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Bucs fans wear Jameis Winston’s No. 3, some uneasily

Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who is suspended for three games, takes a selfie with 5-year-old Cruz (Cruz's father did not give a last name) after practice Sunday. Cruz was among fans wearing Winston's No. 3 jersey, some fans saying innocent until proven guilty and others saying they are showing support for the team, not Winston. [LUIS SANTANA   |   Times]
Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston, who is suspended for three games, takes a selfie with 5-year-old Cruz (Cruz's father did not give a last name) after practice Sunday. Cruz was among fans wearing Winston's No. 3 jersey, some fans saying innocent until proven guilty and others saying they are showing support for the team, not Winston. [LUIS SANTANA | Times]
Published Jul. 30, 2018

How many would there be?

We played "Spot the Jameis Winston jersey" at Bucs camp on Sunday and there were a surprisingly large number of contestants, good and decent people, in No. 3. Some of them remained after practice, as Winston and other Bucs worked the autograph lines.

Winston, who is suspended from the first three games of the regular season, signed anything fans handed him. A young boy held up a sign that read "Jameis Winston Can We Take A Selfie?" The quarterback took a smiling selfie with the boy, then autographed the sign.

It was all very real. If only it wasn't for the other things that are also all very real…

There are some who think people sporting No. 3s is downright deplorable.

But everyone has a take and a story.

There was Dave Stone, 66, a high school principal from Tampa and the father of two grown daughters.

"I almost didn't wear it," he said of his No. 3 jersey, a gift from his son three years ago. "I thought about it hard. You know what? Nobody is perfect. I've done bad stuff. I've met (Winston) at an autism awareness charity event. I liked him. Am I troubled? You'd think he would have learned from the last time. But I'm glad I didn't have a microscope on me at his age."

There was Kenny Ackerman, 33, from Safety Harbor. He wore a Winston jersey, so did his young daughters, 6-year-old Tatum and 3-year-old Elin.

"Some friends of mine had asked me about that," Ackerman said. "My wife and I knew it as we laid out the girls' clothes (Sunday). But it's not about the name or number on the jersey to them. It's the colors. We're Bucs fans. I feel bad for the victim. Her voice should be heard. But there's a due process to everything.

"If they had a jersey trade-back, I'd think about it. We've thought about (the girls) not wearing them to school. We don't want to put them in any situation. I thought the other day (Winston) could have done a better job of putting it to rest. Looks like he didn't."

There was Jordan Peoples, 21, from Tampa, who sat in the indoor practice facility with his mother, Vonzell, who wore No. 3.

"Media shouldn't crucify him without seeing the evidence," Jordan said. "There are players who have done much worse."

There was Shawnesia Bryant, 47, from Tampa. Bryant, who is disabled and retired, already has tickets to the Bucs' fourth game of the season, at Chicago, when Winston could return to the lineup.

"We all make mistakes," Bryant said. "This doesn't mean I condone anything. But this is my team. I totally understand why people wouldn't wear his jersey. I'm a woman. I have a 21-year-old daughter. I totally understand. I get it. But I want him to know I'm behind him. But he gets one last chance. We're all watching."

There was Felix Flores, 30, a barbecue chef from Tampa. He wore his No. 3. He has been a Winston fan since the quarterback played for Florida State.

"Isn't the United States about innocent until proven guilty?" Flores said. "Everybody has been talking about how he's been sober a year and a half. He's got a kid now. He's fixing to get married. Hopefully that'll change him.

"Some people like Trump, some people don't like Trump. Some people like Winston, some people don't like Winston. Know what I mean?"

There was Jakob Cordova, 19, from Tampa, a student at USF. He said the only reason he wore his Winston jersey is it was too hot for his long-sleeve Bucs shirts.

"If he's gone off the team after this year, I'm not going to feel bad about it," Flores said. "They're his choices. He tried to hide them. I can't say much, because I'm in one of his jerseys, but it says football is above a lot of people's priorities. I don't think it's necessarily good, but it is what it is.

"I really want to get a different jersey, honestly. (Gerald) McCoy. He's undervalued on the team and in the community. When I got out of the car today, I thought I'd be one of the few in a Winston jersey. But there are loads of them. Still, if he messes up again, it'll be hard to keep him."

There was Skip Brown, 50, of Tampa, who works in the service department for an auto dealer and was wearing a white shirt.

"I don't believe wearing another man's name on my back," he said.

There was Connor Cruise, 15, who wore his Winston jersey while attending Sunday's practice with his father, Curtis, who is a school teacher in St. Petersburg.

"If he screws up again, he'll be done," Curtis said. "But I think he's learned his lesson. It's a tough call. I asked my son if he was going to wear the jersey. How tough is it for a kid? He's in denial pretty much. He's like, 'Dad, what if she's making it up?' It's tough on the kids. But in my opinion, the first time Jameis leads a fourth-quarter comeback, we move on."

Lastly, there was Antonio Hill, 34, a hotel worker from Tampa. He sat in his Winston jersey with his friends.

"I'm with Jameis until the wheels fall off," Hill said. "But if he does one more thing, I'll be done. I already got two backups, a Mike Evans jersey and a Lavonte (David). I'm ready for whatever happens."

Just another day at camp.

Contact Martin Fennelly at mfennelly@tampabay.com or (813) 731-8029.