I was in Michigan over the weekend. But I did not see the now infamous Michigan-Michigan State game, where Blake O’Neill bobbled a low snap on a punt attempt with 10 seconds left on the clock, then fumbled the ball as he attempted to salvage a kick. Michigan State sophomore Jalen Watts-Jackson picked up the loose ball and carried it 38 yards for a touchdown as the clock expired.
As always, some Michigan fans (should we call them that) brought down the hammer via Twitter and other social media outlets and sent shocking, hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of its students.
- Tyler Gross tweeted, “I’m 80 yard punter Blake O’Neill and I have Direct TV and I’m no hands O’Neill and I have cable.”
- A man named Chris Vomish tweeted that O’Neill “…should go to the equipment room and “start chugging that bleach my friend.“
- Another tweeter told O’Neill to “jump off of a cliff into a pool of spikes and cyanide” and that “you might as well cut your hands off.”
Sports builds character, but sports also reveals character — and not just the athletes. While few Michigan-Michigan State fans know Andres Escobar, his ghost must have been pacing the Michigan field.
Why is Escobar important? And how are Escobar and Michigan University related?
Well, Defender Andres Escobar, known as “The Gentleman of the Field,” accidentally put the ball in his own net in a game against the U.S., contributing to Colombia’s rapid exit from the Cup and a massive national disappointment. Colombia entered the 1994 World Cup among the favorites to win it all, led by star goalie Carlos “El Pibe” Valderrama and forward Faustino Asprilla. But then the unthinkable happened. The squad lost 3-1 to Romania, midfielder Gabriel Gomez received a faxed death threat and the coach contemplated resigning. Ten days later, 27-year-old Escobar was shot dead in a Medellin parking lot in a killing that sparked national outrage.
Escobar’s murder remains unsolved.
And to the Michigan keyboard warriors, what do we say? Nothing, for they live behind their own hatred and shame. Today, we read of parents berating coaches, punching referees, and lately coaches telling players to take out referees. Brazilian referee Gabriel Murta, produced a handgun after he was slapped and kicked by a player when he (the ref) decided not to give a red card over a foul.
It’s insane. Stupid people do stupid things, keyboard warriors are no exception.
Sports in America was never intended to achieve this level of inhumanity. Nevertheless, we should be repugnant at the level of protests “we fans” create in the wake of player mishaps and referee decisions. Such inhumanity displays scant regard for the men and women, players and referees alike, and turns a “blind-eye” to our own hidden vile.
What followed the Michigan-Michigan State game was nothing short of thuggery. All of us need to need to reevaluate our support and our morals. We should support O’Neill. I’m not a Michigan fan and I support O’Neill.
Colombian Defender Andres Escobar asks us too.