Wednesday, June 20, 2018
Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Fennelly: Jameis Winston, The Letter and the lost art of writing it down

Lonely days are gone, I'm a-goin' home

My QB, just-a wrote me a letter

From a famous song, I think

 

"Nobody writes letters anymore," Bucs tight end Alan Cross said.

It's a lost art.

Jameis Winston, man of letters, wrote one a few weeks ago. He wrote a letter to his Bucs teammates. It was heartfelt, and it was about being grateful. He wrote it by hand, too.

Who does that anymore?

"I actually write poems," Winston said, grinning. "When I get in trouble with my girlfriend, I write poems."

Poet Quarterback Alert!

I love it.

Back to The Letter. Jameis wrote it at home. Eventually, typed copies were placed in his teammates' lockers. Eventually, Winston then read The Letter aloud in a players-only meeting. The Bucs have won their two games since then, big upsets.

Okay, it wasn't the Declaration of Independence, but The Letter has legs. If this season keeps going like it is, if Jameis keeps it up, well, watch out. The Letter — Winston's original, written at home on a legal pad — will become legend. It will go on display, and school groups will surround it, kids' noses pressed to the glass.

"Did they really beat the Cowboys, Teacher?"

Maybe The Letter can join The Rock in Bucs lore.

The Rock, a 200-pound hunk of white granite, sits on display in the lobby at One Buccaneer Place. The rock — as in "Pound the Rock!" — became a rallying point for the 2002 world champion Bucs.

Now comes The Letter.

"It was one page," Cross said. "But there was a second page for us to write on what we were grateful for."

Class participation. It's the best!

No Bucs player I spoke with Wednesday produced his copy of The Letter.

"It was for us," receiver Russell Shepard said, smiling.

The Letter.

"Who does that?" safety Keith Tandy said. "Who sits down and writes a letter? And a guy that young. It shows you his maturity. It makes us respect him even more, and I didn't think we could respect him more."

"He's the unquestioned leader," tight end Cameron Brate said. "We all follow him. 'Be grateful' was the gist of (The Letter). We do forget that at times."

Who writes letters anymore? We email, we text, we post.

Do people even own pens anymore?

"The last time I wrote a letter?" Brate said. "Sixth grade."

"Probably when I was a kid and wrote my grandma," Cross said.

Or maybe Santa.

"English 102, my freshman year of college, second semester," Tandy said.

"I just like to write sometimes," Winston said. "I get to express myself. It's sometimes better to write it out than to speak it."

Some letters you never forget.

"My dad wrote me a letter for my 18th birthday, told me how proud he was of me," Cross said.

"A letter from my high school coach when I was leaving college, when I finished at Clemson," receiver Adam Humphries said. "He just said how much he appreciated me,"

"Any letter from my mom and dad. They're my heroes," receiver Russell Shepard said.

Winston has a favorite. "I was at Florida State," he said. "We were on a road trip. And somebody handed me a letter from Earl Campbell, and it had his phone number on it and a little note that said keep up the good work."

The Letter.

"You never know what makes a team go," Shepard said. "This is a selfish league, in general. When you have people who can bypass all the selfishness, they can become family. (Cornerback) Alterraun (Verner) losing his father (last week), Jameis and the letter, those are things that can bring you together. That letter felt like family."

Wednesday, Jameis Winston dedicated a game ball from the Seattle game to Bucs fans.

Who does that?

Jameis. That's who.

Still, couldn't he have just dropped everyone a line?

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