New England Patriots apologize for tweeting to user with racist name

New England Patriots apologize for tweeting to user with racist name
The National Football League has been in hot water this season due to its fumbling of domestic violence scandals and protests that one team’s name is racist. Now the New England Patriots are apologizing for having a Twitter follower with a racist handle.

The perennial playoff contenders became the first NFL team to pass the one million Twitter followers mark on Thursday. To celebrate the milestone, the marketing department created a promotion that would tweet out a personalized Pats jersey with the name of anyone who retweeted the post.

And @IHATEN------S was one such person.

The @Patriots account then automatically sent out a photo with the handle ‒ racial slur and all ‒ superimposed over the back of a team jersey.

The tweet in question.(Screen grab/Mashable)

The tweet from the team’s official account soon went viral.

The Patriots then removed the offensive tweet, and sent out an apology blaming its filtering system, promising to be more vigilant in the future.

“Unfortunately this incident will bring attention to the person who figured out he'd be getting this attention, and really it's just unfortunate that he's out there at all,” Frank Schwab noted on the Shutdown Corner blog. “But it's also a large social media fail by the first NFL team to reach one million Twitter followers.”

The Patriots public relations snafu looks minor in comparison to that of the Washington Redskins. At the beginning of November, a federal judge ruled that the team can sue the Native Americans responsible for the team losing its trademark back in June. The group had asked for the suit to be dismissed, saying they have no financial stake in the outcome of the ruling. The lawsuit is just the latest drama in the ongoing saga over the team’s name, which many people see as a racial slur.

Players in the NFL are fined for using slurs, but the league itself had to apologize for a situation involving religious insensitivity by its referees in September. Husain Abdullah, of the Kansas City Chiefs, was penalized for “excessive celebration” during a Monday Night Football game for dropping to his knees in Muslim prayer after scoring. Fans on social media pointed out that Christian players often pray in similar fashion and are not penalized. The next day, the league announced that Abdullah should not have received a penalty.

Since June, the NFL has struggled to handle several high profile domestic violence cases involving star players.

On September 8, the Baltimore Ravens cut Ray Rice, their star running back, after a February video of him knocking out his then-fiance (now wife) in an Atlantic City, New Jersey elevator was made public ‒ despite Rice’s admission to the team of the incident when it first happened. The NFL, which had originally suspended the 27-year-old for two games (half the punishment for a player smoking marijuana), then declared Rice was suspended indefinitely.

Just four days later, a warrant was issued for Minnesota Vikings superstar Adrian Peterson on felony charges for reckless or negligent injury to a child.The 29-year-old running back had spanked one of his sons with a tree branch (or “switch”), resulting in numerous shocking injuries to the child. The Vikings wavered back and forth on suspending Peterson, but finally caved to public indignation and the threat of sponsors dropping the team, and placed him on the NFL's exempt list, barring him from all team activities until his child-abuse case is resolved. Peterson pleaded no contest last week to a lesser charge of misdemeanor reckless assault, and will have a hearing with an arbitrator agreed to by the NFL and the players’ union on Monday. He is expected to ask to be reinstated to the Vikings.

The football league must also figure out how to deal with two other, lesser-known players who have been accused of domestic violence, Carolina Panthers defensive end Greg Hardy and San Francisco 49ers defensive end Ray McDonald.