Those who made death threats against Kyle Williams should be prosecuted


In the old days, death threats were made in one of three ways:  (1) face-to-face; (2) by phone; or (3) by letter.  The advantage of the last two options (for the person making the threats) is that the threats could be made anonymously, and without fear of prosecution.

Nowadays, there’s a fourth avenue:  the Internet.  But regardless of whether the death threat comes via a dummy email address or an account on Twitter or Facebook, the sender can be tracked down by the authorities.

In the case of the death threats supposedly made against 49ers receiver Kyle Williams after his miscues in the NFC title game, the authorities should track down the information, and prosecute those who made the threats to the full extent of the law.  If behavior like that is tolerated, it will be repeated.  Conversely, if these threats are made and the only reaction is a shrug and/or an acceptance that indignities like this go with the territory, the threats will continue.  And they’ll intensify.

At some point, a failure to prevent these kinds of threats could result in someone feeling sufficiently emboldened to take action, and we could have our own Andrés Escobar situation.

112 responses to “Those who made death threats against Kyle Williams should be prosecuted

  1. AGREED.

    Im a Giants fan so yeah it was nice to see the fumble, but seriously its still just a game that he gets paid to play. Its not worth wishing death on someone.

  2. Why isn’t anyone pursuing this?
    I would like to see it if only to make the various anonymous idiots think twice about what they are doing.

  3. Yes, you’re right. The government needs to spend time and resources to track down internet trolls. Good idea.

  4. People who send death threats to athletes should keep things in perspective. Football is only a game. The kid feels bad enough for his team losing.

    Look at it this way. If you went to a nice restaurant and the chef didn’t cook your steak right, would you threaten his life? Not likely.

    Furthermore, using the internet to hide is cowardly thing to do. Do you think any of those people who threatened him would do it to his face? Grow a pair if you’re gonna call somebody out.

  5. Not to pick nits here, but as an IT security consultant, your info is a bit incorrect. Public hotspots and IP anonomysers can be used to thwart this…

    I do agree though that death threats should prosecuted though.

  6. I couldn’t agree more Mike, these guys are trash and these interent tough guys should pay for saying things like that because if I walked up to him and said that to his face, and a cop was standing there, I would be arrested and prosecuted.

    Awful and tragic that we live in a world that not only does dumb things like this, but allows to go unpunished.

  7. These “death threats” are usually way overblown and not actually death threats. They say things like “someone should put a bomb in his car”.

    There’s a big difference between that and someone saying “I WILL put a bomb in his car”.

    Its just fans blowing off steam and i havent read any of them or heard any of them that were actually threatening that were actually going to do something.

    Either way, they’re all over reacting… Its just a game

  8. unfortunately, nothing will be done against those who made the threats. people will chalk it up to anger after the loss. the only way action will be taken is if something actually happens…and I hope that’s not the case.

    in the end, its just a game.

  9. The tough guy who said one of the worst things on Twitter to Kyle Williams claimed his account was hacked, and closed his Twitter account and Facebook Page. Ironic, but not surprising, that he ripped Kyle who stood up to the adversity, but he could not do it himself.

  10. When those Giants players plotted to put him out of the game because he’d had 3 or 4 concussions previously, they were plotting against his safety as well. Should they not be charged with something? Like reckless endangerment or something similar? I mean, they were out to get him, knowing that another concussion could ruin the rest of his life. Pretty steep stakes for a football game.

  11. And in OTHER news, with Goodell getting an extension, James Harrisson my friend, get out while you still can. Youre gona be playing just to pay all your fines.

  12. I’d love to see the face on “internet tough guy” when an officer comes to his door. He’d probably pee right down his leg.

  13. If the government went after every internet threat, they won’t have time to plan the forthcoming attack on Iran they all want so bad.

