Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston fumbled a perfectly good photo op with schoolchildren in St. Petersburg, Florida by telling elementary school girls to “sit down” and the boys to “stand up” during his pep talk on Wednesday. Video of the speech was posted by the Tampa Bay Times. He even told the ladies that they are “supposed to be silent, polite, gentle.”
According to the paper, Winston spoke to the fifth graders at Melrose Elementary for about 40 minutes, trying to inspire them to follow their dreams and never give up on themselves. But when it looked like they students were getting bored, things went south real fast.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston told the students. “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. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this (in deep voice). One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.
“But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”
A few hours later, Winston told the Times that he used “poor word choice.”
“I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” Winston told the paper. “During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
The girls in the classroom realized that Winston’s words were poorly chosen, too. “One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, ‘I’m strong too,'” Bonnie Volland, a speech language pathologist, told the Times.
Winston’s image is still tarnished by the sexual assault accusation he faced at Florida State. Winston was never charged, but did settle a civil lawsuit with the woman who accused him of rape in December 2016.
Despite his past, the Buccaneers drafted the Alabama-native with the first pick in the 2015 NFL draft. Winston will be entering his third season in 2017.