Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Look Before You Tweet: A CST Public Service Announcement

My dearly departed and often ahead-of-her-time grandmother used to say to me - her shy, introverted grandson - "Don't let the bird s--t on your head. Open your mouth!" In other words, speak up or you may miss an opportunity, or worse yet, be taken advantage of. In today's media-driven world of instant gratification, athletes are having no trouble opening up wide and letting the Twitter Bird take a dump. Not quite what Grandma had in mind.

On the heels of the so-called King's Karma (Un)Tweet, we now have the Jay Cutler controversy, where several former and current NFL players criticized the Bears pouty QB for, well, basically being a wuss for not playing through a knee injury in the NFC Championship game. Keep in mind, these tweets happened during the game without any information as to the extent of Cutler's injury or who's decision it was to sit him. While this is America and we are entitled to freedom of speech/thought/expression and, as evident by this blog, everyone is entitled to their opinions, it would be nice for those associated with credible media outlets (and there were plenty) to at least be responsible with what they are offering up to the masses. Discounting Cutler's injury based on his body language and expressionless disposition is careless... and is another example of the evils of Twitter. While everyone else opened their mouth, it was Cutler that got crapped on – and from reports that he in fact does have a legitimate knee injury, it was unjustified.

For the record, Cutler had previously missed a total of 1 game in 5 seasons as a starting QB in the NFL. 

Active players especially, like the playoff-less Maurice Jones-Drew of the Jacksonville Jaguars, have absolutely no business commenting on other players. What kind of precedent does it set? Jones-Drew has done his best LeBron imitation, backtracking on his tweet faster than Hollywood Hogan running from Sting, but that's the danger of Twitter - once it's out, it's out.

“Hey I think the urban meyer rule is effect right now… When the going gets tough……..QUIT,” tweeted Jones-Drew, seeming to question Cutler's toughness, while taking a shot at former University of Florida head football coach, Urban Meyer.
Jones-Drew has since denied that he was referring to Cutler. Yeah, and LeBron wasn't talking about the Cavaliers and Cleveland when tweeting about karma. Writing something, then backpedaling and not taking ownership of it - now that's toughness personified.

Was it odd that the starting QB was not coaching up the backups and rooting on his teammates with a chance to go to the Superbowl on the line? Absolutely. But that's Jay Cutler. Some guys, while pissed and disappointed,  may have rallied the troops any way possible. Conversely, Cutler pouts. The reaction, however, does not define the injury.

Speaking from personal experience - 10 years ago a dedicated and versatile soccer player tore his ACL and meniscus during a meaningless indoor game. While in excruciating pain, the player did not want to miss the opportunity to go eat at The Winking Lizard with his teammates after the game. My point - unless you saw those teammates carrying me... errr... I mean this player... to his seat or saw his severe limp and bowling ball sized thing that used to be a knee, you'd never know from observing me... errr... him... enjoy his food, that he was badly injured. Okay, not exactly the same, but you get the point.

I have no connection to Jay Cutler. No doubt his stand-offish attitude and dislike around the league contributed to him being destroyed on Twitter by fellow players. But celebrities... and it seems athletes in particular... need to understand: The Twitter Bird is circling, looking for a target... he just needs someone to open their mouth.