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Why should we believe Jameis Winston now?

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston was pepppered with questions Thursday about the incident that led to his three-game suspension. "You know, again, this happened two-and-a-half years ago," he said. "Since my rookie year, I’ve [given] my all to this community. I’ve given my all on the field and off the field. I can’t let this diminish all the hard work that I’ve been doing in this community.”CHRIS URSO | Times
Published Jul. 26, 2018
Updated Jul. 26, 2018

TAMPA — Jameis Winston spoke publicly Thursday for the first time since the NFL suspended him three games for touching an Uber driver on her crotch against her will in March of 2016.

He answered questions from the media for nearly 10 minutes. My reaction?

Unimpressed, unmoved, unconvinced.

Why should we believe anything this guy says at this point?

This is not the first time he has stood before the media after doing something wrong. This isn't the first time he has made promises about being better and growing up and doing the right things. Yet here we were again Thursday, back in the same place.

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So you can see why I'm skeptical.

His words came from the head, not the heart.

His answers felt rehearsed. He had a script that he was going to stick to no matter what the questions were. He had his talking points. He said them repeatedly.

That should come as no surprise. And there's nothing wrong with that, necessarily. This was an important news conference for him and there were certain things he wanted to get across and certain things he absolutely wasn't going to talk about.

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If that's the way he wanted to handle it, fine. He doesn't owe me any explanations.

But that also means I don't have to give him the benefit of the doubt. And I don't have to believe everything that comes out of his mouth at this point.

And I don't. His unacceptable actions have spoken much louder than his hollow words.

He had to do what he did Thursday, but he didn't make his situation any better for those who remain suspicious of Winston. At no point did he say anything that convinced you he was contrite or humbled or remorseful.

Or changed.

Know who Winston looked like Thursday? Like the little kid who is forced by his parents to knock on the neighbors' door and apologize for breaking their window.

He spoke Thursday because he had to speak Thursday. It was what he had to do to now get on with the rest of his life.

What he didn't say was as notable as what he did.

He said he was disappointed in himself, but still hasn't explained or apologized or addressed in any specificity what happened in that Uber that night. He said he can't put himself in "these situations,'' although he never said what "these situations'' were. He said he hopes to "grow and learn'' from what happened, although he didn't say how he was going to do that.

He said he apologized to his teammates. He apologized to the Uber driver in his statement last month, but did not mention her Thursday. He claimed in his statement last month that he cut alcohol out of his life since the Uber incident, but sidestepped questions about alcohol on Thursday.

Several times, he pointed out how much good he does in the community with charity work, talking to kids, etc. In fact, there was one moment when he seemed a little defiant, as if he wasn't being given credit for all the good things he does.

But just because you do good things some of the time doesn't give you a free pass to do whatever you want the rest of the time. Good deeds don't erase bad habits.

Sure, Winston can provide plenty of examples of when he did something nice. And I can provide plenty of examples of when he acted inappropriately.

So what now?

Well, we're pretty much where we've been all along. There are those who will support Winston no matter what and those who will never trust him again. Thursday likely did nothing to change either opinion.

His supporters continue to make excuses. They don't believe Winston did anything wrong. They talk about how it happened two years ago, while forgetting he lied about it just last November.

They enable him by saying that lots of people do dumb things when they are in their early 20s even though most people in their 20s don't do such things. And, by the way, don't we learn well before that age what is and what is not appropriate touching? Don't we know by that age what lines should not be crossed?

Meantime, the Bucs move forward with Ryan Fitzpatrick as quarterback for the first three games. After that, expect Winston to return.

Come then, it will be like nothing ever happened.

I find that disturbing, even if the Bucs and Winston do not.

Contact Tom Jones at tjones@tampabay.com. Follow @tomwjones.

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