Recapping social media’s reaction to the latest NFL replacement referee controversy

So if you went to bed early like me last night, you missed quite the show…

The NFL Replacement Referees made a controversial call on Seattle's "Hail-Mary" play at the end of ESPN's Monday Night Football.

The NFL Replacement Referees made a controversial call on Seattle’s “Hail-Mary” play at the end of ESPN’s Monday Night Football.

On Monday Night Football last night, the NFL replacement referees made a series of controversial calls and non-calls, culminating on the last play of the game, when they missed an offensive pass interference call by Seattle WR Golden Tate and ruled the result of the “Hail Mary” to be a touchdown, even though it appeared that Green Bay defensive back MD Jennings had control of the football over Tate. The result of the controversial call was a Seattle victory over Green Bay, 14-12.

Announcers, players, and fans alike all had plenty to say about the latest referee debacle, and the situation has dominated the day on social media. While I plan on writing a post on the NFL’s social media strategy (or lack thereof) after the incident, I want to give readers an opportunity to catch up on some of the better rundowns of the social media reactions to the NFL replacement referees mistake.

On Mashable, Sam Laird (@samcmlaird) has a gallery of some of the better Twitter responses by television personalities, professional athletes, and fans. –

On Twitter, CNBC’s social media manager Eli Langer (@EliFromBrooklyn) has a quick recap of the NFL’s bizarre Facebook status updates following the game. –

While most of the Green Bay Packers have withheld opinions on Twitter, Packers Guard TJ Lang (@TJLang70) has done the opposite, sending a series of pretty explicit tweets directed at the NFL. –

The Boston Herald has the story of a Wisconsin state senator who tweeted Roger Goodell’s office phone number. –

USA Today has a recap of the NFL’s statement following last night’s game, in which they support the call on the field of a touchdown catch by Seattle but acknowledge the missed offensive penalty call that should have ended the game and given the win to Green Bay. ––upholds-result/57840636/1

Finally, Michael Sebastian (@msebastian) has a rundown on about the NFL’s reputation problem following the latest replacement referee miscue. –

I’ll be back later this week with some thoughts on the NFL’s social media gaffe’s this year.


Journalist Tweeting Badly

When thinking about the way Twitter and professional sports relate to each other, a lot of focus is put on athlete tweeting. There are plenty of examples of professional athletes tweeting poorly. My last post mentioned Delonte West and Sean Locklear in particular, while more well-known examples include former Kansas City Chief running back Larry Johnson and San Diego Charger Antonio Cromartie. However, little attention is given to those who cover the athletes. Little attention is paid to beat writers.

Tony Grossi

For former Cleveland Browns beat writer Tony Grossi, less attention would probably be a good thing right about now. Grossi writes for the Cleveland Plain Dealer, and until today, served as the Cleveland Browns beat writer for the paper. However, last week, Grossi send an inadvertent tweet pertaining to Browns owner Randy Lerner that said “He is a pathetic figure, the most irrelevant billionaire in the world.” Grossi later deleted the tweet, but as is usually the case, his action was too little too late.

Grossi later apologized for the tweet in a video podcast, saying “Last night there was a comment attributed to me on my Twitter account.  It was inadvertent, it was inappropriate, and I do apologize for it.  I’ve reached out to Randy Lerner to apologize to him for it and we’ll just leave it at that. It was inappropriate and not meant to be tweeted, but it was inappropriate nonetheless.” The Cleveland Plain Dealer also apologized on behalf of Grossi, stating on their website, “Last night, Plain Dealer Browns beat reporter Tony Grossi made an inadvertent, inappropriate post to Twitter concerning Browns owner Randy Lerner.  Grossi has reached out to Lerner to apologize.  The Plain Dealer also apologizes.”

So how did this tweet happen? The most likely scenario is that Grossi was attempting to direct message a follower on Twitter. A direct message on Twitter is a personal tweet that only the person addressed in the message can read. However, if addressed incorrectly, or not at all, the tweet will become public, which is seemingly what happened to Grossi, who has over 15,000 followers on Twitter. Grossi isn’t the first journalist to make this mistake. The last well-known incident of this type occurred in in October of 2010 when Bill Simmons, the popular ESPN columnist, sent out a tweet that simply read “moss vikings”. Simmons quickly sent another tweet that read “Sorry that last tweet was supposed to be a DM. Rumors swirling about a Pats-Minny trade for Randy Moss.” However, soon after the initial tweet, rumors began to fly that Randy Moss, then a WR for the New England Patriots, was being traded to the Minnesota Vikings. Although the rumor was denied by all involved parties, a few days later, the trade went through.

For Simmons, the penalty was undetectable. He most likely got a scolding about knowing how to send direct messages on Twitter, and the incident probably prompted ESPN to send an email to all employees about the dangers of using the service incorrectly. For Grossi, the penalty was much higher. While he is still currently employed, he’ll no longer get to cover the Browns.

On second thought, maybe the punishment for Grossi is undetectable too.