Just as the Dolphins were watching the Jonathan Martin/Richie Incognito mess fade into the distance, another member of the team has created a situation with which the team dealt swiftly and decisively.
The Dolphins announced that cornerback Don Jones has been fined by the team and excused from offseason workouts “until such time that he undergoes and completes educational training for his recent comments made on social media during the NFL Draft.”
Specifically, Jones posted disapproving comments on Twitter after the Rams drafted defensive end Michael Sam — and after ESPN showed an on-air kiss between Sam and another man who wasn’t his twin brother. Jones said “omg” after the kiss was televised, and later called the moment “horrible.”
“I want to apologize to Michael Sam for the inappropriate comments that I made last night on social media,” Jones said in a statement released by the team. “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.”
“We were disappointed to read Don’s tweets during the NFL Draft,” coach Joe Philbin said. “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.”
While Jones’ comments were inappropriate and merit scorn from the general public, it’s tricky to punish a player for views expressed on his own time via his own Twitter page while away from the workplace regarding someone who isn’t even on his team. Plenty of NFL players have made homophobic remarks over the years on Twitter and elsewhere; those comments often are ignored by their teams. Why does the fact that Jones’ remarks — which were far more tame than some of the stuff other NFL players have said about homosexuals — related to a player on another NFL team make them automatically worthy of punishment?
That’s not a rhetorical question. If the arrival of an openly gay man on an NFL team is going to subject players to punishment for saying things that reflect intolerance of homosexuality, all players deserve the benefit of clear guidance as to what will trigger adverse action from their employer.
If the NFL isn’t going to provide it voluntarily, the NFLPA needs to demand it.