The Jack Nicklaus defense tour has reached college football.
After the 18-time major champion came out in support of Tom Watson's recent Ryder Cup captaincy, Nicklaus spoke to the Palm Beach Post over the weekend about Florida State football star Jameis Winston. The reigning Heisman Trophy winner, Winston is currently under fire for potentially receiving cash in exchange for signing autographs but according to Nicklaus, the criticism of the quarterback is overblown.
"I just hate to see them hammering a 20-year-old kid," Nicklaus said. "Has he made mistakes? Maybe. But you’re supposed to be innocent until proven guilty, I think. Not charged and convicted and sentenced."
Nicklaus is not exactly an unbiased observer - his grandson, Nick O'Leary, is the Seminoles' starting tight end, and Nicklaus has been seen sporting garnet and gold at several games. Still, the 74-year-old is certainly an expert on signing autographs, and he is willing to give Winston the benefit of the doubt in this case.
"I wonder how many autographs I have out there. Every game I go to I sign, probably 20 or 25 (people) and four or five each. Start adding that up," he said. "And he’s a lot more available than I am. He’s not the only kid with a couple thousand out there. A bunch of those kids have to have a couple thousand.”