Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston has been suspended for the first three games of the NFL season, the league announced Thursday.
That means he will miss the Bucs’ Week 2 game against the Eagles in Philadelphia on Sept. 16.
Winston was suspended following an NFL investigation into claims that Winston groped a female Uber driver in Scottsdale, Ariz., in March 2016.
According to Buzzfeed News, which originally reported the story in November 2017, Winston got into the driver’s car around 2 a.m. and grabbed her crotch while they were waiting in a drive-thru line. At the time, Winston denied the allegations.
The NFL said in a statement that its investigation examined interviews, telephone and business records and data from electronic devices. It found that Winston had violated the league’s personal conduct policy.
The statement also says Winston is “required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention.” If he fails to do so, he could be punished again — and possibly banned from the NFL.
In a statement obtained by the NFL Network’s Ian Rapoport, Winston apologized to the driver, saying it was “uncharacteristic” of him to act that way.
“In the past 2 1/2 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,” he said in a statement. “I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field. … I apologize to my teammates, the Buccaneers organization and fans for letting them down and for not being able to be out there for the first three games of the season.”
Winston’s suspension means the top quarterback on the depth chart for the Bucs will be Ryan Fitzpatrick, who appeared in six games for Tampa Bay last season.
The Eagles and Bucs haven’t faced each other in the regular season since November 2015, when the Bucs pounded the Eagles 45-17. Winston threw four touchdown passes in that game.
>>READ MORE: Game-by-game breakdown of the Eagles’ 2018 schedule