MIAMI — The Miami Dolphins have fined and suspended safety Don Jones for Tweeting his disapproval of a same-sex kiss that aired on ESPN this past weekend.
ESPN carried footage of Michael Sam’s reaction on Saturday as he learned that he had been selected by the St. Louis Rams, making their 249th choice overall. Sam and his partner Vito Cammisano embraced and kissed each other on national television upon receipt of the news, drawing applause from some and disapproval from others.
Miami Dolphins safety Don Jones was among those who expressed his disagreement of the public act, commenting on Twitter that he found it to be “horrible.”
He later removed the Tweet and one other surrounding the matter, but on Sunday, team officials leveled Jones with a fine—the amount of which has not been announced—and suspended him from the team until he participates in sensitivity training.
“We were disappointed to read Don’s Tweets during the NFL Draft,” Coach Joe Philbin wrote in a statement. “They were inappropriate and unacceptable, and we regret the negative impact these comments had on such an important weekend for the NFL. We met with Don about respect, discrimination and judgment. These comments are not consistent with the values and standards of our program. We will continue to emphasize and educate our players that these statements will not be tolerated.”
Jones later issued an apology, stating that he “regret[s] that these Tweets took away from his draft moment.” He also changed his Twitter page from public to private following the incident.
Former New York Giants Running Back and Super Bowl champion Derrick Ward likewise came under criticism after he posted his thoughts on Twitter on Saturday, even allegedly receiving death threats over his comments.
“I’m sorry, but that Michael Sam is no bueno for doing that on national TV,” he wrote. “I’m fine with it being a new day [and] age, but for him to do that on national TV is disgusting. Gay or not.”
“Man, you got little kids lookin’ at the draft,” Ward also Tweeted. “I can’t believe ESPN even allowed that to happen.”
After he posted his comments, Ward said he received a significant amount of hostility.
“The past 24 hrs I’ve been accused of being prejudice [and] a bigot. Had a few people say they wanted to kill me and my kids,” he Tweeted. “They hope I die. And my kids killed. All because I said I didn’t think it was appropriate for someone to shove cake down another person’s face then tongue them down on national TV.”
“For real, though, most of you need to read the Bible,” Ward also wrote. “It’ll explain a lot in that book.”
He stated that he wasn’t against Sam, but that he believed his actions were overboard on camera.
ESPN has expressed disapproval in the past over remarks from Christians who disagree with homosexual behavior. As previously reported, the network released a statement last year after commentator Chris Broussard stated that he believes homosexuality is a sin.
“Personally, I don’t think you can live an openly homosexual lifestyle, or [engage in] premarital sex between heterosexuals [as a Christian],” he explained. “If you’re openly living that type of lifestyle, then the Bible says you will know them by their fruits. It says that it’s a sin, and if you’re living in unrepentant sin—whatever it may be, not just homosexuality—adultery, fornication, premarital sex between heterosexuals, whatever it may be, I believe that’s walking in open rebellion to God.”
Photo: Jeffrey Beall