Though the NFL claims that it intends to police the activities of players while not at a workplace where they aren’t permitted to be, the chances of the league making punishment stick for things happening when the owners affirmatively have locked them out look to be slim, at best.
As it relates to the world of social media, it means that players can say whatever they want on Twitter or Facebook without league-imposed penalties. Really, how could the league undermine the First Amendment rights of the players at a time when the league has not-so-politely asked the players to get the hell out of the facility?
That said, through 18 days of the lockout the social media outbursts have been limited. The only one we’ve detected to date involves 49ers tackle Anthony Davis and Chiefs defensive tackle Shaun Smith.
Smith, who was fined for grabbing Davis’ crotch during a 2010 game and later had the fined vacated on appeal, received a Twitter message from Davis pointing out that Smith “grabbed my nuts during the game then tried to shake my hand afterwards? … where the [f–k] u from?” (The message has since been deleted.)
Said Smith in response, “[M]an go workout or something u [f–king] scrub if I did something wrong I would have gotten fine[d] man so watch your mouth boi.”
The video didn’t clearly show a crotch grab, which likely saved Smith the $10,000 he initially was fined. Still, it sure looks like Smith did something to prompt Davis to take a swing at him.
Either way, the two men are free to swing away during the lockout, especially verbally. And if the NFL ever tries to do anything about it, there will likely be yet another lawsuit added to the league’s ever-growing stack of claims.
Meanwhile, it remains to be seen whether the Chiefs bring Smith back. He’ll be an unrestricted free agent if/when the lockout ends, and he doesn’t seem to fit with the mentality that the franchise is trying to attract under G.M. Scott Pioli and coach Todd Haley.
If Smith leaves, it wouldn’t be a surprise. He’s essentially been run out of every other city in which he has played.
Actually, it would be a shame if he goes. He seems to have filled a niche in Kansas City — as long as he can keep under control the niche that resides beneath his nose.