Michigan Athletic Director: No More Death Threats Against Punter

Blake O'Neill is vilified online after botched play
By John Johnson,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 19, 2015 12:23 PM CDT
Michigan punter Blake O'Neill (12) walks off the field after the game.   (AP Photo/Tony Ding)
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(Newser) – The athletic director at the University of Michigan had to take the unusual step Sunday of writing an open letter to fans asking them to stop the "vicious" online attacks on the school's punter. The move follows a stunning botched punt by Blake O'Neill on the final play of a huge game Saturday against Michigan State: With his team leading and just 10 seconds left, O'Neill fumbled the snap into the hands of a player on the other team, who ran for a touchdown to steal the victory. Cue the Internet reaction of outraged fans posting death threats and urging O'Neill to kill himself, reports CBS News and MLive.

"Today I awake to the shocking reality that our community who care so much about this program would send hurtful, spiteful and vicious comments to one of our students," writes AD Jim Hackett in his letter to fans picked up at Michigan Daily. "I am asking that our community not lose this game twice by condoning thoughtless comments." Not that botched plays are confined to college ball: In Sunday night's game against the Patriots, the Colts ran a trick play on fourth down that failed so miserably, a Washington Post headline says it might be the "worst play in NFL history."

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