The last time we know for sure that Jacob Eason logged on to Twitter was March 22, when he replied “goat” to a post by Adidas’ Director of Grassroots, Shannon Ferbrache.
The last time we know for sure that he logged on before that was Feb. 16, when he retweeted a video of a Kansas walk-on hitting a late-game three-pointer.
If that’s truly the pace in which Eason checks in, his supporters should be encouraged. But in an ideal world, they’d get that pace down to never.
Eason is already one of the most hyped-up quarterbacks in the history of Husky football. Bleacher Report quoted a scout a few months ago that said he could be a top two pick in the 2020 NFL Draft.
He stands 6-foot-6, could probably throw the ball through the uprights on one knee from the 50, and was the Gatorade National Player of the Year in high school. But on the first day of spring practice, Washington football coach Chris Petersen aimed to stunt the growth of Eason’s ever-rising expectations.
“This is a college guy that’s played one year of college football. I just think it’s a disservice to him for you guys to put all this pressure on him, because I’ve seen what’s out there and all this kind of stuff,” said of Petersen of the Georgia transfer. “That’s why I hope he’s got everything off in terms of the social media and all that kind of stuff so he can just lock in. Because nobody in the NFL can even play as good as everyone is making him out to be.”
A couple thoughts on Petersen’s quote. First, the “pressure” the media (and fans) apply isn’t necessarily unfair. College football is a national phenomenon that interests tens of millions of people, many of whom want to know all they can about potential stars such as Eason. Online speculation about what he’s capable of is going to emerge regardless.
But Petersen’s remark about staying off social media is something more athletes should embrace. Twitter’s potential to devastate is far greater than it’s potential to elevate.
NBA Commissioner Adam Silver spoke recently at the MIT Sloan Sports Analytics Conference, where he said he believed many players were “genuinely unhappy.” He thinks social media is “directly responsible” for anxiety running rampant throughout his league.
This may seem ridiculous given that NBA stars make upwards of $40 million annually and get between three and five months off every year. But the constant scrutiny, the anonymous insults — that can take a toll regardless of one’s success.
Two-time Finals MVP Kevin Durant seemed to prove as much a couple years back, as evidence suggested he has used fake accounts to defend himself from Twitter trolls. And he’s a 12-year vet with 11 All-Star appearances. How might an unproven college kid react?
Getting feedback from the right people is critical to self-improvement. Getting feedback from idiots can lead to self-destruction. As Petersen said a few months ago when asked about social media: “I remember as a kid I would think ‘that would be really awesome if I could read people’s mind.’ OK, that’s a bad thing to wish for because that’s what you’re doing on social media.”
It’s going to be impossible for Eason to escape the cacophony of critics completely. He’ll attract a herd of media members every time he’s made available, and will likely get texts from a friend, relative or teammate whenever he’s put on blast. But he — and anyone on that Huskies team, really — would benefit more from ignoring tweeters than he would engaging them.
That’s my advice for Eason, anyway. Not that he necessarily needs it.
In fact, if he’s doing it right — he’ll never see this anyway.