Heisman Trophy-winning Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston led his team to a national title on the field this past season, but he continues to make negative headlines off the field.
According to TomahawkNation.com, via ESPNU, Winston was caught shoplifting crab legs from a grocery store in Florida:
BREAKING: Florida State's Jameis Winston was cited for allegedly shoplifting crab legs from Publix (via @TomahawkNation )— ESPNU (@ESPNU) April 30, 2014
Per Kiki Jones of WTXL.com, the Leon County Sheriff's Department confirmed that it had "contact" with Winston, but he was reportedly not arrested.
The incident ultimately resulted in a misdemeanor citation, according to TomahawkNation.com, via TMZ.
Following the citation, Winston has been suspended from the Florida State baseball team, manager Mike Martin confirmed (via Alex Yoder of WCTV and Jim Henry of the Tallahassee Democrat):
“As a result of his citation last night, we are suspending Jameis Winston from the baseball team” - Mike Martin— Alex Yoder (@AlexYoder) April 30, 2014
Martin: “I am confident he will complete his community service obligation and the situation will be resolved soon.”— Jim Henry (@JimHenryTALLY) April 30, 2014
Football coach Jimbo Fisher also spoke about Winston (via Natalie Pierre of the Tallahassee Democrat):
Fisher on Winston “I fully support Coach Martin’s decision and will also make sure that Jameis meets all obligations, which I know he will."— Natalie Pierre (@Natalie_Pierre) April 30, 2014
The Leon County Sheriff's office held a press conference regarding the incident, confirming that Winston had not paid for products at the market (via Paul Myerberg of USA Today and Andy Staples of Sports Illustrated):
Leon County Sheriff's Office says Winston left Publix without paying for $32 worth of food.— Paul Myerberg (@PaulMyerberg) April 30, 2014
According to Leon County sheriff's office, Winston said he realized he had left without paying but made no effort to pay.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) April 30, 2014
As for a punishment, Winston will be doing community service (via Staples):
Publix agreed to allow Winston to enter a pre-arrest diversion program. Will have to do at least 20 hours community service.— Andy Staples (@Andy_Staples) April 30, 2014
Winston later issued a statement on the incident (via the Tallahassee Democrat):
"As reported in the news, last night I received an adult civil citation for petit theft from a local supermarket. I went to the supermarket with the intent to purchase dinner but made a terrible mistake for which I’m taking full responsibility. In a moment of youthful ignorance, I walked out of the store without paying for one of my items.
"I realize that I am in the public spotlight and my conduct needs to be above reproach. Over the last year I’ve learned that my accomplishments on the fields can be a wonderful thing for my school, teammates, friends, and family. At the same time, I must realize that my mistakes are magnified and can bring great embarrassment to all those who support me every day. I make no excuses for my actions and will learn and grow from this unfortunate situation. I hope and pray my friends and family will view me as the 20-year-old young man that I am, and support me through this unfortunate situation.
"I am grateful to be able to participate in the adult citation program where I will complete community service."
This is far from Winston's first off-field issue, the most notable being an accusation of sexual assault. He was ultimately not charged back in December due to a lack of evidence.
Winston obviously should have done everything possible to lay low and present himself as a model citizen in the wake of that situation, but he can't seem to stay out of trouble for whatever reason.
Winston put himself in an ideal position from a football standpoint by turning in one of the greatest freshman seasons in college football history last season. With another strong showing in 2014, he could potentially put himself in position to be selected early in the 2015 NFL draft should he decide to declare.
With character concerns starting to mount, though, it is possible that he is already putting his draft stock in jeopardy a year ahead of time.
It is important to remember that Winston is still only 20 years old, so he is susceptible to making bad decisions at times. Rather than being outraged over Winston's transgression, college football observers have mostly resorted to making jokes at Winston's expense.
Kevin McGuire of College Football Talk didn't pass up an opportunity to execute a play on words:
I don’t know what to make of the latest news regarding Jameis Winston, but I think there are legs to it.— Kevin McGuire (@KevinOnCFB) April 30, 2014
The same can be said for Brian Hamilton of SI.com:
Really wonder about Jameis Winston's decision making. This entire episode was high-bisque, low reward.— Brian Hamilton (@BrianHamiltonSI) April 30, 2014
Even the usually serious Paul Finebaum of ESPN got in on the act:
In honor of Jameis Winston, we'll be doing our show today live from Red Lobster.— Paul Finebaum (@finebaum) April 30, 2014
For Winston, though, this is no laughing matter. Not only does he have to mature in an effort to show NFL teams that they can count on him, but he also has to do so in order to show his teammates at Florida State that he is still committed to being a winning football player.
Athletes have obviously bounced back from far worse things than this in the past, but Winston has work to do in terms of rebuilding his reputation.
Follow @MikeChiari on Twitter