***Warning: Links and images in this post may contain offensive material.
What is going on with this incident?
Where do we start with this one? How about, this is the first college football player I can find who has ever been suspended for profanity, at all. I have seen a women’s soccer player from Syracuse and a basketball player from Memphis, but can not find any football players or anyone from any other sport.
That is pretty incredible. I’m not sure if that says more of those athletes or the society we live in today, but regardless, in addition to all the numerous records Florida State’s QB Jameis Winston has broken, he has also now possibly gone down in history as the first football player ever to be suspended for saying offensive words.
Were the words really offensive?
Well, apparently they were to some who were not there, didn’t know the story behind the viral internet meme and took his comments out of context. However, of those who actually witnessed the event, no official complaint to university officials has been discovered at this time stemming from it.
Knowing about the meme myself, when I heard about this incident, I laughed and did not think it was a big deal. I certainly did not think it was worth any sort of severe punishment on the field such as a suspension, but I guess I assumed more people would get it than they actually did. Of course by this point, everyone was already out just looking for a reason to attack the player after the false allegations made against him in the sexual assault incident, so it is not surprising it turned into a bigger deal than it really was.
Some claimed he should have known better since he was accused of sexual assault and even if he didn’t really do anything wrong, he should still respect women more as if he did. Kirk Herbstreit of ESPN said on the College GameDay show before the Clemson game, just being accused now means he can never used those words again, especially together, not only in public but not even in private anymore. Others spoke similarly of the incident.
What? So you’re saying even if he was innocent and even falsely accused, he should live the rest of his live with the mindset he was guilty and lose his freedom of speech? I’m sorry, this is America and that is simply a ridiculous attitude to take. It is from the very same media members saying such things as to why it becomes an issue when he does because they are the ones who will make it a negative story about him, not that he actually did anything wrong. I understand some things should be off limits and are less flattering, but at the end of the day, it was just a popular joke. If not for media members turning a few tweets about the joke into a national story with a narrative steered by misinformation, he would not have to be so careful. I’ll digress from that.
However, they suspended Jameis Winston. Personally, I was shocked and thought it was a ridiculous overreaction, not to mention it was in the middle of a college campus who prides itself on freedom of speech and has speeches, debates, demonstrations and more in that same area which would be considered much more inappropriate and offensive, particularly if taken out of context, yet is allowed on a regular basis since they are, in fact once again, a free speech campus as long as you are not directing any offensive or threatening language at any one individual or specific group directly in person (by their own Student Code of Conduct policy).
He did not say anything worse than what hundreds of college kids say on each campus every day and he technically did not break any Student Code of Conduct rules since he did not direct his comments at any individual, however they used some arbitrary rule where they reserve the right to punish anyone if they feel it is in the best interest to maintain the image of the university.
He was first suspended for a half of the Clemson game and then at the last minute the night before the game, was suspended the full game. I will refrain from making the obvious comments of how utterly idiotic those actions were by the FSU administration and did nothing but make one bad situation, which should have never been a situation at all, even worse. By doing that it did give credibility to a few tweets as news, which is a whole other issue in itself.
What is this all about?
On September 16, 2014, Jameis Winston by most accounts stood up on something and shouted profanities within ear distance of other individuals passing by who tweeted about the incident while classes were being let out around a lecture hall in the middle of campus. Those tweets paved the way for national headlines.
Let’s start with exactly where this phrase came from. It’s all described here in this website detailing memes.
The viral sensation began in January of this year. It was an obscene quote which gained great notoriety after a filmmaker uploaded a video of a fake newscast where he makes the statement while looking like he does not know he is live. This was completely fake, but it spread after people believed it to be real. So during live real newscasts, individuals would interrupt them with the same “FHRITP” statement the fake news reporter made in the original video. Even an effort to make and sell shirts was a motivation for some.
Why say that even as a joke?
Well, that’s just what the original fake film creator established and spread from there. It could have been that or any number of obscene phrases. The point is to make sure to say something very obscene and offensive as that gets your attention and makes it spread. If you interrupted a live newscast with something mundane and casual, nobody would care much or remember and certainly wouldn’t catch on as a phrase which would turn viral, if it even caught your attention at all.
It is not so much about what is said as far as a motive for trying to offend anyone as much as it is simply supposed to be something offensive enough to be shocking and you would not expect to hear it and yet simple enough to duplicate, be catchy, can be mimicked easily and turn viral.
For example, if you just started doing the same thing interrupting live news reports with something minute like “the roof is on fire!” it likely wouldn’t catch on because it would not be a phrase which could stop you in your tracks as soon as you heard it, would not get near the reaction or laughs and would not be imitated nearly as much. That imitation is what causes the act to go viral. Just saying something offensive in that context, does not mean you are trying to be offensive to whoever may be the subject of the phrase, you are just trying to do something shocking enough to initiate or add to the viral stream.
