The offseason is inevitably a period of projection and speculation, which makes it the ideal time to ponder the hypotheticals that the Pittsburgh Steelers will face over the course of the next year, whether it is addressing free agency, the draft, performance on the field, or some more ephemeral topic.
That is what I will look to address in our Buy or Sell series. In each installment, I will introduce a topic statement and weigh some of the arguments for either buying it (meaning that you agree with it or expect it to be true) or selling it (meaning you disagree with it or expect it to be false).
The range of topics will be intentionally wide, from the general to the specific, from the immediate to that in the far future. And as we all tend to have an opinion on just about everything, I invite you to share your own each morning on the topic statement of the day.
Topic Statement: The civility of players on social media matters and is something the Steelers should take greater interest in.
Explanation: There are obviously some things that are not acceptable in any context. A player threatening to kill somebody or expressing hostile bigotry toward somebody would obviously be a problem. A player liking a Tweet from a former teammate is more of a gray area.
Yes, absolutely the Steelers are long overdue to be more proactive rather than reactive when their players do wrong, and this does not necessarily have to stray away from Head Coach Mike Tomlin’s preference to ‘let men be men’. While they are men, they are also employees, and thus ambassadors of their organization, as well as reflections on his own job performance.
Regardless of what you might think of any particular reporter, for a player to refer to an overweight journalist as “fat boy” is out of line, which is literally what Bud Dupree did. He wisely deleted it and made his account private after that.
Perhaps the team—or somebody like Dom Rinelli—let him know that that’s not okay, and he needs to take a timeout. Tomlin has told others, like Mike Mitchell and DeAngelo Williams, to sit out on social media for a while, so there is also precedent here.
Barring radical exceptions such as those laid out in the explanatory text above, players should be responsible for policing themselves. If they have something stupid to say on social media, social media is damn sure to let them know that they said something stupid, and they will learn their lesson that way.
It’s not the coach’s job—it certainly shouldn’t be—to micromanage their players’ lives. Advising is one thing, but to threaten, for example, significant consequences for poor etiquette on social media if going too far. I’m sure Tomlin is going to be asked about Dupree’s tweet and what he plans to do about it. It shouldn’t go beyond ‘he knows he made a mistake, and we’ll address the rest in-house’. Free of any suggestion of reining others in.