John Leyba/The Denver Post
John Leyba/The Denver Post
ENGLEWOOD – To his forgiving teammates, Denver linebacker D.J. Williams’ tweet of a playbook page last week was more LOL than OMG.
“I called him immediately,” Champ Bailey said Tuesday after the Broncos began a mandatory three-day minicamp. “After you really looked at it, it really wasn’t that big of a deal.”
Williams (@djwilliam55) was blasted on social media for what many considered a serious breach of protocol and security in the super-secretive world of the NFL after he tweeted a photo of his new high-tech playbook Friday that showed six defensive formations or variations of the same formation.
Some say Williams, a ninth-year pro, should have known better than to reveal propriety information, no matter how innocuous. Others have been downright nasty, suggesting he should be cut for doing what he did.
Bailey called the public reaction to Williams’ tweets “really overblown, but at the same time, got to be careful about that kind of stuff because people take it the wrong way.”
Williams posted a photo of his new iPad playbook sitting on a desk behind a stack of note cards, a pencil sharpener and a pencil. The picture was followed by a tweet saying his coach told him to learn a new position over the weekend and that, while the Broncos have uploaded their playbook and football film onto hand-held tablets, he was still old school and “using flash cards.”
The team didn’t find the joke funny.
After a call from a member of the organization, Williams quickly deleted the photo, but it had already gone viral and certainly was seen by other NFL teams.
The Broncos recently gave their players a refresher on social media protocol. They encourage their players to engage with the public – just not to the extent Williams did.
“Basically, we discussed it, and I think all in all our guys do a great job of keeping our fans informed, and you’re going to have a couple of mishaps and you just move on,” coach John Fox said.
Williams, the team’s starting weakside linebacker, played a couple of snaps on the strong side Tuesday but otherwise manned his usual position.
Williams walked past reporters without stopping to answer questions after practice, but several of his teammates said that while Williams might have breached NFL protocol, he didn’t give away secrets that would hurt the team next season.
“To be honest with you, everybody in the league runs that same type of defense,” linebacker Joe Mays said. “We’re not really showing anything that’s private or anything like that.”
“People could look at that a million times and not know what the hell is going on,” Bailey said.
“Even people in the NFL don’t know what the hell that is. They know what it is, but it doesn’t tell me anything. Everybody does that (type of formation).”
Cornerback Tracy Porter said it would nearly be impossible for opponents to capitalize on Williams’ tweet.
“I guess he wanted everyone to see that our job isn’t just showing up on Sunday and play, showing them we, in fact, have to learn a thick playbook, as well,” Porter said. “We have things we have to learn outside of showing up and playing football. It’s a minor mistake, nothing that guys are harping on around here. We know D.J. is a good guy. We’re not taking anything negative from it.”
Beside, Porter said, it’s not like he gave away the entire playbook.
“You’re seeing one play. If a team we play can know when we line up that we’re running that play, hats off to them. They know something that I don’t know. They have psychic powers,” Porter said. “We can line up and show that play and run something else and vice versa. It’s nothing he gave away. He just wanted everybody to see what we were learning. It’s being hyped because of who he is: a professional athlete.”
Williams, Denver’s leading tackler in four of the last five seasons, is dealing with other off-the-field issues. He faces a trial on a drunken driving charge in August, and he’s also suing the NFL to have his impending six-game drug suspension overturned.