Sports The Arts

The Lesson in Jameis Winston’s Words

Tyler Burns

Jameis Winston is an incredible athlete. The Heisman Trophy-winning Florida State quarterback is as unique as his first name, with prototypical size, arm strength and physical attributes to complement his football talent. Yet, he was still the object of ridicule following his team’s historic National Championship win.

When We Judge

In post-game interviews, an excited Winston gushed to reporter after reporter and into microphone after microphone in a “country sort of way.” The kind of way a kid does when he’s so excited and can’t quite find words to describe his joy. And Jameis was harshly judged. Sadly, I was among the guilty.

I remember that my father and I watched each second of the 20-year olds’ interviews and simultaneously reacted with Kevin Hart’s popular “No, he wasn’t ready!” comedy routine. We chuckled, shook our heads, cringed as he misplaced words and clunked through sentences with awkward syntax. “Not another black man making us look bad” we told each other in our private moment.

Dee Dee McCarron wasn’t so private. The mother of National Championship-winning Alabama quarterback, AJ McCarron, candidly tweeted to her 25,000 followers: “Am I listening to English?” Part of me wanted to get upset, cry foul, and talk about racism and classism in my usual self-righteous tone. But I like my glass house too much, and I’ve run out of social media stones to throw. I’m no better than her nor Phil Robertson, who only saw “happy blacks.” [pullquote]I, along with many other minorities, am ashamed to be embarrassed by my own.[/pullquote]

A Look at Roots

What causes us to feel this way? Sure we could point to deep, systemic (my favorite word) issues that have been festered over centuries of oppression. But the root is much more fundamental to humanity. See, I’m a walking contradiction. And honestly, I would have never believed this five years ago. Then, I was naive enough to think that racism was an overblown cultural issue, in an Ann Coulter-like blindness to what I had faced covertly again and again. But now, after tasting the tartness of racism in my twenties, my pendulum has swung to the other side so quickly that Tarzan himself would be jealous.

Frankly, in music, preaching, theology, fashion, sports and culture, I just want white people to know we’re better than them. Better, even with the years of racial epithets on athletic fields and lack of opportunities in coaching staffs, though we were just as good. Better, despite the decades of locking us out of seminaries and institutions of higher learning for fear we would actually be educated. Better, in the face of all your classist arguments that Christian rappers are “disobedient cowards” and “practicing sinners.” [pullquote]I’ll admit it. I want to make Jim Crow eat his last name.[/pullquote]

Air of Superiority

My desire for every member of the black community to collectively prove that we are superior causes me to gag at young men whose belt-lines hug their thighs and wish they would “act like human beings.” [pullquote position=”right”]I saw clearly in the post-game, that I have become what I most despise in others.[/pullquote] I walk in an air of superiority that should disgust me.

Grace calls me to scrap that sinful playbook, and partake in the orchard of the Spirit’s fruit. Where is my kindness, gentleness and self-control? In the moment of immaturity, I completely dismissed Winston, a young man who was offered academic scholarships to prestigious universities before choosing Florida State. The young man displayed courage and class in a moment of nationwide athletic pressure. [pullquote]God forbid that we dismiss the dignity in that while worshipping at the altar of academia.[/pullquote]

In our quest to eradicate the Body of Christ of all traces of bigotry and discrimination, let’s not be what we believe to behold in others. May our gaze truly be fixed on the example displayed in Christ. In him, there is neither Jew nor Gentile, no slave or free, male or female. No matter how differently we may structure our sentences or describe our situations, I pray that I learn from Jameis Winston and choose daily to set my superiority at the foot of the Cross.

Photo Credit: Getty Images

3 thoughts on “The Lesson in Jameis Winston’s Words

  1. WB

    Very late comment, but it’s worth noting that JW had *athletic* scholarships to Stanford, not academic. And say what you will about Stanford’s academic reputation, but if you think they’re winning ten plus games a year with 85 guys who would get into Stanford (or Cal, etc.) on their own academic merits, I’ve got somel real estate (and a Notre Dame jersey) to sell you.

    Also worth noting that Winston should have said trial for rape, but that’s how it goes when you’re a star athlete in Tallahassee.

  2. Matt Leighow

    Interesting article. However I think jameis Winston is being and willed be judged more due to run ins with the law, than his speech. I know at the time this was written the crab theft had not happened, but he still had numerous run ins with the law prior to this article. The BB gun incident that created over 4000 dollars worth of damages, stealing from Burger King and most notably, rape to name a few. So I personally think people judge him more for those actions than his speech. I pray for jameis to repent. He has a lot of talent, but his career will be short lived if he continues to get in trouble off the field.

  3. MarkSingleton

    Thanks for this Tyler. Really honest and straight forward.

    Had a similar discussion with my wife about how naturally many of us feel this way in different arenas. When an African-American athlete is interviewed following a very extreme game, they may receive harsh criticism for how they come across(ie Sherman interview). I had some instances where I was one of the few white members in a predominately African-American church and whenever one of the few white members did anything that seemed somewhat foolish, I would put my head down as if they represented me. It showed me how arrogant and prideful I was.

    Thanks again Tyler. Good insight and well needed.

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