In one week, Jameis Winston will take the next step in his football career. He will step on to the field at U.S. Bank Stadium and he will play in his first ever NFL game. Albeit a preseason game, there’s a certain excitement coming with it that enforces the fact that this just isn’t another preseason game. I can’t remember a time in Tampa Bay, when there was this much excitement heading into a new season. Even in 2003, the year after the Bucs won the Super Bowl, the excitement level going into that season wasn’t this high. Training Camp has been full and has set records. People are wearing number 3 jerseys with Winston’s name on the back everywhere you look. There’s an excitement around Buccaneers football that hasn’t been around for a long time.
When Jameis steps on the field next Saturday night, it’ll be the first time he’s played in a competitive football game since January 1st of this year. He played that game for Florida State University, a place where he had success like few others have had at the college level. He was the youngest player to ever win the Heisman Trophy. He led the 2013 Seminoles team to a National Championship as a Redshirt Freshman. He made dazzling and jaw dropping plays. He collected several awards and accolades. He was a leader like no other. His personality was infectious. His teammates loved him. His fan were countless. His supporters defended him through everything. He was a once in a lifetime kind of player and at Florida State, he will be missed.
It’s somewhat strange. Jameis Winston is now playing football in my home town. However, I still feel like I’m going to miss him being at Florida State. There’s no denying, I feel lucky and blessed that he’s here in Tampa. But, that doesn’t mean that I won’t miss him in Tallahassee. But, thinking about him in Tampa just fascinates me. We’ve all had players who we absolutely loved in college. They’re at the University for 3 or 4 years and then they depart for the NFL. We still follow them a little. But, for the most part, if we have an NFL team we follow, it becomes tougher to have that same following. When the Buccaneers started losing games and it looked like we had a shot at Winston, I began to get excited. When we finished last in the NFL and got the first overall pick, I was thrilled. When Roger Goodell called Jameis’ name first, I was beside myself. My favorite player of all time at FSU would now be the Franchise Quarterback for my hometown team for the next 15 or so years. That’s amazing to me.
I think Jameis is a once in a lifetime type of player. He has all the skills needed to be successful. He has a leadership that is unlike many others. Teammates like him. They want to play for him. They want to be around him. His work ethic is like nobody else’s. He is consistently the first guy in and the last guy out. His drive and determination are unmatched. He has all the tools needed to be a great QB in the NFL.
When looking at realistic expectations, I think it’s fair to assume there will be some bumps in the road. Jameis will have bad games. He had them at FSU, he will have them in Tampa. He will also have games where you won’t believe you’re watching a rookie quarterback. On the field, he will do things that make you shake your head and he will do things that make your jaw drop. But, he will never speak bad about his teammates, coaches, or team. He will always lead and take ownership, even when the mistakes aren’t his. I think Jameis will have a successful season. I don’t care about the stats (though, I do think he’ll have an above average year stats wise.) I don’t care about the TD:INT ratio (though, I also think that will be good.) I care about wins and losses. Jameis will win more than 2 games. He will improve the Bucs in that aspect. In fact, I see him tripling or quadrupling the win total (6-8 wins).
Most of you know that I unashamedly “fan girl” over Jameis Winston. I don’t deny it. I don’t try to hide it. It’s even become somewhat of a joke that my followers on social media mess with me about. But, I’ve never enjoyed watching a player more than Jameis Winston. He’s a special talent. He’s a special player. He’s a special person. He’s going to do special things in Tampa.
Go Bucs. Go Noles. Go Jaboo.