Standing tall.

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NFL Can't Hide Jameis Winston Forever

Kavitha A. Davidson is a former Bloomberg View columnist.
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Jameis Winston will likely be the top pick at the NFL Draft, but he won't be in attendance.

Sports Illustrated's Peter King reports that Winston plans to watch the April 30 ceremony "with his family and friends down south." It'll be an interesting spectacle if NFL commissioner Roger Goodell is standing on that stage in Chicago handing a jersey and cap to himself.

The decision to stay home seems to be part of Winston's recent push to make himself more likable, although he's not making much progress among those of us who can't seem to forget that the guy with the golden arm is also a crab-leg thief, purveyor of misogynist memes and accused rapist. It's probably a good idea for everyone involved -- Winston, the NFL and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who have the top pick -- if Winston avoids the cascade of boos he'd be likely to hear when his name is called. (Goodell should be used to that by now.)

It says a lot about the state of the NFL that Winston hiding at home might actually be the best thing for the league. The last thing Goodell needs is the optics of a commissioner who's been soft on domestic violence hugging a player who continues to benefit from a system that's soft on sexual assault.

And this isn't just any draft. It's the first to be held in Chicago since 1964, part of the NFL's push to make it a Super Bowl-level event. For its first year away from New York, the draft could certainly benefit from the spectacle of Winston and all the headlines he brings. It shows just how much his image needs repairing that the league is still better off without him.

For all the talk of Michael Sam at last year's draft, Winston's checkered past is shaping up to be a true "distraction." He and the league will probably be able to avoid that for one night in April -- let's see how they fare for an entire season.

This column does not necessarily reflect the opinion of Bloomberg View's editorial board or Bloomberg LP, its owners and investors.

To contact the author on this story:
Kavitha A. Davidson at kdavidson19@bloomberg.net

To contact the editor on this story:
Tobin Harshaw at tharshaw@bloomberg.net