The St. Louis Rams and defensive end Michael Sam made history on Saturday afternoon during the seventh round of the 2014 NFL Draft. St. Louis selected Sam, officially making him the first openly gay NFL player. Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones failed to appreciate that moment, taking to Twitter to voice his displeasure with Sam kissing his boyfriend in celebration.
Jones tweeted "omg" and when asked if it was in reference to Sam's kiss, tweeted "horrible." The Dolphins responded swiftly, fining Jones an undisclosed amount and suspending him from all team activities until he completes education training for his conduct.
Head coach Joe Philbin released the following statement, per the official team site:
"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 also released a statement, apologizing for his insensitivity:
"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."
This was the second Twitter response to bring the Dolphins a public relations headache in recent days. During the first round of the NFL Draft on Thursday night, the team selected Ja'Wuan James, an offensive tackle out of Tennessee. Center Mike Pouncey thought it would be fun to tweet his reaction, saying he could not wait to see what gifts James would be buying him, per Pro Football Talk.
The team has since discussed the comment with Pouncey, certainly explaining that after the Jonathan Martin saga, it is not bright to make any kind of tweet in that vein.
"We talked with Mike and Mike understands that sometimes things can be taken out of context," Hickey said, via ESPN.com. "What’s meant as a light-hearted comment can be taken out of context. We talked with Mike and he was good with that and understands social media is a great tool to reach our fans for the positive. But you have to make good choices with that."