NFL Player Tells Elementary School Class That Girls Are "Supposed to Be Silent"

He later said he "used a poor word choice" but did not apologize.

Jameis Winston with football helmet resting on top of his head.
(Image credit: Getty Images)

While speaking to a class at Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Florida, on Wednesday, Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston, 23, told students they could do anything they put their minds to. While attempting to motivate them, he ultimately stereotyped each gender and implied the girls in the class were not as physically or mentally strong as the boys were, the Tampa Bay Times reports.

"All my young boys, stand up. The ladies, sit down," Winston said during his talk:

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 [in deep voice]. One day, you'll have a very, very deep voice.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!

Though the kids appeared to not think twice about the comment at first, a few parents in attendance reportedly expressed concern immediately but did not want to speak publicly with the paper about it.

Bonnie Volland, a speech pathologist at the school, did speak out, saying, "We've been working so hard with our students giving them hopes and dreams and helping them raise their expectations. In the beginning, it was so good because he was talking about, 'You can do it!' and really giving our students a positive message." She told the Times "One of the girls turned around and looked at me and said, 'I'm strong, too.'"

When asked about that particular part of his 40-minute speech later, Winston told the paper "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," and that "during my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some." He did not apologize.

Earlier on Thursday, he retweeted his team's praise of his talk, quickly followed by a tweet with a Bible verse.

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According to ESPN, Winston has been trying to rehab his image since he was accused of sexually assaulting a fellow student at Florida State University five years ago. Though Winston was never charged for the assault, the university ultimately paid the alleged victim $950,000 as settlement for a lawsuit she filed about how they handled her Title IX complaint.

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Tess Koman covers breaking (food) news, opinion pieces, and features on larger happenings in the food world. She oversees editorial content on Delish. Her work has appeared on,, and