Leave it to the NFL draft to bring out the worst in some current and retired NFL players. Memo to you all: In case you haven’t figured it out, when something noteworthy or historic happens — like the St. Louis Rams drafting the NFL’s first openly gay player — the media is looking for a reaction. We know you’re going to react. If you react in a negative way, it WILL blow up in a bad way and reputations will be tarnished.
Let’s begin with former NFL running back Derrick Ward. After seeing defensive end Michael Sam kiss his boyfriend on ESPN following Sam’s selection by the Rams, Ward ran to the Twitter machine and threw darts.
Man U got little kids lookin at the draft. I can't believe ESPN even allowed that to happen.
— Derrick Ward (@derrickward32) May 10, 2014
But for real though most of u need to read the bible. It'll explain a lot in that book. #knowledge
— Derrick Ward (@derrickward32) May 11, 2014
Ward’s Twitter mentions went crazy.
Ward later backtracked and said even if Sam would have kissed a woman, he would have said the same thing — but it was too late. Google “Derrick Ward” now and he’s forever associated with his instant, negative response to Sam’s kiss. When you’re a retired player, you can’t count on many new stories coming out to bump those search results down.
Now we move on to Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones.
When he heard Sam had been drafted by the Rams, the second-year player tweeted “OMG” and “horrible.” The tweets were quickly deleted, but, again, it didn’t matter. He also locked down his account and “protected” his tweets. Again, too late. The damage had been done.
Now Jones’ and his team are taking heat and his general manager is being forced to speak about the issue, distracting from the Dolphins’ draft.
“I was disappointed in those comments,” Dolphins general manager Dennis Hickey said. “That’s not what we stand for as an organization. The draft weekend is the culmination for so many players of their lifetime achievement of their dream to achieve their goal. For Michael Sam, for all the other players, it’s such a great celebration as they begin their future. We’re going to sit down with Don Jones and address (the tweet) appropriately.”
It’s unfortunate that anyone has to address anything, but social media lessons are painful and the medium’s power gets stronger every day.
Update: The Miami Dolphins announced Sunday night defensive back Don Jones was fined and excused from team activities until he undergoes sensitivity training.
>> Click here to read about Scott’s Social Media Boot Camp
I recently spoke to the senior class at Brother Martin High School about the benefits and pitfalls of social media. It’s an important subject I enjoy speaking about, and as the students wrap up their high school careers and set their sights on college, I think it’s critical for them to realize how easily a 140 character tweet, Facebook post or Instragram picture can haunt them, literally, forever.
When it comes to social media, you never know what’s going to stick. I use numerous real-life examples (including one that involves me) that are certainly attention-getting.
I enjoyed the talk and the students were attentive, receptive and responsive. For anyone interested, I can customize my presentation for any size group.
Speaking about the benefits and pitfalls of social media in life, family and career is something I’m very passionate about. Too many good careers and reputations have been torched because of an ill-advised Facebook post or tweet.
CEOs, student-athletes, professional athletes, teachers, broadcasters, Public Relations executives and other professionals have all screwed up. Social media stupidity is far-reaching and does not discriminate.
I’ve won several social media awards and am active on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram daily. Plus, I actually work in the media… unlike a lot of the people who claim to be social media experts. I like to say I have a lot of experience practicing what I preach.
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I believe that no matter what stage of life we’re in, we never stop learning about social media. It’s constantly evolving and we should always be getting better at it.
My presentations typically last 60-90 minutes and cover social media platforms, statistics, branding, responsibility, stupidity and more. The real-life examples I use are informative, entertaining and, often, gasp inducing. Timing of the presentations can be adjusted and, as noted earlier, they are fully customizable.
Here is some feedback shared on Twitter from the last presentation I did for the Senior class at Brother Martin High School:
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