So if you are offended by it, you likely really just don’t understand it and why it is not meant to offend, but meant to be shocking, yet catchy and funny. It’s a sign of the times. Right or wrong and whether or not it is a sign of our social decay, no matter, it is still part of the modern social structure of current popular internet humor and stretches all over the world.
If you don’t understand all that, then you are likely a bit older or sheltered and don’t understand the humor in it and where such humor is based, even if in bad taste. How many comedians, musicians and other entertainers out there have made their professional careers from jokes, lyrics or anything much more offensive than that one phrase? Countless have and they have many more fans collectively than a single amateur athlete does to impact. If you do understand it, then you likely thought it was hilarious and probably even mimicked it yourself.
As you can see here, it has caught on all over the news and sports world and TMZ describes it a bit (notice all the people laughing). Long before Winston ever mentioned it, it was seen all over the world directly or elements of it in news segments, soccer matches, even after an ASU football game and during an ESPN GameDay show in Oregon, specifically for the Ducks.
What did he actually do?
What started all of this was Winston saying something amongst a small group of people and it being tweeted by literally a handful of regular everyday students walking by who overheard him. These few tweets grabbed the attention of national media members as well as Florida State University officials which began the ensuing circus. Apparently confirmation, interviewing the offender or anything, didn’t really matter since a few tweets from who knows who was credible enough to kick up such a storm.
Let’s review those original tweets:
These are all the original tweets. About 10 people maximum.
Now notice the words, “in the middle of campus and “infront of HCB” among other tweets.
Pat Forde of Yahoo Sports was all but begging all those involved in those first tweets to give him an interview, but none agreed and I will spare you all the tweets back to him refusing to do so and tweets from others letting him know exactly what they thought of him, but it was not pretty after the efforts he made to turn what these people thought was funny into a negative story.
Four of the people tweeting originally claimed he got up on a table. Three people said he was in the union. Only two of those tweeters mentioned he was actually on a table in the union. Two of the original tweets mentioned he was right in front of HCB, a big lecture hall near the student union. Other tweets at those tweeters further confirmed it was in front of the HCB building.
One of the issues with this entire incident was the media just running with the original tweets and paying no attention to the follow up tweets. According to one of the first tweeters, Winston was never on a table:
Rumors immediately began swirling around Tallahassee and online about what really happened and where and how it went down. Stories went from he was on a table in the union, to at the top of some stairs, to on a bench, to none of that and he was just standing beside a guy who was up there on something and when people heard what he said, by the time they turned around, Winston was the one they recognized and assumed it was him who shouted it. What’s the truth? Well, I was not there so can not say anything for sure, but let’s still examine the tweets and story a bit more from someone who was.
Did he actually lie about it?
I have no idea since I was not there when he discussed the event, but the tweets were already 0ut there.
How can you actually lie about it? Seems to be a pretty straight forward answer of yes or no of whether he said it or not. Whether he actually has his feet on the ground or was on a table is really of no consequence since it doesn’t matter with people still hearing him. It does not change how potentially offensive the words are as Desmond Howard said during the same GameDay show prior to the Clemson game. Even if he said he was on this side of a table when he was in fact on the other or at the bottom of the stairs instead of the top, really means nothing and certainly does not warrant a suspension longer than what he originally received.
It seems to stink of Winston being thrown under the bus by the FSU administration at the 11th hour when they were being bombarded with pressure from the media for days after the initial suspension and rather than just increase the suspension, they had to give them a reason and claiming Winston told a lie about the incident when there was no reason to, seemed to be their way out while still blaming it on him even though it seems to be a foolish reason.
Why is this important or matter at all regarding where he was?
Well, because of accuracy, a factual basis, perception and more evidence of the lack of effort mainstream media members display when covering stories.
So often on national television, specifically ESPN commentators, they continually mention “in the FSU union” or “in the FSU cafeteria” and “where there is the most student traffic” which are are all pretty much patently false, especially the cafeteria part which is just ridiculous and shows how little they know of the FSU campus. So instead of the real story of him going down the stairs in front of a lecture hall around some friends, listeners now believe he jumped up on a table in the cafeteria so as many as possible could hear it. One story paints a very different picture than the other.
In the tweets you can read he was “on random shit” or “on a table” in them. Again, around Tallahassee, rumors have swirled on anything from the top of a staircase, a large step at the front of HCB, on a bench, a chair near a table to a table itself and more.
