Frederickson: If fans can rake Franklin on Twitter, he can fire back

ST. LOUIS — Boy, did James Franklin screw
up.

Yes, Mizzou’s quarterback talked himself into
trouble Tuesday, and it was really, really bad.

“What
were some of your reactions from your first season in the SEC, to some
of the fans?” a reporter asked Franklin at SEC media day No.
1.

Franklin’s teammate, receiver L’Damian Washington,
had previously said South Carolina fans were rude. And because a quote
like Washington’s offered an answer that was not a cliche, the reporter
probably figured it was worth seeing what Franklin would
say.

First, the senior laughed.

Then — really, you’re not going to believe this —
he went after his own.

“Well, actually, probably the
rudest fans I experienced were Mizzou,” Franklin
said. “My own fans. Once I kind of did bad, they were not
saying some nice things to me. So, I really don’t try to pay attention
to that stuff. But just for the books, I would say I heard some pretty
not-so-nice comments from my own fans. But football is football.
Everyone can say what they want to.”

Cue an angry
Mizzou Nation.

Who does this kid think he is, taking a
shot at the loyal fans who cheer for him and his
team?

Surely, as Franklin’s comments made their way
from Alabama to Missouri in bits and pieces via Twitter, some folks
would respectfully tell the quarterback his comments weren’t cool,
right?

Well
then.

It turns out the Mizzou fan base Franklin took a
(mostly lighthearted) jab at has some members who can be a little
unpleasant at times.

Maybe, if more people realized
that, they would become less appalled by what Franklin said, and more
concerned about what is being said to Franklin and any other college
athlete in this country brave enough to own a Twitter
account.

Everyone realizes that is where Franklin
hears the not-so-nice comments, right?

I highly doubt
people are sending hate mail to the Mizzou athletic department. In
fact, if they took the time to write things out instead of firing
140-character cheap shots, they probably wouldn’t say anything at
all.

But online, impulse rules. And if the social
media environment Franklin lived in during a turbulent,
injury-ridden 2012 season was anything like it was
Tuesday, chances are there were comments about him, some sent
to directly to him, that might have been hard to
shake.

Franklin must
have realized he made some people angry. He somewhat backpedaled on his
initial remarks, telling reporters later in the day he was
referring to one comment made by one Mizzou fan. But that
evening, he expanded his scope once again when he posted the following
message on Twitter and Instagram.

I hope Franklin’s
reversal shows he has decided it’s OK to call out fans who cross the
line. As he said in his original statement, “Everyone can say
what they want to.” Everyone should include the quarterback,
too.
 

Follow Ben
Frederickson on Twitter (@Ben_Fred), or contact him at
frederickson.ben@gmail.com.