  14. 100% agree. Great article Mike. Somethings transcend sports and there is no need for this kind of foolish behavior. People act real tough from behind the protection of a fault email or twitter account

  15. Williams never should have been in there returning punts, especially after he recklessly dove and made a diving catch of a short punt near the sidelines to start the 3rd quarter. Wet ball and wet field and was lucky he didn’t fumble that one with 2 Giants right beside him. All veteran punt returners never would have even tried to catch it in that same situation. Harbaugh never should have used him again as punt returner on Sunday after that play he made. It was absolutely no surprise to me when he got near the punt that then rolled into him and no surprise to me that he fumbled to finish off the 49ers. Every punt after that first Giants punt in the 3rd quarter , I said during each punt Giants had after “kick it to Williams.” BTW- I am a Giants fan. Harbaugh should have put a veteran in there. One of his d-backs or whoever knew that ball security is the most important part of their job that day. Harbaugh is to blame.

  16. One of the many things that bothers me about the deth threats is…..are some Niners fans so stupid as to forget the awesome block Kyle Williams made to break Alex Smith’s The Run? Without that block that play doesn’t happen.

  17. Completely agree! And not to sound like an oldie (32yr) but these types of things make me miss the time when the internet wasn’t around to the everyday public. It allows the most moronic of human beings to spew their garbage on the rest of humanity.

  18. There is a similar case already going on in the UK – with Stan Collymore a footballer.

    I believe he received racist comments on his twitter and informed the appropriate authorities. Just the perfect thing to do.

    Even if one of these internet warriors gets a lesson, that will be enough.

  19. Amen I say to you, bringing back death by hanging in the town squares of America. It will deter crime more than lethal injection in the middle of the night.

  20. These death threat guys along with the hooligans who verbally abuse and attack fans of opposing teams at the game should really get things put in perspective… Sure wish I can take my family to other stadiums more often without worrying about people taking it too far.

  21. Ok sure, the country has a faltering economy, an burdened justice system and overpopulated jails…let’s spend hundreds of thousands of dollars to spend countless hours in a courtroom to put more people in jail … All for a couple internet tough guys/ morons

  22. You need to understand what a death threat is…saying someone SHOULD be killed is much different than saying “I am going to kill you”….the first is NOT a threat….the second one is…and from what I heard,none of them were specific threats!

  23. Agree with @badtimeoutcaldwell.

    There is a difference between a death threat and telling someone you are wishing or hoping for their death.

    If someone actually tweeted something like “I know where you live and I am coming there to kill you”, I would have no problem whatsoever with their being prosecuted.

    But prosecuting someone for telling someone else “I wish you were dead” sounds an awful like a violation of the first amendment.

  24. Word via some radio outlets here in Baltimore is that Cundiff is facing the same problem. Whether it’s true, I don’t know because no one has come out and confirmed it for sure.

    Fans who send death threats, even just flat out start fights with opposing/fellow fans need to put things in perspective. Unfortunately with fights, it usually starts as “Your team sucks! No, your team sucks! I slept with your girlfriend (completely irrelevent as to why the opposing team sucks)!” Fight ensures. It’s sad that we live in a day and age where sending death threats via Twitter and Facebook apparently makes you a tough guy. It’s the Justin Beiber era…so sad.

  25. Point of order- “i hope you die” is not a death threat. So that might make the prosecution harder. Other than that, I agree that death threats should be prosecuted.

  26. death threats from fellow 9er fans is b.s but, can we move along from all this. everytime a story comes up about this or the fumble, it brings it all back

  27. It would be a waste of time, resources and money be to track these guys down and charge them for a stupid comment.

    I don’t think the comments were appropriate, but there are serious criminals out there.

  28. This guy is milking his 15 minutes. Remove your tampon bro and go into hiding. I pray the 49ers cut him soon as he has no shot at getting past this in San Fran. At least if they waive him he can go play in Seattle for the next 2 years and fall out of the league like a normal bad player.

    I was at the game and what was yelled at him in the stands seemed much more serious that he was tweeted.

  29. At best, the perp would be fined. It’s a misdemeanor.

    People make ridiculous statements all the time. Just ask James Harrison…

  30. @cakemixa From wikipedia:

    In Internet slang, a troll is someone who posts inflammatory,[2] extraneous, or off-topic messages in an online community, such as an online discussion forum, chat room, or blog, with the primary intent of provoking readers into an emotional response[3] or of otherwise disrupting normal on-topic discussion.

