by the Cleveland Browns on Thursday, opted to take all of his classes online in the spring of 2013 after winning the Heisman because the attention became too much.

Florida’s Tim Tebow won two national championships and claimed the Heisman between them during his sophomore season.

Both schools provided additional personnel for those quarterbacks at athletics-related events, including going between practice fields and the stadiums, because of crowds and autograph seekers.

“It’s just a different standard for (Jameis) and Johnny (Manziel),” says Antonor Winston. “He’s just got to endure, just make better decisions and he’s just got to endure that.”

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Rachel Axon

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