COLUMBIA — After seven straight victories, Missouri quarterback Blaine Gabbert had an overwhelmingly friendly relationship with his 7,000-plus followers on Twitter. But the Tigers’ first loss of the season last Saturday brought out what sophomore receiver T.J. Moe described as “the haters.”
While the majority of tweets headed toward Gabbert’s Twitter page were supportive, many fans took advantage of the social media outlet to bash him.
At one point Gabbert tweeted, “Headed back to work. People who hide behind twitter accounts are funny to me!”
One of Gabbert’s critics responded that he is in Columbia every day, and if he saw Gabbert in person, he would call him an offensive name.
The situation at this point wasn’t too surprising. With direct communication between fans and athletes becoming increasingly simple thanks to websites like Twitter and Facebook, fans hating on players is fairly common.
But typically the conversation is one-sided.
On Sunday, Gabbert responded to the angry tweet by simply saying, “You should.”
“It was a poor decision,” Gabbert said. “That’s all I really have to say about that.”
Gabbert has since deleted the tweet, so when someone browses his time line they can no longer see the comment.
“When I see things like that I feel like my role is to just encourage him and try to give perspective that everybody deals with that,” Chad Moller, the MU football team's spokesman said. “There’s a little bit of perspective I just try to add and keep him not too worried.”
Missouri football coach Gary Pinkel refused to comment on whether he discussed Gabbert’s online exchanges.
“That’s all internal,” Pinkel said. “We always tell our players that any kind of social networking is like a press release, and we take it as that. That’s our policy.”
Moe, who is also an active Twitter user, said ignoring angry fans is the best way to handle these situations.
“You just try to stay out of it,” Moe said. "We get a lot of haters. That’s just how it works. They’re going to love you when you’re doing good. They’re going to hate you if you lose. I don’t even think Blaine played poorly. We lost the game, and the camera’s on him all the time.”
No one is forcing the athletes to use Twitter, so Moe feels like that players just have to accept everything that comes their way.
“You’re kind of asking for it if you have a Twitter account or a Facebook,” Moe said. “It sort of comes with the territory. If you want the praise and all that kind of stuff and you want all the fan interaction then you have to deal with the haters."