TAMPA (WFLA) — The NFL is investigating allegations against Bucs quarterback Jameis Winston after he was accused of grabbing a female Uber driver’s crotch in 2016, BuzzFeed News reports. Winston has since taken to social media to deny the accusations.
The website obtained a letter to the Uber driver from the NFL’s special counsel for investigation, which reads: “The League has been informed that you may have been the victim of such a violation perpetrated by Tampa Bay Buccaneers player Jameis Winston. The league takes allegations of this nature very seriously and has opened an investigation into this matter.”
The Uber driver, identified as Kate, told BuzzFeed she picked Winston up in downtown Scottsdale, Arizona around 2 a.m. She claims he was her only passenger.
“I started driving, and right away, Jameis behaved poorly,” Kate said Winston started shouting homophobic slurs at pedestrians, then asked her to stop for food. While they were waiting in line at a drive-thru, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” Kate said, and held his hand there for three to five seconds.
“I wasn’t just creeped out, I was frozen,” said Kate, who described Winston as “very physically imposing.”
“I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” Kate said.
News Channel 8 confirms Winston was “removed from the app” following the alleged incident.
Winston responded to the allegations on Friday afternoon, saying he was falsely accused. He released the following statement on Instagram:
A news organization has published a story about me regarding an alleged incident involving a female Uber driver from approximately two years ago. The story falsely accuses me of making inappropriate contact with this driver. I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her. The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matter, I am addressing this false report immediately. At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.
I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false. While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way.
Earlier, Winston’s representative, Russ Spielman, denied the allegations in the following statement to BuzzFeed:
“We categorically deny this allegation. It is our understanding the uber driver was unable to identify the specific individual who allegedly touched this driver inappropriately. The only reason his name is being dragged into this is that his Uber account was used to call the ride.”
When asked about the NFL’s letter, he said, “I don’t have a comment on that, what you’re hearing is the first time I’m hearing about that.”
The Tampa Bay Buccanneers released the following statement in response to the allegations:
“We are in the process of obtaining further information regarding today’s media report. We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL.”
An Uber representative told the website, “That kind of rider behavior is absolutely not tolerated on the platform, I recommend contacting law enforcement as soon as possible.”