Does Twitter Define A Player?

By Christina Rivers

Sunday, Mark Madden, a Beaver County Times Sports correspondent wrote a piece that tore apart the Pittsburgh Steelers and players.  His premise was that young players, like Mike Wallace, aren\’t really loyal to the Steelers organization, but to fame.  His evidence?  The way that “a new breed of Steeler” are using social media site Twitter to show their lack of maturity and lack of credibility.

Twitter has become as much a part of social media as it has an untamed forum for free expression.  When Maurkice Pouncey turned to Twitter following the Steelers\’ loss to Denver in the 2011 playoffs, he opened a can of worms some people are still popping Tums over.  Pouncey\’s @ProBowler53 account has been taken down, and today it shows this:

Maurkice Pouncey old Twitter pagePouncey was hammered for using a level of profanity that raised a lot of eyebrows and for promoting a rap album instead of what?  According to Madden and many others, for not showing proper respect to his team following what many felt should have been a big disappointment.  The All-Pro center was injured and didn\’t play in the game.  NFL rules prevent usage of social media, cell phones and other devices on the field.  Essentially, what Maurkice Pouncey “tweeted” was on his own free time.  However, his rant against disgruntled fans (and possibly some who were not Steelers fans), included the infamous response, “why would I be mad I’m rich play for the steelers and have a awesome life!! Are u mad loser“.  It wasn\’t much longer and Pouncey posted this message: “I like to take the time to apologize for my action. its just hard to end like that an i couldn’t help my team fight.”  Pouncey has since changed his Twitter handle to @MaurkicePouncey and recently posted, “GM, A leader is one who knows the way, goes the way,and shows the way.”  Perhaps attacking a player for personal messages left on their feed shows as much maturity as a player responding back in anger.  After all, aren\’t players as human as those who are “followers” of their feed?

With Mike Wallace under the microscope and people questioning why no team is going after him in free agency, it\’s easy for someone like Madden to point fingers – especially at Wallace\’s “tweets”.  According to Madden, Wallace is a “lame duck” who is not only undeserving of top-receiver money (in the range of Larry Fitzgerald of the Arizona Cardinals), but has an “inflated ego and arrogance.”  He sites Wallace\’s message on Twitter, “I love when haters hate.”  Last Thursday, a Twitter user sent a message to Wallace that said, “I make Movies”- your about to be makin burgers unless u sign with the Steelers soon,” to which Wallace replied, “never I got cash I will make u make em for me clown.”  With near-constant ribbing and harassment from people who simply choose to be negative towards a player, is it any surprise that the player responds in a negative way?

The question, then, becomes whether a modern social tool like Twitter, which is often used to gain a relationship socially with fans and personal friends alike (“followers”) is backfiring.  Should players be chastised more openly for their free expression than others because they are viewed as “stars”?  It is apparent that certain messages have damaged the reputation of some professional football players (see Rashard Mendenhall\’s “tweets” regarding the killing of Osama Bin Laden and his views that violence shouldn\’t be celebrated).  However, I don\’t agree with Madden when he says that the Steelers organization consider the “antics and attitudes” of players and “ban players from Twitter.”

While Twitter is a tool, I don\’t believe that messages posted on its walls define a player.  Those messages may share a side of a player that fans or others may find disturbing, appalling or even disgusting.  At other times, messages can be as uplifting as a quote, a personal response to a “follower” or an acknowledgement to someone\’s questions.  I base my definitions of players by how they play, the charitable works they do off the field, the way they treat their families and the courage they show week in and week out when dealing with adversity (especially on the playing field).  To me, Twitter is a place where anyone with something to say can do so without much thought, without using spell-check and without fear as to repercussions.  Some people, both in and out of professional football, use it well.  Others don\’t.

The Steelers aren\’t the only team who\’ve had players that speak their minds online.  They certainly won\’t be the last.

My final thoughts are this:  If I spent as much time looking for negative “tweets” by professional football players, as Madden and some people obviously do, I truly wouldn\’t have a life.

What do you think?

