To say that the Bucs took a risk drafting former FSU Quarterback Jameis Winston first overall in the 2015 draft is perhaps the understatement of the year, and it’s not even summer (don’t tell that to my thermometer). Mr. Winston’s on field performance is undeniable: he’s a physical phenome with the football IQ of a 10 year veteran, but off the field his behavior has left some questioning his common sense. The verdict is still out on Mr. Winston in the most recent suit filed against him, but his response has been direct and swift: he filed a counter-suit alleging defamation and loss of potential earnings just days after his accuser filed against him. This move was perhaps a bit surprising to some fans, but to those who have been studying the relationship between NFL players, the league, and the public lately, this came as just another step in the ever-increasing litigious environment surrounding our nation’s top sport.
In recent years there have been numerous suits filed surrounding the NFL: from Deflategate to the Aaron Hernandez trial, it seems like the NFL is in the news for finding itself or its players in court more and more frequently. Indeed, twice in recent years the NFL itself has been heard in front of the Supreme Court (yes, THAT Supreme Court), once over anti-trust allegations surrounding its merchandizing deal, and once regarding a staph infection outbreak in some of its locker rooms.
So perhaps this is the new “normal” for American Football fans; perhaps it will continue to be the case that disputes arising in a game are settled before our courts. Or perhaps, we can demand a little more restraint from our favorite sport and urge players, teams, and the league to take proactive steps to reduce litigation in the future. But as the saying goes, where there’s money, there will be litigation. And in this day and age, there’s more than enough money in the NFL to go around.