Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple is taking some heat for a tweet mocking the Buffalo Bills — and appearing to take aim at Buffalo Bills safety Damar Hamlin in the process.
Apple took to Twitter on Monday with a series of tweets needling the Bills for their 27-10 loss to the Bengals in Sunday’s divisional-round playoff game. In between tweets mocking Bills quarterback Josh Allen and suggesting that Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs should go to couples therapy, Apple included a message directed at Diggs that also seemed to reference Hamlin’s frightening collapse in Week 17 and subsequent recovery.
Bills Fans Angry Over Eli Apple’s Mocking Message
During Sunday’s game, Diggs was seen growing angry on the sidelines and getting heated with Allen over missed throws. He took to Twitter on Monday to explain his actions, saying he was frustrated with losing and suggesting that people should be more critical of the team’s struggles than his reactions to them.
Apple retweeted the message from Diggs, adding a taunt made famous by NBA player Patrick Beverly about a team headed off to vacation after their season comes to an end.
At the end of the message, Apple included an emoji of a pair of hands creating a heart shape — a symbol that Hamlin often showed and many Bills players adopted as a show of support while the second-year safety was hospitalized after suffering cardiac arrest. Diggs has used the emoji a number of times in encouraging his teammate and celebrating his recovery.
Hamlin also made the gesture to fans at Sunday’s game, his first appearance at the stadium since suffering cardiac arrest in the January 2 game.
Though Apple did not make any direct reference to Hamlin, it seemed clear to many Bills fans that the emoji was aimed at him.
“Trash talk is all part of the game. Making it personal about a kid who almost died is absolute garbage,” one fan tweeted in reply.
“Did you really make fun of Diggs and mock Damar Hamlin? You are a dirtbag. Continue to be a below average corner in this league,” tweeted another.
Others said he was serving as a bad representation of the Bengals, a franchise that showed support for the Bills during Hamlin’s collapse and in the days afterward.
“@Bengals this is the kind of reputation you want to uphold? I looked at you guys as an organization of class,” another fan tweeted. “Guess I was wrong.”
Hamlin’s Collapse, Recovery Left Team Drained
After Sunday’s loss, some Bills players said Hamlin’s frightening collapse and uncertainty of his recovery left the team drained. While many players returned to Buffalo after the Week 17 game was canceled, some stayed at the hospital with Hamlin.
Offensive lineman Rodger Saffold said on Monday that the team was physically and emotionally drained from the incident as the playoffs started.
“Saffold specifically said they were emotionally exhausted after NE game (week after Hamlin injury) and needed a break, but obviously had to play a playoff game right away,” tweeted Sal Capaccio of WGR 550. “Said mindset was fight as best they could through the next two weeks and hopefully get that break before SB.”