The Epidemic of Fans Threatening Athletes


It was a simple nine-yard play.

On the 49ers second possession, Raheem Mostert carried the ball for nine yards, then noticed something didn’t feel right. He went right off the field. Diagnosis: chipped cartilage in his knee. He opted for cartilage repair surgery, which ended his season at four snaps.

Hey, it happens. We watch the clips of what happened to Joe Theismann in 1985, and Alex Smith in 2018. It’s easy to think that leg injuries happen in gruesome situations, especially when those situations are shown over and over again for eternity. Injuries like Mostert’s happens also. Can be a simple cut, can turn your leg wrong … any of those things.

If you aren’t the man’s immediate family, the normal way to handle this is, “This is unfortunate … who’s the backup?” Mostert knows this, Mostert’s family understands this. Anyone that goes in the NFL understands this fact of life. You get hurt, someone can step up and take the job. You can either find a new opportunity elsewhere, or the career can be over just like that.

Not in this era. Not for his wife, Devon Mostert.

Besides the concern for her husband, she found cruel and threatening messages from fans telling her that he should kill himself, that he’s made from glass, that he should play through pain like the old days. A lot of these came from people who picked Mostert high in fantasy football.

Yes, fantasy football.

I admit it, I play fantasy football. I think I’ve been pretty good at it over the years, but it’s not a way of life. I’ve never put together more than one team at a time, and if I win, I win. If I lose, I lose. There’s a fun bragging rights thing to it, especially this year when I am in an eight team group with friends and colleagues. That said, you watch your scores, you either have a good week or a bad week, and move on.

Not with these meatheads.

Raheem Mostert’s case is not an isolated one. This has been happening for years now. Brandon Jacobs once got a death threat before a late season game in 2013. It went something like this.


(Notice the intelligence of the guy using the disgusting N-word)

Then it’s followed up with this.


This is over a fantasy football game. Fantasy. Means not real. Means people that failed as athletes living vicariously through real athletes getting angry at athletes being human and having a bad day…as if the athlete’s thinking about Ralph Malph’s fantasy team instead of his bonus status, place on the team next year, and family’s welfare over a couple tough weeks. Calvin Johnson’s had to deal with these. Justin Tucker has even had to deal with these, and he never misses. I always enjoyed Torrey Smith’s tweet telling how he hated fantasy football because fans take it too seriously.

I admit it, even though I play fantasy football, I hate it for that very reason. I wanted to stop this year, and I might after this year anyway, who knows. It’s my little protest over these meatheads.

The problem is that it’s not just fantasy football, and it’s not even the worst type of stories. Another story from 2013 involved Alabama kicker Cade Foster. He had a bad night against Auburn, which admittedly was not the team you want to have a bad night against, especially in that state. That said, after three missed FG, and forcing Saban to yank him for another kicker…which led to an iconic play by Auburn watched by millions of people. You all know the play.

That said, Foster got a ton of hate tweets and threats after the game. His teammates came on out and supported him. It got so bad that some Bama fans had to start a Facebook page in support of him, and they went after the fans themselves, who subsequently went radio silence and deleted their pages.

All over a kid. They threatened a kid’s life over a game.

Kyle Bambard was a Sophomore for NC State in 2016. He dealt with this after missing a game winning field goal against Clemson. Another Alabama kicker, Joseph Bulovas, dealt with this in 2019. Name the year since Twitter began and it happens.

They are threatening kids. Freshmen, sophomores. They threaten lives over their own inadequacies.

Fans, this is the thing. Threatening lives over your fantasy league, or losing in a rivalry game, doesn’t make you look cool. It makes you look like an emotional nitwit, and it makes you look like an absolute coward. Also, if you try to prove you would have the guts to follow through on the threats, these athletes will either make your face a permanent part of the concrete, or they’ll just call the police and give you a permanent criminal record. It usually depends of the financial status of that said player. Terry Crews is right…really rich people don’t waste their energy on fights. Wastes energy and way too much to lose.

Here’s an idea. How about creating your own proud legacy like these athletes did? Start a non-profit, small business, volunteer at a shelter, anything. You are all so intent on living vicariously through millionaires with a rare gift that you let your emotions go way out of control. As I mentioned, these players aren’t thinking of your stupid fantasy team. With the exception of a select few players in the league, one mistake in a game can affect financial interests and their future in the NFL.

Fantasy football is a billion dollar industry, and I respect its impact. There’s nothing that makes me want it to disappear. As I said, I play it also. College fans are also the most passionate fans on earth, especially in rivalry games. I’d never want that to disappear either.

But it’s time for the emotional nitwits out there to grow up.

