CLEVELAND – Jermaine Whitehead’s disturbing social media rant cost him his job.
The Browns cut the safety Monday, hours after the team reprimanded Whitehead for “totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate” posts following a 24-19 loss to the Denver Broncos on Sunday.
Whitehead made several threatening and expletive-laden posts on Twitter while still in uniform following Cleveland’s fourth straight loss. One of Whitehead’s tweets was directed at Dustin Fox, a former NFL player who works for the team’s radio network. Fox had sent an earlier tweet criticizing Whitehead’s tackling.
Twitter suspended Whitehead’s account and the team released a statement after it became aware of his postings.
“Jermaine Whitehead’s social media posts following today’s game were totally unacceptable and highly inappropriate,” the Browns said in a statement. “We immediately spoke with Jermaine upon learning of these comments. The Browns in no way condone that type of language or behavior. This matter will be further addressed internally.”
Whitehead’s tweets included several expletives and in one he used a derogatory racial term.
The 26-year-old player started the game in place of safety Damarious Randall, who missed his second straight game because of a hamstring injury. Whitehead missed tackles on two big plays by the Broncos.
He declined an interview request following the game and then went on Instagram to voice his frustration.
“Crazy world. They line it up and say anything in the book too you,” he wrote. “They tell you take the high road, when yo whole life you was taught to meet fire with fire. I do apologize for my performance, but having a broke hand and a strong fear of letting my team down is my downfall.
“Whatever happens happens. Ain trippin. They probably gone still talk crazy but this me getting smoke off my chest. I don’t need one like.. this from me to me! Keep ya head up homie.” He then added crudely that “nobody” can intimidate him: “I dare em to try.”
Whitehead’s cubicle was completely cleared out when the Browns locker room was open for media availability.
Safety Morgan Burnett was Whitehead’s teammate for two seasons in Green Bay before both joined the Browns. Burnett was sorry to see Whitehead released, and hopes he can receive outside support.
“We’re going to miss him because that was a guy that played a lot of snaps for us, a guy that was a good teammate in the locker room. I just feel like it was a situation where his emotions got the best of him,” Burnett said. “We’re going to miss him, but I think for me personally because I played with him in Green Bay, I take it past football and it’s just something where I just want to pray for him, wish him the best and get the help that he needs and pray that he gets back on his feet.
“But as a team, just outside of football, just as a bond of brothers, we’re going to miss him.”
Burnett understands the Browns couldn’t tolerate Whitehead’s actions.
“We all have to do a job,” he said. “We all are held accountable and held to a certain standard no matter where we are within the organization. They stand behind the brand and I think that’s just part of being a professional. You have to carry yourself a certain way even at times when you feel like your buttons are being pushed, you still have young people, young kids looking up to us and watching everything we say and the way we move.”
Whitehead was in his second season with Cleveland. The Browns signed him last year after he was waived by the Green Bay Packers two days after he was ejected for throwing a punch against New England.
The Browns (2-6) have lost four consecutive games and first-year coach Freddie Kitchens is facing heavy criticism.