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Did I cyberbully Pittsburgh Steelers QB Landry Jones Friday night?

Landry Jones did not receive a lot of love on social media after his the Steelers second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports

Football is a brutal sport. Physical injuries are an inevitable part of the game, as are humiliating losses, unexpected cuts, and ridicule in the media. Can criticism of a professional athlete on social media ever cross the line? This question popped into my mind last night as I became increasingly dissatisfied with Steelers backup quarterback Landry Jones' performance in his second preseason game against the Jacksonville Jaguars.

For example, I found this hilarious and retweeted it:

This tweet pretty much stated the facts, which I thought needed further publicizing on Twitter:

I had some of my own, which in my mind seemed like an appropriate way to vent frustration about the Landry Jones Experiment:

I was not the only one on social media critical of Landry Jones. There were throngs of us.

Amid the fun and levity, Chris Gazze brought up an interesting point. How would Landry Jones feel about this?

So, what if he does search his name on Twitter?  There are two schools of thought on Landry Jones. One is that he is the hapless victim of incompetent receivers and an in effective offensive line. The other is that the Steelers 2013 fourth round pick quarterback out of Oklahoma has no business on the roster. Fans who want to see the Landry Jones Experiment come to an end tend to be more vocal than his supporters on social media.

Long-time Steelers fan Kelly Anozie, whose cousin Chukki Okobi played for the Steelers from 2001-2006, weighed in on the social media response to Landry Jones. "I believe this disdain for him comes from a fanbase that has watched him these last few years and has seen little to no improvement," he said. As for expressing that disdain on social media, Anozie has an unusually compassionate perspective. "What we see on the field, none of us appreciate the work and pressure each athlete has to go through," he said. "We believe that athletes don't have feelings, nor should their feelings be considered. None of us realize that they have struggles no different than yours or mine. Jones is a young boy trying to make it and few people can appreciate that."

Chad Johnson, chaplain for the Steelers, told me, "These are real people with real stories." Many of the players' stories and struggles are not publicized in the media, yet can have an effect on their game-day performances. Last week, for example, Jesse James took some heat for two dropped passes. Later, it was revealed that he was reeling from the death of a close friend.  A few years ago, fans expressed disappointment in Isaac Redman who couldn't match his previous year's performance. It turned out he was playing with a debilitating spinal cord injury.

Anozie described his brand of fandom: "It's not for me or anyone else to insult. Really it's our job to build the players up."  By that definition, I have fallen short, and so have many other fans of the Black & Gold. On the other hand, professional football is entertainment, and sometimes the source of entertainment isn't amazing play on game day. Sometimes, the missteps provide fodder for humor.

So, perhaps the question isn't "How would Landry Jones feel if he looked himself up on Twitter?" Maybe the question is, "Do fans need to take into account he feelings of professional athletes even though they willing pursued a career in the public eye?"