Orange and blue seem to be pretty popular colors these days. The Florida Gators are ranked ninth in the latest College Football Playoff rankings and are all but a lock to earn their first New Year’s Six bowl berth since 2012. Dan Mullen seems to have turned around the program in his first year as head coach.
We’ve already seen one former UF arch nemesis don Florida apparel this season (hat tip to Steve Spurrier for making that wager), and now it seems we have another. Former Florida State and current Tamp Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston showed up to the Buccaneers locker room wearing a Gator shirt that read, “Friends Don’t Let Friends Wear Red or Garnet. Just Say No.”
At first, one might think the Heisman-winning quarterback made a bet with a Gator current teammate of his, like Vernon Hargreaves for example. It turns out he made the wager with Bucs director of ticket operations Amy Weber, who graduated from UF in 2008.
“She got me on it. I wish that we didn’t lose. That’s the only thing. I really don’t have a response for that. All I can say is Florida, they never beat us when I was there.”
Asked if this was the first time he ever wore orange:
“Like this orange? Yeah, this is the first combination of orange and blue that I’ve put on. My mom was an Auburn fan so I probably had some Auburn t-shirt lying around somewhere when I was a kid. But this orange and blue is hideous.”
Well, he’s right about one thing and wrong about another. Florida State beat Florida while he manned the offense in 2013 and 2014, but that orange and blue is far from hideous. At least Florida has an original mascot (see: Braves, Chiefs, Indians, Blackhawks and Redskins).
Winston was widely considered the top quarterback prospect in the class of 2012 coming out of Hueytown High School in Hueytown, Alabama. He chose FSU over nearby Alabama and LSU. Florida was never in the running.
Winston was also showing off more than that shirt. He and other Tampa Bay players debuted their “My Cause, My Cleats” initiative, in which players pick organizations to promote while they play on Sunday. Winston chose his own Dream Forever Foundation, which aims to help financially less fortunate children.
My take on the wager: Yes, it’s a fun thing that makes for entertaining content. But something tells me some Florida fans don’t want Winston wearing the orange and blue, even if it is part of a bet. From stealing crab legs at Publix to groping Uber drivers, he’s been involved in so many off-field incidents that I’m not even sure how anyone roots for the guy.
And sure, Seminole fans can say the same about Aaron Hernandez, Urban Meyer or Riley Cooper, who played big roles in Florida’s national championships the way Winston did at FSU. But Florida fans know that isn’t the Gator standard. Players like Tim Tebow were, and they exemplified that every moment on and off the field.
Maybe it’s for the better that Winston reps the garnet and gold.