After black men Alton Sterling and Philando Castile were killed by police officers, social media was filled with extremes of anger.
Cleveland Browns running back Isaiah Crowell expressed his ire by going to Instagram and posting an illustration of a masked man executing a police officer, ISIS-style. (You can view the image, which is disturbing, here.)
His caption read: “Mood: They give polices [sic] all types of weapons and they continually choose to kill us… #Weak.”
The post was quickly removed.
On Monday, Crowell posted an Instagram apology. It read, in part, “My values and beliefs do not match that image.”
He explained that watching black men die at the hands of the police made him emotional. He also referenced his sorrow about the five police officers who weremurdered in Dallas during a protest sparked by the deaths of Sterling and Castile.
Some might see a certain similarity between his post and the Twitter post of former Illinois Congressman Joe Walsh, in which Walsh seemed to threaten President Barack Obama and Black Lives Matter and claimed that “Real America” was coming after both.
The only difference may be that Walsh didn’t apologize. He appeared on CNN and said he wouldn’t have removed the post but Twitter forced him to.
Crowell, though, knows he is an NFL player many people look up to. Whatever anger he might have felt and however justified it might have been, the image was a hideous incitement. And it was particularly ill timed given that Cleveland is hosting the Republican National Convention next week and is thus especially concerned about security.
The Cleveland Browns didn’t respond to a request for comment. However, the team released a statement to various media outlets.
“We have spoken to Isaiah regarding his extremely disturbing and unacceptable social media decision,” the statement said. “It was completely inappropriate and we have made him aware of our high level of disappointment.”
The statement continued: “Isaiah has apologized but also knows that just an apology is insufficient and that he must take steps to make a positive difference after a very negative and impactful post.”
It’s unclear what those steps might be and what action the team intends to take against him.
Crowell met on Tuesday with Cleveland Police Chief Calvin Williams. Williams, who is black, said he chose not to view Crowell’s image. Williams added that Crowell was contrite, apologetic and had “made a bad choice.”
Of course, with social media it’s too easy to make bad choices. It’s still the person, though, who makes the choice.