Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been banned for the first three games of the NFL regular season for violating the league’s personal conduct policy.
The decision came at the conclusion of an ongoing league investigation into an alleged incident with an Uber driver in 2016.
The league concluded that “Winston violated the Personal Conduct Policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate.”
Responding to the ban, Winston said in a statement: “First and foremost, I would like to say I’m sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologise.
“In the past two-and-a-half years my life has been filled with experiences, opportunities and events that have helped me grow, mature and learn, including the fact that I have eliminated alcohol from my life.
“I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and team-mates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me.
“I apologise to my team-mates, the Buccaneers organisation and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season.
“Although I am disappointed in the NFL’s decision, I understand the NFL’s process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.
“I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.”
Tampa Bay opens the 2018/19 season against the Saints in New Orleans before hosting the Super Bowl champion Philadelphia Eagles and then facing the Pittsburgh Steelers at Raymond James Stadium.
Last year, Winston completed 63.8 per cent for 3,504 yards with 19 touchdown passes and 11 interceptions.