Let’s first examine the Oglesby Student Union. I originally posted this and purposely left it incomplete because it was before I was visiting the FSU campus for the FSU vs Notre Dame game. I planned on visiting this part of campus specifically to take pictures and examine the area in person and then would add to the post later. Here is what I came away with after that trip:
Here is the student union they keep referencing which I personally took these pictures of during my visit this past weekend when they faced Notre Dame. It is an area surrounded on four sides by buildings. On one side is some offices and other little shops (Activities Building), one primarily a theater and old school auditorium (Moore Auditorium, where the first 2 photos are taken from), one a bowling alley (Crenshaw Building, where 3rd image below was taken) and the other on the complete opposite side from the HCB building is an on-campus club and places to eat (Turner Building).
Do you notice anything missing in these photos? Maybe a lack of tables?
That’s because there are no tables located in the student union, so that story seemingly can not be true.
When are there ever tables in the union? Only when they have events of some kind and most have to get permission from the university and possibly pay them depending on the event. You can see during even the busiest day of the week, a football game day, the area is like a ghost town. Most of the time, tables are usually there on a Wednesday when they have a flea market of sorts, during a career day or orientation, etc and although it is possible they had some on a random Monday or Tuesday when the incident occurred, there likely was not very many at all, if any. The tables set up are not something you could easily jump up on and possibly not even strong enough to hold someone of Winston’s size. Had it been a table in this area, it likely would have been for a specific purpose. A certain fraternity, a certain career opportunity, a certain group, etc which would have been specified on the table, would have led to tweets which would have gone out about Winston jumping up on an Army recruiters table, a sorority table, etc while those parties would have likely tweeted about it themselves, but that is not what we saw because there were not specific tables like that he jumped on which would have been the only types of tables in the union at that time.
These are not the kinds of tables you can easily or safely jump up on and you would really have to go out of your way to do so and would have been noticed by many more people.
But wasn’t he in the cafeteria?
No. FSU does not have a cafeteria in that area. Years ago they did. Years ago they had their cafeteria there, a Chick fil A next door to it and more. Now, the Chick fil A has turned into a full Chili’s restaurant and the cafeteria has been changed into what looks like the food court at your local mall, except about half the size at least, with a Papa Johns, Pollo Tropical and more. The tables in this area are small and certainly not something any reasonable person would consider jumping on.
The FSU “cafeteria” was changed during construction years ago. Rather than one cafeteria in the middle of campus in the union, two were added on different sides of campus to be more accommodating to students and the one in the middle was turned into the mini food court type area they have today.
One is called The Fresh Food Company and was built right on Call St on the northwest side of campus between the Stone Building and student union. The other is called The Suwannee Room and was built in the back of the William Johnstone Building on the south side of campus on the opposite side of Landis Green from the Strozier Library. Those are the only cafeterias on campus outside of another one built into the stadium, but that is only open to athletes during lunch time when the incident occurred and none are anywhere near where the Winston incident occurred.
Seeing inside of The Suwannee Room, you will notice the tables are set up skinny and taller so would obviously be hard to jump up on, but this was not the cafeteria Winston was in.
Let’s examine the HCB building where this incident most likely took place. In front of the HCB building, between the student union, is just some open space. This is commonly referred to “around the union” by students since concerts, events, career fairs and more are held in this area and advertised around campus and online as being at the union even if they originate or spill out into this area technically outside the actual union quad. It is just a common point of reference, so it is not uncommon for anything to happen at all anywhere near this open area and it be referred to as “the union” by tweeters, but isn’t actually technically in the Oglesby Union, yet is still in the “middle of” campus and near the union.
The HCB building was recently constructed several years ago in the area between the union and the Thagard Health Center where the FSU outdoor pool used to reside. The only tables nearby the union and HCB are in front of the building and there are plenty of stairs and benches in front of it as well.
Because this is the area multiple individuals tweeted about, has benches, tables and stairs in front of it and if you notice in the first picture of this post, Winston is standing with a recent FSU basketball commitment in front of it. This is what we feel to be the most likely area the incident occurred. With Winston being seen pictured up on the HCB hill and with one of the first tweeters indicating classes had just gotten out in that building, he obviously has regular reason to be there, likely a regular class in the building. The HCB building sits up on a hill of sorts and requires taking steps or inclined ramp walkways in order to access from the front and not something you go out of your way to walk through on your way through campus.
Where is the HCB building exactly in relation to the student union?
Standing in the same spot where this picture was taken (personally by me while visiting for the ND game), turning nearly 180 degrees, you can see the only likely tables easily accessible and able to handle Winston:
Based on all the tweets and rumors, this is the most likely area the incident took place, up on one of the multiple sets of stairs in the front of the building. Not in a cafeteria, not in the union and possibly not even on top of a table, but rather at the top of the stairs, on a bench or on the large step-up, the large step where most just sit under all the benches lining the front of the building for quicker access if you don’t want to take the regular staircases.
Just remember, if you hear any of the media members saying he was in the union, in the a cafeteria and likely if he was on a table at all, they are false and not accurate at all based on the available information from first hand witness accounts, where this entire story originated from, which means they did not do their duty as journalists in researching the situation fully.
