Eagles

Eagles

Athletes deal with outside criticism in different ways. 

On Tuesday morning, Eagles cornerback Ronald Darby dealt with some of his. During a series of three tweets to his 46,000-plus Twitter followers, Darby said "half way fans that sit around and wait for mistakes to talk trash" would be getting blocked.

He quickly realized that probably wasn't a good idea. 

"I was just in my feelings," Darby said on Thursday afternoon. "I gotta grow up. I had a horrible game, probably one of the worst games I have ever played. And that ain't nobody's fault. People expect highly of us. I do apologize ... to y'all too for that. That was childish. And I'm too grown for that."

Darby, still just 23, said he realized he made a mistake with the tweets when his supporters began to baby him. He called playing in the NFL a "grown man game." 

Darby isn't the first player to take criticism too hard. And he won't be the last.  

"I was like Darby when I first got here. It was annoying," fellow defensive back Jaylen Watkins said. "You think I'd be ready for it; I played at UF. The one thing I noticed, that you can't get mad because they fill out the stadium. ... You can't ask them to be so into the game and filling up stadiums and then when we do bad, say, 'Hey, be quiet.' It kind of comes with the territory."

 

Watkins, of course, said there's a line some fans cross. He thinks it's understandable for fans to question on-field things. If a fan wants to question effort on a particular play or why that player did something, fair. Name-calling crosses that line. 

"With that being said, clearly Darby doesn't suck," Watkins said. "When you make a comment at him that he sucks, it's very irrational. It makes you pissed off as a player, as a teammate."

The game that led to Darby's three tweets — two of which have since been deleted — was one of the worst of his career, according to him. He made a huge, game-changing interception, but also struggled for most of the afternoon. 

While Watkins pretty much tries to let the criticism roll off his back, Brandon Graham learned to handle it a little differently. 

Julius Erving might be the career leader in blocks in the city of Philadelphia, but Graham has to be pretty damn close. The Eagles' defensive end has become a well-known Twitter blocker. 

"That's the best thing," Graham said. "Changed my life." 

Graham noted that the same people he blocks on Twitter will be the ones begging him to unblock them when things start going better. He said after 2013, the first year with Chip Kelly, is when he came to his epiphany and began to use the block button. 

"That's when I really flipped it," he said. "That's when I was like, 'Why am I even worried about this stuff?' All you gotta do is block them. They say something, they interrupt your eyes as you're scrolling, 'OK, I don't want to see that. OK blocked.' You know what I'm saying? Because you shouldn't have to read all the bad comments, especially if you don't want to. 

"For me, I'm not going to look for anything bad, I'm always going to try to get better at what I need to work on. Overall, some people just coming at you because they can type and just say whatever on social media."

Head coach Doug Pederson said all he can do as a coach is try to educate players and make sure they understand there are always going to be highs and lows. 

"Some guys it bothers them, some guys it doesn't," Malcolm Jenkins said. "With any teammate, you just want to make sure that they're focused on the next play, the next game, not getting too far down on themselves, not getting too high on themselves. I think Darby's one of those guys, he has high expectations for himself and when he doesn't meet them, it gets to him. Gotta make sure that, at the end of the day, even the last game, the pick he made changed the game. 

"In this league, nobody is immune to getting beat, nobody is immune to having a bad game. But we're going to need him moving forward and he's been a huge part of what we've done this year. Just got to remind him of that sometimes. I don't think we have anything to worry about." 

 

This isn't the first time Darby has dealt with any kind of criticism, but it is a little different in Philly. Darby praised Buffalo's die-hard fans but said they're not as active on social media. 

"Here, it's like everyone and their mother got an Instagram, Twitter, everything," Darby said. "You hear from all over."

Now he just has to learn to deal with it.