ATLANTA (AP) — The comments on social media grew darker by the hour until Nickell Robey-Coleman decided to stop looking.
Fans being frustrated is one thing. Seeing threats on his life crawl into his Instagram feed took it to another level.
“There was a little bit of everything,” the Los Angeles Rams cornerback said Wednesday at the team hotel.
“Yeah, I had like one or two death threats. I mean, it wasn’t anything that I really paid attention to. I think it was just a fake page that was online by somebody that was probably bitter and didn’t like the call and they said something on Facebook or Instagram or something.
“But I ignored them and moved on.”
The 27-year-old Robey-Coleman was the target of New Orleans fans after the now-infamous play during which he was not penalized for his hit on Saints receiver Tommylee Lewis. No flag was thrown for pass interference for the helmet-to-helmet nature of the hit — for which Robey-Coleman was fined $26,739 by the NFL — possibly altering the outcome of Los Angeles’ 26-23 overtime victory.
“I think the play just happened so fast that nobody could really react to it,” Robey-Coleman said. “He was open and the next minute, he was hit and it was incomplete. … It was just a very fast play that happened and you had to react quick. It was going to be incomplete or pass interference, you know what I’m saying? It was really up to the ref.”
It was ruled incomplete, of course.
And, no penalty.
That drew the ire of Saints coach Sean Payton after the game, and he said he was told by the NFL that Robey-Coleman should have been flagged on the fateful play.
All of that, of course, brought on plenty of criticism from fans and media, with discussions about whether video review should be used by the NFL in the future to prevent similar outcomes. Social media platforms were also abuzz with armchair quarterbacks sounding off on the blown non-call.
And, things quickly turned personal for Robey-Coleman.
“A couple of threats — threats from people, fans, stuff like that,” he said. “It’s weird.”
Robey-Coleman said there were no threats directed toward his family or home, and he just wants to put it behind him now that he and the Rams are in the Super Bowl and preparing to face Tom Brady and the New England Patriots on Sunday.
“I kind of ignore it, so it’s something I don’t let distract me,” he said.
Robey-Coleman said despite the couple of death threats, he never felt concerned about them enough to report them to Rams security to investigate.
“Nah, I didn’t worry about it that much,” he said. “Being in LA, I’m pretty safe. I know my whereabouts and I feel like if I’m in a situation where I feel threatened or feel endangered, I’ll tell the organization.”
Robey-Coleman found himself in the headlines again earlier this week when he was quoted in a feature by Bleacher Report as saying that “age has definitely taken a toll” on the 41-year-old Brady.
“For him to still be doing it, that’s a great compliment for him,” he told the website. “But I think that he’s definitely not the same quarterback he was.”
Robey-Coleman spent his first four NFL seasons with Buffalo before signing last season with the Rams, so he got to see Brady up close twice every regular season.
“He’s the same quarterback,” Robey-Coleman insisted Wednesday. “Nothing has changed at all. People around him, the team, different people come in and leave out and you adjust to that as a team, but Tom Brady hasn’t changed. Me bringing up his age, it was out of context in how it was put out, but I was not harping on his age, like, he don’t have the skills or anything like that.”
But, the original comments made for a story — and possible bulletin board material for the Patriots.
“It was surprising,” Robey-Coleman said of the reaction. “I didn’t think it would get that bad. It was overreaction for a little bit, but that’s how it is nowadays. Social media blows everything out of proportion. That’s the type of world we’re living in now. More people are looking at it now, more eyes looking at it, so more opinions and more comments, so that’s just the nature of the beast.”
When asked to compare the criticism he has gotten from the fan bases of the Saints and Patriots, Robey-Coleman laughed and quickly answered.
“I think it’s New Orleans,” he said. “They’ve got a big vendetta against me.”
So, does Robey-Coleman think he can ever go visit there anytime soon?
“Nah,” he said with a big smile. “I think that’s dead.”