This is what I’m thinking:
Normally, I’m a fan of the frequent tweets sent out by Erie County Executive Mark C. Poloncarz, especially about sports.
But I was a little startled on Super Bowl Sunday by a tweet he sent while the National Football League was trotting out all the living former Super Bowl most valuable players.
You might expect a professional athlete to do something inappropriate on Twitter despite all the warnings they have been told about dealing with social media.
But you don’t expect the county executive to do it.
“Is this the introduction of the living members of the NFL’s all-CTE Team?” tweeted Poloncarz.
I thought the tweet was inappropriate, insensitive and inaccurate.
Sure, many of the MVPs over 50 years looked old. But they also looked like they had their wits about them.
CTE, which stands for chronic traumatic encephalopathy and is caused by repetitive head trauma, is a very serious issue that shouldn’t be treated with sarcasm or as a joke.
I immediately replied to Poloncarz’s tweet on Sunday.
My tweet to him: "I usually enjoy your tweets. That was inappropriate. Especially since you deal with Bills."
Then he messaged me: "We should talk sometime about the NFL… as someone who has dealt with them and owners my view is different than others."
I replied: "Sounds good. I wouldn't be surprised if we agree on a lot. Between us, I wouldn't let my sons, now 31 and 22, play football before anyone knew of CTE.
On Monday, I noticed that he deleted the tweet and asked him why.
"Just thought what I was trying to say didn't work well in that tweet,” wrote Poloncarz. “We can talk about it."
So we did talk on the telephone late Monday afternoon. And I was impressed by his make-up call for that inappropriate tweet.
He had a much bigger local issue on his mind than NFL concussions. He was reading reports Monday of the almost 30 deaths from drug overdoses here since Jan. 29. “It is terrible,” said Poloncarz.
But back to what he was trying to say in the inappropriate tweet.
Poloncarz said he thought of the tweet when he saw Fred Biletnikov, the MVP of Super Bowl XI and primary receiver of the late Oakland Raider quarterback Ken Stabler, come out as one of the former MVPs. When Stabler died recently, it was announced that he had CTE.
“I found it interesting they will bring them out, but they really don’t want to talk about the CTE issue,” said Poloncarz. “They say how it is an important thing, but I sometimes question that, as to whether the NFL really does care about those issues. I understand why the players make a lot of money. They put their physical bodies on the field at risk and as we know now they also are pretty much putting their brains and minds at risk. The NFL … is a business by the owners who are very, very wealthy, multi-billionaires most of them, and I they think they are more interested sometimes in the long-term positive view of the league as compared to the health and welfare of the players.”
After further review, Poloncarz decided to delete the tweet.
“I thought it was put more in a sarcastic tone and other people thought I was trying to do it as a joke,” said Poloncarz. “It really wasn’t per se a joke, like a funny joke. It was more of I was trying to show what I consider a little bit of disdain towards what I feel is the NFL and its response to the CTE issue As a result of people not taking it that way, I didn’t feel necessarily it was appropriate to keep it online if others thought I was trying to make fun of individuals who actually are suffering from illnesses now.”
He added that not everyone was as offended as I was.
“Some people actually thought it was hilarious and retweeted and favorited it and others asked, ‘why are you picking on these men?’ It was sort of a critique of the NFL as an organization and how they have treated CTE victims and I didn’t want people to think I was mocking or making fun of individuals who were suffering from illnesses now.”
Poloncarz wouldn’t go so far as to say he regretted sending out the tweet.
“I don’t know if I regret posting it,” he said. “I just did in inelegantly. I should have been more forthright if I was going to post it in that way, and rather than do a more sarcastic tone, to say, ‘I am disappointed to see the NFL honoring past members when they are many of them hurting or suffering.’ They generally seem to try and avoid that subject matter. I should have been more direct to the point. It probably made sense to delete it rather than have someone else read it and wonder what I was attempting to say there.”
After further review, the local rating for Denver’s 24-10 Super Bowl victory over Carolina was even higher than first indicated because the start time of the game was pushed back to 6:45 p.m.
The game finished with a 56.4 rating on Channel 4, which made it the highest-rated program in Buffalo television history since meters began measuring the audience here in April of 2000. The game also had a 76 share here, which means more than three quarters of homes watching television were viewing the game.
WIVB-TV had the fifth highest-rating for the game among the 56 CBS affiliates in metered markets. The average of the 56 metered affiliates was a 49.0.
Nationally, the game was the third most-watched program in television history, which actually could be viewed as a disappointment since Super Bowls are expected to break viewership records annually with the population growing.
Finally, tonight is a big night for TV’s examination of fantasy sports betting, much of which involves the NFL.
PBS’ “Frontline” tackles “The Fantasy Sports Gamble.” The program airs at 10 tonight on WNED-TV, two hours after Showtime’s “60 Minutes Sports” addresses the same subject. I haven’t seen the Showtime piece.
Walt Bogdanich of The New York Times is the correspondent on the “Frontline” program, which explains why the fantasy sites feel Congress has made their businesses legal. The program leaves it to viewers to decide if fantasy sports is a game of skill, gambling or both.
If I were a betting man – and I’m not much of one -- I’d guess that most viewers who see the experience of a reformed gambling addict who was lured to fantasy will conclude that fantasy really is gambling and should be regulated as such.
Another important “Frontline” piece arrives in two weeks. That’s when it addresses the heroin addiction problem that Poloncarz discussed with me on Monday.