The Browns released safety Jermaine Whitehead following an outburst of threats against critics on social media. While it does not excuse Whitehead’s actions, a number of fellow players understood what led him there, according to ESPN Staff Writer Jeremy Fowler. Fowler describes it as commonplace for players to return to their lockers after games and check their phones before even removing their pads. Players describe an accumulation of frustration with fans criticism that often goes beyond and enters the realm of hatefulness.
Steelers linebacker Bud Dupree had a similar, albeit substantially milder, incident last season involving his response to a tweet. Dupree mentioned specific tweets, some that included racial slurs, that eventually pushed him to react. The league has an instituted “cooling off period,” which restricts players ability to post on social media after games, but Whitehead’s threats came far after that period ended. It will be interested to see if Whitehead’s decision changes how the league, teams, and players approach social media and if more players choose to eliminate the practice altogether.
Here’s more news from around the league off the field:
- Free-agent wide receiver Antonio Brown had seemed hopeful that he could soon return to the field. While the currently unsigned wideout remains marred in controversy, a number of social media posts last week suggested he may have been approaching a new deal. However, there is no reason to believe any team would be interested in signing Brown at the moment because they believe he would be placed on the commissioner’s exempt list as soon as he was signed, according to Mark Maske of The Washington Post.
- The NFL upheld the league’s indefinite suspension of Browns defensive end Myles Garrett yesterday. One point in Garrett’s appeal, which has garnered significant social media attention, was an accusation that Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph used a racial slur against Garrett that prompted his violent response. When the league upheld Garrett’s suspension, many assumed the league had reviewed the on-field audio recorded and found no corroborating evidence. That now appears to be only half the story. The NFL did find no evidence Rudolph used a racial slur, but the league also had no recorded sound on the field to review in the case, according to Mary Kay Cabot of Cleveland.com.