Injured Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston issued a statement Friday denying an allegation that he groped a female Uber driver in March 2016.
The driver, identified as "Kate," told BuzzFeed News that she picked up Winston in Scottsdale, Ariz. at 2 a.m. on the morning of Sunday, March 13. Kate said Winston "behaved poorly" during the ride, at one point shouting homophobic slurs at pedestrians, before asking if they could stop for food.
While waiting in the drive-thru line at a Mexican restaurant, Kate said Winston "reached over and he just grabbed my crotch." She told BuzzFeed Winston kept it there for three to five seconds and only removed it after she looked at him and said, "What's up with that?"
"I mean he's an NFL quarterback and I’m 5 [feet] 6 [inches]. I’m not prepared for that," Kate told BuzzFeed. "So I completely froze."
Kate said she filed a complaint with Uber after her ride with Winston, but declined to file charges because, as she put it, "I didn’t want to be publicly known as the woman who Jameis Winston groped."
NFL spokesman Brian McCarthy told Fox News in an email that Kate's allegation had been "shared with the NFL and we have reached out to Uber to request any information they may have."
The Buccaneers, who drafted Winston with the first overall pick in 2015, issued a statement of their own saying they were obtaining further information about the report.
"We take these matters seriously and are fully supportive of the investigation that is being conducted by the NFL."
In his statement Friday, Winston said, "I believe the driver was confused as to the number of passengers in the car and who was sitting next to her.
"The accusation is false, and given the nature of the allegation and increased awareness and consideration of these types of matters, I am addressing this false report immediately," Winston added. "At the time of the alleged incident, I denied the allegations to Uber, yet they still decided to suspend my account.
"I am supportive of the national movement to raise awareness and develop better responses to the concerns of parties who find themselves in these types of situations, but this accusation is false," the statement concluded. "While I am certain that I did not make any inappropriate contact, I don’t want to engage in a battle with the driver and I regret if my demeanor or presence made her uncomfortable in any way."
Winston, who led Florida State to the 2013 BCS National Championship, was accused of sexual assault by a fellow FSU student in 2012. The accuser filed a federal civil suit against Winston and the parties settled this past December.
Winston has been sidelined since Nov. 5 with an injury to his throwing shoulder. He had completed 61.4 percent of his passes and thrown 10 touchdowns and six interceptions before the injury.
The Buccaneers, who have a 3-6 record, face the Miami Dolphins Sunday afternoon.