It's Rule No. 1: When the bullies start trolling you, you ignore them.
If you respond, you're giving them exactly what they want: attention. Now, you would think that professional athletes would be pros when it comes to abiding by this rule. They have, after all, been in the public eye for quite some time and have probably undergone some kind of media training.
Yet plenty of professional athletes can't help but indulge the Twitter bullies. Not only do they read their at-mentions, but in a mind-boggling turn of events, they respond to the most inflammatory ones. Whether the vitriol is personal, fantasy football-related or just a random act of obnoxiousness, these athletes just can't seem to ignore the Internet trolls.
She's not an athlete, but she's the much talked-about and fawned-over girlfriend of one (or is she anymore? I can't keep up).
Katherine Webb, aka A.J. McCarron's girlfriend, gained thousands of Twitter followers after ESPN's Brent Musburger drooled over her during Alabama's most recent national championship victory.
Many of those new followers expressed their undying love for her. Unfortunately, many of them also expressed their distaste for her BF, which didn't make her happy. So Webb did what any loyal girlfriend would do: She fired back.
Earlier this year, when one troll called McCarron a "whimp" (sic) for wearing a walking boot because of an alleged ingrown toenail, Webb called him out. The tweet no longer exists but it was captured by many and read:
@Joey_Thabet he had surgery. We will see who the whimps are tomorrow
— Katherine Webb (@_KatherineWebb) August 31, 2013
It's part of life when you're the quarterback of the best team in college football: People are going to harass you on Twitter. Mostly, it probably stems from jealousy. Partly, it probably stems from the fact that fans of other SEC teams feel that it's their God-given right to troll you.
So why indulge them, A.J. McCarron? Why?
After last year's national championship game, when ESPN's analysts spent considerable time lingering on the fact that McCarron has a really hot girlfriend, said girlfriend's Twitter following grew exponentially. Many of those new followers used the social media platform to express their desire to poach her from McCarron.
Eventually, though, McCarron decided he had enough. He couldn't just let those trolls fawn over his lady. He saved his best lines for the more prominent trolls, though, such as Georgia quarterback Aaron Murray, who suggested that Katherine Webb "become a Dawg fan":
@aaronmurray11 u don't win enough bud!! #15— AJ McCarron (@10AJMcCarron) January 8, 2013
Twitter isn't for everyone, especially semi-famous professional athletes who weren't blessed with thick skins.
Blue Jays catcher J.P. Arencibia and Twitter were not a happy marriage. Arencibia—who, mind you, hit .194 this season in 138 games, which could explain his crankiness—announced the world that because of negativity and "false statements," he would be depriving the world of his Twitter insight.
According to Awful Announcing, it's possible that the trouble stemmed from the fact that A) Arencibia admitted on live radio that he asked the Blue Jays to prevent team-employed analysts from saying "negative stuff," and B) Arencibia went on live radio and accused former Blue Jay and current broadcaster Gregg Zaun of using PEDs.
Once the trolls came calling for him, Arencibia bowed out of the fight. In one last (and now deleted) series of Twitter posts, he wrote:
It's unfortunate to see how words are twisted to make false stories. I give way too much of myself to have others try and make me out to something/someone I'm not. Solution. I make myself very accessible with constant charitable events, and opening up to social media for the fans. I will no longer be on Twitter. Thanks to all the fans who support and praying for the others that hate. God Bless.
Isn't Twitter supposed to be fun? Isn't it supposed to be a place where all people, famous or otherwise, can come together to share their inflammatory opinions, embarrassing selfies and hopes and dreams?
It's just sad that the joy of Twitter was ruined for Chipper Jones. Thanks, Twitter trolls.
Post-retirement, the former Braves third baseman very much enjoyed the social media platform, but the excitement was short-lived. This August, Jones announced that he would be retiring from Twitter as well as baseball because he just couldn't take the heat:
No more twitter for me. Said I'd do it for one year and the time is up. Too much hate and too many trolls. Much love to Braves country! Xo— Chipper Jones (@RealCJ10) August 7, 2013
Chipper should've known that if you're going to espouse your ignorant views on immigration, the backlash is coming for you.
After reading this excerpt from Matt Garza's Twitter feed, you have to wonder about his anger management skills.
And when a pitcher administers an epic Twitter rant that not only calls out an opposing player but his wife as well, you have to expect that it's going to cause some backlash.
In August, Garza was on the mound for the Rangers when Oakland's Eric Sogard successfully executed a suicide squeeze bunt. Garza was mad. He started mouthing off a bit. Judging by Garza's account of the events, Sogard's wife had a few words with Garza after the game. Garza spilled the beans to Twitter in a ridiculous (and sexist) rant (link above).
But it was Sogard's teammate, Pat Neshek, who couldn't ignore Garza's trolling—and ultimately, he got the final word.
Garza, remember that night we got crazy & dressed up as ladies & you kept telling me to shut my mouth? pic.twitter.com/jzh0Bj2H7k— Pat Neshek (@PatNeshek) August 4, 2013
Having that final word was so worth it.
In defense of Dahntay Jones, it's hard to ignore the Twitter trolls when the Twitter trolls is Kobe Bryant.
Bryant ignited a Twitter controversy last March when a defensive play by Jones left him with a busted Achilles, thereby ending his season. Bryant, knowing he would be unable to compete in the postseason, was understandably angry. He took his anger to Twitter, where he pretty much invited all of his followers to start trolling Jones.
When one follower, however, decided to call out Kobe, Kobe didn't take very well to it:
@Thadeacon I respectfully disagree. He knows what he did and anyone with half a brain can see it. I don't want it to happen to anyone else!— Kobe Bryant (@kobebryant) March 14, 2013
He can dish it out, but he just can't take it.
