Shocked in a good way.
There were two tweeting twerps who used Twitter to attack several Oklahoma football players earlier this week. Tony Jefferson was the first target. Brennan Clay, Ryan Broyles and others were besieged, too.
We know at least one was of the knuckleheads was a Florida State student. While it's impossible to know exactly what motivated the offending cowards who hid behind the Internet's anonymity — Were they attempting to get a rise out of the Sooners before Saturday's showdown? Were they haters trying to give the Seminoles a black eye? — they took ugly to a whole new level.
The Sooners themselves did not.
There were no offensive exchanges, no disgusting retorts, no objectionable comebacks.
The Sooners showed class. Perhaps it's sad that we'd be surprised that athletes, particularly college-aged ones, would act so maturely, but in a sports world too often appalled by the actions of athletes, these young men were surprising for all the right reasons.
On Wednesday, Florida State officials issued an apology via a letter to the editor to the OU Daily. They said that the student who sent the messages was not representative of Seminole fans, but as they acknowledged "he did much harm to the recipients of the messages and OU."
The whole thing started Monday night with a Florida State fan encouraging others on Twitter to talk trash to Jefferson, who is a regular on the social media site. I'm sure the guy just expected people to have a little fun with him.
Someone posting under the name TheGhettoWizard was anything but fun.
While the details are easy enough to find on the World Wide Web, I refuse to waste keystrokes on every last detail here. Suffice it to say, the tweets mentioned horrible things befalling Jefferson's mother and sister. They referenced the Oklahoma City bombing. They even mentioned Sooner linebacker Austin Box, who died less than four months ago.
That's not trash talk.
Whitney Box, Austin's older sister, tweeted to Jefferson.
Box: “Not gonna lie, it is taking everything in my power not to tweet that guy … I don't understand how ppl can be like that.”
Jefferson: “I'm in shock. Like (I don't know) wat to do … ”
Box: “Rise above. Austin would've laughed at him. He's not worth your time.”
It's easy to talk about turning a blind eye to such dregs.
It's a lot harder to do.
But Jefferson didn't retaliate in kind. No ugly posts. No hateful responses.
He wasn't the only Sooner to react that way.
There were several other players on Twitter at that time, including Brennan Clay. Those two buddies are extremely outgoing and very engaging with their teammates. If they knew what was being said, it's safe to assume many other Sooners did, too.
But the vitriol was nearly nil.
Sooner quarterback Drew Allen apparently lashed out at the disparaging comments about Austin Box. He later deleted the tweet but issued an apology.
“Just want to apologize for my little outburst,” he wrote on Twitter. “Moment of shock and anger. Austin would've handled it differently!”
When Whitney Box told Allen that her brother would've laughed at the comments, Allen tweeted, “you're right Whit but I didn't laugh.”
“I didn't either,” she replied, “but I know he'd laugh at me for caring about that.”
All of this is heart wrenching. Talk to the players, and you know that Box's death remains a fresh wound. Read about the Box family, and you understand that their pain is still severe.
Imagine then when an account called AustinBoxZombie surfaced Tuesday afternoon. Again, I'll spare you the details, but the stuff that posted was in as bad a taste as the account's name might suggest.
Broyles responded directly to it. The Sooner receiver wrote that the account was playing with fire and that the whole thing was “shameful.”
Most Sooner fans weren't so nice. They lashed out at the tweeting trolls, using profanity and calling names. It would've been easy for the Sooners to do the same. It's one thing to ignore ugly things coming out of the stands on a Saturday afternoon. But doing the same when the words sit there on a computer screen screaming at you? That's a new one for athletes.
But the Sooners kept their cool.
Nowadays, that isn't the norm. But when these guys had every opportunity to answer garbage with garbage, they refused to sink to the trashy level of those tweeters. They were classy. They were respectable.
They were surprising — in a good way.