Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, who was accused of raping another student when he was in college, said he made a “poor word choice” in comments about women in a 40-minute talk to students at a Florida elementary school earlier this week.
When the students – third- through fifth-graders at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg – started getting fidgety, Winston told the boys to stand up, the Tampa Bay Times reported.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston told the children. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken.”
The quarterback went on to say, “But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong.”
Several hours later, Winston was asked by reporters about the speech and reflected about what he’d said. He said he was making an effort to interact with a young boy in the audience who didn’t appear to be paying attention. He said he didn’t want to single him out so he asked all the boys to stand.
“During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some,” he said.
The newspaper reported that some adults in the room were troubled by Winston’s comments, but didn’t want to comment publicly.
Bonnie Volland, a speech language pathologist at Melrose, said Winston’s message about children being able to accomplish anything was positive. But when he told the boys to stand up and that they are strong, some of the girls took note.
“One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, “I’m strong, too,” Vollnad told the Times.
Winston was accused of raping a student in 2012 when they were both Florida State University students. Winston has said they had consensual sex. He was not arrested. Winston and the accuser settled a civil lawsuit in December.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.