Colts use MLB social media controversy as opportunity to educate players, young athletes

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Public apologies from professional athletes have become all too common in recent weeks, as Major League Baseball players Josh Hader, Trea Turner and Sean Newcomb all had offensive tweets they posted as teenagers brought to light years later, causing controversy.

“Once your name becomes stained, whether it’s through social media or how it may be, it’s tough to repair that. Your reputation is really at stake,” Colts Director of Player Engagement David Thornton said.

CBS4 sat down with Thornton, a former player himself, about how he uses this as an opportunity to advise the 90 guys currently on the team’s training camp roster.

“I think it’s more customized for each guy, may be a guy does need a fresh slate and start a whole new account or maybe a guy just needs some tips on some things he should consider changing,” Thornton said. “Think about your tweets and does it align with your own personal identity, does it align with who you are now as an NFL athlete.”

Thornton told CBS4 that just this week he shared with his players an article 11-time Pro Bowler Jason Witten wrote for ESPN, outlining his social media commandments, which includes not replying to negativity and to avoid posting anything that wouldn't make your family proud.

"Any time you have a guy who is a credible player who has had success on and off the field, I think he's a voice that's worthy of us listening to,” Thornton said of Witten. “Just the tips and the guidelines that Jason Witten offered to professional athletes, I thought were great. They were very insightful, they were helpful and whenever we have opportunities to teach our guys from resources such as that I like to share that with our guys. So they are aware of those commandments, the ‘do’s and the don'ts,’ that Jason Witten offered, they were simple, clear and had a positive intent behind it."

Thornton also explained that vetting players' social media is something the organization does thoroughly in its evaluation of a player and his character.

"It’s really important for us to dive in and see who are we bringing into our locker room to hopefully be an investment that is going to help our team improve, rather than a risk."

Thornton also sees this as an opportunity to educate young athletes on the importance of being mindful with social media activity.

"If you are using social media whether it's Twitter or Instagram or Facebook, really just think, just think before you press send, is this something that my family would be proud of, is this something that down the road I would be okay with anyone reading about me because once you press send, there's no retrieving that information."

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