In the Wake of the Cowboys Tragedy, Are We Seeing Freedom of Speech—Or Hate?

Chad HensleyCorrespondent IMay 5, 2009

CHARLOTTE, NC - DECEMBER 22:  A helmet with a sticker in memory of the late Sean Taylor of the Washington Redskins sits on the field prior to the Dallas Cowboys versus Carolina Panthers game at Bank of America Stadium on December 22, 2007 in Charlotte, North Carolina.  (Photo by Streeter Lecka/Getty Images)

On May 2, 2009, the Dallas Cowboys' 80,000-square foot practice facility was ravaged by severe storms. Immediately there were "Breaking News" articles on all of the major sports websites, including Most all had a headline similar to the following: "Cowboys' Practice Facility Collapses from Storm."

In response to that headline, I knew what most non-Cowboys fans (and maybe some Cowboys fans) who have watched the Cowboys' recent late season debacles the last couple of years were going to say—"Don't they wait until December to collapse?"

Sure enough, immediately after reading a few comments on the initial ESPN release, there they were. It was somewhat expected until the reports of injuries started to leak out.

When that happened, the violent thoughts and crude comments didn't stop—they picked up. 

Some were hoping that Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo died. There were even a few who were hoping Buffalo Bills receiver Terrell Owens was crushed. 

Here are some "lesser" comments I just pulled on the situation from the NFC East Blog.

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Acroyo: Thats what Jerry gets for building a giant car tent in the Cowboys backyard

On Rich Behm:
blgrsshl: sucks for that dude but his is just proof that even God hates the Cowboys.

SteelT0wnR0ckerz: One has to wonder if karma has played a role in this tragedy, I mean it always seems like things like this happens to teams like Dallas, Cincinnati, Oakland......makes you think that maybe its not coincidence that bad things always seems to happen to the teams that have the worst arrest records in the league

darkLion42: Man, the more I think about it, the more I wonder if there REALLY is a god...and if he REALLY hates the Cowgirls.

Now the real problem I have with the above comments is that they were made after the injuries to Cowboys scouting assistant Rich Behm (paralyzed from the waist down after his spine was severed) and others were announced and reported on.

Are people really that insane? Do they have little to no compassion? Can someone hate a sports team so much that they actually wish ill will on the players and people that are a part of the organization?

What is wrong with some of America's sports fans? What kind of person says things like that in the wake of a tragedy, just because they hate the team?

Also, to every fan who commented on this story, there is no reason to qualify your comments with "I REALLY hate the Cowboys, but...". Do you deserve a gold star for hating the Cowboys but still feel bad for a father of three whose life changed in a blink of an eye?

There will be many people out there right now that are probably crying "free speech."

I believe in freedom of speech when you can't hide behind an anonymous username on the Internet. 

I believe in freedom of speech when people know your name, know what you look like, and know who you are in society.  

I believe in freedom of speech, not freedom from consequences.

If everyone had to put their true name, location, and picture on their profile before commenting, I would allow everything to be said. Because at some point that person will to go to work, shop at a grocery store, and be seen in public.

Fans need to realize they can still love their team and still be compassionate for another team's tragedy. They should look to the players and coaches that they are a fan of for guidance. 

Read what Washington Redskins coach Jim Zorn said, or look at the image at the top of this article. The 21 on the helmet is for the late Sean Taylor, of those same "hated" Washington Redskins.