During last Saturday’s episode of ESPN’s “College Gameday,” host Chris Fowler dropped a bomb on us: Florida State Attorney Willie Meggs has a history of being overly lenient on Florida State football players.
The truth, of course, is nowhere near the words Fowler uttered. They’re not even in the same time zone. He based his argument on Meggs reducing FSU wide receiver Peter Warrick’s charge from grand theft when he and teammate Laveraneus Coles purchased $412 worth of clothing for $21 at a Tallahassee Dillard’s in 1999.
Maybe we should nominate Meggs for sainthood because he didn’t throw the book at Warrick for illegally getting some super-cheap clothes.
If only it weren’t for the other side of the argument, as we’ve seen all too often when Meggs has the chance to really bring down an FSU football player. Tallahassee Democrat sportswriter Ira Schoffel immediately mentioned that time Meggs took FSU quarterback Adrian McPherson to trial over sports betting in 2003.
Meggs took McPherson to trial on online sports betting. But he's soft on FSU athletics? Get better, GameDay.
— Ira Schoffel/TDO.com (@IraSchoffel) November 16, 2013
Schoffel also used former Seminole Travis Johnson’s story as a cautionary tale of what can happen to an individual even if he isn’t convicted of a crime. Johnson faced sexual battery charges, and even though the evidence made it clear he wasn’t guilty of the crimes alleged against him, he was still brought to a trial that tarnished his name, in the minds of some, forever (and if you want to know what Johnson thinks of Tallahassee defense attorney Adam Ruiz, check his Twitter timeline).
That’s what I’m worried about with quarterback Jameis Winston. All too often, Meggs and his buddies work too hard to bring a kid down, and they’ll stop at nothing to do it if they feel they’re right. The police report from the incident involving Winston would make anyone question his involvement in the crime, yet Florida State fans are right to be worried something bad could still happen.
With Meggs, all bets are off. There’s very little Tallahassee police does right when the spotlight is shining on them, and now that everyone has had 11 months to get their stories straight in this situation, who knows what will happen if this case goes to trial.
If Winston really did what was alleged in the police report, he ruined a girl’s life and deserves to be punished for it. On the other hand, if he’s innocent of all crimes committed, his life is being tarnished as well, and I doubt there are many people out there who’d want to see this good-natured kid turn bitter.
The ball’s in Meggs’ court now, and hopefully he won’t drop it, as he’s known to do around Tallahassee.