Jameis Winston has been in the news a lot throughout the past two years for many things that do not involve a football. From “mistakenly” forgetting to pay for crab legs, to yelling an obscene sexual phrase that can only hurt his image as he continues to deal with sexual assault allegations, Winston has only missed one game football game and three baseball games over two seasons and Florida State’s football team is still in contention for a second straight National Championship.
His most recent headline-grabbing controversy does involve a football among other things, and it could be the thing that sadly gets him in the most trouble. Florida State is now investigating why a large number of Winston’s signatures were on memorabilia that has been authenticated by the same company. More than 900 certified Jameis Winston autographs were found on James Spence Authentication’s database.
Winston is reported to have told Florida State Head Coach Jimbo Fisher that he has not signed things in exchange for money. Coach Fisher continues to stand behind his quarterback, and offered an explanation that I think does not even relate to this specific case.
“Kids sign things all the time,” Fisher said. “So what do you want them to do? Stop signing stuff? We could make them not have any fans from that standpoint and now sign for anybody. That’s what it’s going to come to, and that’s a shame for college football, that somebody exploits a kid.”
Okay Jimbo, on a surface level of thinking you may have a point. Some fans who get things signed may very well want to get their memorabilia certified, but the facts in this case just do not seem to add up. The first sketchy part of the story comes from ESPN’s Darren Rovell’s Twitter account.
Fans don’t generally give you jerseys with stitched nameplates to sign, memorabilia dealers do pic.twitter.com/5V5UuQXg9z
— darren rovell (@darrenrovell) October 13, 2014
According to CBS Sports, the next weird fact is that most of the signed Winston items were listed in sequential order. There were around 432 signed jerseys authenticated in order by the number that is stitched on the jersey. James Spence is the founder of James Spense Authentication and he told ESPN what this could potentially mean.
“The way they are sequenced does mean they were submitted at the same time by a person,” Spence said. “I can’t imagine that fans would get together to do that.”
The last bit of information that I found very weird was where the memorabilia was signed. The signatures were said to be the same “consistency” on all the memorabilia and the signatures were in “similar spots.”
James Spense Authentication has been in the news recently because they were the same company who also authenticated over 500 signed items by Georgia running back Todd Gurley. Gurley has since been suspended indefinitely for allegedly violating similar NCAA rules.
This most recent Jameis Winston thing does not come down to whether he took money for signing his autograph, but rather if anyone can prove that he did. Even after everything he has done over the past 24 months Winston somehow still has the backing of his coach who honestly believes everything Winston has said. I guess I would do the same thing though if I was Fisher, who can then easily deflect blame if Jameis is actually lying and say he was lied to as well.
While I whole heartedly think this rule the NCAA has is bogus and not right, it is still the rule that every player agrees to when they commit to play a college sport. No one can say that Winston did not sign those jerseys. Using some common sense I find it hard to believe Winston would sign that many consecutive jerseys without being compensated.
And then again it comes down to can anyone prove that Winston was compensated. There was a VIDEO of Johnny Manziel signing things and taking money and he only got A HALF of a football game. So I have little reason to believe that Winston will be punished for whatever he did, making the enforcement of the rule just as bad as the rule itself.