The meteoric rise of social media across the world has been a boon for society as a whole, for a number of reason. News is delivered faster, discussions on the topic du jour can span across the globe, and people are now able to connect in ways that were considered imaginable no more than 15-20 years ago.
Of course, the social media fad found its way into sports. Public relations departments went from simply sending out press releases to managing Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram accounts. "Social media experts" went from being a teenager with accounts across all platforms to a university educated guru in the intricacies of using photos, videos, and short phrases as marketing tools for franchises in all walks of professional sports.
Social media has not only been beneficial to the marketing efforts of pro teams, but also for the image of players. Superstars are able to reach out to their fan-bases in ways never possible before the Twittersphere existed. Players who might not be known for the elite play on a field, court or rink can use social media as a way to gain popularity and entertain in ways they can't necessarily do in their respective sport (see Paul Bissonnette).
Social media can go both ways however - with an endless platform to share opinions, those under the brightest spotlights have to be extra wary of what they put on the Internet. There have been numerous instances where an athlete posts something on the Twitter that makes you shake your head, curse, or even lash back at the athlete. While everyone is entitled to their opinion, athletes have often times not used their good judgement before posting inflammatory or unpopular thoughts for all to read and criticize. Even though it's happened more than once, some athletes did not learn from the mistakes of their counterparts. With that in mind, here are the some of worst Tweets athletes have sent out over the last decade - a list that will surely never stop growing.
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20 DeSean Jackson is Not A Marketer’s Dream
DeSean Jackson is one of the most explosive and lethal wide receivers in the National Football League today. He might be a bit of a headcase at times, but Jackson is no doubt one of the more popular players in the NFL based solely on his ability to electrify fans with his speed and game-breaking skill. So it's only logical for marketers to want to use him to promote events, as was the case when he was asked to plug the ESPY's a few years back. Jackson might have been in a rush when he Tweeted the promotion, however, because it appeared that he just copy and pasted the e-mail that was sent to him asking him to Tweet about the event. Because of that the Tweet read: "Desean, can you please tweet this for the ESPYs party tonight: 'Chillin' at the @ESPYS #NokiaPreParty. It's awesome."
19 Mario Balotelli Sparks Rage
Mario Balotelli might be the most polarizing figure in the soccer world (often for the wrong reasons). Even in 2014, racism still runs rampant in sport, as we've seen from numerous instances over the past few years. Balotelli knows he has a target on his back from ignorant fans who take every opportunity to remind him of the color of his skin, and while he's learned to deal with it more appropriately with age, Super Mario still has his lapses - like this weekend, where he got under the skin of Manchester United fans after Tweeting "Man Utd...LOL" following a ManU loss versus Leicester City. While the Tweet itself was not overtly inflammatory, Balotelli should have known that something like this would not only get scrutinized in the media (which it did), but also attract a bevy of angry, racist fans who would take the opportunity to get their "virtual" shots in on the Liverpool striker. Especially after Liverpool had lost a day earlier to West Ham. At least win your games if you're going to mock other teams.
18 Ochocinco Wants to Start Swinging
Ochocinco has always been one of the most colorful and quotable figures in NFL history. The rising popularity of Twitter around between 2008-2010 only magnified Ochocinco's platform to entertain, and he has been doing just that ever since. Sometimes, though, Chad would run his mouth off at the wrong times - like in the middle of a preseason game while he was still with the Bengals. Not only was he calling out the NFL, he did it even though the rules explicitly ban players from using social media during games:
"Man Im sick of getting hit like that, its the dam preseason s**t! 1day I’m gone jump up and start throwing hay makers, #Tylenolplease.”
17 Dwight Howard's Fart Log
There's a line that applies to all of society, not just superstars, with regards to this topic: for starters, you don't "cut the cheese" around others - especially in a larger crowd of people you don't know. The second rule should then conceivably be not to publicize it when it happens. Apparently, Dwight Howard doesn't follow the second guideline, because he took to Twitter to let everyone know how "gassy" he was feeling: “Omg I need help. Lol. I have to much gas lol. I been rippin all day. Even in the game tonight. I know it’s tmi but. I need something lol”
16 Charlie Villanueva Sneaks a Tweet
For whatever reason, Charlie Villanueva always ends up finding his way onto these types of lists. This time, good ol' Charlie got out attention by sending out a relatively straight-forward and simple Tweet - the only problem was that he sent it out during halftime of a regular season game: @CVBelieve: “In da locker room, snuck to post with my twitt. We’re playing the Celtics, tie ball game at da half. Coach wants more toughness. I gotta step up.” It's surprising that Villanueva was able to relay the coach's halftime message, seeing as he had roamed away to send this Tweet in the first place.
