Buccaneers QB Jameis Winston visits Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg.
Jameis Winston met the press on Wednesday afternoon, specifically five cub reporters from the Manatee Messenger. These budding journalists quizzed the Tampa Bay Buccaneers' quarterback on such issues as his childhood mentors, his hobbies and the keys to his success.
If you haven't heard of the Manatee Messenger, which got such unusual access to one of the NFL's budding young stars on Wednesday, that's understandable. The Messenger is the school newspaper at Melrose Elementary in St. Petersburg, Florida, and it will soon be publishing just its third edition. Chances are, Winston will be on the cover.
Melrose is a Title 1 school and a magnet school specializing in journalism and multi-media. Winston, who also happens to be the Quarterback for the Buccaneers Academies program, seized an opportunity to talk to the school's third, fourth and fifth-grade students in order to deliver a message of inspiration and self-confidence. He delivered a charismatic 20-minute speech before taking questions from the school paper.
"I'm here to make you smile, make you expect the most and make you believe in yourself," Winston began. "You know why we have to believe in ourselves? We have to believe in ourselves because there is only one of us."
Winston's speech, which was upbeat, energetic and often funny, somehow made mention of superheroes, talking sandwiches and lingering Snickers bars while never straying from his primary message: "Life is an opportunity that can't tell you no." On the football field and in the locker room, he's known for his motivational abilities with teammates, but he's also intent on inspiring young people to get the most out of their lives.
"It's important to me because I want to give back," said Winston. "I want to give any knowledge that I have, anything I can do to give back. Anything I can do to help [students], I want to do that. I really just enjoy putting smiles on these kids' faces. My [younger] brother inspires me to be the type of person that I am today and to be a person that's always focusing on kids."
Winston shared what he considers the three keys to success: God, school and the belief that you can do anything you put your mind to. He stressed the third point repeatedly, often asking for the students to repeat it, and explaining that doing so was a matter of grasping life's opportunities.
"It's the truth," said Winston. "Any opportunity that we get, it cannot verbally tell you no. So we have to grasp it and we have to take advantage of it."
Or, as he told the scholars in conclusion: "Believe in yourself. Have high expectations. Why? Because there's only one you. If there's only one you, don't you want to be the best you in their world?"