Aday after Sunday’s divisional round playoff win over the Buffalo Bills, former New York Giants first-round draft pick and current Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Eli Apple tweeted a series of shots at the Bills, including one that is being deemed insensitive by NFL fans.
Apple mocked Bills quarterback Josh Allen and wide receiver Stefon Diggs and suggested that both should go to couples therapy. During Sunday’s game, Diggs was seen on TV cameras getting heated with Allen over missed throws. Then, when Diggs addressed backlash from his emotion toward Allen on the sidelines on Twitter, Apple also seemingly took aim at the Bills’ safety Damar Hamlin in the process, using Hamlin’s signature hands in a heart as an emoji.
The “Cancun on 3” part from Apple is seemingly referencing a taunt that originated with former NBA player Nick Van Exel, who once broke down a huddle by saying “Once, two, three, Cancun!”
However, one could have given Apple the benefit of the doubt, if not for the heart emoji.
Hamlin, who made his first public appearance since going into cardiac arrest after making a tackle against the Bengals three weeks ago, waved to fans from a stadium suite on Sunday as the same two teams met again for a divisional playoff game. The crowd cheered when he stood in front of the windows and raised his arms to salute the crowd, and ended by forming a heart sign with his hands, which is his signature gesture.
Apple has yet to comment on the reaction to his controversial tweet.
NFL Fans React to Apple’s Tweet
Apple’s post enraged the NFL community.
“This is disgusting. That emoji is meant to mock a person who he literally watched die on the football field and be resuscitated twice. This isn’t shit talk this is what being a shitty person looks like,” one fan wrote.
“It’s crazy how a single player makes so many people despise an entire team,” another fan wrote.
While Apple didn’t make a direct reference to Hamlin, it seemed clear that Bills fans believe that the emoji was associating Hamlin with his troll.
“Trash talk is all part of the game. Making it personal about a kid who almost died is absolute garbage,” one Bills 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 Bills fan.
Eli Apple’s History With Giants
The Giants drafted Apple with the 10th overall pick in the 2016 NFL Draft. In his second season, he was suspended by the team for the 2017 season finale after reportedly getting into an argument with the coaching staff.
He bounced with a few teams before landing with the Bengals in 2021. In 18 games (regular season and postseason) as a starter of that season, the 27-year-old posted 49 tackles, 2 interceptions, and a fumble recovery.
Apple is no stranger to the subject of scrutiny and mockery. After the Bengals beat the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship in 2021, he trolled All-Pro receiver Tyreek Hill and fellow teammate Mecole Hardman by offering them Super Bowl tickets. Then, following the Super Bowl, Apple was mocked on social media for allowing Cooper Kupp to score the Los Angeles Rams’ game-winning touchdown late in the fourth quarter.