Column: Not the time to give Heisman to Winston

Published on NewsOK Modified: December 3, 2013 at 5:59 pm •  Published: December 3, 2013
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By next week, the people who make sure the nation has a player worthy of the Heisman trophy — and the ESPN primetime show devoted to it — will have had their say.

And then we'll know just what the definition of integrity means when it comes to handing out the little statue that means so much.

Look at the stats, the charisma of Jameis Winston and it's a no brainer. The redshirt freshman has led Florida State to an undefeated season so far, a No. 1 ranking, and almost surely a berth in the BCS title game.

Look at the allegations of a woman who claims the star quarterback raped her and it's another story. Look at how authorities in Tallahassee have handled it so far, and it's distasteful at best.

Innocent until proven guilty? A grand concept, and for that, we should be grateful we have the judicial system to give us the final say.

But this isn't about a courtroom trial, or being judged by a jury of peers. This has nothing to do with the possibility Winston could face going to prison instead of the NFL.

This is about voting for the Heisman. And this is about a good time to say no.

No to the notion that athletes should be exalted without question. No to a football culture that the woman's family members said was so pervasive that detectives warned against pressing ahead with charges.

No to those who say that the only thing that matters is how many games you win, and how many alumni can brag they got tickets to the BCS title game.

"If this was an issue like he stole a stereo or something I might look at it differently," said Richard Lapchick, the excellent arbiter of ethics in sports today. "But to turn a blind eye to this would be a mistake."

It would, because the Heisman is more than just an end of the season award. It's a trophy that has almost achieved a mythical status, and it comes with the provision that the player not only must be very skilled but possess a certain amount of integrity.

We know where Winston fits in the first requirement. He's completed two of every three passes, thrown for 35 touchdowns, and led the Seminoles to within one game of the title game in Pasadena.

But no one outside of Winston and his accuser can be sure how he rates on the second.

Unfortunately, the wheels of justice sometimes move slowly. That seems to be even truer in Tallahassee, where the family of the woman claims police never presented a case to prosecutors from when it was reported last December until it was reported on last month.

When it was confirmed DNA was found in the underwear of the accuser, Winston's attorney said the sex was consensual.



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