In the wake of last weekend’s George Zimmerman “not guilty” verdict, a number of high profile NFL players, primary among them wide receivers Roddy White of Atlanta and the New York Giants’ Victor Cruz, reacted defiantly via their respective Twitter accounts.
Despite negative blowbacks from a number of previous tweets, White, who seems to revel in being a lightning rod of sorts, almost as much as he enjoys his status as a four-time Pro Bowl player and arguably the greatest receiver in Falcons’ history, suggested that the six jurors in the high-profile case involving the shooting death of teen Trayvon Martin, “should go home tonight and kill themselves . . .” Cruz predicted that Zimmerman “(won’t) last a year before the hood catches up to him.”
In West Lafayette, Indiana, where he operates a company that addresses the use of social media and the ramifications that can accompany it, Kevin Long cringed.
OK, not really. But at one time, Long might have cowered. Just not anymore.
“It’s almost gotten to the point where you kind of get used to it,” Long, the founder and CEO of MVP Sports Media Training and U Diligence, told NFP late last week. “We’ve come to expect it. You sort of shake your head, but we’re beyond the shock or surprise now, and personally, I guess I’ve gotten numb to it. These guys react and then, predictably, they issue an apology 24 hours later.”
Not surprisingly, Cruz and White, likely at the prompting of their agents or marketing representatives, complied with the tweet-first-and-regret-it-later cycle regarding their Zimmerman-related rants. Within hours of commenting on the verdict, each player pulled back from his extreme reaction. White, who actually had paired an unprintable expletive with Zimmerman’s name in an earlier message, apologized via Twitter for his imprudence. Cruz did the same and also deleted his tweet about the emotional Florida case, noting that he embraces “encouraging and educating each other” about such passionate societal matters.
But, in light of the latest missteps of NFL players in the world of 140-character outrage and social commentary, this question: When will someone, either from a guy’s supporting entourage or from the franchise that employs him, educate the players about the potential drawbacks of social media excesses? It’s probably a bit na