Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston made an appearance at Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida on Wednesday, delivering a speech meant to empower the kids. But instead of feeling empowered, some of the third- through fifth-graders left feeling dejected.
“All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down,” Winston said, according to the Tampa Bay Times. “But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to. Now a lot of boys aren’t supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I’m saying? One day y’all are going to have a very deep voice like this. One day, you’ll have a very, very deep voice.”
Winston continued: “But the ladies, they’re supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong. I want y’all to tell me what the third rule of life is: I can do anything I put my mind to. Scream it!”
Bonnie Volland, a speech language pathologist at the school, said, “One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, ‘I’m strong too,’” according to NBCSports.
Winston later tried to clarify his statements, “I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn’t seem to be paying attention, and I didn’t want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up,” he said.
“During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some.”
The 23-year-old previously settled a civil case for accusations of sexual assault while he was a student at Florida State University, though he has always maintained that the sexual encounter was consensual. He was also suspended from a game for jumping on a cafeteria table and and yelling “f-ck her right in the p-ssy”
Motto reached out to the Tampa Bay Buccaneers for comment and will update this story if if the team responds.