Former Florida State star Myron Rolle says Bobby Bowden was wrong to say Seminoles supporters believe Jameis Winston was an embarrassment to the school.
Rolle won a Rhodes Scholarship while playing for Bowden at Florida State and has known Winston since the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback was in high school.
The 85-year-old Bowden said last week during an interview on “The Paul Finebaum Show” that he thought it is a “consensus among Florida State fans and boosters that (Winston) was an embarrassment in a lot of ways to the university.”
Rolle said Tuesday he doubts his former coach meant any harm, but Bowden was off-base.
“I didn’t agree that Jameis was an embarrassment to FSU,” Rolle said. “Anybody who meets him one-on-one, they’ll realize just how good of a young man this is. How solid he is.”
Rolle was in Washington to attend a meeting of the Knight Commission on Intercollegiate Athletics. Rolle, who is attending medical school at Florida State, has been a member of the Knight Commission since last year.
He played defensive back at Florida State from 2006-08 and put off an NFL career for a year to study at the University of Oxford in England.
Rolle said perhaps Bowden got caught up in Winston’s negative publicity.
“That’s not who he is,” Rolle said of Winston. “That’s not who we are. Certainly Florida State fans didn’t appreciate coach’s comments too much.”
Winston had a handful of off-the-field transgressions at Florida State and was accused of rape by a female student, but never charged by prosecutors. A university hearing with Winston and the woman who accused him found he committed no conduct code violations.
Bowden coached Florida State from 1976-2009, winning 304 games and two national championships.
“I know coach, he loves FSU,” Rolle said. “I know his heart’s in the right place.
“It’s unfortunate how it played out, but I know Jameis will do well and I’m sure he doesn’t have any hard feelings toward coach, either,” Rolle said.
Rolle was drafted by the Tennessee Titans and spent three seasons in the NFL before retiring to attend medical school. He said the NFL is a big transition for anyone, but one he believes Winston can handle.
“I think he’s learned from some of the things he’s gone through and it’s just going to help him be a better leader and better person in the future,” Rolle said.
Republished with permission of The Associated Press.