Was anyone there actually offended by the comments?
The short answer is no by witness accounts. Here are some of the tweets from those who heard it and originally tweeted about it or retweeted others (some of the Twitter accounts do not have public access or no longer exist):
Here is another one of the original tweeters:
There were plenty more tweets defending Winston at the time specifically by females at the time, however now they are more difficult to find since they have either made their profiles private or completely shut them down from this incident with so much attention from media members or negative reactions from fans. One just does not go back that far anymore since she tweets so much.
I personally saw tweets from original female tweeters saying how much they loved him and posted screenshots of their phones texting others and showing how others thought it was funny as well.
@katelyngail originally had a tweet about the incident with the hashtag #noshame and retweeted a Jameis tweet of a picture of the Clemson football stadium with the caption “Our house” and had pictures and memes of Winston in her photo gallery. @KiefOsceola also retweeted two females who said it was outside of the HCB lecture hall near the student union and one of those females said “i love him” right after.
One of the guys
Winston has a long history of being the “class clown” and always looking to entertain those in his proximity. This seems like one of those cases where his “class clown” effort ran before his head actually thought it through and got him into trouble. This could also be due to the fact of his rumored battle with ADHD which an impulsive act such as this would be a classic symptom of such a condition.
The pride of Florida State, Charlie Ward himself, even admitted Winston just wants to be one of the guys in a one-on-one interview with Warchant.com: “he wants to be himself, he wants to be one of the guys.” Being “one of the guys” usually consists of making “one of the guys” type of jokes.
What does what he accomplished mean with a higher standard?
Well, it seems winning the Heisman Trophy means in the minds of most you are supposed to act a certain way and hold yourself to a higher standard. Ideally, that will hold true, however, in reality, Jason Sehorn mentioned on ESPN after the incident, being handed a trophy does not mean you can magically flip a switch and be a different person or more mature. It just isn’t realistic. Although we would all like to hold ourselves to a higher standard, and Winston has shown he does as well, nobody is perfect and without the likelihood of making a mistake and being handed a trophy does not decrease the odds you have of making a mistake. You are just now under a larger microscope by the media.
Former Heisman winners who get to vote each year like bragging about how the award is special and is not just about on the field production but how you carry yourself off the field as well, as we most recently saw with Herschel Walker’s comments on Jameis Winston.
That sounds all well and good and I’m sure the winners would like to make it sound better than it is, but in reality, it is an award for the best player on the field, not the best politician or humanitarian of the year. All of the comments I’ve seen so far making such claims have come from trophy winners from a time before social media and they are probably lucky for that.
Apparently Walker must have forgotten about some of the issues with some of the most recent Heisman winners with Johnny Manziel accepting money for autographs, Cam Newton shopped around in a pay for play scheme after stealing a laptop (felony) and academic cheating while still at UF and only transferred when facing expulsion, Mark Ingram (among many other players and coaches) allegedly benefiting from a local booster and menswear store owner to the point the University of Alabama had to send a cease-and-desist letter to him and we can’t forget Reggie Bush’s situation where he accepted over $100,000 including a house and other benefits.
Seems this whole integrity as a person and more than football, but as a person description is a bit out of sync with how recent voting has gone. Not even considering how much Heisman winners probably got away with in Walker’s day before the internet and social media. I’m sure if everything that happened off the field with former Heisman winners was known, they would be less than absolutely proud of themselves.
Let’s remember, not only is it rare for a player to win the trophy who hasn’t already been playing for 4-5 years and been able to mature, it is also rare for players to win it and return to school and be back in a collegiate environment around other immature students on a daily basis. Add to that, Winston was the youngest player ever to win the award. So to the rational mind, that is an equation most likely leading to a result of the winning player making immature decisions and mistakes which will likely be blown way out of proportion as we have seen.
At the end of the day, it was just a joke. It was not directed at anyone, did not hurt anyone, did not break any law and did not deserve the punishment it received in the slightest and if not for the media witch hunt of Winston, the FSU administration would not have been tempted to increase his already asinine suspension. This was bad all the way around and made the FSU administration look incompetent and looked like they undermined Jimbo Fisher’s authority as the head coach who they pay to handle his players in these types of situations, especially since in both statements released by FSU, everyone except the head coach signed it. That in itself speaks volumes about the situation behind closed doors.
This should have been a non-story which at most programs would have never even been heard about or given any credibility to, but by suspending Winston so quickly, it gave each tweet full credibility and then by suspending him further, was just bad all the way around and made Winston sound worse than he is by using the “lie” excuse. Rumor going around Tallahassee and online is that it went higher than the Athletic Director and interim President. That only leaves someone, particularly the most powerful person, on the FSU Board of Trustees having an issue with it and going after Winston, but that is pure rumor and speculation at this point.