It has become all too commonplace for professional athletes to find themselves knee-deep in a social media mess (looking at you Rashard Mendenhall, Kenny Britt, and Santonio Holmes, to name a few). But a professional cheerleader Twitter scandal doesn't come around all that often.
Let's take this one from the top.
At the Dallas Cowboys / Miami Dolphins Thanksgiving Day game last Thursday, TE Jason Witten was shoved out of bounds after making a pretty good catch on a pass from QB Tony Romo. Witten, a pretty big guy, was carried by his momentum right into a Cowboys cheerleader named Melissa Kellerman. Everybody involved was okay, and it ended up being a funny moment in a pretty decent holiday contest. Here's the video of the incident:
After the game, Kellerman posted a couple of lighthearted tweets about the incident. Here's a screencap of the innocuous tweets:
By Black Friday, Kellerman was no longer tweeting. Her Twitter account was gone. NBC's Darren Rovell broke the news and suggested that the Dallas Cowboys organization was responsible for the deletion.
@MelissaRae off Twitter. Not allowing these girls to capitalize is criminal.Shame on the Cowboys for pulling cheerleader
The sports media jumped all over the story, with nearly everyone admonishing the Cowboys organization for yanking the poor girl off Twitter for apparently no other reason than the fact that she joked a little bit about the Witten incident. As an example, here's what Jeff Jacobs had to say about it on his Square Peg blog:
Harmless. All in good fun, and you would think “America’s Team” would have been all smiles for this great PR opportunity to drop in their lap. This is the team that allows a “reality show” on CMT with the cheerleaders. The “official” Facebook page refers to the cheerleaders as “America’s Sweethearts”. Great opportunity, right?
Yep. Great opportunity for the Cowboys… to TOTALLY BLOW IT.
So now, with Social Media, the Cowboys have performed as they have many times on the field.
It seemed pretty obvious that the Dallas Cowboys had royally screwed up, inexplicably axing this girl's Twitter account. For a while, there was no official response from the team. Finally, a new wrinkle to the story emerged when Cowboy PR issued a statement denying any involvement in the shutting down of Kellerman's Twitter account.
"The organization doesn’t get [into] administering the Twitter accounts of players or cheerleaders. Melissa made her own decisions regarding her account over the weekend.”
Kellerman's account is currently back up and running - only now it is set to private.
It seems as though there are a couple of explanations for this whole Twitter fiasco. First, the Cowboys made a rash decision and shut down the account for whatever reason. Then, in response to the media firestorm, reinstated her account but only allowed her to keep it on a private basis.
Or, Kellerman shut down the account on her own, and later decided that a private account was the way to go. It's entirely possible that after her brief touch with Thanksgiving Day notoriety, she received too much attention on the social site. Any celebrity knows that folks on Twitter can be pretty harsh, and maybe the young cheerleader simply received too many unsavory @ mentions for her liking.
If the Cowboys organization is in fact responsible for the shutdown, it would be an exercise in hypocrisy. It's not like the Cowboys ban players from talking about stuff that happened during games. Players like Demarcus Ware, Jason Witten, Miles Austin and Dez Bryant are all very active on the site.
Either way, this kind of thing always opens the door for discussion about athletes (and other public figures) on Twitter. We've been witness to so many social media fails since the rise of Facebook and Twitter, it begs the question: does the openness of it all pose too much of a threat to organizations? Were things better for teams when press conferences were the only method for players and staff members to address the public?
Should organizations (especially sports teams) limit the social media activity of everyone associated with them? Restrictions are already in place in the NBA, NHL and NFL that limit the times in which members can use social media.
And on the specific topic of Ms. Kellerman's tweets. Is this a case of an organization making a dumb decision? Or is it a case of of young girl not ready to cope with a sudden influx of attention? Let us know in the comments.[Lead Image courtesy dallascowboyscheerleaders.com]