Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston says he "used a poor word choice" when he told female students at a Florida elementary school that ladies are "suppose to be silent."
While speaking to third- through fifth-graders at Melrose Elementary School in St. Petersburg, Winston intended to inspire the students with his three rules of life: God, school and the idea that "I can do anything I put my mind to," according to the Tampa Bay Times.
But when some of the male students appeared to be bored by the speech, Winston's attempt to energize them seemed to disparage the females in the room, the Times reported.
"But all my boys, stand up. We strong, right? We strong! We strong, right? All my boys, tell me one time: I can do anything I put my mind to," Winston said. "Now a lot of boys aren't supposed to be soft-spoken. You know what I'm saying? One day y'all are going to have a very deep voice like this. One day, you'll have a very, very deep voice."
He continued: "But the ladies, they're supposed to be silent, polite, gentle. My men, my men (are) supposed to be strong."
Winston later told the paper that he misspoke and his comments have overshadowed a larger message.
"I was making an effort to interact with a young male in the audience who didn't seem to be paying attention, and I didn't want to single him out so I asked all the boys to stand up," Winston said. "During my talk, I used a poor word choice that may have overshadowed that positive message for some."
The NFL quarterback has spent much of his pro career trying to rehabilitate his public image after a career at Florida State that was marred by several off-field controversies.
Winston was accused of sexual assault by a fellow student in 2012, but was never charged with the crime. He settled a civil lawsuit in Decemeber filed by the woman.
He led the Seminoles to a national title and won the Heisman Trophy in 2013.