Documentary could be latest Winston element for Bucs to consider

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston talks with the media during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler) INDM130
Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston talks with the media during a news conference at the NFL football scouting combine at Lucas Oil Stadium in Indianapolis, Friday, Feb. 20, 2015. (AP Photo/Doug McSchooler) INDM130
Published March 1, 2015


Jameis Winston doesn't look good on film. That isn't something you could say until now, given the Florida State star performed so well by losing only one game in two seasons with the Seminoles.

Where Winston's reputation will take another hit is in The Hunting Ground, a documentary released Friday about sexual assaults on college campuses.

The film features assault survivors who have faced retaliation and harassment for reporting they had been raped on campuses from Harvard to Cal. That group includes Winston's accuser, Erica Kinsman, a former FSU student and Pasco County resident who spoke publicly for the first time for the film.

With the release of the film, Kinsman has a public face for the first time since the encounter with Winston in 2012, while she was an FSU student. She is someone's daughter. She has parents who speak in the film. She is described as "the girl next door.'' And she gives a graphic account of what she believes happened with Winston that night.

Everything she says has been on record before. And it doesn't change that Winston was not charged criminally and was cleared of university conduct code violations.

"We are using a lot of resources — a lot — to dig into every player's background, some more than others," Bucs general manager Jason Licht said of vetting candidates for his No. 1 overall draft pick on April 30. "I don't want to get into the whole process here, but the fans can know that we will have … crossed every 'T' and dotted every 'I' before we make the decision. And keep in mind, our head coach is one of the finest human beings I have ever met, inside or outside of football. Character is very important to him. It's very important to me. So we will make sure that the decision we make is best for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers."

Coach Lovie Smith said last week the Bucs had learned nothing to that point that would prompt them to take Winston off their draft board. It's believed the Bucs prefer Winston over Oregon quarterback Marcus Mariota, albeit with nine weeks to go before the draft.

But will The Hunting Ground or the reaction to it have any influence on the team's decision?

As of Friday, the Bucs had not viewed the film. Nor had they attempted to speak with Kinsman or her attorney, which would probably be a bad idea. Kinsman has been through enough without having to provide the Bucs with information to help them choose a quarterback. And such a request could be viewed as trivializing her ordeal. Everything she told investigators is available for review in documents.

The film is not the end of it for Winston. Kinsman filed a federal Title IX lawsuit against FSU, alleging it deliberately hid sexual assault claims against him "to protect the football program." There likely will be a civil suit. Winston has told NFL team officials he plans to fight to the end.

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At a news conference Thursday to reintroduce the Campus Accountability and Safety Act, U.S. Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., was asked what it says about the NFL and our culture that Winston will likely be the first overall pick in the draft.

"I think it's very important that any team that is thinking about drafting Jameis Winston watch this movie before they draft him," McCaskill said.

My guess is the Bucs will watch it. But it's hard to know whether it will impact their decision.

FLAWED THINKING: Anyone who believes the relationship between Bucs offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter and Oregon coach Mark Helfrich means the Bucs are leaning toward Mariota is reaching. "We also have a lot of coaches that have long-standing relationships with other players in the draft, too," Licht said. "So it's helpful, but … it absolutely wasn't the reason we hired Dirk Koetter. We hired him because we thought he was … one of the better (offensive coordinators) in the league. We are really excited about him. That was our biggest offseason acquisition."

WHAT A MANKINS: The Bucs will release several players before the start of the new league year March 11. But guard Logan Mankins won't be among them. "We think the world of Logan," Licht said. "He's part of the solution, wasn't part of the problem. Having him for another year, the full offseason … and having him in the room, I think it's going to be extremely valuable to this football team moving forward. Yeah, he has a future with us."

Who will the Bucs choose in the draft?

Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston or Oregon's Marcus Mariota? Ask our "Winstota meter" at