New Cleveland Browns head coach Hue Jackson might be excited to see running back Isaiah Crowell pair up with Duke Johnson this season on the field, but he probably doesn’t want to see too much of him right now before training camp—and he certainly would like him to stay off of social media entirely.
The third-year running back, like so many around the country, was affected by the recent shooting deaths of two civilians and five police officers over a three-day span that drew national headlines and international attention. He was affected enough to bring his voice to social media, a decision that he regretted.
I am efforting in this post, as I always do when I verge on these sorts of topics, to emphasize very clearly that the focus of the article is in no way political and voices no opinion nor endorsement of any kind, but rather takes a disinterested—not uninterested—stance.
My focus here is instead on a player on a rival team and his decision-making, and the consequences that may ensue. Coincidentally, the Pittsburgh Steelers are no stranger to experiencing controversy as a result of something that one of their running backs had to say as it pertains to a political topic.
Former Steelers running back Rashard Mendenhall several years back at this point took to Twitter to voice his opinion about the national celebration that was spurred on by the news of the death of Osama bin Laden, and also offered his position that 9/11 may not have been entirely an outside job.
While it certainly drew a lot of public scorn, I do not recall that he was disciplined by the team in any way, nor do I recall a public apology. Still, it is a mark that he wears for giving voice to his political thoughts as a public figure.
Crowell, a Georgia native, took to Instagram to express his frustration over the shooting deaths of two African Americans by police who had either pulled them over or were sent there as a result of a 911 call. Both incidents began innocuously enough as far as reports can be indicated, but both ultimately resulted in a fatal discharge by the police at hand.
The third-year running back posted a graphic image that depicted a police officer being slain by a masked assailant, and wrote accompanying text that read, “they give polices [sic] all types of weapons and that continuously choose to kill us”.
The post was soon deleted, but it was captured by somebody and spread over social media. On Monday, he issued a public apology for sharing the graphic image, saying in part, “I posted an image to Instagram in the midst of that emotion that I shouldn’t have and immediately removed it. It was an extremely poor decision and I apologize for that mistake and for offending people. My values and beliefs do not match that image”.
The former undrafted free agent is expected to play a key role for the Browns’ offense this season as a new system is implemented with a new quarterback and new wide receivers. It would seem unlikely that this should have any impact in altering those plans.
Update: After writing this article, the Browns provided the following statement, which makes it ambiguous as to whether or not he will receive any sort of team-based discipline:
We have spoken to Isaiah regarding his extremely disturbing and unacceptable social media decision,” the team’s statement said. “It was completely inappropriate and we have made him aware of our high level of disappointment. Isaiah has apologized but also knows that just an apology is insufficient and that he must take steps to make a positive difference after a very negative and impactful post.