Under the glare of TV lights, college football crowned its latest Heisman Trophy winner Saturday night in New York City, and no one should have been shocked the landslide winner was Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston.
Yeah, the rape allegations that hung over his head had chilled some of the hype that surrounded him in the latter days of November, but once the Florida legal system cleared up that messy matter, nothing stood between “Famous Jameis” and his Heisman but the calendar.
In accepting the award on national TV, Winston was gracious, almost humble, in saluting his teammates and downplaying his own superb play. Whatever success he had, Winston said, was a team thing.
But he had plenty of success on his own, which is why it seems absurd that 115 voters left Winston’s name off their ballots altogether. Not that he needed any of those 115 votes; his victory was a landslide.
Still, one has to wonder aloud what kept those 115 voters from writing his name on their Heisman ballots. A voter could make a case — although it wouldn’t be much of one — for not making the 19-year-old Winston his No. 1 choice. Had those rape allegations against him turned into a criminal indictment, a voter had a good reason for not penciling Winston’s name into one of the slots on the Heisman ballot.
As it happens too often in America, an allegation outpaced the end of a criminal investigation. Argue if you want about how power and influence corrupt the legal process, but flawed as the justice system in America might often be, not a single country has a better one.
Until something changes, Winston is a man who doesn’t have the specter of defending himself in court to worry about. He can focus on winning a national championship for the No. 1 Seminoles and, now, on whose mantel should he place his Heisman.
He won the award. He won it the way he won so many games for Florida State this season: overwhelming the opposition.
Too bad, though, that those 115 voters who didn’t think he was Heisman-worthy chose to forget what Winston did on the football field. They refused to free their minds of all the speculation, the rumors and the innuendos, and had the legal system moved slowly, tens of more voters might have joined them.
Talk to people who have known Winston, and they will say he is the person who came across as so humble in accepting the 25-pound trophy. If character is what these voters were looking for, Winston has displayed the character they should want to see in a young college athlete.
While he might not be without sin — who is? — he’s no felon. He’s just a college student, a son and a football player with extraordinary talent, and those characteristics should have formed the yardstick all 870 voters used to measure him.
Those men and women who used something else should have their Heisman vote snatched from them.
The opinions expressed here do not necessarily reflect those of BET Networks.
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(Photo: Jeff Zelevansky/Getty Images)