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NFL AM: Jameis Winston Visits Orlando Shooting Victims

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The six weeks between the end of OTAs and minicamp and the start of training camp can often be a drag for fans hungry for football. But for players, that period is as important as any other during the year. Not only do players use that time for conditioning and training to get back into football shape, it’s also their last opportunity to do things in the community that have a real impact before returning to work.

Many players take the opportunity to give back through free football camps in their hometowns and foundational fundraising events. Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been among the most prominent fixtures in doing that this offseason. On Wednesday, Winston answered a call from Florida governor Rick Scott to visit victims of last weekend’s horrific shooting in Orlando. He was joined there by Florida State head football coach Jimbo Fisher, who told the Tallahassee Democrat that his former quarterback didn’t hesitate to make the trip.

“The governor called me and asked if I could get a hold of Jameis. And he asked if I wanted to come, too. I said I’d be honored. And I called Jameis and of course he jumped on it right away,” Fisher said. “We just wanted them to know that people cared.”

The two met at Orlando Regional Medical Center to visit with many of those who were injured in the attack on an Orlando nightclub on the morning of June 12. Winston and Fisher went from room to room just trying to brighten the day of each person. But he told the newspaper that the visit also had an impact on each of them.

“We were there to uplift their spirits but they ended up uplifting ours,” the FSU coach said. “With their demeanor, with their body language. With how they were talking.”

At the end of the day, Winston posted a pair of pictures to his Instagram account supporting the victims of the tragedy and noting that he’d invited one special young man to a Bucs game this season.

Strong???? and persevering… #orlandostrong

A photo posted by Jameis Winston (@jaboowins3) on

Fisher noted that while only some of the people they visited knew him, all of them recognized Winston and he watched as his former quarterback shared special moments with each patient.

“They all knew Jameis. And he was interacting with all of them. Genuinely interacting with them. And it really is amazing. People have no idea about the kind of human being he is. How genuine and caring a person he is,” Fisher said. “He’s just out of this world. And he lit up every room when he walked in it.”

Since being drafted by the Buccaneers first overall last April, that’s the reputation that Winston has been developing and it’s tremendous to see. The Bucs quarterback has been participating in charitable activities all over the country this offseason, including attending and instructing at football camps held by teammates. He also held a football camp of his own in Land O’Lakes, Florida last weekend and will be holding a free camp in Birmingham, Alabama on July 1. Through it all, he’s shown that he genuinely cares about giving back.

The quarterback has made some terrible mistakes in his past, things that will always loom over him, but he appears to be genuinely changed by those missteps and has put his best foot forward since entering the NFL. There were questions about Winston’s character entering the league, and one year worth of doing right doesn’t erase the wrongs, but if he continues to do good, his caring and giving personality, combined with his ability as a football player — which he showcased during an excellent rookie — is likely to lead to Winston becoming one of the league’s next star quarterbacks for years to come.

VON MILLER GETS ON THE FIELD

One of the biggest stories looming as training camp approaches next month is the contract status of Von Miller with the Denver Broncos.

Miller has expressed repeatedly that he does not plan to play under the franchise tag that Denver placed on him, which kept him from becoming a free agent, leaving the team and the player with just a few weeks to hammer out a long-term deal to get him to participate in training camp.

In the meantime, Miller, like Winston, is spending his offseason doing good. This week he’s hosting a football camp in Englewood, Colorado and he deflected questions about his future in Denver to focus on the kids at the camp.

“I just think, where we’re at right now, everything has been said. Everything is already in the books right now,” the linebacker said. “It’s just a time for waiting right now. I want all the focus to be on the kids today. I want all the attention to focus on the football camp and everything that we’re doing here. There’s a lot of exciting stuff that we’re doing here, a lot of great athletes we got here.”

For Miller, the camp was a first of its kind and more than 500 children showed up to participate and learn from the Super Bowl 50 MVP and some of his NFL brethren, including some Broncos teammates and other NFL players like Seattle’s Earl Thomas.

Miller told reporters that he’s thrilled to be able to give back and do things for kids similar to those things that were done for him as he was growing up with dreams of being a pro athlete. He noted the importance of encouragement to pursue those dreams, and so to is proper instruction.

“It’s so fun when you can get to them at an early age,” he said. “Technique is the foundation of football. I know for me, getting in football camps and basketball camps and all the stuff I was doing at a young age was instrumental in my growth. All these guys are excited. And whenever you got all this energy around, it’s always fun. This is my very first football camp, and I can see myself doing this all summer. It’s so much fun when you look at the kids’ faces and they’re happy and they’re excited to learn. It’s so much fun.”

STEELERS RELEASE SUISHAM AFTER FAILED PHYSICAL,

When kicker Shaun Suisham tore his ACL during a preseason game last August, it was as significant a setback as a team can have when losing a kicker. Now a setback in Suisham’s recovery has forced the Pittsburgh Steelers to move on entirely without the 11-year veteran, who appears primed to retire.

The Steelers released Suisham on Friday after the kicker failed a physical.

“Unfortunately, Shaun incurred a setback in his recovery from knee surgery that won’t allow him to compete in a timely manner,” Steelers general manager Kevin Colbert said. “Shaun has played a significant role in our success during his time in Pittsburgh. He has been the consummate professional on the field and in our community. We wish he and his family all the best in the future.”

Suisham had been one of the league’s most accurate kickers in the three years prior to his injury, converting 91.5 percent of his attempts, with only four misses from less than 50 yards over that span. He was also a perfect 173 for 173 on field goal attempts in his five-year stint with the Steelers.

Pittsburgh was hoping to have the 34-year-old kicker back in time for training camp to compete with Chris Boswell, who was signed last season after the team released Josh Scobee, and who had a 90.6 percent success rate last season, missed just one extra point, and was a perfect 7-for-7 on field goals in the postseason. However, the setback with Suisham’s knee appears to spell an end to his career, as he indicated in a statement released Friday morning.

“Unfortunately, the injury I sustained in the Pro Football Hall of Fame Game last preseason was catastrophic and has proven to be critical to continuing my career. My journey in the NFL has come to a crossroads…” Suisham wrote. “Undoubtedly, I will miss the challenge of game day and the preparation that is required. Change is hard, but I’m comfortable with where I am in life as a husband and father.”

 


About Devon Jeffreys

Devon Jeffreys