Praise, Racism Allegation Follow Jameis Winston’s Combine


The NFL Combine concluded yesterday, and FSU, which had more players invited than any other school, could have a record number of those players selected in this spring’s draft. The first to go will surely be quarterback Jameis Winston, especially given his performance in Indianapolis this weekend.

Winston is the odds-on favorite to be taken first overall by the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, despite his 4.97 time in the 40-yard dash. Much was made of Marcus Mariota’s 4.52 time, since he’s considered the top competition to Winston to be the No. 1 pick, despite the reality that Mariota has been brought up in a vastly different offense than Winston, who ran Jimbo Fisher’s pro-style attack at FSU. However, Winston dazzled in throwing drills, anticipating throws better than Mariota, and, per all reports, aced his interviews, which are kept private.

One thing that has gone public is Winston’s whiteboard conversation with former NFL coach Steve Mariucci, in which the Heisman Trophy winner expertly breaks down one of Mariccui’s favorite plays after seeing it for the first time just moments prior. Yesterday, several national media figures weighed in on Winston’s performance, and the intelligence of the two-time All-ACC Academic Team member, considered by some to be a hinderance earlier, is now being rightfully lauded.

On ESPN’s Highly Questionable, Dan Le Batard had this to say of Winston’s media knowledge: “He crushed it– and that’s all that matters to me.” Co-host Bomani Jones added some perspective on the attention being paid to Winston’s 40 time: “There’s only one reason for talking about his 40– and that’s because he’s black.” Jones added that if Winston were evaluated as the pocket passer that he is, it would be seen as a non-issue, and appropriately written off, citing the 5.28 run by New England Patriots’ signal caller Tom Brady.

Jones clarified, stating that “the most direct comparison for Jameis Winston is Peyton Manning.” When Le Batard insisted that the Pittsburgh Steelers’ Ben Roethlisberger was a better comparison, Jones again came to Winston’s defense: “Put Ben at that whiteboard, and it doesn’t look like it did when Jameis was up there with Steve Mariucci.”

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Perhaps a bigger surprise was the reaction offered by CBS Sports’ Jim Rome, who’s been far from a Winston fan; throughout the 2014 season, Rome repeatedly referred to Winston as “Ignoramus Winston.” Yet Rome echoed Jones: “Bad news for anybody rooting for Jameis Winston to be the next JaMarcus Russell. Based on what you hear coming out of the combine, dude comes off more like Peyton Manning. . . Dude is Will Hunting with a Heisman Trophy.”

Rome added: “To all you internet chucklers who’ve been waiting for Winston’s Wonderlic to leak so you can call him dumb: get ready for it to be closer to Ryan Fitzpatrick than Vince Young.” Fitzpatrick, who attended Harvard University, scored a 48 out of 50– the third-highest score in NFL history, and is reported to have finished the examination in just nine minutes.

And, in case you were wondering, for the first time in a long time, Rome did not drop the “Ignoramus” line.