Much has been said about Michael Sam, the NFL’s first openly homosexual player, and his televised draft night kiss. Almost all of the talk has been inclusionary and positive. In fact, although he was drafted well into the 7th round of the 2014 NFL Draft, according to CBS Sports he is second thus far in rookie jersey sales; only behind Johnny Football.
So in turn, much has also been made about the only negative public comment to come from any NFL player or personnel. Unfortunately, again it is the Miami Dolphins in the news for players having a sensitivity issue, to put it mildly. GM Dennis Hickey and Head Coach Joe Philbin responded quickly and authoritatively enough to quell any misconception that the Dolphins were going to be condoning homophobia or any remarks of that nature.
To date, Jones has been fined an unknown quantity and has been removed from all team activities until he successfully completes sensitivity training. Seems fair if you consider most sensitivity training programs, which many major corporations include in orientation, are generally 8-16 hours long. So Jones can complete this in only a couple of day’s time.
Many out there are complaining about the punishment stating things like “it is a free country”, and “just because (insert interest group here) doesn’t like what he has to say…” Well, to my knowledge the U.S., State, or local officials have not incarcerated him, making him still a free man. That is the right to free speech. It does not imply however that others you are speaking to have to silently take what is being said. Consumers have the right to boycott an entire company if one of its public figures says something they disagree with. It happens quite often actually.
Don Jones is an NFL football player. He has a certain amount of celebrity and is most certainly a public figure for the Miami Dolphins; even if it is locally more than nationally. As such, Jones must be very selective with not only what he says in public but also what he places into digital publications, such as Twitter.
It may not seem like it, but every post to a social media site is a form of self-publication. Employers in record numbers will, at a minimum, perform a Google search on prospective employees; most will check Facebook, Twitter and/or LinkedIn. In a sense everyone should be at least thoughtful about how they want to represent themselves online because more and more often a persons online footprint is being cross referenced with their personal life.
This should be a heightened sense of self-awareness for those people whom are constantly at the mercy of media speculation such as entertainment celebrities and professional athletes. They not only most likely represent a brand, but are, in and of themselves, a brand. And a brand is something angry people can boycott. Don Jones misrepresented the ideals of his brand, The Miami Dolphins. According to his contract the team has a right discipline him for actions he takes detrimental to the team both off the football field as well as on.
To think all of this rhetoric and discussion over eleven letters. He Tweeted “OMG” at roughly the time of the on air kiss, and the word "Terrible" in response to someone asking if he was talking about Michael Sam. Really, it was the last eight letters that got him. How does the old adage go, “If you don’t have something nice to say don’t say anything at all”?
Maybe next time it won’t be Miami.