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When social media plays a ludicrous role in NFL contract negotiations

NFL players around the league are using their platforms to send a message, but is it even worth discussing?

Cleveland Browns v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

There are a lot of reasons to have a natural hatred for social media. The platform doesn’t matter. Instagram, Facebook, Twitter, Tik Tok or any other medium which I don’t even know exists. They all can be useful and fun, but also infuriating and a time suck.

What has bothered me for a long time, especially recently, is how social media plays a role in sports. I love sports. Always have and always will. While social media gets you closer to the players than ever before, recent trends are mind-numbingly awful.

I’m talking about the trend of people noticing players removing teams/cities from their bios, who they follow/unfollow and even posts they might “like”. Here is an example:

Oh my goodness! AJ Brown took Tennessee out of his Twitter bio! Alert the presses!

Sadly, this does make headlines, and sadly players are using their platforms in ways to somehow help their negotiations with their current employer. With NFL players getting paid in new ways, guaranteed money, and more than ever, players want their piece of the pie. And they don’t care how they have to do it.

Skip workouts? Sure.

Unfollow their current team? Why not.

Go after fans on social media? Seems to be par for the course.

Before someone fires off a comment on how this is just the way things are in 2022 contract negotiations, I have to ask you what T.J. Watt did last season as he was positioning himself for a new contract before playing out the 5th year option on his rookie contract? Sure, he decided to not participate in team drills/preseason games, but did he unfollow the Steelers on Twitter?!

Watt didn’t do any of that. His stance was made, he stuck with it, he showed up every day and he eventually got paid handsomely. To date, the same is happening with Minkah Fitzpatrick. While it isn’t known if Fitzpatrick is attending Phase 1 of Organized Team Activities (OTAs), have you noticed anything different with Fitzpatrick, especially on social media?

Absolutely not. The Steelers have made it known they want to, an plan on, extending Fitzpatrick’s contract, but they have other business to tend to first. Once the 2022 NFL Draft is concluded, and any remaining free agents are obtained, the Steelers will hit the negotiating table with Fitzpatrick and his representatives.

What’s sad is it truly does seem like the way Watt and Fitzpatrick handle their business is anything but the norm in today’s NFL. More players are using whatever leverage they can, including their own personal platforms, to get their next contract.

I don’t blame the players. They deserve to get paid, but what you quickly realize with some of these tactics/antics is they would be meaningless unless someone noticed. Maybe this is where this tale turns south, and it has nothing to do with the players. Maybe it’s the fact fans, and media, are so glued to these accounts they notice these small details.

Diontae Johnson caused a stir on social media Monday when it was reported he didn’t attend the first voluntary practice for the Steelers. I was then told he also took the Steelers out of his Twitter bio and unfollowed the team. This was news to me. I honestly couldn’t tell the first thing of Johnson’s profile. Do I follow him? Yes, it’s part of the job. Do I go through who he follows to see if he is still following the Pittsburgh Steelers? No, that’s not part of the job.

This is the world we live in, and I understand this fully. But this new trend is something which certainly is odd, to say the least. Will it continue? As long as teams notice and give these players what they want, it will. In the meantime, the hope is the Steelers continue to do their business the way they always have. Behind closed doors and off social media.