Saturday night was supposed to be a night to honor the accomplishments of three of the top players in college football. Ohio State’s Dwayne Haskins, Alabama’s Tua Tagovailoa, and Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray were selected as finalists to become the 80th winner of Heisman Trophy.
It was all Sooners in New York City, as Murray earned 517 first place votes to bring the Heisman Trophy back to Norman, Oklahoma. While everyone celebrated the two-sport athlete’s remarkable season, trolls of the Internet surfaced several old tweets from when Murray was 15 years old in which he used homophobic language. Once again, no one’s Internet past is safe, and everybody willing to knock success down will wait until someone is in the brightest spotlight to call them out.
This season, Murray has racked up 4,945 total yards and 51 total touchdowns, which is just six shy of tying the Big 12 single-season record. His Oklahoma Sooners team is heading for a clash with the Alabama Crimson Tide at the Orange Bowl with a spot in the College Football Playoff national championship on the line.
Still, through all his success, including being selected with ninth-overall pick in the MLB Draft by the Oakland Athletics and winning the Big 12 Championship, nobody bothered to bring these tweets from 2012 to light.
That is, until he was standing on stage holding college football’s highest individual honor.
Scott Gleeson of the USA Today published his story just after midnight on the East Coast, barely two hours after Murray claimed his award. It’s interesting that Gleeson, whose resume includes publishing award-winning series on homophobia and gay athletes, decided to oust Oklahoma’s star quarterback at JUST the right time. Gleeson wrote in his article that Murray’s triumphant night helped to “resurface social media’s memory of several homophobic tweets more than six years old.”
Could a nationally-acclaimed journalist, with a history of writing on this topic, have suddenly stumbled on tweets after Kyler Murray’s win, or is it possible this was a planned attack by Gleeson to drop at just the right time?
There were four tweets using similar language, all of which were later deleted, and Murray apologized early Sunday morning.
“I apologize for the tweets that have come to light tonight from when I was 14 and 15. I used a poor choice of word that doesn’t reflect who I am or what I believe. I did not intend to single out any individual or group.” — Kyler Murray, via Twitter
Everyone is vetted on social media, just ask MLB pitchers Josh Hader of the Milwaukee Brewers or Atlanta Braves pitcher Sean Newcomb, who both were called out for old tweets at the biggest moments of their careers. If that’s not enough, think about Bills quarterback Josh Allen leading up the NFL Draft or Villanova’s Donte DiVincenzo after shining in the NCAA Tournament final, whose offensive tweets were uncovered when their stock was at its highest.
The world we live in exists in black and white, spelled out right from our fingertips. The cell phones, tablets and computers we all own are the gateway to put our feelings into the world, and this is ESPECIALLY dangerous for young kids who aren’t mature enough to make decisions on the impact of their words.
Should Kyler Murray have used an anti-gay slur? Of course not. However, calling out the actions of a 15-year-old kid hours after he’s named the Heisman Trophy winner was done to capitalize on his surging popularity. These tweets didn’t just suddenly appear. This was orchestrated for the perfect time, and it proves that no moment is ever safe from being spoiled.