Jameis Winston suspended for 3 games for incident with driver

Jameis Winston's punishment is now official.

The Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback has been suspended for the first three games of the regular season for violating the NFL's personal conduct policy, the league announced Thursday. News of Winston's punishment was first reported by NFL Network Insider Ian Rapoport.

Winston won't appeal the ban since it is part of a "negotiated settlement," a source told NFL Network's Tom Pelissero. The suspension stems from a female Uber driver accusing Winston of groping her in Scottsdale, Arizona, in March 2016.

The NFL "concluded that Winston violated the personal conduct policy by touching the driver in an inappropriate and sexual manner without her consent and that disciplinary action was necessary and appropriate." As part of of his discipline, Winston is required to obtain a clinical evaluation and fully cooperate in any recommended program of therapeutic intervention.

"A failure either to obtain the evaluation or to cooperate with treatment will result in further discipline," the league said in a statement. "In addition, a future violation of the personal conduct policy will result in more substantial discipline, including a potential ban from the NFL."

Winston, 24, quickly responded to the league's decision in a statement obtained by Rapoport:

The NFL informed me today that I will be suspended for the first three games of the season.

I'm sorry to the Uber driver for the position I put you in. It is uncharacteristic of me and I genuinely apologize. 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.

I know I have to hold myself to a higher standard on and off the field and that I have a responsibility to my family, community, and teammates to live above the platform with which God has blessed me. 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. Although I am disappointed in the NFL's decision, I understand the NFL's process, and I embrace this as an opportunity to take advantage of the resources available to help me achieve the goals that I have for myself.

I now look forward to putting this behind me and I will continue to work hard every day to be a positive influence in my community and be the best person, teammate and leader I can be.

Winston's apology comes after he publicly denied the allegations last November.

Kate, the woman who accused Winston of groping her, issued a statement Friday obtained by NFL.com:

I am glad to see the NFL discipline Jameis Winston. I do appreciate his apology, even if it needs some work.

I would like to publicly acknowledge the NFL investigators, particularly Lisa Friel and John Iannerelli, for their kind, professional and thorough investigation.

My experience should highlight the importance of believing women when they have the courage to come forward about sexual assault. Perhaps that night could have been prevented if others had been believed before me.

Mr. Winston once said, "Girls should be silent, polite and gentle." I disagree.

#MeToo

Winston's absence will cause him to miss games against the Saints, Eagles and Steelers before returning in time for Tampa's Week 4 meeting with the Bears. The suspension formally begins Sept. 1 and is scheduled to end Sept. 25.

"All members of our organization are expected to conduct themselves in according with the personal conduct policy of the NFL," the Buccaneers said in a statement. We are disappointed that Jameis put himself in a position that has been found to violate the policy and accept today's decision by the commissioner."

The suspension leaves Ryan Fitzpatrick and Ryan Griffin to battle for the temporary starting spot. The Bucs also have Austin Allen on the roster.

Chalk it up as a concerning career turn for Winston, who is under contract with the Bucs through next season.