*The NFL is about to suspend Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the season over violation of the league’s personal conduct policy, reports ESPN, citing league sources.
The planned suspension stems from an alleged incident with an Uber driver in Scottsdale, Arizona, in March 2016. News of the incident didn’t surface until BuzzFeed reported the accusation in November 2017. That article prompted an NFL investigation, and the Buccaneers have been waiting to hear from the league.
At press time, Winston had yet to be officially notified of the NFL’s official decision, and the circumstances surrounding it still could lead to an increase or decrease of the three games, per ESPN’s sources.
Read more details of the alleged incident below via ESPN:
The league began its investigation in November 2017 when a woman, who identified herself as “Kate,” told BuzzFeed that Winston reached over and grabbed her crotch while waiting at a drive-thru at Los Betos Mexican Food at 2 a.m.
Restaurant management told ESPN that they did not have security footage of the drive-thru. No police charges were filed, but the driver did file a formal complaint with Uber. She told BuzzFeed that she wanted to tell the truth “about a powerful man who felt entitled to my body when all I wanted to do was my job.” Uber confirmed to ESPN that Winston’s riding privileges were revoked, but Winston did not notify the league of the complaint.
Winston denied the allegations and said he believes the woman was mistaken regarding the number of passengers in the car and his location within the vehicle. Former Florida State teammate and Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby said he was also a passenger in the vehicle and corroborated Winston’s account, which was that he and Winston were in the vehicle’s back seat and that a third person was in the passenger seat. Darby did not identify the name of the third passenger publicly.
The Uber driver’s attorney, John Clune, disputed Darby’s account, saying that Winston was the only passenger in the vehicle.
Winston would lose $124,000 in base salary for a three-game suspension because his base salary is only $705,000 this season. His base salary for next season is scheduled to be over $20.9 million, reducing the chance he would consider appealing this three-game suspension.
If Winston sits three games, or any amount of time, the Buccaneers would be forced to start quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, who posted a 2-1 record last season when he was asked to start due to Winston’s shoulder injury.
Behind Fitzpatrick is Ryan Griffin, who now figures to be Tampa Bay’s backup quarterback for the first part of this season.