The final countdown has arrived for Louisville's battle against the defending national champions from Florida State. FSU is the more likely than not the eventual ACC Champion, and the Cardinals present the last real threat to the Seminole's undefeated season. The headlines, however, will not focus on the actual matchup.
Celebrated storylines surrounding DeVante Parker and Louisville's defense might receive a blurb on page seven, and any remaining controversy surrounding Louisville's head coach will be pushed aside and supplanted by the reigning Heisman Trophy winner. Public figures and athletic superstars generally welcome the spotlight for better or for worse. Jameis Winston controls his own spotlight as he continues to be the most confusing and curious collegiate athlete in recent memory.
Here is what I know about Famous Jameis. His baseball and football ability transformed him into a teenaged phenom long before his first ever snap as the FSU quarterback. In his first game against Pittsburgh the performance exceeded the hype as he threw four touchdowns, two incompletions, and became the Heisman frontrunner overnight. Winston won the Heisman in dominating fashion, led a fourth quarter comeback to capture the national championship, and until everything changes October 30th, Jameis has never tasted defeat. Winston is a legendary player and his will to win is a quality any fan, coach, or player can admire.
There is something else everyone knows about this attention seeking superstar. Winston is a young man that has shown the repeated ability to make bad decisions. Passing judgment on Famous Jameis is not my goal, but making observations is more than fair. People of all ages engage in poor decision making each and every single day. Young men and women attending colleges and universities throughout this country are faced with questionable situations on a daily basis, almost all of them will choose unwisely at least once. Making bad decisions is a part of life, every one of us is guilty, but most people in this world strive to improve upon their mistakes.
Jameis Winston doesn't handle his fame in the same manner Teddy Bridgewater does, but almost of all of us would fall short of that pedestal. Winston's immaturity and consistent errs in judgment is not something to admire, but I firmly believe some of his negative headlines are a result of society's current "gotcha" attitude. 24 hour news, twitter mania, snapchat, social media infatuation, and the constant race to publish a story first without verifying its veracity has taken over this country. It feels that a majority of people in this country enjoy the failure of other individuals, especially public figures, and negativity reigns supreme from each and every news outlet. Jameis Winston has screwed up multiple times, but raise your hand if you want a camera or journalist following you 24 hours a day waiting to pounce on any misstep along the way.
Winston was a victim of a fraudulent sexual assault accusation. The state of Florida professed there was nothing to the charges and refused prosecution. If that major and inexcusable blurb was removed from Winston's timeline of events, we would be left with a 20 year old superstar athlete who shoplifted from a grocery store, signs a lot of autographs, and yelled a stupid obscenity at a campus eatery. Two of those events are inexcusable, but also relatively minor mishaps and the narrative around Winston would be considerably different.
Curious is the only word I can use to describe Jameis Winston. For all of his faults, repeated miscues, and attention seeking personality one aspect shines through unaltered. Winston has the respect, love, and admiration from his coaches and teammates, and he has been the unchallenged leader of the locker room since his first game over one year ago. How could a kid that the media and general public profess to be such a detrimental figure continuously command the devotion and respect from his coaches and teammates? Winston may struggle away from athletics, but his leadership is unquestioned by anyone inside the FSU locker room.
I have witnessed a lot of hate spouted for Jimbo Fisher in the last few months, but I can't help but like the guy. His personality exudes passion, he sticks up for all of his players, he cherishes his family, and his son is suffering from an incurable blood disorder. Fisher is the kind of coach everyone should root for and is a great father figure to a lot of these troubled athletes. He is the first to discipline his kids, the first to defend them, and stands with them in the public eye. Fisher treats his players like sons and whatever system he has put in place appears to be working because FSU is on the verge of back to back championships.
Jameis Winston needs to mature, as do all 20 year olds, and hopefully one day he does. Papa John's Cardinal Stadium has never welcomed an athlete and personality that equates to what Cardinal fans will witness Thursday night. The controversy surrounding Famous Jameis can be partially blamed on his own actions, but I refuse to crucify an individual for being a boneheaded college student. Louisville will have its hands full Thursday evening and Friday's headline will certainly bring about a welcomed change. The curious case of Jameis Winston will move to page seven Friday morning because "Cardinals Dethrone Champions" will be the headline America wants and deserves.
All Hail UofL!!