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Should ESPN’s Heather Cox Apologize For Her Post-Game Jameis Winston Interview?

cox winston interviewOn Saturday, Florida State dismantled Duke in the ACC Championship, cementing their status as the country’s best team and setting the stage for a BCS title fight with Auburn. It was a big moment for Jameis Winston, the freshman quarterback who is both a Heisman Trophy favorite and, it must be noted, a recent beneficiary of the American legal system.

(Winston was accused of sexual battery by an unnamed Florida State student, but last week prosecutors decided not to press charges in a very creepy press conference. Winston wasn’t just not guilty — his innocence should never have been questioned, say his legal team.)

Keeping the gravity of the moment in mind, watch Heather Cox’s post-game interview with Winston, if you haven’t seen it already. After starting with a typical cupcake, Cox goes in, with four straight investigation-related questions:

Winston’s lawyer, Tim Jansen, was not pleased with the way the interview went:

Cox, for her part, defended her actions on Monday and said that she was just doing her job as a journalist. From SI.com:

“I certainly knew if we talked to him I needed to ask questions about the [alleged sexual assault] investigation,” Cox said. “I had thought through the way I wanted to handle it and presented the questions to our team. We all decided it was the correct way to handle it. It was not an issue of me going rogue and deciding last-minute that I would ambush him.

Cox said that ESPN asked and received permission from FSU head coach Jimbo Fisher and two football sports information directors regarding asking Winston questions about the investigation. Cox did not forward her questions, nor did FSU officials ask for any questions, according to Cox.

“They were fully aware that I was going to ask about the investigation,” Cox said. “I was never once asked not to ask about the investigation and if I had been asked not to ask those questions, I would have declined to do the interview because I would not have been able to do my job. I think a lot of people out there think I ambushed him (Winston) and went against Coach Fisher and the Florida State PR group, and that is not at all the case. They were fully aware of my intent to ask questions about the investigation.”

Was either side “wrong” for what they did? Subjectively speaking, probably not. Winston leaving Cox in the lurch wasn’t the best look, but he’s a 19-year-old kid who just finished an incredible season — he probably was hoping to answer a few questions with the typical athlete vagueness and leave it at that.

Meanwhile, it’s nice to see a reporter actually going after their interview subject (unlike, say, Jay Glazer’s piece with Richie Incognito). But is five minutes after the ACC Championship really the place for such journalism? Nobody expects anything from post-game interviews except for a guy saying “Both teams played hard,” and other platitudes. It may have been Cox’s persistence that wore Winston down more than anything — four straight questions about an investigation that ultimately went in Winston’s favor seem like overkill.

Plus, I already have the answer to Cox’s last question: He likely didn’t speak during the process because his legal team and family told him not to. There — that was easy.

Should Cox apologize to Winston for putting him on the spot? Or should Jensen get off his high horse? What do you think?


  • Ted Tidwell

    That’s it? Give me a break with the “he’s a 19 year old kid” shit, her questions were all focused on the team and the coach and the way everyone supported him leading up to this point ( except for the last question) To say she is “classless and unprofessional” is a total joke.

  • kicksetc

    What would a person with class do???? If they wouldn’t ask that question then she is classless.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Give me a break, she’s a reporter, none of those questions were out of bounds. She didn’t put him in the position to be at the center of a sexual battery investigation. He’s smart enough to have a lawyer, He’s old enough to be charged as an adult, he should be smart enough to not answer ANY questions, and not just the ones he wants to.

  • kicksetc

    What did that question have to do with that game or the upcoming national championship game? Nothing. She could get hired by TMZ. She had already asked three questions.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Why do reporters ask questions period? The guy just got out of facing charges that could have put him in jail for years, hmmmm “tell me what you were thinking on that throw (in a gimme win against a conference tin can)?” or “how did your coach and team rally around you, in the wake of this investigation” I think the Jameis handled himself well up to the end. This is nontroversey, he could have said this is the only thing I am going to say, after this I won’t answer any more questions with regards to the investigation…I want to put this behind me and focus on moving forward in our goal of winning the BCS title.

  • Zimba Zumba

    Her questions were appalling, I’d never agree to an interview with her again

  • Melinda

    The questions she asked did not pertain to FSU’s game, They were personal. I think it would have been more professional to have asked for an interview at a later date regarding the investigation. I think she caught a 19year old boy in a very important moment in his life and asked questions that had nothing to do with that “moment”

  • Ktime27

    She is a sideline bimbo, NOT Barbara Walters. Inappropriate time and place for those questions as any interviewer worth a salt would know.

  • Anonymous

    His lawyer, who would know because it was the only safe approach to insist for Winston to take, said “FSU officials told her certain areas were off limits during the sideline interview. She agreed and then violated those terms.” Anyone who believes FSU told her she could ask whatever she wanted is a fool. If she didn’t agree to their rules then they wouldn’t have let her near him in the first place.

