In my year or so on Twitter, I have noticed the micro-blogging site is a cool way for athletes and fans to communicate. Yes, the 11-year-old boy in me got excited when Rams running back Steve Jackson replied to one of my 'tweets' this summer. But sometimes, the Twitter relationship between fan and athlete doesn't always go as smoothly.
A couple weeks ago, MU student Jared Launius sent Chiefs running back Larry Johnson a few tweets, prompting Johnson to call a Launius a homosexual slur. Johnson was suspended one game for the incident.
For the record, Larry Johnson is a 29-year-old professional athlete with a $45 million contract.
Tigers QB Blaine Gabbert is not.
After Missouri's loss to Baylor on Saturday, former MU football player Austin Huff - who goes by the Twitter handle "TheAHuff" - sent Gabbert some tweets that were, in a word, unnecessary. Both Huff (pictured) and Launius write for the same blog.
Just a few minutes after the game, Huff, 23, tweeted, "@BlaineGabbert is the worst leader I have ever seen at quarterback. Don't ever get up slow and limp off our field again."
(For all you non-tweeters out there, adding a "@" in front of someone's handle alerts the person of the tweet.)
Huff then claims Gabbert sent him a direct message calling him a "f------ idiot."
Huff proceeded to tweet at Gabbert, "@BlaineGabbert Do you not realize that no one likes you? You single handedly ruined our season."
Missouri running back Derrick Washington got involved, sending Huff tweets telling him how out of line he was, and Huff was generally respectful in his replies to Washington.
But talk about making a fool out of yourself, Austin Huff.
Huff doesn't seem to think Gabbert is charismatic enough on the sideline, and yes, he has a different demeanor than Chase Daniel. But that's alright, as Gary Pinkel has noted more than once that he has never asked Gabbert to be like Daniel or Brad Smith.
Gabbert is just himself - laid back, and he doesn't show a ton of emotion. He reminds me of a guy like New York Giants QB Eli Manning, who has been criticized for his demeanor, but has a Super Bowl ring at last check.
Gabbert's ankle injury has been harder on him than anyone realizes, as he has had to adjust his mechanics on every throw. He never asked out of the lineup against Nebraska, Oklahoma State or Texas, even though no one would have blamed him if he did. Instead, he battled for his team and school.
What was most interesting is Gabbert - a sophomore, you may recall - actually had a solid game yesterday, going 30 for 51 for over 400 yards, making Huff's comments look even dumber.
It will be interesting to see if the MU athletic department begins to monitor and control athlete's tweets after this incident. That would be a shame, as guys like Washington and MU basketball player Kim English are actually insightful. There is always going to be a bad apple to ruin the fun for everyone else.
Huff's comments look really stupid today. They will look even worse in two years when Gabbert is one of the five best quarterbacks in the nation.