Williams and Cundiff Face Death Threats
My beef this week is with the death threats that Baltimore Ravens kicker Billy Cundiff and San Francisco 49ers wide receiver and return man Kyle Williams have been getting from upset fans.
Last week’s playoff games ended as a result of some pretty gruesome mistakes. In the afternoon Ravens-Patriots game, the Ravens started on their own 21 yard line with 1:44 left in the fourth quarter, down 23-20. They then quickly drove down the field and ended up at the Patriots’ 14 yard line. On a second down play, Joe Flacco put a pass right into the hands of receiver Lee Evans. But as Evans was trying to secure the ball, Patriots cornerback Sterling Moore knocked it out and what probably should have been a touchdown, resulted in an incompletion. After another incompletion, kicker Billy Cundiff came out onto the field to try to hit a 32 yarder that would have sent the game into overtime. Instead he hit it wide left and the Patriots were off to another Super Bowl.
A similar situation occurred in the later game between the 49ers and Giants, except this one came in overtime. In the driving rain, the two defenses proved relatively powerful, both keeping constant pressure on the opposing quarterback. The pressure also appeared to be on 49er Kyle Williams, who in the fourth quarter, let the ball bounce off of his leg on what was supposed to be a punt return, but ended in a Giants recovery and a subsequent touchdown a few plays later. Then in overtime, on another punt return, Williams had the ball knocked out of his hands in 49er territory, and the Giants again recovered, and again converted, with kicker Lawrence Tynes knocking in the game-winning field goal.
Obviously, Cundiff and Williams shoulder most of the blame for the losses of their respective teams. Of course, we don’t know whether the Ravens would have gone on to even win the game in overtime if Cundiff did make the kick, or if the 49ers would have been able to drive down the field and win had Williams hung onto the ball. Had Cundiff and Williams both done what they were supposed to have done, they may have only been delaying losses, but we will never know, because their actions contributed to losses for both of their teams.
And now, because of their mistakes, Cundiff and Williams are receiving death threats from fans, most of which are being sent via Twitter. One such threat to Cundiff from @IAMDJBUNK read, “Breaking News: Death warrant for Billy Cundiff, wanted Dead or alive …” One of the threats to Williams was much worse; the tweet from @javpasquel stated, “@KyleWilliams_10 I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it.” Obviously there were many more, some too foul and ridiculous to write here, but these statements are what have come to be expected in the world of social media.
With social media sites like Twitter, you can say something to or about someone without having to actually see or talk to them. Anger gets vented in 140 characters or less and things that we should probably just keep to ourselves are put out for quite literally, all of the world to see. And it’s not as if these guys are people whose actions may arguably warrant these type of threats; they are not serial killers like Jeffrey Dahmer or Ted Bundy or like Bernie Madoff, stealing billions of dollars from people and ruining the lives of so many. Unlike these criminals, Williams and Cundiff did not purposefully commit the acts that have angered so many. They gave everything they had to be successful, and they are already giving themselves more grief than anyone else. Cundiff’s career is in jeopardy with this mistake; for example, after kicker Doug Brien missed two field goals in a playoff game for the Jets, he was released and played only part of the next season before his career ended. Kickers especially, have to be so mentally tough that one bad mistake can cost them so much. They don’t need anyone else telling them that they messed up.
And death threats? Over the outcome of a sporting event? If that does not signal that people care about sports too much, I don’t know what does. Obviously, sports provide a great outlet for fans to both be passionate about something, as well as entertained. And with 24/7 sports and football coverage, we can be constantly connected to our favorite teams, to the point where we feel like we are connected to the organization in a formal sense. But, what does it say about our society when we have so many people kicking a person while they are down after making an honest mistake?
The wall that Twitter and the Internet essentially allows users to have between themselves and those they are attacking may make it seem that typed words do not have as much of a significance compared to those that are spoken, but in reality they can be just as offensive, abhorrent and hurt just as much.