Former player, T.J. Ward, who spent part of last season on the practice squad of the Arizona Cardinals before being released in October, launched an attack on Twitter yesterday that was aimed squarely at Washington’s head coach Ron Rivera.
While the offending tweets seem to have been deleted now, they were certainly captured by a number of people and shared before that happened.
Thoughts on these tweets from former NFL DB TJ Ward? pic.twitter.com/oMoFtI0IZ4— JPA Football (@jpafootball) July 28, 2021
In the first tweet, Ward suggests that the head coach “just park the Riverboat” in an obvious reference to the ‘Riverboat Ron’ moniker that Rivera has had for years. Ward added the thought that, “His health is beyond that of COVID. Maybe it’s time to let it go.”
Rivera apparently caught Ward’s attention with remarks he made at his Tuesday press conference, in which the coach said that he was “beyond frustrated” with the number of unvaccinated players on the Washington team. Ron elaborated:
The reason I walked in with the mask on is I’m immune-deficient, so with this new variant, who knows? So, when I’m in a group, and the group is not vaccinated or there’s a mixture, I put the mask on, and I do that for health reasons. I have to do that, and I just wish — I hope — that our guys could understand that.
Ward apparently took offense on behalf of the Football Team’s players, tweeting, “Don’t blame the players for your lifelong health decisions.”
Apparently realizing that his meaning might be opaque to some, Ward doubled down on his earlier messages:
At some point you gotta pay for them vices. Cancer runs in my family like many American families. But also bad diets and cigarettes do as well. Except [sic] responsibility. Don’t blame and be disappointed in your 23 year olds cus they have they [sic] own bodies and opinions about there [sic] health.
Ward then went ALL CAPS with a further message to readers:
Y’ALL BE ON HERE GETTING MAD FOR ANYTHING. CAN’T THINK FOR YOURSELVES AND YOU DAMN SURE DON’T DO NO DAMN RESEARCH. Y’ALL GOT A ISSUE WITH WHAT I SAID COME ASK ME ABOUT IT. I KNOW CANCER SO KNOW ME BEFORE YOU TALK THAT BULLSHIT! AND FURTHERMORE, HOW DO YOU EXPECT SOMEBODY TO HAVE EMPATHY FOR YOUR SITUATION WHEN YOU REFUSE TO HAVE IT FOR WHERE OTHER PEOPLE STAND?! CONTINUE ON.
It appears as if Ward had something of a change of heart after perhaps listening to some friendly advice and reflecting on what he had said in his tweets. A look at his timeline now shows the following messages:
Gonna address this one time more. I was not trying be insensitive to anyone effected by the cancer. I know you don’t chose to get cancer. And I tried to clear that up. If you know me and my career you know what my support is for cancer people dealing with it. I’ve been effected— T.J. Ward (@BossWard43) July 28, 2021
Myself closely. I didn’t mean to offend you. God bless— T.J. Ward (@BossWard43) July 28, 2021
I get the impression that Ron Rivera is far more patient, understanding and forgiving than I am, so this limited walking back by Ward on his earlier messages may actually be enough to get a dismissive comment from coach Rivera when he is eventually asked about this by reporters, but I find it really inexcusable.
Ward’s half-apology and apparently insincere assurance that he “didn’t mean to offend” aren’t nearly enough to make up for what he said to Ron Rivera, who has earned the respect of others through a lifetime of playing and coaching football, and more importantly, of caring about and caring for others. The idea that he somehow deserved to get cancer for any reason is beyond the pale.
I stand amazed and incredulous that Ward, having gone on his twitter rant, did anything less than offer a deep and heartfelt apology for what he said.
Although Ward proved himself to be obtuse and unfeeling, I’m sure that the Washington players, who know the coach personally and understand what kind of man he is, will treat his thoughts and messages with a great deal more respect, whether they agree with all he has to say or not.