A few NFL players tweeted out ignorant statements to their Twitter followers following the verdict of the George Zimmerman trial, the man on trial in the shooting death of Trayvon Martin. Victor Cruz of the New York Giants and Roddy White of the Atlanta Falcons sent out ignorant comments about the future safety of George Zimmerman after he was found not guilty of the charges against him. It is yet another lesson for athletes about thinking before tweeting, especially with hundreds of thousands of followers readily waiting to read and react to what they write. The New York Jets were able to steer clear of any players making headlines on social media during the fallout following the verdict.
NFL teams, much like any employer, have to be very mindful of what their players are promoting on social media. Twitter seems to have taken the throne as the easiest social media site to cause controversy on, with a 140-character tweet easily posted without a second thought, immediately inserted into the timelines of tons of followers. With emotions running high after a controversial event, such as the George Zimmerman trial, it's fairly easy to make a social media misstep and start a firestorm.
Victor Cruz and Roddy White did just that. It's not about censoring or silencing the players, as they are free to express disagreement with the verdict. Condoning, or appearing to condone or promote violence as a result of the verdict, is the issue at hand here. From Victor Cruz:
"Thoroughly confused. Zimmerman doesn't last a year before the hood catches up to him," Cruz tweeted.
And Roddy White:
"All them jurors should go home tonight and kill themselves for letting a grown man get away with killing a kid," White tweeted.
Both wide receivers ended up apologizing after the fact, but not before many were (justifiably) upset by their public comments. Discussing the trial is one thing, but supporting violence against George Zimmerman or the jurors in the case is impossible to excuse.
The New York Jets figure into this conversation because their players stayed away from making such comments. When a team can avoid such a pitfall during the fallout from a controversial event such as the George Zimmerman trial, the people behind the scenes who stress the importance of being careful about what is said on social media to players deserve credit. Known as the reigning kings of controversy, the Jets avoided making headlines with their words this weekend.