    Death threats go way beyond “inflammatory”. If anyone truly threatened his life via Twitter, that person is not a troll, but a criminal.

  31. Yes wishing death upon someone over something like this is completely ridiculous. Wishing a lifetime of agony as a result of reliving that moment everytime they close their eyes is completely reasonable.

  32. Not saying that there weren’t death threats made to the guy. However, most were not threats to Williams. I read the articles that outlined almost everyo one of the the things that was said @Kyle_Williams_10 was not a death threat.

    There were tweets like:

    I hope Harbaugh gives you a game ball and it explodes in your car.
    — Not a threat

    I hope you choke on a ….
    — Not threat

    The list goes on, none of which were threats that the person (our group of people) was going to cause bodily harm to the

    In none that I read stated something like “I know where you live and …”.

    “…I’m going to kill you.”
    “…I’m going to put a bomb in your car.”
    “…I’m coming for you”

  33. cops are getting laid off left and right because municipal/state gocernments are broke…..but yeah, lets waste money on tracking down a few clowns who vented on their computer. many have said it already but, “i wish you would drop dead” or words to that effect are nothing more than the meaningless rants of ticked off, immature fans.

  34. Comparing this to an Escobar situation is idiotic. Columbian drug lords run that country – chopped up corpses are regularly hung from playground swingsets and strewn in public streets. The US is *not quite* like Columbia yet.

    Who cares about some angry Internet ranters?

  35. Haha, I can tell that the people don’t agree with this post are the same fat losers who make threats to athletes on twitter. My suggestion: find your own place, a girlfriend, and an exercise plan that works for you.

  36. deepbacksidedig says:
    Jan 25, 2012 2:04 PM
    Why isn’t anyone pursuing this?
    I would like to see it if only to make the various anonymous idiots think twice about what they are doing.

    Well, if nobody is going down for the sub-prime mess, it’s hard to think they’ll run after these bozos.

    Paper trail, anyone? Get dumber.

  37. How many death threats are issued on the Internet daily? (Not just famous people PFT’s heard of)

    Now do we distinguish between the Kyle Williams of the world and everyone else? If not then how many man hours will we have to spend daily investigating the obligatory “Im gonna kill you” that some half wit sends on Twitter, Facebook, Email, Random Internet Mesessage board, IRC, Teamspeak, MMORPG etc etc etc? I guess we just found a way to obliterate the high unemployment rate because we are going to need a ton of “Threat Investigators” to hash this one out. Somehow I think this new bureaucracy is going to put an even bigger dent in our national debt. All to stop cowardly crimes that probably end in actual physical violence about .00001% of the time. (Made up statistic but probably accurate considering all the idle threats on teh interwebz)

    Unless of course PFT only thinks that we should focus on protecting famous people?

  38. @xtb3 says:

    So you know the 49ers players and their skills better than their head coach? Sometimes its just better to be lucky than good. The giants offense ran 90 plays and scored 20 pts…10 off tos. 2 eli picks were dropped when players collided. the 2 teams in the super bowl got outplayed Sunday….but those are the breaks.

  39. Adrian Peterson fumbled 3x in the NFC Championship game in 09 and nobody threatened him. Nobody threatened Favre for his dumb pass either. This kid is only getting hell because he’s lesser known and it’s pretty sad. Just a game people. SF has had PLENTY of super bowl wins

  40. Too much T.V., and NCIS. If the person knows what they are doing, they really cannot be tracked.

    It is called a proxy. You route all your traffic through Mrs. Smith’s infected computer, for example, and voilà, they can track her, but not you.

    Tracking a phone is much easier, in most cases, even if the person thinks they have blocked the call. Hit *67 (costs money sometimes), and that records all the call info for the phone company. You do not have access to it, but they can use it to help the authorities if necessary.

