UPDATE: The @javpasquel Twitter account was deleted sometime around 12 p.m. Pacific Time on Monday.
Wide receiver Kyle Williams of the San Francisco 49ers made two costly mistakes in Sunday’s NFC Championship game that likely cost his team a spot in Super Bowl XLVI.
But the real drama happened after the game, on Twitter.
Outraged fans used the social network to post a cavalcade of hateful, vile messages — including death threats — to Williams’s account.
Williams let a punt bounce off of his knee in the fourth quarter of the game, then fumbled another punt in overtime. The first blunder led to a New York Giants touchdown, which put them in the lead; Williams’ overtime fumble deep in 49er territory facilitated a game-winning field goal for the Giants.
After the game, Williams’s Twitter mentions were a list of posts denigrating his value as a person and player. Fans wished for him to “burn in hell” and kill himself. The worst came from user @javpasquel, who posted this on Sunday night:
@KyleWilliams_10. I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it
The tweet went viral on the network, with scores of fans retweeting it along with incredulous comments; many directed their vitriol back at Pasquel. One user looked through Pasquel’s timeline to find a likely reference to his personal email account, then posted it for other fans to see.
Pasquel had apparently posted his email several months ago, in response to a promotional campaign by the airline Aeromexico.
On Monday, Pasquel posted that his “account got hacked” and he “would never say or think anything like that.”
Mashable has tried to contact Pasquel through that email address, but we have not yet heard back.
Many of Williams’s teammates, meanwhile, used Twitter to offer support and stand behind their downtrodden teammate. Team leader and star linebacker Patrick Willis posted this message:
@KyleWilliams_10 keep ur head up. U r my brother n teammate N I would put u back there all over again. We all lost this game tonight not u.
Later on Monday morning, Pasquel posted this tweet apologizing to Williams directly:
@KyleWilliams_10 i am so sorry for the messege posted, my account was hacked i am truly sorry, i did not write it
Networks like Twitter have drastically lessened the gap between fans and pro athletes. But where do you think the line should be drawn for what is or isn’t appropriate conversation? How can that line be policed? Let us know in the comments.