In November, in the closing seconds of the Cleveland Browns’ 21-7 victory over the rival Pittsburgh Steelers, what unfolded was not only one of the ugliest moments in the history of the National Football League, but arguably, in sports. During an on-field altercation between players of both teams, the Browns’ Myles Garrett ripped off the helmet of Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph and struck Rudolph in the head with the helmet multiple times.
The immediate result was Garrett’s ejection from the game. The following day, he was suspended indefinitely by the league.
It turns out, that suspension will be just six games.
On Wednesday, the NFL announced it had reinstated Garrett, effective immediately. The league’s decision allows Garrett to practice with the team, take part in team activities, and participate in off-season workouts, which begin in April.
Just hours after the decision was made public, the topic has gained steam via social media. And with the help of Social Studio, we’re able to look at the reaction.
A Social Studio search of “myles” and “garrett” generated more than 21,000 posts, nearly all of which have occurred today (Feb. 12).
One of the more surprising results from the search is that the sentiment has been predominantly positive. Of course, Social Studio does not account for slang, sarcasm, or other jargon that is posted, in determining sentiment. One thought is that the term ‘reinstatement,’ which has been used to refer to the NFL decision, is positive, therefore any social media post using that terminology would be deemed as positive.
Upon further inspection, there are positive and negative words in the word cloud generated by Social Studio. This sheds light on some of the terminology being used on social media in response of the news.
Perhaps most surprisingly, however is an examination of the top influencers of the conversation. There are those to be expected, such as ESPN’s SportsCenter, BBC Sport and Twitter Moments. But Social Studio has revealed that the satirical, The Onion, has wielded as much influence as the aforementioned sources.
The Onion, as well as its secondary accounts, such as Onion Sports Network, have a tweet that has gained plenty of traction. The tweet reads: “NFL Rescinds Myles Garrett Suspension After Review Footage Clearly Shows Mason Rudolph’s Punchable F****** Face.” The Onion’s tweet alone received over 1,400 likes as of 2 pm ET on Wednesday.
While most news reports have appeared impartial in delivering the news, others arguably have not. This includes ESPN’s Adam Schefter, who tweeted this, to present the facts, but also the good deeds of Garrett:
Whether you agree with the decision made by the NFL or not, it’s now official that Garrett’s leave of absence from football is over. He’s set to be back in the Browns’ starting lineup this fall.
We’ll be checking back on the response to Garrett’s reinstatement from our perch in the Adam Brown Social Media Command Center.