    Even via the mail, you could be nailed if you use the wrong printer. Due to regulations enacted to stop the used of laser printers for counterfeiting, for years, they have used microdots, which are printed on every page, and can identify the printer, and if it is registered to you, voilà, they have got you again. So remember, send your death threats using inkjet printers, or cut letter out of magazines like in the old days.

    A little sarcasm there at the end, but yes, if they can catch them, nail them to the wall.

  41. Also if this happened to the Ravens I bet their assistant punt-fielding consultant would be on the radio blaming Belichick for installing uneven turf that caused the ball to bounce that way.

  42. What do you expect from a bunch of whiners who stab people in the parking lot while leaving the stadium….and people think Philly fans are bad.

  43. If I’m Kyle Williams I publicly call out these trolls from mamas basement and tell them to meet me at the Niners team facility and lets just see how tough these guys really are. I remember Ditka doing a similar thing to a irate caller during a post game show or something when he was coaching the Bears back in the 80s.

  44. I don’t think that taxpayer $ should be spent on these sorts of issues, but Twitter and Facebook can certainly build mechanisms relatively easily that block such content from being posted. The ball is really in their court. We have freedom of speech within reason. You can’t yell fire in a crowded theater, you can’t threaten to kill someone face-to-face, so why do we think it is OK to let anything go in digital media. Twitter and Facebook could easily block such posts and they should. Problem solved.

  45. No doubt the fear of prosecution needs to be out there, to deter this neanderthal behavior. These nit-wits shouldn’t put cash on the line if they can’t deal with all of the ways their team can lose at the end of a Championship game.

  46. They should be prosecuted, but they won’t be. And it won’t change anything even if they were. As long as we have a winner and a loser of any kind, doesn’t even have to be sports, there will always be fanatics.

  47. gioreeko says:
    Jan 25, 2012 2:18 PM
    What’s wrong with those crazies from Frisco? It’s just a game, get over it!


    Dude, stop with the generalizations. Not all niner fans are loonies and there are idiots in every fan base.
    If it were your favorite team, I am sure there would be some lunatic fringe that had extreme reactions as well.

  48. I would love to see them Gang Members arrested out there, maybe it’ll lead to BIGGER and BETTER leads for the authorities too……and people rip Philly fans? Look at SF….imagine if Philly fans did this? It would have been on the first segment of SC. And oh yea, they threw snowballs at Santa….60 years ago!!! LOL

  49. runrickyrun34 says:
    Jan 25, 2012 2:30 PM
    Unfortunately with fights, it usually starts as “Your team sucks! No, your team sucks! I slept with your girlfriend
    I agree with your premise except in the case of male gender bending, Helga hat wearing vikequeen fans. In reality, their team sucks! And the use of “slept with your girlfriend” would be inappropriate because………….well you know why.

  50. 100% AGREE!!! …and I agree with what most of the posters have already said. At day’s end, it is just a game. It’s not life or death…or even anything close to it. And here’s just another thought.

    Isn’t it the Kyle Williams, Lee Evans & Billy Cundiff moments that make the sports we love great? Would sports even be worth our time if everything always went roughly the way it is supposed to go? If you haven’t lost it’s because you’ve never played.

  51. “Those who made death threats against Kyle Williams should be prosecuted”


    Then you will have arrested the whole pathetic 49er fanbase

  52. surprise surprise, PFT providing yet another golden opportunity for idiots who hate the 9ers to talk trash on their fans in the comments section with no accountability or requirement they stick to the truth.

    let me be clear – death threats over a game are inexcusable. any specific death threats should be prosecuted (although as others have noted, saying “I wish you were dead” isn’t enough). that being said, this kind of thing happens ALL THE TIME. why? because nutjobs root for EVERY team, not just the ones you don’t like.

    we get it PFT – you don’t like the 9ers or their fans, and you don’t like their success. but the endless parade of articles bashing the team, Harbaugh and the fans is way more than excessive. keep it to yourself. you’re supposed to be journalists.