    If you look/listen to the tape closely after she asked that last question you can notice a few things, someone saying “You guys said nothing about that”, “That’s cheap”. Fisher, who had been standing in view right behind Winston waiting for her to interview him turned and walked away, and the dead giveaway ……… complete dead air for 15 seconds after. Even Herbstreit sounded peed off when he finally did speak. You can bet she got an earful from the crew and her Producer after that little stunt. I’d also bet she won’t be doing any FSU interviews again at the very least. She lied, tried a cheap trick, and thereby violated the team’s trust. She proved herself untrustworthy and that bodes poorly for an aspiring sports reporter.

  • Snidley Whiplash

    Ted Tidwell is just as much of a P.O.S. as Heather Cox. Winston should have bitch slapped that redhead crosseyed skank on tv.

  • Jake

    Personally, I think on-field post-game interviews are one of the worst
    things in sports. A team wants to celebrate a big win with their
    teammates while emotions are high. Stations like ESPN and CBS find a way
    to force the camera and microphone right into a player/coaches face
    within seconds of the game ending.

    These interviews feel so forced, and the person being questioned always
    offers short, meaningless, cliche answers. They don’t want to be talking
    to a random person at that moment, they want to enjoy the win with
    their team while the emotions are still fresh.

    I think sports broadcasts need to get rid of these interviews and just
    wait until the post-game press conference. It gives players/coaches some
    time to gather their thoughts and provide better analysis

  • Nole fan

    It was clear that she was trying to put Jameis on the spot. She will get her turn one day you can’t get away with being rude and hiding behind a camera and get away with it. I pray she thinks about what she has done!

  • Winthorp76

    She did exactly as ESPN wished for her to do. The network has been on an all out assault to prevent Winston from receiving the Heisman trophy. Unfortunately, they will fail in their attempts.

  • not biased

    wow. overreacting much people? she just asked a couple questions. harmless. hes a big boy… chill out and go back to your obviously boring lives

  • Anonymous

    she was a BADGER the questions were BASELESS ..the investigation concluded with NO CHARGES …so what could the guy POSSIBLE ADDRESS? -ummmmm there were no charges there is no case so i have nothing to address……what did she expect ? a confession on national tv ? an admission of guilt ? …NORMAL men understand that women will go on and on about their ex wives girlfriends etc that they met BEFORE them and run their mouths constantly for some women it doesnt even HAVE TO BE SEX a playboy or a poster or a DVD is enough to set them off on a jealous rage …are men supposed to address EVERY accusation by women days weeks years decades after the fact endlessly ….if she had talked about the HEISMEN or the NATIONAL CHAMPIONSHIP she would have been cool but NOOOOOOO she had to dig DIRT she was WAY OUT OF LINE

  • Anonymous

    she was a BADGER the questions were BASELESS ..the investigation
    concluded with NO CHARGES …so what could the guy POSSIBLE ADDRESS?
    -ummmmm there were no charges there is no case so i have nothing to
    address……what did she expect ? a confession on national tv ? an
    admission of guilt ? …NORMAL men understand that women will go on and
    on about their ex wives girlfriends etc that they met BEFORE them and
    run their mouths constantly for some women it doesnt even HAVE TO BE SEX
    a playboy or a poster or a DVD is enough to set them off on a jealous
    rage …are men supposed to address EVERY accusation by women days weeks
    years decades after the fact?

  • SB IS AN Idiot

    First of all your article is inaccurate. Winston was pulled away by FSU media people, he didnt just walk away. Secondly there is a time and place for those questions. FSU had just won the ACC championship and were headed to the National Championship game. Those are the questions that should have been asked.

    To say she wasnt told not to ask those questions is what makes her have no class. Not only her but the entire TMZ wanna be ESPN producers covering the whole story. The Way Mark Schwartz emphasized different words in all his reporting on Winston was an absolute joke.

    People watch ESPN for sports not for sensationalized media

  • SB IS AN Idiot

    One more point to make is if no one at ESPN thought her interview was out of bounds why did they cut out the last part of it when she asked that question? Why are they not playing the whole interview anywhere on ESPN?

  • Naomi Bruce

    She doesn’t need to ‘apologize’ – it is after the fact. Jansen just needs to make sure that she is shut off from speaking to anyone on the FSU sidelines for the next 3 years. That should handle the problem with a person that does not understand how to separate the importance of a ‘team’ winning the ACC championship game from the cheap reporting tactics of TMZ.

  • sleepless in tallahassee

    all is fair in war and rape.

  • Ted Tidwell

    He should have totally done that, I don’t know how you haven’t been chosen to be jameis’s “life coach”.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Why didn’t he respond that way, and why did he agree to an interview? You are a retard if you couldn’t see these questions coming.

  • Ken Harpster

    Probably the most classless, unprofessional interview I’ve ever seen. Cox is a sideline reporter, not a CNN investigative journalist. The game JUST ended, he just won the biggest game of his life and is headed to the title game and she barely even talks about the game, she just starts hammering him with several questions about the investigation (that was already over). There is a time and place for everything, that was not the time and place for those questions, if you think otherwise you are clueless. Those are the kind of questions you ask when you sit down one-on one with someone in an exclusive interview.

