FLORHAM PARK, N.J. — Hashtag: Think before you post something on social media.
That’s the message New York Jets coach Todd Bowles has given his players about using forums such as Twitter, Instagram and Facebook.
“I don’t want them to be robots,” Bowles said after the team’s final mini-camp practice June 11.
“They’ve just got to be smart about it. There’s a fine line between hurting the team and hurting yourself. Then, talking on social media, you’ve got to be smart about it.”
Bowles, who acknowledged that he doesn’t use social media, has already discussed the potential drawbacks of a questionable choice of words.
Earlier this week, San Francisco 49ers coach Jim Tomsula made it clear that he wants nothing to do with any of it, but intended to speak to his players to offer guidance about how to be responsible when posting comments.
“It’s about being smart and when to say things and when not to say things and what to say,” Bowles said he told his Jets. “And as far as football, keep things to a minimum.”
Bowles, in his first season as Jets coach, is quite a bit more reserved than predecessor Rex Ryan. Gone are the days of bold predictions and brash statements in must-see news conferences — and Bowles thinks that stuff has no place on the Internet, either.
“Obviously, we don’t want to have a whole team that gossips and hasn’t done anything,” Bowles said. “I’d rather for us to just work on getting better as a team as opposed to just talking on social media.
“It’s the players’ prerogative, but they’ve got to understand that if the coach isn’t happy doing certain things, they’re going to have to cut it short.”
Bowles did not comment directly on a Twitter squabble between cornerback Antonio Cromartie and former tight end Kellen Winslow Jr. that carried over into June 11.
Winslow took exception to Cromartie putting teammate Dee Milliner on the spot during a faux interview June 9 when he took a microphone and asked if Milliner thought he was “on the roster bubble.” Winslow, who played with Cromartie and the Jets in 2013, blasted his former teammate in a series of tweets June 10.
Cromartie responded on Twitter by saying Winslow wishes he were as good as his father, Hall of Famer Kellen Winslow, and asked if he had been to Target recently — a reference to an incident in which Winslow Jr. was arrested in New Jersey in a Target parking lot for possession of synthetic marijuana.
A judge dropped the case on the condition that Winslow meet with probation officers for a year and stay out of trouble.
Winslow then tweeted that he and Cromartie should “get in the ring,” and he would “whoop” him. But Winslow wasn’t done, adding that Cromartie should “learn your kids’ names.”
That was a reference to Cromartie appearing to struggle to name his several children during an episode of HBO’s Hard Knocks in 2010.
Cromartie declined to comment further in the locker room, but the Twitter feud opened the discussion on where Bowles stood on the use of social media.
“I would never police somebody what to say,” Bowles said, “but you’ve got to understand what kind of situation you’re in when you say these things.”
(DENNIS WASZAK Jr., AP Sports Writer)