  53. I’d love to see it. It’s way too easy for people to make these kinds of threats, not fearing anything. The internet opens itself up to cowards so they can act in a way they never could in real life. And death threats for something like this has to come from people who have never played sports of any kind. I mean you can never make a bad play or lose a game if you sit on the couch and never play, right?

  54. AMEN! Especially once they included his family members. String ’em up so they think twice before spewing that garbage again.


  55. So, who has jurisdiction? Santa Clara, location of niners HQ? San Francisco, location of the games? State of California (hello, Jerry, are you there?)? Is this a hate crime?

    Agreed, one of these jurisdictions should make an example of a hater. Williams was playing a game, trying his best. We all make mistakes. We (normally) don’t have death threats. In the words of the great Peter Pan, that is “bad form.”

  56. Agree these idiots should be prosecuted if found. Can’t put up with this type of thing in any environment, industry, etc.

    Although passionate fans including me get emotional during a game, this is only a game, played by people that make mistakes. Players, coaches, refs, everybody makes mistakes.

    And if you are bold enough to bet on it and you lose because of a mistake, it’s your own fault.

  57. give me a break, so someone who was really emotional after a stupid game and writes some garbage is gonna be prosecuted and stuck in jail. i was against the ‘sopa’ laws until i read crappy articles like this on this website.

  58. thatobnoxiousguy says:
    Jan 25, 2012 3:23 PM

    Then you will have arrested the whole pathetic 49er fanbase


    Your name says it all…..

  59. I just simply do not have the ability understand what makes any person do these kind of things. What gets in their minds to make them threaten someone for a bad play, that they themselves are 100 times more likely to have happen to them.

  60. I believe people are blurring the lines between free speech and a threat because of the ease of use with social media.
    It’s okay to say things like, I hate that guy for dropping the pass. That’s just an expression of emotion. When you say things like, I’m gonna kill that guy for dropping the ball, and then I’m gonna kill his wife and kids, it’s completely different and is a threat. I’d be concerned for my well-being and the well-being of my Family if people were posting that. I might feel bad of you hated me, but I’d be looking over my shoulder if you threatened to kill me. Big differences.
    Those that threaten need to be prosecuted.

  61. “When those Giants players plotted to put him out of the game because he’d had 3 or 4 concussions previously, they were plotting against his safety as well. Should they not be charged with something? Like reckless endangerment or something similar? I mean, they were out to get him, knowing that another concussion could ruin the rest of his life. Pretty steep stakes for a football game.”

    Hahaha are you serious? The Giants never touched his head. They wanted to hit him hard (legally) to rattle his confidence and make him screw up. Looks like it worked. I didn’t see forty-whiners fans complaining when Whitner was gloating about all the players they’ve knocked out of games. Maybe he should be charged too? Whiners offense thrived on very short field position as a result of the defense or special teams getting turnovers. Then when it happens against you suddenly it’s not fair and you didn’t really lose. Tough to swallow your own medicine huh? From the coach, the players, and the fans, I’ve never seen such sore losers in my life.

  62. Prosecute. And how do internet death threats by cowardly nuts compare with the coordinated effort of the Giants to give him another concussion?

  63. Time to recharge the East Coast football/sports bias,don’t fumble another opportunity,way to go P.F.T. How about another Jim Harbaugh article to bring out all the haters ? I don’t support death threats on Kyle and I don’t want Kyle around another punt unless he’s wearing a Giants uniform. Let’s see what would happen if he cost the Giants 10 points and a championship. I guarantee you he would have gotten the same treatment or worse.


  64. They did investigate it. They found out all the death threats came from Kyle himself. Now both of him are on schizophrenic suicide watch.

    Both plays were just bad luck. The Niners should’ve brought some offense to the game. Then they wouldn’t have been at the mercy of a couple of bad bounces.

  65. Prosecute people for death threats? Are you serious?

    Death threats are protected by freedom of speech under the first amendment!

    I’ve had numerous death threats in front of law enforcement officials and none did anything because they could only act if there was an attempt on my life.

