Last night, Chicago Bears' runningback Matt Forte voiced his opinion on the criticism facing the Chicago Bulls' sitting superstar Derrick Rose. Forte chimed in on twitter, and local radio host Marc Silverman responded with some criticism for Forte himself.
Without reproducing every tweet from the two, here is an overview of what was exchanged:
5/10/13 10:32 PM "@MattForte22: Until you've played at a professional level after knee surgery then you can speak on D. Rose situation. If not shhhhhhh #silence"
11:43 PM "@WaddleandSilvy: never heard you say one thing about YOUR qb when he had a sprained MCL during the nfc title game."
8:08 AM "@MattForte22: Guess I struck a nerve with @WaddleandSilvy u must be the twitter tough guy considering you've never done my job but u want to criticize me"
Six minutes later, Forte continued with a response to one of his followers who offered to "beat the sleeves off the dude": "Lol u good bro He's a 5'4" dude that hides behind a radio mic"
Forte had a number of additional tweets continuing to jab at Silverman and defend himself from the criticism. The Waddle & Silvy account has been inactive for over ten hours.
First things first: Silverman is at fault here for imbibing in a petty, "public" twitter fight last night. Choosing not to respond directly to Forte, however cowardly, probably would have been the best idea. The possibility of this situation getting blown out of proportion should have been foreseeable. I just find it clear that Forte comes off worse in this situation than a theoretically inebriated sports radio show host questioning a public comment made by a local professional athlete.
Come to think of it, those exact words kind of... define Silverman's job. While he is not paid to criticize, per-say, he is paid to share his opinion. Granted, Silverman was not on the air while this happened- again, he chose to partake in the eventual argument. However, Forte attempts to call Silverman out for criticizing him without having done Forte's job.
This is a tired and pathetic argument, often used by athletes frustrated with the media. Such acts are usually at their worst in Duncan Keith-like sexist situations, but such a poor response is almost more tacky when its being used in an argument taking place over social media.
Were Silverman to stop sharing his opinion, he would no longer be doing his job. Forte needs to remember also, that, while Silverman persisted the situation, Forte himself started it.
The Bears number one runningback chose to offer his opinion on something he had nothing to do with. By voicing his thoughts on the Derrick Rose situation, on Twitter nonetheless, Forte surely must have expected a response. I also am going to assume that by choosing to respond to it, its clear that Forte is aware of the overwhelming disappointment, or at least controversy, of Rose's unwillingness to return. So, why is Forte so shocked by a negative response- or was he hoping for one?
To be fair, I have no problem with either side arguing for themselves. While I find the so-called "twitter war" to be amusing in its stupidity, and that people, especially those in the media, should be wary of taking Twitter comments too seriously, I cannot blame one side and not the other for arguing their position.
The larger issue I take is with Forte's backhanded slap to the fans in his tweet. While the "shhhhhhh #silence" surely was directed in part to the media, a large part of the discussion in the media on this topic has been by the overwhelming majority of fans disappointed in Rose. Not to mention that most fans, if not all of them, fall into Forte's category of people who have not "played at a professional level after knee surgery."
I understand that athletes do not earn paychecks by bowing to the fans. However, I find it odd that the most beloved team in town, time after time, has the most players ready and waiting to speak out against the fans.
When we boo: "Fans shouldn't boo."
When we celebrate the firing of a coach who had numerous opportunities to succeed: "You're stupid."
When we question the unwillingness of an athlete to complete his rehab: "shhhhhhh #silence"
I do not need athletes in this town to praise the fans every chance they get, but for players on the Bears to take shots at the fans through the media as often as they do is baffling. Perhaps their popularity is the precise reason it happens.
The Blackhawks and Bulls do a great job keeping the fans happy. Be sure that their players disagree with fans' comments and actions as much as anyone else, but you'd hardly ever know it. The Cubs, and even the White Sox- who might have the most reason to question their fans- do a better job of respecting and appreciating their fans. Maybe the Bears simply know they do not need to.
The Bears are, and likely always will be, the only professional football team in Chicago. In addition to always uniting the city unlike any other team, the Bears are now only competing with poor baseball teams, a Bulls roster that will always have to face the Heat (with Rose or not), and a fantastic hockey team... which is nothing to the power of the NFL. Bears players can say whatever they want about the fans, because we will always be there.
That, and they are either very illogical or blindly hate us. Radio show hosts talk and share opinions. Fans have opinions and voice them because they want their team to succeed and expect a certain amount of effort and intelligence from players they root for. None of this is news, so why are Forte and his teammates so often confused and surprised when these things happen?
Even if Silverman had not responded to Forte at all, this still would have been a questionable move by Forte. What Forte thinks about the Rose situation is not relevant. Relevant would have been if Forte had something to say about his new coaches and teammates, or upcoming season.
Forte clearly should not be forced to only tweet about his job. Twitter is a public forum, and Forte has the right to use it however he chooses. Likewise, everyone else has the right to question him and his teammates, on and off the field. That is what Forte needs to keep in mind.