NFL’s Ray Rice? What About Jameis Winston’s ‘Football Privilege’?

Updated Sep 22, 2014

We all knew the NFL was really the Neanderthal Football League.

But when Ray Rice punched his female companion and dragged her out of an elevator, who could have predicted it would be just one of many examples of players who take their game violence home with them.

You can go back to a player’s childhood to try to understand it all.

Or you can just step back a few years in college to see where a sense of power and entitlement was really instilled.

Just look at the young man who, last year in his freshman year, won the Heisman Trophy as the best college football player in America.

Last Tuesday, standing on a Florida State University dining hall table, Jameis Winston wasn’t striking a trophy pose. He was shouting out an obscene, internet-borne phrase to all who could hear him.

For that, FSU officials suspended him for the first half of the next game.

On Friday, university officials had a pang of conscience that maybe they should act as if they were degreed leaders of young adults.

Florida State administrators finally showed Jameis Winston who the boss is.

Sort of.

They suspended Winston not just for the half of Saturday’s Clemson game, but the entire game.

FSU’s Interim President Garnett S. Stokes must not fear the alums. The interim, who wants to be permanent, stands his ground and says, “A half game? Well, WWRGD ― What would Roger Goodell do?”

He’d surely cry out for due process, of course. And then let the player play.

Ah, but let’s hear it for Stokes. At least, he had the fortitude to sit Winston down for a game.

No football game — or football player, for that matter ― is that important.

Now let’s see what Stokes meant when he said Winston would also be subject to “internal discipline.”

Apparently, Winston didn’t take anything very seriously about the suspension on game day. As the television cameras showed, he came to Saturday’s game like it was business as usual. Indeed, he suited up and warmed up like he was ready to play.

Winston was then told to take off the helmet and pads, but he remained on the sidelines and cheered. And in overtime, when his team came roaring back to win, Winston was allowed to jump on his teammates in celebration.

Some suspension.

I would have preferred to see him in the library doing whatever school work is required of him at FSU.

Winston didn’t exactly seem particularly hurt by the discipline.

Winston did express some form of remorse as he said to reporters before a practice last week: “I have to tone it down.”

Maybe he’s studying understatement in his “Literature for Jocks” class.

Winston has already had more lives than a Penn State Nittany Lion.

Forget about the shoplifting incident last year over crab legs at the local Publix.

More troubling is the rape allegation that was never investigated properly by the local police or FSU.

The adults dropped the ball on that one. And Winston continues to dance in the end zone and yell from the table tops.

What’s that tell all the budding Winston’s out there?

Or all the guys who are where Winston wants to be? The NFL.

If you’re seen as the school meal ticket, you can get away with just about anything.

It begins in college and expands from there. Rice and Winston are good examples.

Call it “football privilege.” You can major in it at FSU.

Emil Guillermo writes on issues of race, culture and politics for the Asian American Legal Defense and Education Fund (www.aaldef.org/blog) Like him at www.facebook.com/emilguillermo.media ; twitter@emilamok