    Just shows how far the journalistic standards have fallen at ESPN. They have simply become the TMZ of sports, all you here is drama all the time and just awful analysts/reporters.

  • Ken Harpster

    You are delusional if you cannot see what was wrong with this interview. The kid just won the biggest game of his life, he is headed to the title game and probably gonna win the heisman and she made the whole interview about the investigation which was a completely irrelevant subject. You are supposed to ask questions about the moment and that had nothing to do with the moment, she should have asked for an interview on a later date if she wanted to ask those type of questions. There is a time and place for everything that was not time and place for those questions.

  • Don

    She needs to apologize. Join the Facebook page “fire heather cox”
    . The Chicago Tribune reported on 3/14/13 that 2 unnamed Ohio State players were named in a sexual assault. Have you heard anything about that on ESPN or after their game in an interview? Many are contacting ESPN for an apology and the sponsors of both the ACC and BCS games. FIRE HEATHER COX

  • Ted Tidwell

    I totally feel cheated on the opportunity to listen to a bunch recycled sports cliches during a post game sideline interview i live for those “moments” because its not like I can figure out for myself…from watching the actual game “what he was thinking in -insert situation” or “how he feels” or “how much this victory meant to him and his team”., .. this story (the alleged sexual battery investigation) is so damn “irrelevant” ESPN broke away from its regularly scheduled programming last Thursday to cover it. Ps he’s not a kid, okay…he’s a grown ass man, who can decide what questions to answer. She did her job, and he did his. Its hilarious that he’s a/the man up to the point he is asked a question that makes him feel uncomfortable then he retreats to being a “kid”. If he wants to be a pro athlete perhaps he should just get used to facing questions that he doesn’t like, and maybe learn how to correctly address them.

  • Ken Harpster

    You are stupid as fuck. First of all a 19 year old freshman in college is not a “grown ass man” what an idiotic statement.

    Post game interviews are stupid, you’re right. You always get the same boring cliche answers. Maybe they just shouldn’t do them? Doesn’t mean you ask him those types of questions, that was uncalled for and pathetic. She’s not a CNN investigative journalist, shes a sideline bimbo and those were not the time and place for those questions at all. She did not even come close to “doing here job” her job whether you like it or not is to stand on the sideline and look good and ask a bunch of meaningless questions.

  • Ted Tidwell

    I think I get it, you’re a sexist, 20 something year old guy, caught in a state of perpetual of adolescence, with very little regard for women in general…unless its your mom bringing you your grilled cheese sandwich to your room, every woman is a bimbo not worthy of your respect. What age did you enter manhood dude? For some religions its 13, but the legal standard is the age of majority is 18 bro. Which leads me to ask does your mom know you have snuck out of the basement and are using her computer, You still have people make excuses for your shitty behavior, my guess is yeah.

  • JohnBeezy

    You don’t get it. I think most people would say the questions weren’t the worst thing ever. However there is a time and place for everything. Minutes after winning the biggest game of his life is not the time to grill him about the investigation. I don’t see what is so hard about that.

  • Ken Harpster

    Kid was 18 years old and is currently 19. Just because it makes you a “legal” adult doesn’t make you a “grown ass man” he’s still a teenager!! That’s hardly an age where people are really mature how stupid are you?

    How does sexism play into my response at all LOL? You didn’t even really address what I said. Her questions were inappropriate PERIOD. I don’t know what happened with Winston and that girl no one does except them, not claiming he’s innocent but still b.s. Cox would ambush him like that.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Dip $hit should know better to do an interview….guess his lawyer gave him some bad advice. This back and forth about what qualifies you as a man gets settled when your ass gets charged with a crime as an adult.

  • Ted Tidwell

    I get it. I just don’t give a $hit about everyone’s opinion that the question was out of bounds. He’s a big boy, he should learn to answer those questions. You don’t like them don’t allegedly sexually assault people.

  • Ken Harpster

    He was never charged with a crime!!! Not the lawyers fault they agreed to terms with ESPN about what was to be asked in interview and Cox violated terms. And no one could’ve guessed an ambush like that, maybe 1 question about the investigation or something but to make the whole interview (4 or 5 questions) all about the investigation right after the game like that is not something he could’ve expected. Think we’ll have to agree to disagree about this man take care.

  • Ted Tidwell

    Yeah, I totally disagree. If he doesn’t want to answer questions chain that lawyer to your leg. Questions asked by reporters aren’t always in good taste, or fit the moment. But someone inevitably asks them.

  • Garret24

    I didn’t read this piece because the headline is so obscene. The answer is “no.” Cox asked a perfectly valid journalistic question. Anyone offended by it should check into therapy before they lose control of their misogynistic impulses and rape someone.

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