Chris Kluwe has opinions about everything. No, really, everything. This is someone who largely spends his offseason on Reddit, finding people to troll.
Andy Parrish, therefore, was extremely unprepared for the opponent he faced in Kluwe.
About a year ago, Parrish made a name for himself as a crusader for Minnesota for Marriage, which opposes gay marriage. If you're at all familiar with Chris Kluwe, you know that the former Vikings punter is very liberal and all for equality. He and Parrish were not destined to agree with one another.
So not only did Kluwe call out Parrish on Twitter, but he challenged him to a debate.
No, @AndyParrishMN, no evasions, no appealing to the sports team. You wanted to talk. Let's talk. I'm waiting.— Chris Kluwe (@ChrisWarcraft) October 24, 2012
Wisely, Parrish declined. Or ignored. Same thing.
Lee Westwood suffered some kind of mental break, courtesy of Twitter trolls, late this summer.
After a rough final round at the PGA Championship, where he finished 13 shots behind winner Jason Dufner, Westwood got some grief from the trolls, and in the wee hours of the morning, he just couldn't take it anymore. Westwood embarked on an hours-long Twitter rant, specifically calling out some of his most outspoken critics. A sample:
You minions need to live from the inside out rather than the outside in!!!!— Lee Westwood (@WestwoodLee) August 12, 2013
Sadly, many of the best tweets have been deleted, but The Mirror caught him saying, "Ahhh the haters have all gone quiet now! Obviously didn't like a bit back at em! P******!"
The real question here: Who knew anyone cared enough about Lee Westwood enough to troll him on Twitter?
It's one thing when athletes whine about all the meanies harassing them on Twitter. It's another when they certifiably own the meanies on Twitter.
At least Johnny Manziel has that going for him.
The embattled Texas A&M quarterback got some hate this summer for a variety of reasons: the fact that he disrespected the city in which he currently plays, the fact that he got sent home from Manning Camp, the fact that he is obviously the most egotistical player in the current college football universe.
But it's not like he doesn't have a reason to be cocky, which he expressed to one troll who chalked up Manziel's 2012 Heisman season to "luck":
Ah, Ray Rice. The sole reason for my fantasy team's rough start to the 2013 season.
I wasted a first-round pick on Ray Rice. I understand the outrage. Apparently, so do thousands of other fantasy football owners who have made their displeasure known to the under-performing/injured Ravens running back.
Rice has had enough of the fantasy-related Twitter hate. After accumulating a mere four points in Week 2, Rice declared himself done with the fantasy world:
I was a fan of fantasy football until today so many spiteful and hateful words I still love you all God Bless great win today #Ravens— Ray Rice (@RayRice27) September 15, 2013
Here's a hint to all of you fantasy busts out there: There's a "block" feature on Twitter. Learn it. Love it.
If you love trolling famous people on Twitter, Hope Solo is probably your favorite tweeter in the world.
She seems to have anger management issues, as well as a lack of a filter, and unleashes on Twitter haters like none other.
Last year, Solo famously married former NFL player Jerramy Stevens just days after he was arrested for an alleged domestic violence dispute involving both Solo and her brother. The Twitterverse had plenty to say about the strange circumstances surrounding their ensuing marriage, but instead of just turning the other cheek to these trolls whom she doesn't even know, Solo humored them.
To a fan who asked her for her thoughts on athletes who have raped women, Solo replied:
@efs120 why do you speak of things that arent true? there was no charge because he was not guilty. People are too quick to judge.— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) November 28, 2012
And to another who inquired about a rape controversy Stevens had been involved with in the past:
@aaronadamsTO Was he charged with that!? Never! Get your facts straight! Perhaps he was the one cheated by people trying to make money! Sad!— Hope Solo (@hopesolo) November 28, 2012
It is beyond me why any NFL player cares at all about the opinions of people who play fantasy football. It's not real. Being an awesome fantasy football pickup doesn't matter. Winning games—in real life—matters.
Roddy White's owners were mad when, after missing practice prior to Week 1, he struggled in the Falcons' loss to the Saints. His two catches for 19 yards certainly didn't win any of his owners their opening-week matchups.
But White couldn't just ignore it. Instead, he offered some unsolicited advice to those complaining about his rough outing:
As far as fantasy if I don't participate in practice than don't start me it's a red flag— Roddy White (@roddywhiteTV) September 9, 2013
It's one thing to quietly use the words of haters as motivation. It's another thing entirely—and quite counterproductive—to create a huge story out of the fact that you're using the words of haters for motivation.
Arian Foster knows all about this. It didn't work so well for him, did it? So why, then, is Colin Kaepernick so proud of the fact that the opinions of Twitter trolls mean anything at all to him, never mind serve as motivation on Sundays?
There has been plenty of surprise over the fact that the San Francisco 49ers have started out 2-2, especially from Weeks 2-3, when their offense managed to score just 10 total points. Naturally, Kaepernick heard about it on Twitter. Instead of ignoring the haters, though, he chose to "Favorite" their tweets (see them here), and then talked about it to anyone who would listen.
I've been there. I currently own Ray Rice, who has been outscored by my kicker every week of this season. I get the frustration.
But would I tweet at Ray Rice and berate him for costing my team a win in fantasy football? No. There are boundaries, people.
Titans running back Chris Johnson has been the target of plenty of caustic criticism over the last couple of weeks because of his poor fantasy performance, and now, he's fed up. Now, he has something to say to his more outspoken fantasy owners:
Public service announcement: I can care less about fantasy football. Key word fantasy. As long as we win I'm ... http://t.co/8mu7lqgOag— Chris Johnson (@ChrisJohnson28) September 30, 2013
See Johnson's full Twitter feed here to experience more of the joy.