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Klonsinski: Stay away from infamous Jameis

| Thursday, February 19, 2015

Between Tim Tebow and Jameis Winston, give me the Gator, please.

Wait. What’d he just say?

You heard me.

As the pre-NFL Combine talk begins to heat up, we are already going deaf from the so-called “experts” beginning to debate who should go first overall April 30 on the campus of Roosevelt University in Chicago. A lot of the chatter currently has the Tampa Bay Buccaneers leaning towards selecting Winston with the top pick.

No. Just … no.

I’m not an NFL general manager, nor will I claim to be. However, I have played sports before, and I know enough about what a team needs as a leader and what it does not to give my input.

In football, the leader of the team is almost always going to be the quarterback. Players like Brian Urlacher, Ray Lewis or J.J. Watt can be the face of the team, but finding a leader on defense like them is simply a once-in-a-generation find. No other position on the offensive side of the ball can be the face of a modern-NFL team other than the quarterback, just because of how the game is.

With this in mind, let’s take quick look at the quarterbacks who made the divisional round of the playoffs this year: Joe Flacco, Tom Brady, Tony Romo, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck, Peyton Manning and Aaron Rodgers. These names do not evoke controversy. The first thing that pops into my head about them is that they have the innate ability to lead in all aspects of the word: on the field, on camera, in the locker room, in the film room and in the way they conduct themselves in life.

I hear the name “Jameis Winston” and I shudder. I think of crab legs, BB guns, screaming indecent things, rape (sure, he wasn’t charged, but he’s still associated with it), his “interview” after the national championship game last year and finally the utter collapse against Oregon.

That’s what Winston evokes in my mind. If nothing else, Florida State coach Jimbo Fisher deserves credit for somehow surviving the “Jameis Winston Show” at the Jack Haskin Circus Complex for two years.

Except a first-overall pick isn’t for two years. It’s for 20.

Even many Florida State fans became fed up with Winston. On the other hand, Packer supporters are as proud of Rodgers as they are of wearing giant blocks of cheese on their heads, and Patriots fans disregard Brady’s combine “highlights” as much as Bill Belichick does Deflategate.

A leader doesn’t have to be friends with all the other guys on the team. He doesn’t have to be the guy you want to go out with Sunday night after the game — in all honesty, he shouldn’t be. He does, however, need to earn his teammates’ respect. He does need to gain their trust and support.

When I think of a player comparable to Winston, my immediate response is Johnny Manziel. I trust Winston about the same as I trust rehab-resident Johnny Football. I might even trust Manziel a little more, as scared as I am of that statement.

Compare Winston to Cam Newton, sure. Newton has grown a lot since he got into the league, but I wouldn’t exactly call him a successful No. 1 pick yet either, nor do I think his body will hold up until he is 30.

Call Winston an athletic freak with too much talent to pass up. Cool. Then look at just about every defensive NFL player and realize how much of a freak each one of them is, too. They’re already drooling at the prospect of tearing Winston’s head off.

Winston is not worth the first-overall pick any more than Manziel was worthy of the 22nd pick last year. Now, about that whole Tebow thing …

Am I saying I’d take Tebow over any of the other quarterbacks I mentioned earlier? Of course not, but I’d take him over Winston in a heartbeat. Winston’s downsides outweigh his physical abilities in my eyes in the same way Tebow’s leadership, sheer will and personal character outweigh what he lacks as a quarterback — at least enough to where he’s clearly a more attractive choice than Winston.

Sure, you’d have to build a really good football team around Tebow for him to succeed, but before you even think about Sunday’s squad, you’ll have to build a better PR team around Winston.

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About Zach Klonsinski

A History graduate, Zach spent all four of his years on campus as a resident of Knott Hall. Hailing from Belgrade, Montana, he covered a wide variety of sports in his time at Notre Dame, including Football, Hockey, Men's Basketball, Men's Soccer, Women's Tennis, Fencing, Rowing, Women's Lacrosse and other events around campus. You can contact him in his post-graduation travels and job search at [email protected]

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