METAIRIE, La. – Jameis Winston is well aware of the narrative that surrounds him these days.
In fact, he embraces it as he strives to become a starting quarterback again with New Orleans Saints.
“I went from being the first draft to having (everyone) laugh at me,” Winston proclaimed, tackling the elephant on the field as he approached a group of children at former Florida State teammate Kenny Shaw’s youth camp in April.
“But guess what?” Winston continued. “I’m about that business. I overwork everyone in my position. … I do things every single day and commit to the dream. ”
Jameis Winston: “I went from being the # 1 draft to everyone who laughs at me. But guess what? I’m about that business. I’m out working everyone in my position … I know @dak is right here. “😂 #Noles pic.twitter.com/UAOXLRFZwk
– Logan B. Robinson (@LogansTwitty) April 19, 2021
He took a backup job with the Saints last year so he could get a “Harvard education in quarterback school” Drew Brees, Sean Payton and the rest of New Orleans’ charged offensive coaching staff.
And he has spent this offseason traveling around the country working with educators like Brees’ longtime mentor Todd Durkin and Jay Glazer to “be challenged on new levels.”
“I was immensely impressed with his humility and his way of thinking,” said Durkin, who had never met Winston before reaching out. “He wanted to know what it takes to be great? And he immersed himself. ”
Winston has also focused on working with many teammates this offseason. Holy wide receiver Tre’Quan Smith said Winston paid for his flight to Los Angeles and invited Smith to stay with him and his family.
“A year that has not played has just made me even hungrier after coming back to [helm] and lead a team, ”Winston said as he prepared to compete Taysom Hill to become Brees’ successor. “It’s about being humble and keeping an eye on the price. I move forward in everything I do. I get better every single year, whether it’s a good year or a not so good year. ”
Winston has consistently shown more humility than bitterness since the Buccaneers let his contract expire after a wild 2019 season in which he led the NFL with 5,109 passing yards, but also became the first player in league history to throw at least 30 touchdown passes and 30 interceptions in the same season.
Winston told Jim Trotter and Steve Wyche on their “Huddle and Flow” podcast: “I was more angry with myself for basically putting myself in this situation. Because I know I can play quarterback at a high level, and I just felt like last season was such an anomaly. ”
That humility and mindset, however, is not new.
Longtime coach and friend Otis Leverette, a former NFL defensive end who has worked with Winston since he was 14 in his home state of Alabama, said he has always told people that Winston worked with a “blue collar” even though he was a top recruiter in high school and a Heisman Trophy winner in college.
“Of course, just from a natural growth perspective, you would hope to see expansion in every human being as they get older. So there has been some mental maturation process that he has gone through, ”Leverette said. “But to be very honest with you, Jameis Winston is pretty much who he always has been. I do not want to sell to the world as if he just renewed himself where he was this synthetic human until last year when he became humble.
“You just see a more refined, rational version, like the old wine. But it was not as if he suddenly had this revelation and became a real human being last week. ”
Another thing that has not changed is Winston’s love and passion for football.
That was what Leverette said drove Winston the most, as he was without a team for a few months. And that’s what Winston’s teammates and coaches have mentioned most about him over the last year.
“The guys love football. He really is a football junkie, ”said Brees, who said Winston constantly chose his brain. “I could not have been more impressed with Jameis, to be honest. I think everyone in the locker room admired his love and passion for the game and the way he worked. ”
Winston said the No. 1 thing he learned from Brees is “making the right decision” and not trying to force things that are not there. As he told Trotter and Wyche, he would never be considered a “game manager”. But he appreciates that there is “time and place” to try to “turn on the scoreboard” at this point.
Winston became emotional earlier in the year when he talked about how much it meant to him to build that relationship with Brees after admiring him for so long. And Durkin said Winston told him he enjoyed having Brees as a mentor, as he rarely had that experience in Tampa.
Durkin also coaches former Buccaneer defensive tackle Gerald McCoy. And he said McCoy teased Winston and said, “I tried to get you out here for years, then you’ll finally come out when Drew asks you to.”
Durkin said he introduced Winston to some Pilates techniques, core-muscle exercises and back-shoulder stability exercises. At Glazer’s Unbreakable Performance Center, Winston did some boxing exercises centered around becoming more explosive in the hips and stronger in his core.
Winston has also continued to work with shuttle buses John Beck and Adam Dedeaux of the 3DQB organization led by another of Brees’ longtime mentors, Tom House.
Winston’s maturation process has also included a number of life changes, large and small, over the past two years. He married his longtime girlfriend and they had their second child earlier this year. He underwent surgery with LASIK to improve his vision and modernized his diet and exercise routine to become noticeably slimmer.
“One thing that both Jameis and I both believe in,” said Leverette, “you can sit in your own little wheelhouse, your own little area of the world and think, ‘Man, no one overworks us, and we are the hardest workers in the world. , and we do everything right. ‘Or you can get out there and challenge.
“To always be honest with ourselves, dissect ourselves, put ourselves on the table and perform that autopsy. Keep evolving. ”