    However, they recorded the threats which can be used as a self defense in court if in the future the person making the threats attacks you and you whack him.

  66. Agree with the poster who highlighted the diving punt catch – crazy – i watched it again last night – Belichick or Coughlin would have lifted the guy right there (btw he also bobbled the 1st Qrtr reverse though that may have been a bad toss). Later in the 3rd Qrtr, he took a major hit from Sash (?) who dove in and hammered him – he was slow getting up but Fox immediately went to a shot of the sideline or Buck and Aikman. They never discussed it perhaps bc the hit was hard to see with the crowd of Giants converging and blocking the view. Knowing what the Giants have said about targeting him, take another look at that monster hit

  67. Not only should these people be prosecuted but the NFL should ban them from attending NFL events including games in perpetuity.  

    And I do not care what team they root for or city they live in anyone who gets caught making death threats should have an NFL ban for life. 

    Also these aren’t dummy accounts that were made up with the sole purpose of threatening Kyle Williams? They were active twitter accounts that people use to tell people what they are doing so it shouldn’t be that difficult to track them down. 
    For example if you look up ComptonAssDeezy twitter account he’s still tweating where he is at and what he’s doing. So if someone hacked into his account and posted that stuff why and how is he still using it and not shut down? 

    Internet crimes are being taken more seriously especially Internet stocking which usually starts out as death threats.

  68. He should be happy that people made death threats to him. Obviously those people are idiots, but because people went so extreme about it, more people are defending him now.

    The fact that all these morons said they would kill him definitely helped soften the media’s and (sane) fan’s view on him and his fumbles.

  69. Don’t be so naive as to think that the threats to Williams aren’t being looked into. My wife works in the IT dept. of a major university. Trust me on this one, if and when the FBI want to find out who sent an email or tweet, they can and do find out. It happens all the time.

  70. Hilarious that the less intelligent 49er supporters are taking this as an insult to their entire fanbase.

  71. citynative says:Jan 25, 2012 2:15 PM

    The tough guy who said one of the worst things on Twitter to Kyle Williams claimed his account was hacked, and closed his Twitter account and Facebook Page. Ironic, but not surprising, that he ripped Kyle who stood up to the adversity, but he could not do it himself.


  72. To late of a post and maybe it was already said but making a death threat is not illegal unless their is intent actually found or the threat was made against the president of the united states. There is nothing anyone can do except maybe ignore the idiot making said threat.

  73. I didn’t see the first one, but the one in overtime was just an excellent defensive special teams strip, and it was a wet ball.
    I hated to see my guys in Gold and Red lose, but they did lose to a very good team.
    I’d support prosecuting anyone that made death threats, because it is against the law, last I heard.

  74. bing253 says: Jan 25, 2012 4:44 PM

    Internet crimes are being taken more seriously especially Internet stocking which usually starts out as death threats.
    I agree with the intent of this post, but the egregious mangling of the English language bothers me. There should be a test before allowing people to use computers, and this one is a HUGE fail.
    stocking – putting items on a shelf in a store
    stalking – following someone furtively

    Holy cow. Someday, computers will be smart enough to take out restraining orders on people like this. It can’t come soon enough.

  75. Judging by the comments/thumbs down, I’d say we have some [alleged] death threaters right here! Cowards.

  76. Threats happen all the time on the internet. It’s sad that some people have to do such things in order to get attention. That is all these people are doing and look around we are giving them what they want. I bet they are laughing their butts off watching the tv coverage of their antics. You have to feel sorry for such folks, to bad they need this type of attention to make them feel good about themselves.

  77. cakemixa says:Jan 25, 2012 2:08 PM

    Yes, you’re right. The government needs to spend time and resources to track down internet trolls. Good idea.
    Don’t football teams have their own security people? Why can’t they investigate these threats? I would think that would be part of their job.

  78. Kyle Williams will be a pretty special player. While I fault him for not going after the ball when had yo know that it bounced off his knee, I still absolutely want him on the squad next year and beyond. Soon enough, Kyle will redeem himself, and this will all be forgotten.

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