There were two events in Tampa that took place this weekend worth noting. Let’s start with the local NFL franchise and the off-field drama that won’t be going away anytime soon. “We do not think it will be a problem for Jameis to be focused on playing football here,” Tampa Bay Buc head coach Lovie Smith said on Saturday, talking to reporters after Jameis Winston, his prized number one draft choice, finished up his first workouts as a paid professional employed by the team. “Not at all. We all have things that we’re dealing with off the football field.” Yes, Lovie, everybody’s got issues on their plate, but nobody else on your team is dealing with lawsuits regarding accusations of rape. As we all know, Winston has never been charged with any crimes involved in his December 2012 incident with then fellow-Florida State student Erica Kinsman. Winston has said the two consensual sex – Kisman says it wasn’t consensual at all, but something much worse. On Friday, Winston’s attorneys filed a counterclaim to a lawsuit filed last month by Kinsman, denying her allegations of rape, sexual battery, assault, false imprisonment and intentional infliction of emotional distress arising out of forcible rape in her complaint from the December of 2012 incident in Tallahassee. This is unchartered waters we’re dealing with here. No, Winston isn’t the first professional athlete to be accused of such an incident, but to the best of my knowledge, he’s the first number one draft pick in the country’s favorite sport to be dealing with this issue. A Heisman trophy winning quarterback whose trying to turn around a professional franchise. No pressure or anything. One of Winston’s attorneys say that Kinsman’s accusation against him has caused him to lose lucrative endorsement deals and to accept “lesser value” endorsement deals that would have been more valuable if not for the accusation. After learning of the countersuit, one of Kinsman’s attorneys, John Clune, said that the counterclaims “will definitely make things interesting,” adding that since Winton is now alleging injury to his reputation, “all of his past conduct will become front and center in the case and the burden of proof will be on him. I’m not sure how well that is going to work out for him but he certainly has the right to try.” Meanwhile, in more pleasant news in Tampa over the weekend, we had the second Big Guava Music Festival taking place at the Florida State Fairgrounds. As an inveterate attendee at many major music festivals around the country in recent years, I’ve got to say that there’s something very endearing about Big Guava. Mainly, its size. It’s a lot easier to navigate going back and forth between four different stages when there’s around 10,000- 20,000 people to engage with that 60,000 or 80,000. Shorter lines and better sightlines, for starters. Add in the fact that one of the four theaters is actually the venerable Expo Hall cranking out air-conditioning during performances by artists like Passion Pit and Robert DeLong, and you’ve got yourself a fantastic experience for the concertgoer. Hope it comes back next year.
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