Don Jones, a 23-year-old defensive back for the Miami Dolphins, posted a short, but clearly negative reaction in response to Michael Sam being picked by the St. Louis Rams during the NFL draft pick. Two concise statements of disapproval have been enough to get Don slapped with a fine and ordered to undergo sensitivity training.
Sam is the first openly gay player in the NFL, and once he received word about the draft pick, he kissed his partner joyfully as cameras looked on. Although the reactions about his accomplishment were mostly positive, Jones used Twitter to call it “horrible,” and say “OMG.” Yesterday, team managers took action and made it clear such comments should certainly not have been broadcast in a public forum.
In a statement made after the words of Don Jones caught the attention of the sports world, Dolphins coach Joe Philbin said the team was “disappointed” to see Jones’ respective tweets during the draft period, and recognized how they had a negative impact on what was considered a major weekend for the football industry. Philbin also said Don Jones has already been part of a discussion about “respect, discrimination and judgement,” and noted the type of attitude Jones displayed while reacting to Michael Sam being a draft pick was “not consistent with the values and standards of [the Dolphins’] program.”
The amount Don Jones was fined has not been disclosed, but at least the incident prompted him to issue an apology that went public last night. In addition to apologizing to Sam, Jones went further by mentioning his fellow teammates, plus the staff, coaches and fans of the Miami Dolphins, presumably recognizing that when negative comments are made by someone such as Jones who is consistently in the public eye, the ramifications can be great.
Don Jones also took a moment to recall his own emotions felt while being drafted in the seventh round to play for the Dolphins, and expressed regret that the “tweets took away from [Sam’s] draft moment.”
Perhaps the team managers thought it was especially crucial for them to act swiftly to convey how Jones’ words were not appropriate because the Dolphins were caught up in a bullying scandal last year. That incident caused Philbin and others in charge to begin working to create a more supportive work environment.
Although Don Jones appeared as a rookie in all 16 games of the 2013 Miami Dolphins season, he’s been barred from participating in team activities this year until receiving education because of his actions.