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June 22, 2018

Report: Early-season Eagles opponent will be missing their starting quarterback

According to Adam Schefter of ESPN, the NFL intends on suspending Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston for the first three games of the regular season.

The suspension stems from an incident in which Winston was accused of groping an Uber driver.

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby, a former teammate of Winston's at Florida State, was involved in the investigation, as he claimed that Winston did not act inappropriately with the alleged victim. 

The Uber driver's attorney contended that Darby was not in the car at all during the incident, and voluntarily attempted to impede the investigation of Winston, per ESPN in November of 2017.

John Clune, who also represented a Florida State student who accused Winston of sexual assault in 2012, tweeted Sunday, "We have asked the NFL this morning to investigate Mr. Darby and are demanding that he immediately turn his phone over to the NFL so the GPS history can be forensically examined."

Darby, who played with Winston at Florida State, released a statement Sunday saying he was in an Uber ride with Winston on March 13, 2016, and vowed that his college teammate did nothing inappropriate with the driver.

"I felt the need to come forward and clarify some inaccurate accounts of the evening of March 13, 2016 when myself, a friend and Jameis Winston took an Uber ride in Arizona," Darby said in his statement. "There were three of us in the car, not just one as has been reported. Myself and Jameis were in the backseat. I am confident that nothing inappropriate in nature happened in the car that evening and Jameis did not have any physical contact with the Uber driver. The accusations are just not true."

With the NFL finding enough credible evidence to impose a suspension of Winston, it will be interesting to see if Darby could face discipline for potentially attempting to impede an investigation.

The Eagles play the Buccaneers in Tampa Week 2 of the 2018 regular season, and Winston is not expected to appeal his suspension, per Rick Stroud of the Tampa Bay Times. The Buccaneers' backup quarterback is Ryan Fitzpatrick, a journeyman quarterback with 119 career starts who is now on his seventh team.

In 2015, during a disastrous season, Winston lit up the Eagles' defense, throwing five touchdown passes in a 45-17 rout. That was Winston's only career game against the Eagles. 

Fitzpatrick, meanwhile, has faced the Eagles five times with five different teams. He is 1-3-1 in his career against Philly, with the most memorable of those games being the "Donovan McNabb didn't know games could end in a tie game" in 2008.

Personally, news of this suspension is unfortunate, as I was planning a feature on "eating W's" with Eagles players the week leading up to that matchup. Bummer.

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