Florida State Seminoles head football coach Jimbo Fisher defended his quarterback, 2013 Heisman Trophy winner Jameis Winston, who is embroiled in a an autograph controversy linking Winston to a company associated with suspended Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley.
Jimbo Fisher says Jameis Winston never signed autographs for money.
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This was what Fisher, the Florida State Seminoles head football coach, told The Tallahassee Democrat's Corey Clark on Oct. 14 after Winston was featured in an ESPN story saying he signed over 900 items which were verified by the same firm associated with suspended Georgia Bulldogs running back Todd Gurley:
"On Monday afternoon, Florida State head coach Jimbo Fisher passionately defended star quarterback Jameis Winston against an onslaught of media reports centering on the well-chronicled sexual assault allegation from last year.
"On Tuesday evening, after the No. 2 Seminoles concluded practice, he was defending the reigning Heisman Trophy winner again -- this time in regards to an ESPN story that said over 900 signed Winston items were authenticated by the same company linked to Georgia running back Todd Gurley's suspension last week.
"Fisher was asked on Tuesday what Winston had told him about the matter.
"'He's never taken a dime for anything,' the head coach said. 'He's signed thousands of things. I mean, the guy sits for an hour and a half before a baseball game and signed an hour and a half after a baseball game -- I mean, there are thousands of things out there with his name on it.
"'He is very accommodating to people.'
"Unlike the Gurley incident, in which a dealer reportedly accused the star running back of taking money and had photo evidence of him signing, no one has come forward and alleged that Winston took any money.
"The ESPN report centered on the fact that many of the Winston items were authenticated in sequential order by James Spence Authentication.
"Spence was interviewed in a story by The Palm Beach Post on Tuesday and said just because a large number of items are submitted doesn't necessarily mean they came from a single dealer.
"'I know clients of mind who have their entire family, 10 to 15 people, and they equip them with jerseys, helmets, photos,' Spence said. 'There are people all over the country who go after the No. 1 athletes.'
"He added: 'Jameis Winston has been playing for over two years now. From the moment of his first game until now the guy has been signing autographs.'
"For his part, Fisher didn't seem worried the university's compliance department would find any wrongdoing by his star quarterback.
"'I'm not concerned,' he said. 'They'll still sort things out. Feel very confident right now.'"
In a separate Tallahassee Democrat update, Fisher tells Clark why he feels this way:
"The facts of the case. Read the reports. Read what's there. The facts are the facts. That's what they are. And when I see stories written that don't have all the facts -- that paint them towards their side of public opinion.
"This country is based on being innocent until proven guilty. Not guilty until proven innocent. There are two sides to that. I don't want a victim for anything, but there is no victim because there was no crime. We're convincing a guy over things that are not true, based on evidence.
"We believe in him, 100 percent.
"I think we've got to be very careful in today's society (not) to convict people in the public before they actually do in court or anywhere else,' Fisher said. 'That's happened in recent history and we saw me made a huge mistake and ruined a lot of lives. We need to be more responsible in our reporting and our opinions.
"And base (it on) facts, and not write articles that are half true and not all the way true. And put things out there that are not truthful before we ruin someone's career -- based on fact. Not on everyone's opinion and what they think it is."
Fisher has amassed an overall 51-10 (.836) win-loss record with the Seminoles through Oct. 16, per Sports-Reference.com.
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