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Jameis Winston shows no fear toward NFL or its best QBs

Bucs fans, already with an eye on the No. 1 pick, display photos of FSU’s Jameis Winston, left, and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota late last season.
Bucs fans, already with an eye on the No. 1 pick, display photos of FSU’s Jameis Winston, left, and Oregon’s Marcus Mariota late last season.
Published Feb. 21, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS — He talked about winning the Super Bowl. Next year. Forget Marcus Mariota. He said he's coming for Peyton Manning and Tom Brady. He even mentioned wanting to be in the Pro Football Hall of Fame.

Jameis Winston says it's important for him to be the No. 1 overall pick and the face of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

But before that face is placed on the side of the building — Raymond Jameis Stadium? — Winston knows he has to earn the team's trust.

"It's important because I know how hard I've worked, and it would be a privilege to get accepted by the Glazer family in Tampa," Winston said Friday. "I know I have to gain their trust. I know I have to gain a lot of people's trust. But whatever happens, this is just my opportunity, and I'm going to take advantage of this opportunity because this is what I dream of. I dream of being a Hall of Famer one day, and I dream of being the face of someone's franchise."

Winston, who lost only one game in two seasons at Florida State, began his NFL career Friday by winning his news conference.

He quelled the hysteria created by a report that surfaced hours earlier and said he had been sent to an Indianapolis hospital to determine the cause of weakness in his shoulder.

"I've been playing football since I was 4 years old and (the) shoulder has been fine," said Winston, who said he would participate in today's passing drills against Marcus Mariota at the NFL scouting combine. "Same shoulder that I had the last two years at Florida State."

Winston even poked fun at speculation that he was out of shape, fueled by an unflattering picture taken of him more than a month ago.

"A lot of people thought I was fat," said Winston, who weighed 231 pounds at the combine. "But I'm proving everybody wrong. I look good and I know it."

The bigger concern for NFL teams is Winston's troubling past. On Friday, he did not specifically address the accusation of sexual assault on another student that was investigated by prosecutors and a student conduct board — both of which decided charges weren't warranted. He didn't talk about the $32 in crab legs and crawfish he took from a Publix without paying. He didn't reference his one-game suspension from the team last season for standing on a table on campus and yelling a profane sexual phrase.

"I want to let you all know, I know I've made mistakes, and I know I have a past," Winston said.

"What I do tell (teams) is I have to earn your trust and I can't talk about situations or anything like that in the past. But what I can do is prove to you and let you watch me grow to being the face of your franchise. … I got to do everything by my actions and it's not time to explain everything I'm going to do. But when I do get to a city and to a team, I plan on getting involved in the community and create and imagine, a positive image, and put everything else behind me."

The Bucs plan to draft a quarterback with the No. 1 overall pick, either Winston or Mariota. Today's passing drills in Lucas Oil Stadium will offer another comparison. But Winston made it clear beating the NFL's best quarterbacks is what he's gunning for.

"This is not no competition just between me and Mariota, because one thing about me, I plan on winning the Super Bowl next year so it's going to be Jameis versus Peyton Manning and Jameis versus Tom Brady. I want to be viewed like that," Winston said. "After all this combine stuff, you're not going to hear no more about Jameis Winston and Marcus Mariota. But I want my name to stay relevant the next 15 to 20 years of my career."

A pitcher at FSU with a 95 mph fastball, Winston said this is the first time he has ever had an entire year to focus on being a football player. He said he is taking the NFL scouting combine very seriously.

"Of course I want to make a first impression because first impressions last a long time," he said. "But I also want to be about what I'm saying. I'm a young man. But now I'm going to the next level to take a grown man's position. And that's important to me. Football is my passion. I've been doing this since I was young and I know the responsibilities that I have to take upon when I'm going be the face of someone's franchise."

Contact Rick Stroud at rstroud@tampabay.com and listen from 6 to 9 a.m. weekdays on WDAE-AM 620.