The New York Post released an article Tuesday recounting a disgusting barrage of tweets that New York Giants running back Brandon Jacobs was subjected to before and after the The Giants faced the Minnesota Vikings at Metlife Stadium. Jacobs exposed the idiot who threatened him and his family as well as another self-centered fantasy football participant who thought Jacobs owed him a personal injury report before fantasy lineups locked on Sunday by saving the screen-shots of the tweets.
I will not dignify the hooligan who threatened Jacobs and his family yesterday by referring to him as a fantasy football player. He is a cyber-bullying thug. He thought he could anonymously threaten a player and his family using a hobby as an excuse and nothing would be done. Well now his family and friends know what an idiot he is and hopefully some fans see this as a warning. It's fanatics and hooligans like this guy that ruin the the social media experience for players and for real fans.
I hate to break it to some of you out there, but professional athletes care less about your fantasy sports team than I do about the dangers of carbohydrates. They literally put their lives at risk to provide entertainment for us. If you think that I'm being melodramatic please watch some clips of former Philadelphia Eagles' fullback Kevin Turner's visit to former Oakland Raiders' fullback Steve Smith's home. They both suffer from ALS after sacrificing their bodies on the football field each and every Sunday. Jermichael Finley suffered a terrible neck injury this weekend against the Cleveland Browns, and still some idiots had the nerve to complain about how it affected their fantasy football teams.
Cyber-bullying is a foreign concept to me. If I was bullied when I was growing up, it was to my face and I had my chance at recourse. Being the behemoth that I am it hardly ever happened and when my friends fell victim they always had me to come to the rescue. The children of today are so connected yet so isolated. They have face-time, Skype, Twitter, Facebook, Google+, snap-chat, to stay in touch at all times. Think about that. There is zero privacy. People can say whatever they want to you at any time even if you don't want to communicate with them. When I was a kid and didn't want to talk to people I would just hang out at home and unplug the answering machine with the very cutting edge background music taped from MTV's Headbanger's ball.
I was a child of the late '70s and '80s. I was introduced to AOL in high school and only used AIM to talk to the three or four friends who actually had a computer. I use Facebook now to keep up with family and friends who have scattered across the country, and I use Twitter to interact with like-minded sports and pop-culture fans. Whether it's a late night conversation about a controversial call in a big game or reminiscing about how much we loved Rocky IV, it's mainly been a positive experience.
There are the occasional wackos that berate me for telling them to bench a player that goes off, but it's never gotten to the point of a threat. I don't even give these fantasy football fanatics the satisfaction of a rebuttal. That's what most of these wackos want. They want you to notice them and engage them. Any attention, even negative attention, makes them feel good. I try to be as courteous as possible because you never know who you're dealing with. These people take the pastime or hobby of fantasy football way too far.
I regularly send tweets or messages to professional athletes on Twitter and Facebook. Probably once a month. Almost every time it has been to give them words of encouragement or ask how they were doing after a surgery or a tough loss. Many of our New York Giants are glad to reach out and have a short Twitter conversation to let you know they appreciate the support. If they don't reply, I completely understand that they lead very busy lives and are not there to answer each and every tweet they receive. When they do reply I get a big kick out of having short back and forth. I can't imagine how much a young fan would enjoy the same experience. If I was able to send a tweet to Mark Bavaro or Lawrence Taylor when I was 10 years old and they answered me back I may have died on the spot. Just recently I sent a tweet to Andre Brown about his recovery from surgery and we had a nice back and forth while he searched for ice cream.
This amount of interaction is amazing to me. I remember sitting with my neighbor growing up, and he would tell me that some of his beloved Brooklyn Dodgers used to live right on his street growing up. They would go to the same stores and even attend the same church. They would congratulate the Dodger players after a big win and try and lift their spirits after a tough loss. I was so jealous hearing this. I couldn't imagine seeing Don Mattingly or Dave Winfield walking on my block or sitting behind me in church. I'm sure it would become old hat after a while if that was the norm, but things like that hadn't been the norm since the 1940s.
Now we have a different kind of glimpse into the personal lives of professional athletes and celebrities. We follow them on Twitter to see their conversations. We follow them on Instagram to see all the interesting places they go. We follow them on Facebook so we can see when their next personal appearance might be. Some players use social media strictly as a platform for their business while others use it to help shape their public persona for future jobs. I remember earlier this year Chris Perez of the Cleveland Indians was one of the funniest pitchers on Twitter and regularly interacted with his fans. Then he went through a tough stretch trying to save games while he was injured and the hooligans rained down on him. He immediately closed his Twitter account and one of the best athlete Twitter feeds was lost. (This all happened before his dog received an infamous shipment).
My suggestion to everyone is to treat social media interactions as if you were being taped. Would you want your parents or co-workers to see what you typed? How about your family or friends? If the answer is no, then for the love of God, don't hit send. People have been fired from their jobs and lost their loved ones over what has been said on social media. Even though we tend to put professional athletes and celebrities on a pedestal and think they are not of this world, they are human beings first and should be treated with respect. Even A-Rod. (at least I think he's human)
So the next time Hakeem Nicks drops a pass or David Wilson fumbles a ball please don't feel the need to remind them on Twitter or Facebook. I'm sure they feel bad enough as it is. Besides, a true fan would be trying to build them up instead of tearing them down.