The U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Civil Rights has taken interest in the handling of the sexual assault allegations against Jameis Winston.
As college football fans, we all remember the impact that Winston had on the nation last season. His presence on the field left defenses befuddled. His passing abilities, accompanied with his leg strength, left opposing coaches scrambling. And his “greatness-with-ease” persona left spectators in awe. He put Florida State back in the limelight, won the final BCS National Championship and grabbed the attention of fans from North Carolina to California.
Oh, and he won the Heisman trophy.
Winston was the face of college football in 2013. He had everything a freshman QB could ask for. But there was one little ink spot on his resume. And until now, it looked like nothing more than just a smudge. But with the beginning of a federal investigation into the actions of this young star and the university he represents, that spot could ruin everything. Just as quickly as it came, his status and all of his accomplishments could be tainted further by controversy, or even worse, disappear in a snap.
Including the Heisman.
In recent years, the coveted trophy has been given to some less than reputable characters. During his two seasons (2007/2008) enrolled at the University of Florida, Cam Newton was arrested for the reportedly stealing a lap top, and was rumored to face expulsion for violating the academic honor code on three separate occasions. Upon his transfer to Auburn from Blinn College, suspicions began to arise regarding the involvement of financial compensation of his recruitment by AU’s coaching staff. Nevertheless, after playing his one and only season with the Tigers, Cam Newton was handed the most prestigious individual award in CFB.
In December of 2010, he took home the Heisman trophy.
In June of 2012, Johnny Manziel was arrested for failing to properly identify himself, possessing a fake driver’s license and disorderly conduct by fighting after an altercation in College Station. Following the incident, Texas A&M punished the star by suspending him for the entire season, and “forced” him to consider playing for another institution. In fact, if it wasn’t for his coach, Kevin Sumlin, supporting Manziel’s appeal and persuading the university to drop the suspension, the QB would have made his way to another team. But as we all know, he led the Aggies in 2012 and earned the title of “Johnny Football.”
Just six short months after his arrest, he was awarded the Heisman.
Every year we turn on the television, blast the volume and intently listen to the life stories of the finalists invited to New York. By the time the ceremony comes around, the media has already ramped up the candidates. These are the select few who seem to have conquered football at the collegiate level, impressed the media with their outstanding statistics, and in reality, played on a team exciting enough to grab a coveted spot in the weekly Top 10 list a few times. After each game throughout the season, we are constantly reminded of the criteria used to measure our candidate hopefuls. Physical ability is important. However,
I’ve never seen a list, a scale or a chart that measures the character of a player.
The Heisman Trust Mission Statement claims that the trophy “recognizes the outstanding college football player whose performance best exhibits the pursuit of excellence with integrity.”
If the award truly fit its description, the integrity of each player would hold a higher value than that of their statistics. And if that were the case, the Heisman voting committee wouldn’t now be second-guessing their decision in 2013. They wouldn’t have to. If integrity was the leading quality, or even if it was just as important as physical performance, Jameis Winston would not have even stepped foot on the stage.
AJ McCarron would have been your winner.
A game lost, an interception or a fumble will never go unnoticed, but the demeanor of a finalist can be swept under the rug. I could write for hours explaining all of the reasons why he deserved the award, and list all of his charitable work, support for various causes and the qualities that make him a class act. But I don’t have to. Like Newton, Manziel and Winston, McCarron’s name speaks for itself.
But unlike the other three, it’s something worth hearing.