IRVING – “It’s just Twitter,’’ a number of Cowboys fans have tweeted at me in the wake of Dallas defensive end Greg Hardy’s “joke’’ referencing the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks. My argument back is there is no such thing as “just Twitter,’’ that it’s now part of the way many of us communicate with each other, and that the tweets of complaint to me actually prove that, just as Hardy’s controversial message does.
It started Friday night when a fan of the Panthers (Hardy’s former team) posted a photo of receivers Devin Funchess and Kelvin Benjamin and referred to them as “The Twin Towers.’’ Hardy’s reply: “didn’t the twin towers get blown up lol.”
Besides being stupid, the joke isn’t funny. Hardy seemed to recognize some of that eventually, when he deleted the tweet and offered a graceless semi-apology. “Ill say this I apologize 4a comment that mentioned an event where no reference 2humor is ever ok,’’ Hardy wrote on his Twitter handle, @OverlordKraken, “but I hope my real fans know I would never.”
But “never’’ actually occurred. And members of Cowboys Nation who expressed views ranging from disgust to disappointment found themselves blocked by Hardy. However, you can’t block Cowboys management, not when they’re the ones who are writing your checks and rolling the dice with you after your involvement in a domestic-violence case, which is presently set to earn you a 10-game suspension this season.
“He’s under a microscope,’’ Cowboys COO Stephen Jones said. “He’s got to understand that. He’s a Dallas Cowboy and he came in here under some less than perfect conditions and a lot is expected. So I think he is going to learn and do better as we move forward.”
One way to move forward: A sincere apology, a true understanding of what was done wrong, and an acceptance that not all of his audience thinks 9-11 is a date ripe for lame and dopey attempts at humor.
“These guys are young,” Jones said. “I warn (my own children) every day that it’s probably not the best thing they’re doing, spending a lot of time on social media … They’ve got to understand the pitfalls that come with it and once you put something out there, you better own it and better be able to live with it.”
But as with most tools, Twitter isn’t the problem; Twitter users are the problem.
Hardy is a gifted player but also a “colorful’ one, shall we say. Owner Jerry Jones is aware of this foolishness. Coach Jason Garrett reached out to Hardy — maybe the reason the tweet has been erased from is timeline … if not erased from the consciousness of his fans or his bosses.