When Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones tweeted "horrible" in regards to Michael Sam kissing his boyfriend on ESPN after being drafted by the St. Louis Rams on Saturday, it wasn't a moment the NFL, Sam, the Dolphins or anyone wanted.
But make no mistake, it allowed the NFL an opportunity to send a strong message: If you have public and negative comments about Sam and his sexuality, you will be punished and shamed.
Jones, a second-year strong safety who had 10 tackles in 16 games last year, tweeted "omg" right after ESPN showed Sam's reaction to being drafted. According to thephinsider.com, when asked on Twitter if he was referring to Sam kissing his boyfriend, Jones tweeted, "horrible."
The Dolphins and NFL aren't going to mess around with this type of thing. Jones was fined and suspended from all team activities until he completes educational training for his Twitter comments. The Dolphins didn't put this off. On a relatively quiet Sunday around the NFL, the Dolphins announced the punishment, put out a statement from coach Joe Philbin and an apology from Jones:
Philbin: “We were disappointed to read Don’s tweets during the NFL Draft. They were inappropriate and unacceptable, and we regret the negative impact these comments had on such an important weekend for the NFL. We met with Don today about respect, discrimination and judgment. These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program. We will continue to emphasize and educate our players that these statements will not be tolerated.”
Jones: “I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media. I take full responsibility for them and I regret that these tweets took away from his draft moment. I remember last year when I was drafted in the seventh round and all of the emotions and happiness I felt when I received the call that gave me an opportunity to play for an NFL team and I wish him all the best in his NFL career. I sincerely apologize to Mr. Ross, my teammates, coaches, staff and fans for these tweets. I am committed to represent the values of the Miami Dolphins organization and appreciate the opportunity I have been given to do so going forward.”
Message sent. And of all the teams to test on something like this, the Dolphins were the last one. They spent a lot of time at the combine in February discussing how they were going to change their culture after the Richie Incognito-Jonathan Martin debacle last year. This was their chance to let their own players know things like this won't be taken lightly by the organization anymore.
The NFL will not tolerate any negativity from within its own ranks about the Sam story. Most of the reaction has been very positive. And if you're a NFL player and you don't agree with Sam's lifestyle, you better keep that to yourself. That's why the "distractions" analysts like to go on and on about with Sam are overblown. The NFL is making sure that anyone wanting to turn this positive story into something negative will pay the consequences.There's way too much at stake for the NFL to be passive about this.
Jones had to learn the hard way. Now that other NFL players see what happened to him, don't expect to hear a lot more negativity on the subject.