Brooks: FSU, Winston must handle new spotlight
TAMPA -- Former Bucs linebacker Derrick Brooks has read about FSU quarterback Jameis Winston's recent shoplifting citation and said the returning players at his alma mater are still adjusting to the championship spotlight.
"These young guys have to learn how to handle success," Brooks said Tuesday, after the Bucs announced he would have his jersey retired when he's inducted into the team's Ring of Honor on Sept. 14. "We've not had this type of success in a long time. In the last two years, the guys that handled it were the seniors who are leaving. These young guys that are having it, they have to learn how to deal with it."
Brooks, who was suspended for two games in 1994 from his role as one of 11 players involved in FSU's Foot Locker scandal, said he hopes Winston and other young athletes have the wisdom to learn from their mistakes, as he did.
"There's nothing wrong with falling and getting up," Brooks said. "Let's not forget I went through some of the same things with a rule we never knew existed. Twelve years later, I'm on a trustee board."
Brooks said the success his FSU teams had 20 years ago was easier because the Seminoles had such sustained success at the top of college football, where the program has only recently returned.
"We knew how to deal with it in the early, mid-90's, because that was the expectation, year in, year out," he said. "We knew how to carry ourselves. They have to learn how to handle success -- that's the bottom line. It's bigger than Jameis. It's just not him. It's him because he's a Heisman Trophy winner, but all of them have to learn how to handle success and do it together."
Brooks said he likes the way football coach Jimbo Fisher and baseball coach Mike Martin handled the situation, even if Winston's suspension was only until he completed his required community service.
"I will commend Mike Martin and Jimbo Fisher. They have a support system in place," Brooks said. "He's in uncharted territory. We've never had a Heisman Trophy winner this young in his career. The previous two quarterbacks (Charlie Ward and Chris Weinke), they were leaving."
Brooks said he is "privy to" how FSU's coaches intend to prepare their players for the spotlight and likes the plan, without elaborating.
"I'm not going to reward or make excuses for any poor decision," Brooks said. "What I am going to say is 'Let's just leave it at one decision. It's a whole lifetime of better decisions this kid is going to make and move on from it. I'm living testimony to that."
Brooks cautioned not to judge Winston or any young athlete too harshly, reminding how easy it is to make bad decisions.
"We're human beings. Let's never forget ... We all share the same space," he said. "Sometimes we lose sight of that, when we start talking about what people do and what roles they play."