This weekend is one of celebration for football players all over the country and one of hope for football fans. The newest members of the NFL fraternity have been drafted into the league, while fans are all dreaming about what those players will mean for their favorite team. This weekend also proved to be historic when Michael Sam was selected in the seventh round by the St. Louis Rams, making him the first openly gay player in the NFL.
The weekend also proved to be embarrassing for one Miami Dolphins player. Second-year safety Don Jones took to Twitter when Sam was selected, and he should have thought twice about it. As Tony Dungy has repeatedly said on TV and told all the players at the annual rookie symposium, "Don't press send." Jones hit send.
In tweets that have since been deleted, Jones wrote "omg" when Sam was seen on ESPN kissing his boyfriend following news of his selection. Someone then replied to Jones asking if he was tweeting about the Sam kiss, to which the Dolphins' safety responded "horrible."
While the two incidents, Jones tweets and the bullying scandal that surrounded the Dolphins during the 2013 season, do not actually have anything to do with each other, they will of course be linked together. Once again, the Dolphins' lockerroom will be questioned. While Jones is not the only person to have issues with seeing two men kiss, he was the one who put it out on Twitter, and he is a member of a team trying to prove that it does not have an issue with harassment.
Don't press send.
Jones was not the only Dolphins player to take to Twitter following Sams' selection, but the other tweets were a little less controversial:
Congrats to Michael Sam— Jelani Jenkins (@jelanijenkins3) May 10, 2014
During his post-Draft press conference, Dolphins General Manager Dennis Hickey was asked if he knew about Jones' tweets. He responded:
"I was made aware. I was disappointed in those comments. That is not what we stand for as an organization. The draft weekend is the culmination for so many players, their lifetime achievement of their dream to achieve the goal, for Michael Sam and for all the other players. It’s a celebration, as they begin their future as their playing goal. I think it’s a great thing for the league. I was disappointed by those comments, and we’re going to sit down with Don Jones and address them and handle that appropriately."
In the end, this is a country built on the right to free speech, and Jones was simply exercising his right in this situation. He's not the first person to have a problem with homosexuals, and he won't be the last. As the Constitution reads, "Congress shall make no law...prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech..." Unfortunately for Jones, no where does the Amendment say ,he does not have to deal with the consequences of his free speech from the public backlash or from an NFL team.
In the end, Sam's selection by the Rams is a big deal, because he's the first openly gay player to be selected. He's not the first gay player to be selected or to play in the league. He's not the only gay player in the league right now. He's just the first one to be known to be gay by the media, and, as such, he's going to get media coverage for a little while. Just like Manti Te'o last season with the catfish saga of his fake girlfriend, as soon as we get to football players playing football, this story will die down. Sam will eventually become a football player who is gay instead of a gay football player.
All of us have the right to feel however we choose to feel about something. We also have the right to express those feelings. And, the rest of the world has the right to react to that expression. That's the situation in which Jones finds himself now, and he could have avoided it with one simple idea.
Don't press send.