Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston says it was a “poor word choice.” His critics are saying it’s evidence – coupled with his past history – that he has “zero respect for women.”
Winston went to an elementary school in St. Petersburg on Wednesday and spoke to children between third and fifth grade for about 40 minutes encouraging them that they could do anything, according to the Tampa Bay Times. But that took a turn when “a few students appeared to be bored,” according to sports columnist Tom Jones.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down. But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to,” Winston told the kids. “Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.
“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle,” Winston continued. “My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”
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Hours after the speech, Winston was asked to comment on that part of his remarks.
“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston said. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
In addition to criticism on social media, Jones took Winston to task for not only telling little girls to be silent, but for the “heartbreaking” implication to young boys that they should be strong and take charge and girls should be quiet and polite.
It’s not the first time Winston has made headlines for his comments and actions towards women. Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a woman while he was quarterback at Florida State University. He was never charged with a crime but settled a civil lawsuit the woman filed against him, and the “accused rapist” label has stuck with him.
The university paid his accuser $950,000 in a separate Title IX lawsuit involving its handling of her complaint.
Winston was also suspended from a game at Florida State in 2014 after several students tweeted that Winston shouted a derogatory phrase about having sex with women while standing atop a table in Florida State University’s Student Union.