About the Author

Christina L. Rivers
Born in 1972, Christina L. Rivers follows in her maternal Grandmother's shoes as a writer. Christina is currently a journalist for, and writes for several blogs. She has recently been added as a writer for SteelersDepot and 'The Beam' in Pittsburgh. Christina's favorite Steelers players of all-time are Terry Bradshaw, Franco Harris, Jerome Bettis, Ben Roethlisberger, Troy Polamalu and LaMarr Woodley. She is active on Twitter @3Rivers_Writer. Christina also enjoys collecting NFL cards, and has over 5,000 individual Steelers cards, some as old as the late 1950s.
  • Stonecrab7

    Mark Madden does not have a life. “Mr. Negativity” has richly earned every firing and demotion he has ever gotten, which has been quite frequently : O

  • Huskie

    If you follow Wallace on twitter, you can see he tweets a lot of stuff and a lot of it is very immature. That said he is young and some immaturity is to be expected. I think antonio brown and e sanders both do a very good job with their twitters. I also haven’t seen anything bad from timmons, woodley, or pouncey (since that incident). I think twitter can give players a nice way to connect with fans, but players also have to be mature enough not to let loudmouths get under their skins. I saw the tweets that Wallace responded to and they were very petty and honestly stupid, but Wallace needed to just let them go. I hope Wallace isn’t just chasing fame, I’ve heard he’s a model teammate and hard worker. If he is, the organization will see that and do the best to give him a good contract. If he’s just looking for a payday, he’ll be gone and we’ll move forward like we always do. No point belittling him, just let the steelers organization do what they do.

  • LOC

    Same Mark Madden that broke Sandusky ?

  • The_Comedian

    dear NFL– with the new TV package money coming 2014, add 2-3 more player spots on the roster; spread the wealth. These guys are making INSANE MONEY as it is. The wealth has gone to their heads and will get worse.

  • Joe D

    The article was spot on…
    There are many that use social media appropriately… Hines, Clark, etc…

  • Huskie,
    I agree that Twitter messages can, and sometimes do, convey a level of immaturity. That is on the part of many people.
    Regarding Wallace, I have seen many posts that were indeed petty. I think that is why a lot of “veteran” players have PR people that handle their Twitter and other social media accounts. For example: Ben Roethlisberger doesn’t actually write on his Facebook account; Erin Cox does it for him. I don’t think it is because he isn’t interested in connecting with fans, but because he has been on the burner, so to speak, and understands that you can get burned by people who have a personal beef with you whether it’s about a game or not.
    Thanks for your comment!

  • 🙂

  • Huskie

    I follow the majority of the steelers on twitter and I can say for the most part I think they just use it to goof around and have a good time. They’re young guys who have been thrown into a lot of money. If the worst trouble our players get in is for some twitter comments, than we should consider ourselves lucky as an organization.

  • kevin

    Mark Madden is and has always been a media troll. It is difficult to take anything he says seriously

  • Jprankster2005

    Truthfully this might shock a few and I don’t really care but Wallace isn’t about the steelers organization just because the fact he said I would love to play in San Fran and New england…. When your loyal to your team you don’t say things like that……. Bascially he’s all about the money 100 percent if the worse team would offer him fitzgerald money he would jump and say see ya later….. I’m not saying he doesn’t deserve to get paid but he aiin’t worth 5 yrs. 50 million in my book………. I was hoping someone would of offered him a ridicolous contract and he left and we got the extra pick……He wasn’t a first rounder and we have had very good luck with recievers in mid to late rounds…… And after this yr. if he’s not signed were going to be n a deeper whole trying to resign sanders and brown along with Wallace wanting all this money…… I think Brown is a better reciever than wallace anyways…… And i know the question is about twitter and I think they should listen to herm when he says don’t hit the send button……. we the fans pay for them to get all the money and bascially i wish they would just get rid of the bad seeds…… i hope someone picks up wallace and we get the extra pick…… I seriously would rather give Burress a 5 yr. deal than him but I know I’m not a GM and I know he’s the fastest reciver and all that say what you want but thats my opinion…. He’s a joke…….

  • Guest

    I am a huge Steelers fan. However, I also understand that the players are doing a job. Why is it bad for a player to want to go where they get the most money? If you were offered a better paying job, but I told you that you were disloyal for considering working for a different company, you would think that I was crazy. Oh, and you work in a business where you get fired/cut/waived as soon as they find someone else better than you, regardless of your contract length. How much loyalty would you show to this company?

    In addition, do you realize that Wallace has been playing under a 3rd round rookie contract where (by NFL standards) he has been underpaid these past few years. This may be his only chance to get a “big money” contract. Most players don’t get more than one shot at such a contract before their careers are done.

  • Guest

    If you mean the same Mark Madden that copied a Harrisburg paper article in the Beaver County Times without attributing it, then yes. Also, the same Mark Madden that got fired from the Pittsburgh radio station for basically being a jerk and attacking people on the air.

