Physically Gifted, Digitally Inept

By warsaw
Mar. 02, 2017

Many athletes have become experts at growing their brand and stardom through the strategic use of social media channels such as Twitter, Instagram, Facebook and more recently, Snapchat. But as quickly as an athlete can grow their star on social media, they can bring it crashing to the ground infinitely faster.

Professional athletes continue to make career-altering mistakes on social media, seemingly unable to learn from the blunders of their peers and in many cases, even apply basic common sense. These Twitter faux pas can often cost the athlete on a number of levels – reputations, wallets and feelings can all come under attack. So let’s look at some recent social media mishaps and see how careers can be affected by a single tweet or post:

Antonio Brown – Facebook Live

Shortly following the Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 playoff victory over the Kansas City Chiefs, star WR
Antonio Brown broadcast on Facebook Live from the Steelers locker room. In doing so, not only did he break league rules which prohibit the use of social media by players until “traditional media interviews conclude”, the video also captured a post-game speech by Steelers coach Mike Tomlin describing the New England Patriots with a few choice expletives.

Antonio Brown broadcasting on Facebook Live from the Steelers' locker room

The fallout? The Steelers pre-empted the NFL and fined Brown $10,000 for violating the trust of his teammates and coaching staff. It was revealed that Brown actually has a 6 figure marketing deal with Facebook Live, worsening his image in the eyes of fans and the media. In a press conference, Mike Tomlin publicly described Brown as “selfish” and “inconsiderate” and before recently being resigned by the team, reports leaked from the Steelers suggesting he may be past his welcome with the team.

Laremy Tunsil – Twitter

NFL teams by nature are generally risk averse. Knowing success and revenue is tied closely to the players on their rosters, many teams go to extreme lengths to avoid investing millions of dollars in a player with significant character risks (
Others don’t…). So try and understand why Laremy Tunsil (@KingTunsil78), widely considered as a lock for top 5 selection in the 2016 NFL Draft, posted a video on his Twitter featuring him smoking out of what is apparently known as a “gas-mask bong”, just minutes before the draft began.

Laremy Tunsil was the biggest story on draft day for all the wrong reasons

The fallout? The “sure-thing top 5 pick” plummeted down the draft board eventually being selected at pick 13 by the Miami Dolphins, costing him almost $10 million in salary in the process. Lunsil later claimed to have been hacked (because of course he was).

Stephanie Rice – Twitter

Sometimes, it’s hard to imagine what an athlete thought would happen… This was definitely the case in 2010 when Australian swimmer and Olympic gold medalist Stephanie Rice (
@ItsStephRice) posted a hyper-offensive tweet after an Australian rugby victory over South Africa.

The fallout? Rice received huge backlash from media, teammates and the public and was forced to make a public apology stating ““I made a comment on Twitter on Saturday night in the excitement of the moment. I did not mean to cause offense and I apologize.” One day later,
Rice was dropped by her major sponsor, Jaguar.

In Summary

The above social media “fails” are just a small selection of hundreds of embarrassing moments for celebrity athletes on Twitter and other social networks. It’s situations like these that have resulted in professional and college sports teams spending huge amounts of money on social media training for their staff and athletes Unfortunately, sometimes no amount of training can protect an athlete from a single moment of stupidity that ends up being global news.