Cowboys linebacker Leighton Vander Esch spoke out yesterday, condemning people online who chastised Jaylon Smith’s release earlier this week.
This Wednesday, Vander Esch made comments during his Cowboys news conference, discussing the impact of the backlash on individual players. He stated during the conference that the treatment of athletes online nowadays is “classless” and that he disapproves of fans’ disregard of his teammates.
Vander Esch also told Dallas Morning News about his experience viewing the judgment online on social media or through messaging. He explained how he first heard of the Cowboys’ release of Smith through social media, and the recoil that followed.
“What bugs me most about it is when people that are on the outside, fans or whatever it may be, they want to say, ‘Oh, someone deserves this’ or ‘someone deserves that’,” Esch told interviewers. He made it clear that fans do not understand what happens behind closed doors.
Vander Esch also states that he believes that fans should respect boundaries and learn that playing football is a job for the players. “This is our livelihood. This is our job. We could get traded tomorrow. We could get cut tomorrow. So people need to realize what they’re saying on social media because I think it’s ridiculous.”
Vander Esch appreciated Smith’s departure message that stated defensive coordinator Dan Quinn “had their backs.” Esch replied, “It just shows you the character and type of person that he is.”
It is not unusual for NFL teams to be loose with their players. CBS Sports reports that the Cowboys have made over 160 transactions between players since April.
Jaylon Smith has averaged over 100 tackles a year and was engaged in an $11.4 million-per-year contract, according to ESPN. However, some state that the Cowboys’ release was allegedly due to Smith’s lacking performance, as Todd Archer puts it, “a backup linebacker who doesn’t run as well as he used to and struggles in coverage.”