They thought they were better off without us, but now all those athletes are finding out just how much the media helped them.
Remember when athletes used to think the media attacked them and made them look bad? Little did they know the media protected them and mostly just wanted to make them look good.
And now that athletes have their own media — social media — with complete editorial control, sports fans are seeing many of them for what they truly are:
A perfect example came a few days ago when Chicago Bears quarterback Jay Cutler left the NFC championship game with an injured knee and pro athletes everywhere emasculated him via Twitter. Yes, these are the same pro athletes who used to complain that sportswriters jumped to unfair conclusions without waiting for all the facts to come in.
One of Cutler's most verbose critics was Jacksonville Jaguars running back Maurice Jones-Drew, who tweeted: "Hey I think the urban meyer rule is in effect right now, When the going gets tough……..QUIT."
Jones-Drew later tweeted later: "All I'm saying is that he (Cutler) can finish the game on a hurt knee … I played the whole season on one."
Talk about not getting your facts straight. Actually, Jones-Drew missed the final two games of the season — two very important games when the Jags were fighting for a playoff berth — with a knee injury.
Jones-Drew tried to backtrack later when he told Associated Press reporter Mark Long that he really wasn't questioning Cutler's toughness and "people took my joke out of context. I was taking a shot at Florida fans."
His copout only dug a deeper hole for Jones-Drew, who plays in Jacksonville — the biggest Gator town in America. Jacksonville is a place where thousands of Jags' season-ticket holders also happen to be avid UF fans. It's doubtful whether they were amused that the butt of MJD's joke — Urban Meyer —happens to be the coach who brought their school two national titles.
This is one of my biggest pet peeves. I've written it before and I will reiterate right now: The problem with Twitter and Facebook is that athletes are on their own and don't have the media around any longer to clean up their message.
Back in the day when traditional media ruled the landscape, athletes would actually think about what they said before answering a reporter's question. They chose their words carefully and thought about the ramifications of what they were saying.
And even if they did say something stupid, sometimes the media would give them a break and filter out the profane language, bad grammar and offending quotes.
Now athletes on iPhones are sending out tweets without the common sense to edit themselves. Fuelled by their massive egos, they have become addicted to instantaneously dispersing their every thought — no matter how inane or profane — on Twitter.
The real and responsible media would never even consider snapping a cell phone picture of a naked player in the locker room and transmitting it into cyberspace. Such an outrageous action would quickly get a real reporter fired. But Portland Trailblazers center Greg Oden and others have had to apologize for taking nude photographs of themselves that somehow ended up all over the Internet.
Then there's the recent tweet controversy of former University of Florida safety Will Hill, whose Twitter account was littered with disgusting and obscene tweets (yes, the N-word and the F-Bomb are dropped multiple times) like the one where Hill tells his followers about receiving oral sex and smoking a marijuana cigarette while behind the wheel of a car. Amazing that Hill could multi-task so effectively on Twitter, but seemingly couldn't cover a single FSU receiver last fall.
Hill ridiculously claimed on a Gainesville radio show recently that his Twitter account had been hacked and those weren't really his words. Nevermind that the offending tweets date back months and Hill only decided to investigate this alleged hacker when a college football website recently published the embarrassing tweets. If Urban Meyer were still UF's coach, I'm sure he would say Hill is a "great kid" and blame everything on former Sentinel reporter Jeremy Fowler.
We could tell you story after perturbing story of playuhs gone wild on social media.
Every day, it seems, they are revealing their true identities in 140 idiotic characters or less.
Sadly, it turns out, some of our greatest athletes are a bunch of nitwits and tweet twits.
Read Mike Bianchi's blog at OrlandoSentinel.com/openmike and listen to his radio show every weekday from 6 to 9 a.m. on 740-AM. You can e-mail him at firstname.lastname@example.org.