Tim Benz: With tweet, Steelers’ Antonio Brown fuels player-media fire
Antonio Brown’s latest social media controversy involved a member of the Steelers media contingent.
He called Pittsburgh Post-Gazette writer Ed Bouchette a “clown” on Twitter. This incident occurred Monday after Bouchette reported that Brown had limped off the field at one point during practice.
This incident is one of many this offseason illustrating how bad things have gotten between NFL players and the media members that cover them.
• Jacksonville’s Jalen Ramsey got suspended for verbally (and digitally) confronting a reporter who reported on a fight between two teammates. A fight that actually happened.
• Mychal Kendricks popped off at NFL.com’s Ian Rapoport for reporting that he was about to sign with the Browns. Which he eventually did.
• Marquette King needed to be separated from a reporter who was critical of how he handled himself during an interview. Which he deserved.
• Plus, there was Brown’s minicamp lecture against the media for paying too much attention to him. Which was rendered moot when he arrived at training camp in a helicopter.
Aside from that, things have been great.
Gee. For a bunch of guys who claim to hate President Donald Trump so much, they really do love to play the #FakeNews card, don’t they?
There’s a trend here. Across the board, these are examples of players being upset over news getting to the public that they didn’t want to be known.
Brown didn’t want it to be known he might have been limping. Kendricks didn’t want it known he was about to sign before a late offer could have arrived. Ramsey didn’t want it known his teammates were fighting. King didn’t want it known he was a jerk during an interview he probably hoped would never air.
So the strategy is to use your own social media platform to discredit the source of the information, even if the facts are correct.
Sound familiar? #FakeNews!
For instance, last season on Twitter, a Steelers player denied a quote he gave me.
The tweet denying the quote hit social media … while the audio of the quote was actually playing on the radio.
The player’s tweet was later deleted after some listeners made it clear they heard the audio.
So #FakeNews fails again.
Look. I get it. People hate “the media.” “The media” is probably the most unpopular entity in the world.
People sure do use it a lot though, don’t they? Saying “I hate the media” often happens while people are reading a news story on a phone, streaming a radio station and watching TV, with a newspaper on an coffee table.
It’s like saying, “I hate the airlines. I’ll never fly again” as you’re booking a flight on Expedia.
The sentiment exists. And players are capitalizing on the disdain for the media by making themselves look like victims of it.
But this #FakeNews mentality needs to stop.
“I don’t like how this looks” and “I don’t agree with this opinion” isn’t equal to “fake,” or “phony,” or “illegitimate.”
The problem is the Twitter accounts of these players are primarily populated with sycophants desperately hoping to be acknowledged with a “like” or a retweet from the player they worship.
So they tell the players: “You’re right! Forget those guys! They are just trying to tear you down!”
And within their echo chamber, the players feel justified in their denials.
Want #FakeNews? Follow some of the Twitter accounts of these players I mentioned above. You’ll get it in heaping spoonfuls.