Officials at Florida State University are attempting to stop the production of t-shirts that depict freshman quarterback Jameis Winston as Jesus, arguing that the fan memorabilia has offended some on campus as being sacrilegious. Additionally, the school says it could get in trouble for not actively stopping profit from a player's image.
The t-shirts are reportedly being sold by one student, who has chosen to remain anonymous, for $20 per shirt. The piece of clothing depicts an image of Winston's face on the body of Jesus, with his right hand raised in the sign of a blessing and a halo over his head. On Winston's chest reads his jersey number, "5," illuminated by light, and above his head reads the caption: "The Chosen One, 2013."
The shirt is supposed to reflect Winston's successful season with the Seminoles, as the freshman quarterback has recorded six touchdowns and one interception in the past two games and successfully connected nearly 90 percent of his passes.
Evidently, fans at Florida State University in Tallahassee, Fla. see Winston as a possible candidate for this year's Heisman Trophy, a coveted award given annually to the person named the most outstanding player in collegiate football. As Yahoo! Sports writes, the shirt's message may be a "tad premature," describing Winston as a "redshirt freshman in his first college football September." However, Winston's impressive performance so far, coupled with the fact that redshirt freshman Johnny Manziel of the Texas A&M Aggies won the Hesiman last year, could give Florida State University a lot of hope for Winston's possible win.
According to TMZ, the college has sent a cease and desist letter to the student distributing "The Chosen One" t-shirts at games, arguing that those on campus at the university find the memorabilia to be offensive. Also, the school could technically get in trouble for not preventing a profit being made off of Winston's image. No college players are allowed to make a profit off of their status as a member of their football team. The 2012 Heisman winner Johnny Manziel was temporarily suspended at the beginning of the 2013 season after the National Collegiate Athletic Association determined that he had signed autographs for brokers that could profit off of the memorabalia.
Readers have taken to the internet to express their support or disapproval for the "The Chosen One" t-shirts. While some argue that the t-shirts are humorous, others argue that they are blasphemous and offensive.
"Why on earth would you create a blasphemous image and try to sell it in the 'Bible Belt'? No wonder he only sold 100 at last week's game! See, the stadium seats about 10,000 people and is usually packed on game day. Yes, he has the right to free speech, but that doesn't mean what he has to say is worth listening to," wrote one reader on the TMZ comments.