Antoine Winfield Jr now plays for the Tampa Bay Buccaneers but 12 long months ago he was prepping for bowl season as the ball-hawking, run-stopping, WR-hunting safety for the Minnesota Golden Gophers.
Winfield Jr technically left campus early (RS SO), but due to injuries early in his college career, he spent 4 seasons in maroon and gold. We’ll never forget Antoine, his game-saving plays or that big beautiful smile and as it turns out, he hasn’t forgotten us either.
Here is how Antoine Winfield Jr showed up to his media appearance today, leading up to this weekend’s game between his Tampa Bay Buccaneers and the Minnesota Vikings.
Bucs rookie safety Antoine Winfield Jr. showed up to today’s virtual press conference wearing a Minnesota Gophers sweatshirt. pic.twitter.com/JGetNtJ9II— Chad Graff (@ChadGraff) December 9, 2020
the #Bucs rookie S Antoine Winfield Jr. on playing against his father’s former team: “It is going to be a cool experience being able to play against one of my favorite teams”— Gabrielle Shirley (@WFLAGabrielle) December 9, 2020
The pick that got away… or not?
Winfield Jr has had a monster rookie season in Tampa and is even on the radar for NFC Pro Bowl vote. If you read my desperate pleas for Rick Spielman to draft Antoine, then you won’t be surprised.
I wrote just yesterday about how good Rick’s 2020 draft was… but if he would have picked Winfield instead of Gladney, it would have been ELITE (pun intended).
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Turns out, however, that Rick Spielman was never really interested in drafting Antoine Winfield Jr. According to AJW himself, the Minnesota Vikings never really showed him love during the pre-draft process. So when he saw “one of his favorite teams” pass on him in April, he wasn’t surprised a bit.
I watched Spielman watch Winfield Jr last season. What was he seeing that left him so uninterested? Especially, with a need at CB and S (with Anthony Harris on his way out). When I have my first conversation with Rick Spielman, passing on Antoine Winfield Jr will be my lead sports question.
More love for The U.
This isn’t the first time Winfield has rep’d his University of Minnesota “drip” during public appearances as a Buccaneer. Just last month, he was doing a social media hit for the team and had another of his favorite Gophers sweatshirts on, this one of the black variety. Very sharp.
— Tampa Bay Buccaneers (@Buccaneers) November 20, 2020
For 60 minutes worth of football this Sunday, I want Antoine Winfield Jr to fail. I hope Justin Jefferson runs past him for 200 yards and 3 touchdowns. I want to write a post-game blog about how Winfield Jr punted one for the home-team, who desperately needed a win.
After that, I hope he becomes the greatest safety of all time and I can write countless blogs reminding Rick Spielman about passing on him multiple times.
Eric Strack | Minnesota Sports Fan