As he prepares for the fifth and final year of his rookie contract, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston says he is a changed man.
Winston recently revealed to Jason Romano on the Sports Spectrum podcast (h/t Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times) that his fiancee Breion Allen and son Antonor have given him a new perspective:
"I recently got engaged. Had my first son. And it kind of overshadows…once I had my son, it kind of gave me a new perspective on life because his birth, really overshadowed all the good and the bad. No matter about the accomplishments that I had in college, the accomplishments that I had in high school, or the adversity that I faced in college or the adversity that I faced in high school, his birth really just showed me a glimpse of what it meant for God to love us. Because he knows that we would never live up to His satisfaction. But He loves us no matter what, He is forgiving of us, his grace is so sufficient. And when I look at that boy, my son, he's eight months now, when I look at him, I just see that he can’t love me back, but I love him with all my heart and it just gives me so much respect for my fiancee and I see the way she treats him and it just gave me a whole new perspective of love and it transitioned my walk from just knowing about the Word to actually living by the Word."
Winston's faith dates back to his childhood—and it's something that has stuck with him through the years:
"I've been through ups and downs. But one thing about me. I always knew that my identity wasn't in football. It wasn't in baseball. I knew it's always been in Christ and just my upbringing has always led me to have a tremendous faith that God was going to see me through and he would not give me too much that I couldn't bear. So I've always had that solid foundation of who I really was. No matter who my parents were, or no matter who my father was, I knew who was my Savior was and I knew who I was in His Kingdom."
Winston was accused of sexually assaulting a female student in 2012 back when he was at Florida State, and he ultimately settled the case in December 2016. He was also accused of groping a female Uber driver in March 2016, with the case also being settled.
He was suspended by the NFL for three games last season for the latter.
And now, he faces what figures to be a pivotal year for his NFL career.
The 2015 first overall pick will have to prove to Bruce Arians and the Buccaneers that he can be trusted both on and off the field. He has posted a winning record just once to this point, going 9-7 in 2016. He has a career record of 21-33 through his first four seasons.
After being suspended for the first three games last season, Winston completed 64.6 percent of his passes for 2,992 yards, 19 touchdowns and 14 interceptions in 11 games. He went 3-6 in nine starts.
The 2013 Heisman Trophy winner understands that this is a big season for him, and he isn't backing down from the challenge.
"It is, because you don't know when it's over yet," Winston said. "You have to earn every stripe and sometimes the cards just don't work out in your favor. So you have to be prepared for everything."