Frederickson: If fans rake Franklin, 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.