  • PoKey21

    I dont see how twitter is a bad thing. If someone doesnt like what a player is saying dont follow him, its simple just dont read it. If players were smart they would have 2 accounts. 1 that everyone knows. Then one only he knows with a made up name. That way he can be politically correct on one then say whatever he feels on the other. Now if we had players driving drunk or fighting in bars it woud be a much bigger problem. For example I think Wards reputation as of late had a lot to do with the Steelers not resigning him for maybe a 1 year hometown discount.

  • Guest

    So Mark Madden wants to tell these guys how to use twitter yet he uses his twitter account the exact same way he criticized them for. Mark Madden has had a grudge against the Steelers for years now, that won’t change. If you listen to Mark Madden for Steelers advice that basically somes up what little football knowledge you actually have.

  • John B.

    I think people take twitter way to seriously. And when players get snappy with people online its just being human. Yes they’re supposed to be buisness like professionals and be faces of a franchise. so you’d rather them be FAKE for YOU online? if you can say whatever you want to a player and disrespectful then you should expect it back. Even you, Dave, you give a disclaimer of you giving sarcasm and rude tweets. its YOU being YOU. when Ed B. posts tweets, alot of the time its sarcasm…so should he not be sarcastic because he works for the Post Gazzette?

    Twitter is used to express YOUR opinion. If Rashard tweets 5 days worth of Osama talks, how does that effect the way he plays on Sunday?…IT DOESNT. is his tweets going to be posted when you walk in the Steeler complex? NO IT WONT. so who cares?? People can be WAY too uptight when it comes to opinions. You dont like the opinions expressed? then UNFOLLOW THEM! i dont blame Ben for not having one im sure he’d get nothing but rape comments from trolls no matter what he posts.

  • Denise

    In view of this Twitter issue I believe people have a right to say what’s on their mind BUT in good taste. A person can be disgusted, upset, angry or what ever they are feeling and still say what they want but use a little common sense period. If they are going to use the ” Social Media” then do it with respect- Not only to yourselves and others. Football for us fans are entertainment and we follow our hearts into the games when we choose a team we support..but when there are constant negative comments that is what you are going to get in return. While we all should keep in mind that these guys are YOUNG and not always on top of the world..they too have bad , terrible days. We as humans understand this but when they are in the Public’s eyes and have many followers there are other ways to describe your feeling or disappointments or anger. I think- in my opinion- that is what makes me upset. Everyone has a ” right” to use these tools BUT yet there is enough negativity in the world do we need to continue more. There are many more problems and issues that playing football. This to me wanting this large sum of money ( that has NOT yet been earned) is about ” GREED” and not for love of the game. No can really say it is a bad thing to want more money in a job or maybe even go where they can get what they are asking or want. BUT- greed in my mind is a very ugly thing. What about others who are without or don’t make the NFL and are playing elsewhere- such as ” Arena Football”- now there is nothing wrong with this either as I love the game BUT you sure don’t hear them busting loose on Twitter demanding that their needs be met. All I am trying to say is these players have to be realistic. There are many good players but what they need to remember is this: If Greed is the factor and not love and heart for the game you will and can very well be replaced to those players who have that desire…just some food for thought! In the end ” greedy people” lose!

  • John B.

    Or MAYBE, he drove the price up to stay with the steelers! or MAYBE you shouldnt “believe everything you hear” like he stated on twitter. dude has far exceeded his rookie contract, and until he holds out or actually says on air he wants that kind of money, then i’d say react like that. Brown was good last year, and half that reason was cause teams were all over Wallace, which of whom didnt complain when Brown was getting most of his catches.

  • John,
    Great point about Roethlisberger. I don’t know if that is the reason why he doesn’t handle his own social media accounts, but I think you are right that people would be calling him “Rapelessberger” all day long. And Mike Wallace’s “haters” statement is true. People love to hate the Steelers.

  • Which is why I wanted to point out what a hypocrite Madden is. I definitely don’t follow him. I found his article to be disgustingly biased. But it did bring up a point about the use of Twitter that I thought fans could weigh in on.

  • I really don’t think it is about greed. I think if you ask for the big money, then you can send a message to other teams that you believe you deserve to be paid that much. The price can always be negotiated.

    As for players making huge amounts of money — that is a fact. There are a ton of players in the NFL who are getting paid more money than they are worth.

    If you look at college coaches, for example, they often get paid more money to run the football program than a ton of professors put together. Some say it is because the football program brings money into the school. When you see colleges raising tuition and then dropping other educational programs, it makes you wonder where that extra football money goes – doesn’t it?

    I don’t doubt in any way that Wallace loves playing pro ball.