Jameis Winston’s appearance at a struggling elementary school in St. Petersburg, Fla., seemed to be going well Wednesday.
“Over the course of about 40 minutes, Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston delivered a good message — a heartfelt, you-can-do-anything message to young kids who probably can’t imagine that even being close to true,” Tampa Bay Times sports columnist Tom Jones wrote. “For many, it might have been the first time anyone ever told them such things.”
But things took a turn when Winston gave a bunch of elementary school students his views on gender roles.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said. “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. 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. 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!”
Telling a bunch of impressionable kids that women are supposed to be “silent, polite, gentle” is tone-deaf enough. Winston saying this takes tone-deafness to a creepy extreme, considering he was accused of sexually assaulting a female student during his time at Florida State.
Asked about his comments afterward, Winston told Jones that he perhaps shouldn’t have gone in that direction and simply was trying to connect with a young boy who appeared to be zoning him out.
“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,” said Winston, who never was charged with a crime over the alleged sexual assault but settled a federal lawsuit filed by the woman in December. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
The Bucs’ Twitter account apparently missed the “silent, polite, gentle” part of Winston’s speech.