Javon Kinlaw is no stranger to the media. When he speaks publicly, he’s always honest and raw and he says it all. Earlier this offseason, Kinlaw joined Brad Graham to talk for more than an hour.
The two talked about all things 49ers, but one topic stood out: the dehumanization of players. Kinlaw pointed out that players are humans too, have a breaking point, and shouldn’t be treated like animals.
During Tuesday’s practice, Kinlaw had a run-in with Sports Illustrated’s Grant Cohn, who is known for pushing the bear once or 20 times throughout the season. Some players, such as George Kittle and Jimmie Ward, will push Grant away if they feel he’s out of place, but will also respond to him fairly.
Other players, like Arik Armstead, won’t tell Cohn the time and have nothing to do on Twitter to share their displeasure. We can add Cohn to this list.
According to Cohn, Kinlaw approached him on Tuesday and, after a few selected words, knocks the hat off Grant’s head. After more words were exchanged later during practice, Kinlaw, for some reason, agreed to hop on Grant’s YouTube channel.
From there, things went south:
Let’s be clear: there are no victims in this situation. When the stream started, Grant shared how excited he was about what Kinlaw had done and how much more famous it would make him. Bringing Kinlaw was never in good faith, and the antagonism didn’t stop. The troll master provoked a guy who is already on record to not be a fan of how players are dehumanized in the media.
Kinlaw couldn’t have handled this worse. He came across as unprofessional, immature and unaware of the consequences for an NFL player. Again, when you see people talking about this, the media shouldn’t be allowed to blindly say whatever they want about a player without any repercussions. Also, since no one else saw the interaction, who knows which parts are true.
That may be true while acknowledging that what Kinlaw said was a threat, and it wouldn’t be surprising if he got in trouble with the team. It’s unfortunate because you knew the message Kinlaw wanted to say, but he let his emotions get the best of him, got too upset, and you saw how it played out.
Kinlaw wanted to make it clear that he was doing his best after facing unfortunate circumstances, that the criticism against him was too much, and that he wanted to defend himself. Of course, those weren’t the words that came out of his mouth.
To expect twenty-something older athletes to be meek after hearing and dealing with incessant bickering is unrealistic. But, man, letting a writer get to you like that after Trey Lance told the media the same day that it’s not his job to make people happy on social media isn’t going to go over well.
Again, this shows you that not everyone treats what is thrown at them the same way. We will see if something happens with Kinlaw, if the media has less access to the players or if everything blows up.