You've heard of the lifetime achievement award? The Grammy or the Heisman or other trophy, any kind of short-term distinction that ends up going to a big name based more on long-term production than on the specific piece of work being considered?
Reigning Heisman-winner Jameis Winston has built himself a punishment-worthy record, even if none of his incidents in isolation was met with a football suspension at the time.
Florida State suspended Winston for the first half [Update: Now suspended for the full game] Saturday against division rival Clemson after fellow students reported he'd made a crude comment while standing on a table. He was reciting a vulgar internet meme whose origin is dumb and harmless, and we should have no doubt just about every college student does something at least as stupid every day. [Source: former college student who still says so many stupid things.] In the absence of context, what he said probably didn't hurt anyone and should not result in a school punishment.
But the context with Winston is simple. He was accused of sexual assault in December 2012, though never charged. Another woman allegedly sought counseling after an encounter with Winston. Whether Jimbo Fisher got sick of distractions or feared media reaction or whatever else, at least a partial suspension for a big game is merited.
Once you're a quarterback who's been accused of sexual assault, you can no longer tell young pupils at a camp that part of the glory of being a quarterback is coming into possession of "all the women," as Winston did this summer (women as prizes for football players remains an unfortunate trope throughout the sport). And you can no longer climb a table and yell, "fuck her right in the pussy," in public with women nearby, as Winston did Tuesday.
Is that unfair, considering he was never charged and quite possibly has never harmed a woman? Lots of things are unfair. Certain options get removed from one's personal life menu based on things both in and out of one's control. Learning that is hard for many people.
We already knew Winston has poor judgment off the field, as almost all of us did or will at his age. He shoplifted (and missed playing in FSU baseball games as a consequence). He's been accused of goofing around with bb guns and failing to pay for soda at Burger King. He's apologized for those and explained himself at times, saying, "I messed up" about this week's event.
Most of his headlines are inconsequential, Johnny Manziel-signing-autographs stuff. Mere pebbles that barely register in comparison to the one mountain of concern: either Winston does not understand the gravity of the thing he was accused of in 2012, or he allowed that understanding to lapse.