NEW YORK — Florida State quarterback Jameis Winston, the favorite to win the 79th Heisman Trophy, finally talked about his role in the investigation into an alleged sexual assault last December. No charges were filed against him.
“I knew I did nothing wrong,” he said Friday in New York.
While Winston arrived in New York for Saturday night’s Heisman Trophy presentation, the accuser’s attorney, Patricia Carroll, held a news conference in Zephyrhills, Fla., and called for the state’s attorney general to investigate the Tallahassee Police Department’s handling of the initial investigation.
“It appears to me to be a complete failure of an investigation of a rape case,’’ Carroll said during a 90-minute news conference.
Winston conducted an informal roundtable interview session with the media under the watchful eye of his attorney, Tim Jansen.
But it was cut short after the 19-year-old redshirt freshman from Bessemer, Ala., fielded several innocuous questions ranging from his thoughts about how he held up during the investigation and what he had learned from the experience.
They were much like the questions Winston faced from an ESPN reporter in an on-field interview following Florida State’s victory in the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game last Saturday.
When Winston faced similar queries Friday, Florida State spokesman Kerwin Lonzo pulled his player from the roundtable. Shortly after, Winston returned to talk about all matters football.
But he finally addressed a direct question about the investigation when asked why he did not attempt to give his side of the story.
“The thing about the investigation is that I always respected the process,’’ Winston said. “So by me, being a football player, knowing that my team needed me, and by them supporting me, I had to focus on the future. But I also had to focus on my family with everything that was going on with the investigation.
“I knew I did nothing wrong, that’s why I knew I could respect the process and I’d eventually be vindicated. It was more about me being silent for my family, because I didn’t want to put my family in no situation. I had so much respect for Mr. Jansen and everything going around that I knew I did nothing wrong and that everything would be OK.’’
Nearly all here
Five of the six Heisman finalists arrived in New York Friday, with Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron the only absentee. McCarron, who won the Maxwell Award as the college player of the year on Thursday, was in Baltimore attending the Johnny Unitas Golden Arm Award presentation. The last time six finalists were invited to New York was in 1994, when a running back, Rashaan Salaam of Colorado, won the Heisman . . . Texas A&M quarterback Johnny Manziel on his return to New York after winning last year’s Heisman: “You know it didn’t really hit me until we got up to the 45th floor hospitality suite [at the Marriott Marquis] and I saw my high school quarterback coach, who was the one who took a chance on me and gave me my first chance to play quarterback. That’s when I really lost it.’’ . . . Northern Illinois quarterback Jordan Lynch, who was as surprised as any of the finalists to be invited to New York, said he has a treasured photo of himself posing with 1953 Heisman winner John Lattner of Notre Dame and his trophy. “Saturday, I’d like to be able to take another picture with him,’’ Lynch said.
Michael Vega can be reached at email@example.com.