In the seconds after Joshua Morgan’s unsportsmanlike-conduct penalty Sunday that wound up contributing to the Washington Redskins’ loss to the St. Louis Rams, teammates had to go through the range of emotions. Frustration turned to empathy quickly.
“After I got over the initial gasps that I saw the flag come down, I started thinking about him and how he was going to handle it and just being on his side, because we all make mistakes,” nose tackle Barry Cofield said.
Morgan didn’t get a sense of understanding from some people on Twitter, who instead insulted him and threatened his life and his family.
“I heard everything, especially when they got you on Twitter, and they start sending the death threats and wishing bad on your family and your first born and things like that. You see it all; you hear it all,” Morgan said Wednesday. “You don’t got no choice but to see it all and hear it all. But you never let it get to you, especially me being from D.C.”
One Twitter message said: “You should be cut. I swear to god if I ever see you in te [sic] DMV I will murder you [expletive] peice [sic] of [expletive], I WILL KILL YOU.” Another said: “I will kill you in your sleep you autistic [expletive].”
Morgan made it clear he was not worried about any of the threats.
“We have security that takes care of those issues. They’ll look at it and see if it’s serious or not,” Redskins coach Mike Shanahan said. “Security will look at it, and then they’ll recommend what we should do.”
Morgan made a catch with 1:19 left in the fourth quarter Sunday and threw a ball at Rams defensive back Cortland Finnegan in frustration once he got off the ground. The 15-yard penalty forced the Redskins to settle for a 62-yard field goal attempt by Billy Cundiff, which missed wide right and short. The Redskins lost 31-28.
Teammates did not lash out publicly at Morgan this week, explaining anyone could have been called for that kind of penalty.
Fans on Twitter piled on. One that Morgan was referring to included the message, “I hope someone throws a football at ur [sic] firstborn child,” and another called him one of the worst things to happen in D.C., along with the “crack epidemic.” The wide receiver received Twitter messages saying he should jump off St. Louis’ Gateway Arch and kill himself, among many negative tweets.
Threats, whether on the Internet or otherwise, are often taken seriously, but Morgan brushed them off.
“The only thing I take serious is football and my family,” he said. “Nothing really scares me. I’m from D.C.”
Morgan called the Twitter threats a source of motivation. He did not respond to any of them.
“You’re not supposed to respond,” Morgan said. “You’re supposed to respond by your actions, and that’s what I’m going to do.”
Shanahan used the incident as a teaching tool for his team, but indicated earlier in the week he would not discipline Morgan.
The NFL did, though, as Morgan said he was fined an unspecified amount.
Morgan has been dealing with the fallout since Sunday evening, but insisted he’s not bothered by it.
“It’s not hard at all. I’ve been in this situation. I’ve seen it happen, and I’m one to learn from my mistakes as well as other mistakes,” he said. “I just go out there and keep building, keep staying positive and keep working.”
Given the public backlash, all teammates can do is feel for Morgan.
“Mistakes happen. Most people in their life, when they make a big mistake, it’s not viewed by millions. They don’t have to worry about death threats because they can make it in the privacy of their own homes,” Cofield said. “I’m sure he’s going to have opportunities to rebound, and hopefully, he can make up for it with a big play here or there.”