Leading up to the biggest sports event in the nation, two proud sports franchise owners quarreled through social media with some of their teams’ biggest stars.
In the days usually spent trash-talking and deciding what dip to serve at the World’s Best Super Bowl Party, fans’ attention was torn between Pats vs. Giants and controversy for the Indianapolis Colts and Utah Jazz.
Indianapolis hosted the Super Bowl while unsure of the future of its own franchise and the quarterback who made them relevant the past 14 years. Locally, Utah Jazz fans were equally distracted by controversy surrounding a few of the men who brought the franchise to prominence.
On Friday, Jan. 27, beloved Hall of Famer Karl Malone co-hosted the Gordon Monson show on 97.5 The Zone. He began a war of words when he discussed the Williams-Sloan debacle, blamed Jazz management for Sloan’s abrupt retirement, and claimed he had to buy a Jazz ticket from a scalper because the Jazz would not provide him one.
A few days later, Jazz owner Greg Miller fired back through social media.
“Hey Karl – you’re lying,” Miller wrote on Twitter last Tuesday. “You have my number. Next time you need a seat to a Jazz game, call me. You can have mine.”
Later that night Miller continued his rebuttal to Malone’s remarks on his blog, including how Malone was too “unreliable and unstable” to join the Jazz coaching staff and made the stressful situation surrounding Sloan’s retirement worse by speaking to reporters when he didn’t know the circumstances surrounding it.
Colts owner Jim Irsay also used Twitter last Monday to hash out a franchise controversy.
If there was any season that proved how much Peyton Manning means to the Colts, it was this last one, in which he didn’t even take a snap. As what seems to be a direct result of Manning’s neck injury, the Colts had the worst record in the NFL.
Indianapolis now has the first overall pick in the upcoming draft, and Andrew Luck, quarterback sensation out of Stanford, is viewed to be the best college player and obvious choice for the first pick.
Although Manning has been cleared by doctors to play, Irsay wrote on Twitter that Manning has not passed the Colts’ physical or been cleared to play for Indianapolis. The inconsistency between Manning and Irsay seems to have more to do with Luck and Manning’s $28 million bonus due in March than a turn and cough.
Although franchise owners have the right to voice their side of the story, social media is not the forum to do so, especially concerning player relations.
Had Miller used his phone to call Malone instead of calling him out on Twitter, the issue could have been dealt with in private instead of on the front page of the sports section. Irsay’s tweet might be true, but came off as distasteful and suggested he might not want Manning to be healthy enough to return.
Fans worship players, especially Hall of Famers, not the owners. Fan loyalty to players is so intense that, when owners seem to double-cross them, fans often side with players. Since fan support is the driving force behind the success of all franchises, owners should use discretion in how and where they discuss player relations.
Maybe if fans start to buy jerseys with owners’ names on the back, the owners could write tweets and blog posts putting franchise players in a bad light without upsetting fans. As for now, they should settle their scores in private or official team statements and leave the Twitter feed to the Chad Ochocincos of the world.