Brandon McDonald apologizes for tweet….


It’s a question no NFL coach had to ponder 10, five, even two years ago. But Monday morning, Browns coach Eric Mangini had to spend preparation time lecturing his players on the hazards of tweeting and using other social media.

The topic came up as a result of a tweet sent on July 27 by cornerback Brandon McDonald in reaction to the Cincinnati Bengals signing receiver Terrell Owens. The tweet, which has been removed from McDonald’s Twitter account, used obnoxious language to describe what McDonald expected the Browns’ secondary to do when they meet Owens and the Bengals.

It could have been brushed off as harmless player-to-player trash-talking, if not for the crude language. It goes contrary to the message of family friendliness the new Browns’ organization headed by President Mike Holmgren is striving to deliver.

Mangini indicated the club would discipline McDonald for the tweet.

McDonald, who did not practice on Monday because of an ankle injury apparently suffered in the team scrimmage on Saturday, said that he was not aware of any discipline and had not spoken with Mangini about it.

“Social media is a great way to connect with the fans,” Mangini said. “[Players] have a responsibility to do that in a way that represents the organization the right way. That’s their responsibility and they’re accountable for it. If they don’t do it, there are consequences to those actions.”

McDonald said he regretted the tweet.

“It started out as a joke and it’s escalated to what it is now,” he said. “I really didn’t mean anything by it. It was a bad decision on my part. One thing I don’t want to do is cause a distraction to this team and I think that’s what it has become.

“The way it was taken is not really how it was meant. I take full responsibility for it and it won’t happen again.”

But McDonald said he doesn’t intend to stop tweeting. He uses his account to interact with friends and fans and plug his football camp and sales of a T-shirt bearing his apparent slogan for this season: “IT’S TRU.”

Tweeting has become so popular in the NFL — and potentially so hazardous — that some clubs monitor their players’ tweets. Mangini said he has no “czar” to oversee it. Last year, the San Diego Chargers fined cornerback Antonio Cromartie $2,500 for tweeting a negative comment about the food served at the team’s training camp.

“Just like anything else, you have to take responsibility for your actions,” said safety Abram Elam, who tweets.

“You’ve got to think before you act,” said tweeter and receiver Chansi Stuckey. “Sometimes it can get out of hand.”

Josh Cribbs is another tweeter.

“I make sure what’s out there is what you really want out there,” he said. “It’s a social tool. A lot of it is a joke. It’s hard to understand texts. That’s how it gets taken out of context.I try not to put things out there I don’t want out there.”

Other players with Twitter accounts include cornerback Eric Wright, receiver Mohamed Massaquoi, linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, cornerback Joe Haden and linebacker Eric Barton.

During his contract dispute with the Browns in the spring, Jackson used his Twitter account to assure fans that he would eventually sign his one-year contract and play for the team in 2010.

“It’s kind of fun to tweet people following you,” Massaquoi said. “At the same time, you’ve got to be careful. Some things can get misunderstood. There is a hazard any time you act a certain way. You never know who’s watching you and what might be interpreted a certain way.”

Players aren’t the only ones in the act. At least two NFL coaches have active Twitter accounts and tweet frequently — Seattle’s Pete Carroll and Detroit’s Jim Schwartz.

Mangini said he didn’t plan to join the craze.

“I’m really not that interesting,” he said.

Receiver Brian Robiskie and rookie quarterback Colt McCoy are among the seemingly-dwindling group of players who do not tweet.

“It takes a lot of time. I need to spend time with my playbook,” McCoy said.

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