Eric Mangini cautious about Twitter

Updated: August 9, 2010, 8:54 PM ET
Associated Press

BEREA, Ohio -- The only loud tweets Browns coach Eric Mangini wants to hear about are the ones coming out of his whistle.

Mangini talked to Cleveland's players on Monday about the pitfalls of social media sites after Browns cornerback Brandon McDonald recently posted a vulgar message directed at Cincinnati wide receiver Terrell Owens on his Twitter account.

McDonald posted his trash-talking tweet shortly after Owens signed with the Bengals. He said he regrets sending it on the site, which has become popular with pro athletes.

"It started out as a joke and it escalated to what it is now," McDonald said. "I really didn't mean anything by it. It was a bad decision on my part to put that up. One of the things I don't want to do is cause a distraction to this team. The way it's being taken is not how it was meant. I didn't mean to disrespect anyone or cause a distraction to this team. That's the last thing I wanted to do right now."

McDonald's posting to Owens has been removed from his Twitter page.

Owens was asked if he knew about McDonald's message on Sunday before the Bengals played the Dallas Cowboys in the Hall of Fame game.

"Who?" Owens said. "I don't even know who he is. Ronald McDonald?"

McDonald said he only knows Owens "on the field. I don't know him personally."

The Browns will host the Bengals on Oct. 3 and visit Cincinnati on Dec. 19.

Mangini will not ask his players to discontinue using sites like Twitter, Facebook or YouTube. Boise State coach Chris Petersen has banned players from posting on Twitter for the duration of the season so as not to cause a distraction in the Broncos' national title chase.

Mangini appreciates how the social networking sites can be valuable communication pipelines between players, teams and fans. However, he cautioned his players to watch what they say, to represent the organization in a professional manner, and make sure they think twice before striking the "send" key.

"With social media, it's a great way to connect to the fans," Mangini said. "They [players] have a responsibility to do that in a way that represents the organization in the right way and that's their responsibility and they are accountable for it.

"If they don't do it, there are consequences to those actions."

Mangini said McDonald likely will be disciplined.

The Browns have at least 17 players who frequently use Twitter, none more so than Pro Bowl return specialist Josh Cribbs, who keeps his more than 33,000 followers updated with daily observations and his whereabouts off the field.

Cribbs understands the hazards of words being taken out of context.

"I have fun with it. It's a social tool," Cribbs said. "A lot of it is a joke. You joke around with a lot of guys. It's hard to understand texts, that's why you have to really be careful because guys will take it out of context. They won't know one guy is kidding while another guy is serious."

Cribbs said there was no misunderstanding Mangini's talk.

"I always take Coach's messages serious," he said. "When he talks, we listen. We take heed and we change our situation. We change everything about us to fit what Coach is talking about whenever he talks."

Not all the players ceded Mangini's warning.

Rookie cornerback Joe Haden tweeted after practice that Mangini fined a player during a meeting simply because his cell phone rang.

"These fines ain't no joke!" Haden wrote. "Somebody phone alarm went off in the meeting and all Coach Mangini said was that will b $1760!"

Haden may be next in line for punishment from Mangini.

McDonald did not practice Monday but received treatment on an ankle he said felt "weird." He has no plans to curtail his busy tweeting, but will be more careful with what he posts.

"There definitely won't be anything up like that again, but I tweet often," he said.

Mangini joked that he has no plans to join Seahawks coach Pete Carroll and Lions coach Jim Schwartz and open his own Twitter account. It would be pretty boring, he figures.

"In my office," Mangini said, pretending to send a message. "In my office. At practice. In my office. In bed. It wouldn't be very interesting. He's as boring as he seems."


Copyright 2010 by The Associated Press

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