When athlete Tweets become a public relations headache

Mark Sanchez

Should a professional sports team’s code of conduct extend to their players during the off season? While players have been punished for their online antics during their active seasons, what, if any, control should a team have over their athletes when they aren’t playing? The Jets public relations staff will be mulling this one over for a while.

Following weeks of rumors and speculation, the signing of Peyton Manning by the Denver Broncos as their starting quarterback on Tuesday, March 20, 2012, sent the already overheating NFL rumor mill skyrocketing to a whole new level. Tim Tebow, the Next Big Enigma in the NFL and former starting quarterback for the Denver Broncos, would have to go somewhere else. One popular rumor was that Tebow would be signed by the New York Jets.

The same day as the official Manning introduction in Denver, Jets cornerback Antonio Cromartie took to Twitter,expressing his dislike for the rumor, Tweeting, “We don’t need Tebow. We sell out every home game let him go to Jacksonville Tampa or Miami.” While it’s great that Cromartie threw his support behind the recently re-signed Jets quarterback Mark Sanchez, there is a very awkward moment coming soon.

On March 21, 2012, the New York Jets announced that they signed Tim Tebow.

Even following the signing, Cromartie didn’t back off of his previous statement. He Tweeted, not long after the announcement, “Y bring Tebow in when we need to bring in more Weapons for @Mark_Sanchez let’s build the team around him. We already signed to 3 year ext.” Once more, Cromartie expressing his support for Sanchez was admirable though many players would now be backtracking on their previous statements.

All this goes to show is yet another example of the kind of foot-in-mouth situation that social media is capable of engendering. While social media certainly has many wonderful qualities, it can also be the enemy of those who are unwise or undisciplined when using it. Cromartie wasn’t the first person to spit out the first thought that fell out of their head. He was open, honest, and showed that he cares about his team’s future and the choices that are made.

Knowing Cromartie, he won’t care too much what Tebow thinks of him. But for the Jets public relations department, they have yet another headache to deal with. As if Rex Ryan wasn’t enough…

Written by Eileen McGovern
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