15 Logan Couture Goes Through Every Man's Worst Nightmare
Before we get into this one, it should be noted that if there was ever a time for a player to be telling the truth about his account being hacked, we would hope it would be this instance involving San Jose Sharks rising star Logan Couture. If Couture did slip up, and was in the fact the one who mistakenly posted a pornographic video link on Twitter, who can really blame him? The tweet was sent out on July 26...there isn't much going on during the "dog days" of summer...that's a good enough reason, right?
14 Reggie Bush is Just Chillin'
Reggie Bush is a good example of a nice guy with a lot going for him who, every once in awhile, finds a way to get himself in the line of fire. First it was the Heisman debacle, and then during the most recent NFL lockout, Bush tweeted out: “Everybody complaining about the lockout! Shoot I’m making the most of it! Vacation, rest, relaxing, appearances here and there! I’m good”...while we applaud him for the honesty, it's clear that no professional athlete making millions of dollars should be complaining about not having to go into work. Bush appears to have learned his lesson, as every second or third Tweet or Instagram post these days is either a lion "ready to eat" or him "doing work."
13 Brandon Banks is a Horrible Teammate
An NFL training camp might create the most competitive work environment in any line of work, there are certain "unwritten" rules that players should at least be conscious of while trying to beat out the next guy for a job. Even if Brandon Banks wasn't competing for the same job as Devin Thomas, he shouldn't have been messing with another man's livelihood. That's exactly what Banks did, though, when he Tweeted out a photo of Thomas sleeping in a meeting. Granted, Thomas shouldn't be sleeping through a coach's talk, but a good teammate would have discreetly nudged Thomas awake. Banks' Twitter post ultimately led to Thomas' release the following day.
12 Richie Incognito: The Bullying Saga
Richie Incognito was a solid left guard during his time with the Miami Dolphins. He had always had a reputation as a bit of a headcase, which led to undisciplined play on the field, but it was looking like he had finally turned the corner in Miami. That was clearly not the case, as Jonathan Martin's sudden departure from the Dolphins training facility last season began a several month long public relations disaster for the already maligned Dolphins organization. Incognito buried himself into an even deeper hole during the scandal by sending out several threatening Tweets to Martin, only to later on send well wishes and "love you's" to the man he had spent the last two seasons harassing.
11 Johnny Football Wants Out of Texas
Johnny Manziel became the anti-Tim Tebow during his time at College Station. He was wildly productive and extremely popular, but became a polarizing figure because of his party boy lifestyle. Manziel took enormous amounts of criticism from all angles during his time at Texas A&M, and perhaps it finally got to him one night, because he Tweeter out: "Bullsh*t like tonight is a reason why I can't wait to leave college station...whenever it may be." Obviously, this led to even more criticism, which Manziel must have known was going to come after sending something like that out (he must have known, right?).
10 Darnell Dockett, Katherine Webb's Second Biggest Fan
The title of Webb's number one fan will forever belong to Brent Musberger, who made her a celebrity in the first place (not that she really needed his help, he just expedited the process). Darnell Dockett has staked his claim on second place, though, as he's called out former Alabama quarterback AJ McCarron (Webb's then boyfriend and current husband) numerous times, as well as asking Webb out over social media. It clearly didn't work, and his efforts weren't exactly what can be described as romantic: "Aye @KatherineWebb hit me when game over, lets go to wingstop then King of diamond."
9 Nik Lewis Went A Little Too Far
Nik Lewis probably went more than a little too far, in hindsight. Despite the amount of time that has passed since the O.J. Simpson incident, it's still a touchy subject, something Lewis did not take heed to when he Tweeted out "I just bought OJ's gloves on eBay. Now all I need is a white girl named Nicole. #MaybeALittleTooFar." Maybe, just maybe, Nik. It's one thing to take a shot at "dark" humor, it's another thing entirely when loosely throwing around the memory of a woman who was brutally murdered.
8 Jabar Gaffney Gives Life Advice to Cowboys Fan
When athletes decide to get on Twitter, they must know that they are going to get cursed, insulted, and threatened. It's the "inherent risk" (for lack of better term) of using social media as a celebrity. At the same time, athletes should know (or be told, if need be) to watch what they say in reply to "trolls" who are just looking to get a rise out of someone famous. Jabar Gaffney clearly didn't get the message, as shown by his response to a Cowboys fan who had called him out on Twitter: "@bam1121 3-7 ain't a record to be proud of I'm just proud I ain't you get a life or kill urself."
