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
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.
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