We relayed last week that there was belief Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston could be facing a suspension stemming from an incident that he had with an Uber driver a couple of years ago. There is no longer speculation, as Winston released a statement earlier today saying that he was officially notified of the suspension and suggested that he will not attempt to appeal it. From Ian Rapoport:
“The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.
First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. In the past 2 1/2 years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season. Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.
I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”
Winston not only acknowledged the incident, he also specifically said that he would not be on the field for the first three games, which seems to confirm both that he was suspended for three games and that he would not attempt to appeal the suspension or its length. Tom Pelissero confirmed this was the case, and that the length of the suspension was the result of a negotiated settlement:
#Bucs QB Jameis Winston will not appeal his 3-game suspension, per source. This was a negotiated settlement.
— Tom Pelissero (@TomPelissero) June 28, 2018
The Pittsburgh Steelers just so happen to be the Buccaneers’ opponent in that third game of the season, which means that they will likely be facing a backup quarterback for that prime time contest: Ryan FItzpatrick.
Fitzpatrick is 0-5 during his long NFL career in games he’s played against the Steelers. Fitzpatrick’s backup is likely to be Ryan Griffin.
Last season, Winston, the first overall selection in the 2015 NFL Draft out of Florida State, completed 282 passes for 3,504 yards and 19 touchdowns with 11 interceptions. He was also sacked 33 times in total. As for Fitzpatrick, who started three games in 2017 in place of Winston, he completed 96 passes for 1,103 yards on the season with 7 touchdown passes and 3 interceptions. He was sacked a total of 7 times last season.
The Steelers faced a number of backup quarterbacks in 2017 and won all of those games. Though it doesn’t seem that way in hindsight, Case Keenum was the Minnesota Vikings‘ quarterback in Week Two. They also faced backups for the Indianapolis Colts, Green Bay Packers, and Houston Texans. Some of those games ended up being a lot closer than they should have been.
The Steelers are 5-1 all-time against the Buccaneers in games that were played in Tampa. Their last loss in Tampa to the Buccaneers was in 1998. The Steelers last played the Buccaneers in Tampa in 2010 and they won that game 38-13. Ironically, that game featured Charlie Batch starting at quarterback for the Steelers in place of a suspended Ben Roethlisberger.
Official word of Jameis Winston’s three-game suspension: pic.twitter.com/GCQYZ9I3ex
— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) June 28, 2018
Buccaneers statement on Jameis Winston.https://t.co/QMJduUlPmO
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) June 28, 2018