7 Cardale Jones - Too Good For Class
Cardale Jones was buried on the Ohio State depth chart as the third-string QB for one of the biggest football programs in the United States. He cemented his place there after sending out a Tweet questioning why he had to go to class: "Why should we have to go to class if we came here to play FOOTBALL, we ain't come play SCHOOL, classes are POINTLESS."
Apparently Jones forgot that he was playing for a school, and was a student-athlete. Suffice to say this was one of the stupidest things anyone could post online for the world to see...which might in itself disprove Jones' claim that classes are pointless.
6 Gilbert Arenas Will Never Learn
For every ounce of talent and scoring ability in Gilbert Arenas' body, there was two ounces of straight up stupid. It was bad enough that Arenas thought it would be a good idea to keep FOUR handguns in his locker while he was with the Washington Wizards. It got worse when he got caught and tried to play it off. It reached it's peak, though, when Arenas thought it would be a bright idea to Tweet about the situation as if it was all a big joke: "“i wake up this morning and see i was the new JOHN WAYNE..lmao media is too funny.”
5 Marlon Williams: Know Your Boundaries
Rule number one if you're a member of a competitive sports team - you DO NOT cross your head coach. He's able to make your life a living hell, he can turn you into a benchwarmer with the snap of his fingers, or he can just kick you off his team and say "good riddance". Marlon Williams (and some of his teammates) clearly took this notion way too lightly, because when then Texas Tech head coach Mike Leach was late for a team meeting, Williams sent out the following Tweet: “Wondering why I’m still in this meeting room when the head coach can’t even be on time to his on meeting.”
HUGE mistake. Williams was lucky not to be kicked off the team, but it did lead to Leach banning his players from social media. There's always that one guy who ruins it for everyone else.
4 Paul George "Ain't Trippin"
We can only hope that Paul George's mind was swirly from a cocktail of antibiotics or painkillers as he deals with his gruesome broken leg, but it would appear that George was fully lucid when he sent out a volley of Tweets backing Ray Rice. Rice had initially been suspended for two games over the abuse of his wife Janay Rice. When the video of Rice knocking his wife out in an elevator was released, though, all hell broke loose. Rice was suspended indefinitely by the NFL and released by the Baltimore Ravens. Through all this, his wife has somehow found it in her heart to stand by him, leading George to tweet that "if she ain't trippin' I ain't trippin" in his defense of Rice. George ultimately backed off of his comments, but not before he himself got caught in a barrage of criticism.
3 Rashard Mendenhall Doubting 9/11?
It can't be stressed enough that everyone is entitled to their opinion, and that freedom of speech is a right in America. However, when the topic concerns the tragic events of 9/11, you'll be hard-pressed to find support if you're of the opinion that Osama bin Laden did not deserve all of America's anger, hate, and disgust. Mendenhall tweeted out "What kind of person celebrates death? It’s amazing how people can HATE a man they have never heard speak. We’ve only heard one side…” while the rest of the country was rejoicing in finally getting a shred of closure after the announced capture and killing of bin Laden. Suffice to say Mendenhall was shredded by fans and media alike. Not only was the tweet dumb in the sense that Mendenhall must have known what kind of uproar it would cause, it was ignorant and insulting to the countless people (and their families) who lost their lives on Ground Zero.
2 Jaz Reynolds Shoots His Mouth Off
You'll understand why former Oklahoma receiver Jaz Reynolds is second on this list once you read the next slide - he could have easily been first. After a man walked onto the University of Texas campus and fired shots before taking his own life, Reynolds decided to use the incident to take a shot at the Longhorns and their fans, tweeting ""Hey everyone in Austin, tx.......kill yourself." Reynolds realized what he did fairly quickly and sent out the standard, empty "I was kidding" tweet five minutes later, but it was too late. You can't slap an entire city across the face and expect to get away with it. He was suspended indefinitely by the team for his comments.
1 Paraskevi Papachristou – Olympic Jumper (and Racist)
It's hard to describe how atrocious and revolting triple jumper Paraskevi Papachristou's racist 2012 Tweet was:
“With so many Africans in Greece, at least the mosquitoes from the West Nile will be having homemade food.”
Guess what she did after realizing how inflammatory the comment was? You guessed it: she claimed she was kidding. Not only was it a poor attempt at humor, it was an outright racist attack on an entire continent. Unlike many others, she did publicly apologize, but the comment cut deep enough that she was (rightfully) booted from the Greek Olympic squad before the London Games even began.
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