He’s been playing all this time while struggling to see.
Jameis Winston completed the seemingly-impossible in 2019: A 30-30 year. That’s throwing for over 30 touchdowns AND 30 interceptions in the same season. It’s the kind of stellar unreliability that’s become a hallmark of the Buccaneers quarterback’s career, but now Winston thinks he might have an answer to his problems.
After five years in the NFL, Winston is going to get LASIK eye surgery, hoping his corrected vision will cut down his mistakes going forward. This is a sensible thing to do: Being able to see properly is generally helpful while playing sports. It’s unclear if Winston was wearing any corrective lenses up to this point. It would be silly if he wasn’t because football is a contact sport (editor’s note: SB Nation officially apologizes for this joke).
Winston struggling to see on the field isn’t exactly a new phenomenon. Back in 2013 ESPN published a piece about his squinting habit while at Florida State. At the time Winston admitted to needing corrective lenses, but said he didn’t play in his contacts because it was “uncomfortable to wear them when playing.”
“I squint a lot. It looks like I’m squinting now. I just do that. It’s a habit,” Winston said Wednesday while not wearing his contacts during his weekly news conference.
This propensity for squinting definitely followed Winston into the NFL. Even a casual image search will surface dozens of images of the Buccaneers QB appearing to be struggling to see on the field.
It seems completely preposterous a professional athlete would play at the highest level for years without being able to see properly, but here we are. The common misconception is that squinting causes a physiological change, somehow altering eyeball shape and improving clarity. This is not true. In reality, squinting changes how much light is entering the eye itself. It limits the amount of light allowed in to the retina, which in turn narrows peripheral vision, allowing a person to focus more accurately on what they’re trying to see.
This might be OK in a crowded restaurant when you’re trying to see the menu, but limiting your peripheral vision on a football field is far from ideal. You could miss everything from a receiver making a cut, to a pass rusher, to — I don’t know — a safety breaking on a route so he can intercept the ball.
In other words, there really might be something to this. If Winston can throw 33 touchdowns without being able to see properly it could be amazing when he’s actually able to see the defensive backs trying to break up his passes. It’s worth a shot, right?