When Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was suspended for the first three games of the upcoming season, one of the lingering questions was whether the team would still feature him prominently in their marketing efforts to fans.
The team released four short promotional videos for the season ahead, with a new "WREAK HAVOC" theme, and Winston wasn't among the players featured. The team isn't expected to release any additional videos before the season, but Winston could be included in videos released during the season.
The videos have a theme that suits the Bucs well, showing a quiet confidence against criticism as the team hopes to improve on a 5-11 showing in 2017.
"I've been in this league for nine years, and people still try to doubt me," defensive tackle Gerald McCoy says in narrating a video promoted on the team's Twitter account Wednesday. "He's overhyped. He's too nice. He's not serious. … Don't make me laugh."
Other videos feature receiver Mike Evans ("I know what it's like to be pushed … It's time to push back.") and linebacker Kwon Alexander ("I dont' know what goods looks like. I plan on being great") and the new upgraded defensive line working out in the weight room ("Change isn't easy … We're about to change everything."
Winston is still featured on the southwest corner of Raymond James Stadium as one of the team's four large murals from last season. But it makes sense that the Bucs would shift away from featuring him prominently in their promotions, given the gravity of a three-game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, and a wide variety of reaction from fans since.
The NFL determined that a female Uber driver's accusations from a March 2016 ride were "consistent and credible," and that Winston violated the policy by touching the driver "in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent." Winston has apologized to the driver, as well as to his fans, teammates and the Bucs organization, and is not appealing the suspension.
There's a similar situation with Tampa's Bill Currie Ford car dealership, which has had an endorsement deal with Winston since before his rookie season. Winston was featured (with former Rays star Evan Longoria) on a billboard on southbound I-275, just north of Hillsborough Avenue, but that billboard has been replaced recently with a generic billboard with no athletes. The billboard had remained up at least six months after Longoria was traded to San Francisco.
"We have no comment regarding Jameis," vice president Jennifer Currie Bellomo said Monday when contacted by the Times about the billboard change, though she confirmed "we do still have an endorsement deal with him."