You probably never heard of Jermaine Whitehead until he recently made news for having a Twitter meltdown. He went after several Twitter users who criticized him for his poor play on the field, including Browns radio analyst Dustin Fox, who called Whitehead’s tackling “a joke.”
Whitehead replied to that tweet with, “Come get it in blood b—h made ass lil boy. I’m out there with a broke hand.. don’t get smoked f–k ass cracker,” and he threatened to kill at least one Twitter user. The Browns released Whitehead after the incidents.
He isn’t the first professional athlete to abuse social media. Here are five other examples of NFL players who should have thought before posting to social media.
Chad Ochocinco fined for tweets
Retired WR Chad Ochocinco was no stranger to controversy during his NFL career, and he was probably one of the first players to be disciplined by the league for social media activity.
In 2010, Ochocinco was fined $25,000 for possessing an electronic device and tweeting during a preseason game. Ochocinco posted two tweets, in violation of the league’s policy prohibiting social media activity starting 90 minutes before a game starts. After being fined, Ochocinco tweeted an apology and promised not to do it again.
Steve Johnson tweets out blame
In November 2010, then-Bills WR Steve Johnson failed to catch a would-be game-winning touchdown in overtime against the Steelers. The Steelers subsequently drove down the field, getting a game-winning field goal.
After the game, Johnson took to Twitter and placed blame for his costly drop on God. Johnson tweeted, “I PRAISE YOU 24/7!!!!!! AND THIS HOW YOU DO ME!!!!! YOU EXPECT ME TO LEARN FROM THIS??? HOW???!!! ILL NEVER FORGET THIS!! EVER!!! THX THO…”
Rashard Mendenhall loses an endorsement deal
Former Steelers RB Rashard Mendenhall lost an endorsement deal over tweets. In 2011, he tweeted about the 9/11 terror attacks and the death of Osama bin Laden.
After questioning how people can hate a man they haven’t heard speak and celebrate his death, Mendenhall questioned what really happened on Sept. 11, tweeting he has “a hard time believing a plan (sic) could take a skyscraper down demolition style.”
The ensuing firestorm over his comments led to apparel company Champion to drop Mendenhall as an endorser. A company spokesman told USA Today that the company didn’t think Mendenhall “can appropriately represent Champion.”
Ray Rice tweets about a traffic stop
Controversy led to the end of Ray Rice’s NFL career, but before that, he was criticized for tweeting about a run-in with the police. The former Ravens RB got pulled over by a Baltimore County police officer because the windows of his Range Rover were tinted more than legally allowed in Maryland.
He was left off with a warning, and he implied that he used his fame to get that favorable result, tweeting “Just got pulled over for my tints smh [shaking my head] But gave the officer a autograph for his son and he let me go.” Rice later apologized for what he called a poorly worded tweet and said the officer “was doing his job.”
LeSean McCoy tweets spoilers
Earlier this year, RB LeSean McCoy drew the ire of Marvel fans when he tweeted spoilers to “Avengers” Endgame” on the day the movie hit theaters. McCoy ignored the hashtag #DontSpoilTheEndgame and posted two separate tweets about one of the film’s biggest deaths, saying one of the other movie’s other superheroes should have died instead.
He followed that up with a tweet that contained a video explaining why he felt the way he did about the character’s death. Twitter users, including his hundreds of thousands of followers, were outraged, even calling for the Bills to release him — which they eventually did in August — likely for football reasons, rather than his Marvel spoilers.