The Miami Dolphins fined and suspended safety Don Jones for tweeting “Omg” and “horrible” after ESPN aired a live feed of Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend after he became the first openly gay male athlete drafted to the National Football League.
The Dolphins’ swift action to fine Jones and ban him from team practices until he undergoes sensitivity training, has a lot of people up in arms.
Jones publicly apologized Sunday in a statement: “I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media. I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment.”
One could argue that Jones’ comments were inappropriate and merit a degree of scorn from the general public. But punishing the man for expressing himself on Twitter, an expression lodged at a potential opponent, while away from the workplace, is an overreaction on the part of the NFL. And this isn’t the first time an NFL player has made homophobic remarks on Twitter and elsewhere. Those comments, for the most part, are ignored by their teams and the rest of society. Jones should not have received such a harsh punishment for his tame remarks.
I have written before that most people (99.99%) don’t care about who their favorite sports players chose to and chose not to have sex with. People just want to watch and enjoy the game, not have a player’s sex life scandalized or celebrated on national TV. It’s cheap and unnecessary.
As a private company, the NFL can do whatever it deems necessary to protect its brand. However, this won’t be the last time that a player is caught expressing a view that 100% of the world won’t agree with. The NFL better be concerned about its fan base and striking a balance in its reaction to the next controversial tweet or social screed.
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