Wednesday, May 11, 2011

TWEET, TWEET, TWEET...AND BOOM GOES THE ATHLETE

The only thing more dangerous than Plaxico Burress with a
gun, is an athlete with a Twitter account. From Rashard Mendenhall,
who defended bin Laden, to Cappie Poindexter, who suggested
the Japanese got what they deserved when a Tsunami tore through
its country, athletes have injected the social media network with
stupid.

Last fall, seemingly moments after dropping a game-winning TD
pass against the Pittsburgh Steelers, Stephen Johnson of the Bills
tweeted God, questioning how he could allow that to happen.

What's next? Mark Sanchez tweeting the world the phone number
of his 16-year old girlfriend?

Twitter and athletes are forming a dangerous brew. It's a toxic
mix that is vaporizing reputations and poisioning credibility. Next
time an athlete logs on to tweet, they should get zapped by
an electric fence when a stupid thought attempts to leave their
brain.

Brett Favre should thank his lucky stars he never figured out
how to use Twitter or he could have really screwed up his
legacy for more than he did when he texted pictures of his pee-pee
to the opportunist, Jenn Sterger. Favre and his inner most thoughts
tweeted to the world? That could've been ugly. Real ugly.

There is a reason why athletes get paid to play and not to say.
God blessed them with incredible athletic gifts to run fast, jump
high, and throw unhittable gas. They should stick with what they
know and not be a know-it-all when it comes to politics, religion,
and the gross national product.

Athletes should keep their tweeter accounts in their holster, and
thoughts to themself. Now, there are some thoughtful, intelligent
athletes, like Stanford-educated Jeremy Gutherie who use their
accounts wisely and give us some things to pontificate.

He  recently questioned why Major League Baseball fined White
Sox manager $20,000 Ozzie Guillen for tweeting after getting
thrown out of a game, while the league does nothing when players
like Derek Lowe and Miquel Cabrera get DUI's during the season.

However, most of these athletes should stay away from making
comments when it comes to politics, current events, or even
their colleagues. After Jay Cutler of the Chicago Bears bailed
on his team in the NFC championship because of an injury,
Maurice Jones Drew of Jacksonville sent a tweet that basically
said that Cutler was a coward. Of course, the Jaguars running
back started back-peddling after he got criticized for throwing
his NFL bretheren under the bus. MJD later said he was "just kidding."

That seems to be the excuse athletes tend to use after making
a stupid comment. Just kidding. Isn't that what Reggie Bush said
after the former Heisman-tropy winning and then losing running
back tweeted the world how about how much he was enjoying
the NFL lockout? Bush ignited a firestorm bigger than the one his
former girlfriend, Kim Kardashian creates when she takes a walk
on the beach in front of the papparazzi, wearing a Barbie-sized bikini.
To douse the flames, Bush tossed out the, "just kidding" thing.

Before the lockout, Seattle QB Matt Hasselback made light of
the comments made by Antonio Cromartie, who had suggested the
players needed to get a deal done soon. (Because he had to feed
nine kids). Hasselback knew what he said was wrong, and deleted
the tweet. Too late. Cromartie found out about it and threatened
to kick Hasselback's backside in front of the entire world.

These athletes, and everyone else who hops on the social media
network, sometimes fail to realize, that once you hit "send" your
tweets and thoughts are in the cyberworld in some way, shape, or
form, forever. We can't take things back. Damage done. Horse
out of the barn. Stupid spewing out of your mouth.

Why do the athletes feel compelled to share their inner most
thoughts with the world? Do they want the instant gratification of seeing an
"LOL" or an "OMG, that's funny."? Do they want to hear
from all the jock-sniffers and star chasers, whom they blow
off after the games for autographs, but respond to them with a
tweet?

Personally, I think "Tweeting" is ridiculous and as Betty White
said about Facebook, "an utter waste of time". Why do you have
to update everyone that you're breathing? Why do you have to
tell everyone you're stuffing your face at Chik-Fil-A and the
cashier looks like Pee Wee Herman? People care about that
stuff? Really?

Back to the regularly scheduled story and Mendenhall. The Steelers
running back questioned why people celebrated the death of bin
Laden when most people didn't even know the number one terrorist
in the world. Oh, boy. Not a good move. Champion, the sports apparel
company, whom Mendenhall had an endorsment deal with, dropped
him quicker than it took Tiger to barrel down his driveway, run
over that fire-hydrant, and ruin his life.

His own team, the Steelers, distanced themselves, without cutting
Mendehall outright, by sending out a release, saying they supported
the president and the operation. Mendenhall is now a pariah in
Pittsburgh (until he scores his next touchdown) and even his
response and excuse for his thoughts went unheard and he was
unforgiven.That tweet will follow Mendenhall for the rest of his
career and life. Sad, but true. That's how life works.

If you, me, or Winnie the Pooh tweet something about bin Laden
or the disaster in Japan, nobody cares. But when you're a pro
athlete, everything is noted. There is some blood-thirsty reporter
out there looking for a negative tweet and looking to make a name
for himself by scooping everyone else out there. With the Facebook,
Twitter, and everything else that comes with the Internet, news is
instant and so is controversy

While freedom of speech still exists, its against a lot of people's
standards, especially your employers, to tell everybody your
stupid thoughts. It won't be long before sports franchises try to
have language written into players' contracts banning them from
having twitter accounts. They'll do it to save the athletes from
themselves, and the team from embarrassment.

Will these athletes learn from Mendehall? A few might. But Reggie
Bush didn't learn from Mendenhall, who didn't learn from Poindexter,
who didn't learn Ocho Cinco Johnson, or whatever his name is, who
got fined $25,000 for tweeting during halftime of a pre-season.

There will be more inflammatory and reputation-crushing tweets
from athletes in the future. It could be today, tomorrow, or next
week. But they will be coming, and if history tells us anything,
they will be a lot worse than Mendenhall's tweet about bin Laden.

Pro athletes: Put away the Twitter accounts before you hurt yourself
and somebody else--again.

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