By Savannah Malnar
Professional athletes are always expected to have professional interactions with fans of the sport. Whenever an athlete makes gestures or even yells at fans during a game, that gets media attention. But wide receiver Brandon Marshall of the Chicago Bears took interacting negatively with a fan to a whole new level on Thursday.
Many athletes run their own twitters and interact with fans through that social media outlet; it provides an environment for them to respond to fans’ questions and criticism publicly. This can be both good and bad, depending on the athlete’s composure on the site. Marshall lost his, actually challenging a Detroit Lions’ fan to a fight.
The fan tweeted at Marshall a screen shot of his own comments on an Instagram photo Marshall had recently posted. The fan, in these comments, said “Remember when you called Detroit the little brother?”, referencing a comment made by Marshall last season, and then two more comments highlighted with expletives and a personal insult to Marshall’s mother.
Now, Marshall could have ignored the tweet like many athletes often do to rude fans. Some athletes even reply with sarcastic or funny remarks if they feel the need to actually interact with the fan. But Marshall decided to reply with an “offer,” telling the fan that he would give him $5,000 to “get in a ring” with him. He then upped the ante, saying that if he (Marshall) lost, he would pay the fan an additional $10,000. If the fan lost, Marshall wanted him to do 100 hours of community service.
The fan replied asking him to raise the bid to $25,000. Marshall shockingly replied yes, and tweeted shortly after “And you have to apologize to my mom.” The fan never replied, and Marshall tweeted again saying “Deal or no deal bro? This is your chance to back up your talk and make 25k.”
Now, there may be differing opinions by fans on whether this is acceptable behavior by an athlete. But the media’s opinions need to be looked at.
First, both national and local Detroit (where the fan is from) media took it surprisingly lightly. The reports of the words exchanged were written in almost a humorous tone. What was most interesting was the local Chicago sport media. NBC Chicago published a short article on it, and in it was this statement: “There’s no word on whether or not the fight will happen, but in a time when the Bears’ locker room is already suffering from divisions, a lack of leadership, and a coach who is trying to hold it all together, something like this isn’t exactly a welcome distraction.”
Whether the fan knew what he was doing or not, he definitely hit a sensitive spot with Marshall. The underperforming Bears are 3-6 going into Week 11 of the NFL season compared to the Lions surprising record of 7-2.