Twitter – @PunditPund1

Published in Sports
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There are 11 comments.

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  1. Tex929rr Coolidge

    Props for the Ralph Malph reference.

    This is an artifact of our digital world. There were always loudmouth creeps like this; they are the guys who talk too loudly in sports bars about how ineptly some major league pro athlete plays, when the loudmouth was the towel boy.  The internet just makes it easier for these blowhards to spread their invective further under the mistaken belief of digital anonymity.  They run like bunnies when confronted in person.  Add in the legacy of these sorts of folks as parents of youth league athletes and it’s a self sustaining supply of ill mannered and ill tempered morons.

    • #1
  2. Franco Inactive

    Well that’s what direct communication begets. That and gambling. Fantasy football is usually a contest for money and therefore not fantasy to stakeholders.

    I suspect the person who used the Nwird is himself black judging by the context. 
    Telling people who make these despicable threats they aren’t cool, is doing nothing. Zero. I will lay odds that no one reading this has ever, or will ever threaten an athlete. Nor will the type of person who does such things be reading or absorbing your lecture, unfortunately.

    As to making such threats in person and predicting the results… we’ll that’s why there are almost no incidents of that happening so you can spare your warnings on that account. These people know that, which is why they are threatening anonymously via social media.

    I wouldn’t be surprised if a good portion of these threats come from teenage boys. 

    To use these acts to make any kind of judgement on people in general is a huge mistake in logic and perspective.

    One person out of hundreds of thousands does something like this. They are a tiny minority.

    • #2
  3. Miffed White Male Member
    Miffed White Male

    There’s a fine line between Fantasy and Delusion.

    • #3
  4. B. W. Wooster Member
    B. W. Wooster

    The point of any game is to compete at your best. If the guy I am playing against isn’t putting forth his best effort – then he shouldn’t expect my respect.  But if he perseveres – and fails – he is my brother.  It seems we have lost appreciation for the phrase ‘worthy opponent’. 

    I have often said that I want my business competition to succeed.  By doing so, they make me and our company better.  A rising tide raises all ships.  

    • #4
  5. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    I played competitive full contact hockey until I was around 31 or 32 years of age. When my son started to play high school football I was never too concerned about wins and losses. He played on a good high school team, but I only saw one player that might have had a chance to play Division 1, or as it is now called FBS college football. I did see, and hear a lot of dads’ that were living the dream, and complaining about the coach ruining their kid’s chances to play college, and pro-football. It get’s old, and worse berating their son, and coaches after a game. It’s not every dad, but there were times that I stopped the conversation with; How’s he doing in the classroom?

    • #5
  6. Doug Watt Moderator
    Doug Watt

    The brighter side of athletics is a kid that wants to play sports learns teamwork, and if they want to play they can’t cut classes. They must do enough class work to be eligible to play, in other words if they want something they must achieve some other goals before they can step onto the field.

    • #6
  7. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens

    We have to move to a state when people use social media to threaten others, they are tracked down, hauled out of their homes in handcuffs, tried, and sentenced for something serious.

    When there are consequences, people will change their behavior. 

    But, we live in a time when shoplifting is OK and violence is OK, but making Pro Life statements are not. 

    We live in a dystopian nightmare. 

    • #7
  8. Vince Guerra Inactive
    Vince Guerra

    I was in the breakroom one day with a pretty exciting game on the tv. I noticed all of the football guys in the room were glued to their phones checking on their fantasy teams instead of enjoying the game. 

    I remember thinking (might have said it out loud), Come on guys, it’s the NFL, not Pokemon. 

    • #8
  9. EJHill Podcaster

    As long as the money is real the games are not fantasy. And the leagues are now complicit. With fractured audiences for a fractured media landscape they all chase dollars that are better left on the table. 

    For the 2019 season CBS was offering NFL games with a $1,000 buy in and a $5,000 pay out. I’m not sure they limit how many teams an individual can enter. Of course, now, in the post-Christie v NCAA world, you don’t need fantasy games. State sanctioned sports books are popping up everywhere. They don’t means test their players. They don’t care if you’re putting up the mortgage payment. They run their 800 numbers for 12-step programs and have a serious announcer say serious things like “play responsibly” in a serious manner and they have their legal bases covered. 


    • #9
  10. The Reticulator Member
    The Reticulator

    Let’s talk about these losers behind their backs and then up our game and make despicable threats against them.

    • #10
  11. RushBabe49 Thatcher

    And did Twitter remove any of those threatening tweets, as they should have done?  My guess is that they did not.  Some users are more equal than others.

    • #11
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