The Oct. 17 Big Ten game between Michigan and Michigan State was all but over. The Wolverines were up 23-21 with 10 seconds left. The game was finished; the Paul Bunyan Trophy was already headed toward or in Michigan's locker room, according to reports.
The Wolverines had the ball on fourth down in a one-step-and-punt situation.
But then the carpet was rolled out underneath Michigan's Blake O'Neill. The ball, looking like a hot potato in O'Neill's limp arms, plummeted to the ground.
As the ball rolled on the carpet for a few seconds, smeared with sweat and turf beads, soon rolled out the hate mail, the death threats and the negative salutes to Michigan's No. 12 player -- the guy who made the costly mistake.
No fans were laughing at this gaffe.
It was a mistake, yes, but no one died on the field; Michigan wasn't losing its program after the loss. Yet this didn't stop the hate mail from rolling in.
Are you kidding me? These threats were as useful as Michigan's preparation for the punt. I mean, really, Coach Harbaugh? An all-out MSU blitz when two of your players were split wide as gunners didn’t induce a need for an audible of sorts?
No. I guess not. Instead, O'Neill is playing the antagonist. In every game there is a winner or a loser -- unless you play soccer, hockey and even the NFL with the scoring of ties, or baseball and its postponements -- and every moment of a contest is scrutinized to the most minute detail.
We, America, are a starving country -- a country hungry for gladiators on a rectangular, 100-plus yard field.
These gladiators face the Bartman of unfortunates, and the magnified glass is pressed on their faces so hard, so relentless and so unfair that people have to wonder how they even breathe.
But athletes must bask in this criticism.
That’s why Michigan Athletic Director Jim Hackett sent a rebuttal to those stupid tweets -- to those sophomoric fans.