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What to do with Jameis Winston? Bucs fans react

Reader reaction is split on how easily Bucs fans should forgive QB after his three-game suspension.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston (3) is seen on the sidelines during the first half of an NFL game between the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and Atlanta Falcons at Mercedes-Benz Stadium in Atlanta, Ga., on Sunday, Nov. 26, 2017. LOREN ELLIOTT | Times
Published Jul. 2, 2018
Updated Jul. 2, 2018

In the wake of Jameis Winston's three-game suspension for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, we wrote a story Saturday about John Schuzer, a lifelong Bucs fan from Illinois who decided to mail the team his No. 3 Winston jersey, saying he loved the team but couldn't wear it anymore.

But how many fans felt like Schuzer? Was he a complete outlier? We posted a poll on Twitter, asking if readers were Bucs fans who owned a Winston jersey, how would they feel about the news of his suspension?

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The results showed a Bucs fan base genuinely split on how to respond to the Winston news. Of 1,700-plus responses, 40 percent answered "still wear it with pride," while 34 percent chose "can't wear it anymore" and 26 percent said "not sure what to do."

Winston was accused by a female Uber driver in Arizona of putting his hand on her crotch during a 2 a.m. ride in March 2016. A seven-month NFL investigation found her account "consistent and credible," that Winston violated the policy by "touching the driver in an appropriate and sexual manner without her consent."

Dozens of fans sent emails sharing their own stories in reacting to the Winston news, and they too were divided in how they felt, showing the wide split among Bucs fans. Here are some of their stories:

‘We should have drafted the other kid’

I've been an original season ticket holder since 1972. It says so on my tix. At that time there was talk of  Tampa getting an NFL franchise, and one could sign up for tickets, so I did. Been a season ticket holder since. My tickets say "member since 1972."

"Me and another ticket holder had a little ceremony, complete with steaks and beer, because we needed an open fire to burn our (very expensive) #3 jerseys. Good riddance. We should have drafted the other kid. He's already taken his team to the playoffs."

— Bil Sidwell, 75, Dade City

Jameis fan from the ‘other side of the pond’

We Brits support our team regardless. Some are not Jameis fans, but still support him. Whatever the eventual outcome of the current mess that he is in, we will still support him and the team. I personally do some voluntary work within the British judicial system. Whilst punishment is paramount, so is reform and rehabilitation.

Someone who works to stamp out the trigger for their mistakes will have their sentence mitigated. My take on the Jameis situation was that it was caused by alcohol. … If he truly has "eliminated alcohol from his life," he deserves a lot of credit for that. Jameis, admit your faults, take your medicine, move on with your life, and win us a Super Bowl. Will we be getting rid of our Winston jerseys? Not on this side of the pond.

— Gary Botteley, 62, Hinckley, England

No longer part of the fan base

We all have daughters and granddaughters. We all have young sons and grandsons. It is our responsibility to teach our children their conduct is always to be held in the highest esteem. There is no duality. There is no double standard. Therefore, we have decided that as long as the ownership of the Bucs do not live up to a level of ethical standards we espouse and wish to instill in our children, we will no longer be part of the fan base."

— Al Bartolo, retired, Seminole

No history of ‘bad behavior around Tampa Bay’

No matter how much of a diehard fan someone is, his actions are indefensible on so many levels. My son is a Winston fan and my wife and I have taken him to his football camp every year he has had it. So when a kid sees his favorite player suspended and as a parent you have to explain why, it's very embarrassing and disappointing.

As Jameis does not have a history of bad behavior around Tampa Bay, I am willing to give him another chance, as we all make mistakes. I hope that he takes this as a learning opportunity and not let all his good work in the community be in vain for any more bad personal decisions.

— Reickah L. Collins, 39, Wesley Chapel

My fault for buying in

I am at a complete loss as to what to do with my Jameis jersey. It's been a fixture every Sunday since (his) draft day. … Everything I saw from both Winston and the team made me think he had grown up from the idiot who made the news in every possible wrong way while in Tallahassee.

I'm profoundly disappointed in the organization's response to the allegations, the lack of response to the suspension, and the general lack of dialogue with fans about everything to do with Winston. I'm profoundly disgusted with Winston and, honestly, I feel like it's my fault for buying in at all.

I hope from here that the team can make the correct decision and let the option lapse and draft a replacement this year. I don't even particularly care if he ends up somewhere and excels as a starting quarterback in the league. I just don't want to have to make the decision to support him.

— Brent McCue, 29, Denver

Work with children is window dressing

I say get rid of him and the sooner, the better. I'm tired of his antics and not owning up to his responsibilities. His minimal work with children is nothing but window dressing. Buc fans deserve better.

—Bill Zaremba, 62, South Tampa

Winston will not and cannot change

Winston, like most athletes, has been coddled and given the benefit of the doubt his entire life. He will not and cannot change. He has never been held accountable and has a complete disrespect for women. As a married man of 25 years and father of a young woman, I can no longer support such a person. I will still root for the Buccaneers, but they need to realize that when a person has had this attitude ingrained in him for years, they will not change.

— Dan Weber, 54, St. Petersburg

Just a hand slap

It's becoming more and more obvious the NFL does not care about women. It appears professional athletes are above the law. It's the only profession that allows sexual abuse of women with just a hand slap.

—Jim Wright, 55, Ponte Vedra

Worst $100 I have ever spent

I have had Bucs season tickets since 1978. I had concerns about Winston's accuracy and ability to stay out of trouble when he was drafted. After two seasons, he was headed in the right direction, so I shelled out $100 for a No. 3 jersey. Worst $100 I have ever spent.

I am benching my No. 3 jersey and bringing No. 47 (John Lynch) out of retirement. Once again, it is time for the Bucs to admit they made a mistake and move on. Don't waste any more time trying to fix something that can't be trusted.

— Jim Arntz, 66, Palm Harbor

Time to cut ties

As a longtime Bucs fan and charter season-ticket holder, I believe the Bucs should cut ties with Winston. And this is coming from someone who has been divorced four times, I am ashamed to say. One thing I never did or would ever do is violate a woman's rights. He shows a behavioral pattern which likely will not change.

Hiding behind alcohol is no excuse, and not being totally honest about the whole situation is terrible. … I believe the time has come for the NFL commissioner to not be judge and jury. A conduct commission needs to be implemented to  fairly administer discipinary action.

— Vince Gabel, 65, Clearwater

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