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Eagles CB Darby vouches for Bucs QB Winston, says accusation made by Uber driver untrue

Philadelphia Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby has come forward on Sunday to defend his former college teammate, Jameis Winston, against groping allegations made by an Arizona Uber driver.

Darby released a statement — two days after the NFL confirmed it was investigating the female Uber driver’s allegation that Winston groped her — stating that he was in the Uber along with Winston, and that nothing inappropriate happened during the ride.

“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.”

The NFL is currently investigating the allegation made by a female Uber driver who claims that Winston grabbed her crotch while they were waiting at a drive thru. Buzzfeed News initially reported the investigation, and spoke with the driver.

Waiting in line at the drive-thru of Los Betos Mexican Food, “he reached over and he just grabbed my crotch,” Kate said, alleging that Winston held his hand there for three to five seconds and removed it only after she looked up in shock and said, “What’s up with that?”

“I wasn’t just creeped out,” said Kate, who had been driving with Uber for more than two years at that point. (She no longer drives for the service.) “I was frozen.” She described Winston as “very physically imposing.”

“I mean he’s an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 ft 6. I’m not prepared for that. So I completely froze,” she said, worried that she might provoke an unwanted reaction.

According to a Scottsdale Police Department spokesperson, the driver did not call or file a report with the department. The Phoenix Police Department also confirmed that they were not contacted about an incident involving Winston and an Uber driver.

Winston has denied the allegation through a spokesman and then via his own statement, which matches Darby’s, saying “the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.”

Winston and Darby were in Arizona for Kurt Warner’s annual “Ultimate Football Experience” event during the weekend that the incident allegedly occurred.

Lisa Friel, the NFL’s Special Counsel for Investigations, confirmed that the league found out about the Winston case last week, and shortly after launched the league’s investigation.

The league’s investigation was first reported Friday by BuzzFeed, which viewed a letter it said was sent from Friel to the Uber driver.

While it is considered standard practice for the NFL to make an inquiry to see if there is any information available, the league already has sidestepped the rules, which it has been accused of doing in the past.

According to ESPN, as of Sunday morning, the NFL still had not informed the NFL Players Association that there now is an investigation of one of its players, which it is required to do.

This raises more questions about the NFL’s checkered history into looking into high-profile cases that involve high-profile stars. Many around the league are bracing for another long, drawn out, messy process with Winston, one of the league’s most popular young players.

This is not the first time that Darby has defended Winston.

Darby and former FSU defensive end Chris Casher said they were in Winston’s apartment the night Winston was accused of sexually assaulting FSU student Erica Kinsman in December 2012.

Darby and Casher provided authorities with affidavits indicating they saw Winston having consensual sex with Kinsman, but then they later refused to testify at a student conduct code hearing regarding the allegations. Winston was never criminally charged by authorities in the incident, and he was cleared of violating FSU’s student conduct code by a retired Florida state supreme court justice.

FSU officials reached a $950,000 settlement with Kinsman in January 2016 after she sued the university in federal court. She later reached an undisclosed settlement with Winston in December 2016.

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