ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – An NFL football player is in hot water following comments he made at a Florida elementary school.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston visited Melrose Elementary School on Wednesday to spread an inspirational message.
However, many parents and fans are upset with his speech.
Winston says he saw children slumping in their chairs and was trying to get their attention.
“All my boys, stand up. The ladies, the ladies, sit down. But all my boys, stand up, stand up. We strong, right?” Winston said on a tape obtained by WFLA.
Winston urged the boys to repeat, “I can do anything I put my mind to.”
“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle, but my men! My men now, they’re supposed to be strong, OK?” Winston said.
After hearing about the criticism, Winston released the following statement:
“I was excited to spend the afternoon with the children and inspire them to succeed in school, dream big and achieve anything they put their minds to. 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. During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some. I love interacting with kids of all ages and will continue trying to find ways to make a positive impact in their lives.”
The comments struck a chord with many, especially after Winston was accused or rape while at Florida State University.
Erica Kinsman accused Winston of rape in 2012, but criminal charges were never filed in the case. A New York Times investigation found that the police and the university did little to determine what had happened, adding that police never questioned Winston about the allegations.
Kinsman’s family said a detective warned them that Tallahassee is a “big football town” and that life could be miserable if she pursued the case.
When the accusations gained national attention, Winston said the incident was consensual.
Kinsman filed two federal lawsuits- one against Winston and one against Florida State.
The lawsuit against Florida State was settled for just under $1 million, and the lawsuit against Winston was settled in December.