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Eagles Fire Employee for Calling Team 'Retarted' on Facebook

Mar 9, 2009 – 4:00 PM
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Will Brinson

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Everyone is on Facebook (even FanHouse -- become a fan, holmes!) My older family members, old high-school teachers, everyone. It's just a fact of life.

Here's another fact of life: if you write something on your Facebook page, it's possible for everyone to see it. Texas lineman Buck Burnette learned this the hard way. And now, so has Dan Leone, a former employee of the Philadelphia Eagles, who was recently fired for referring to the team as "retarted" (though he presumably meant "retarded") in his Facebook status.

Specifically, Leone wrote the following after Brian Dawkins was signed by the Broncos:
"Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!!"
Philadelphia Inquirer columnist John Gonzalez defends the former Eagles' employee, primarily because he suffered from transverse myelitis as a child, which continues to impair his ability to walk quickly around a stadium, a significant part of his job as the west gate chief for the last six years.

Additionally, Leone is a die-hard Eagles fan who has worshiped the team since he was a young man. There are many reasons to be upset that the team decided to fire him for his public sentiment against the team.

NFL Free Agents

    Brian Dawkins, Cornerback, Philadelphia Eagles
    SIGNED WITH DENVER - Five years, $17 million
    The Latest: A Philadelphia favorite, Dawkins made the emotional decision to leave the Eagles for a long-term deal in Denver.

    Tom Hauck, Getty Images

    Kurt Warner, Quarterback, Arizona Cardinals
    RE-SIGNED WITH ARIZONA - Two years, $23 million
    The Latest: After a lengthy negotiation, Warner finally came back to the defending NFC champion Cardinals.

    Matt Slocum, AP

    Albert Haynesworth, Defensive tackle, Tennessee Titans
    SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON - Seven years, $100 million
    The Latest: Just hours after becoming an eligible free agent, Haynesworth agreed to a monster deal with Washington.

    Mark Humphrey, AP

    Jonathan Vilma, Linebacker, New Orleans Saints
    RE-SIGNED WITH SAINTS - Five years, $34 million
    The Latest: The Saints couldn't afford to lose their defensive leader, and made sure that wouldn't happen with a nice contract.

    Reed Hoffmann, AP

    Jason Brown, Center, Baltimore Ravens
    SIGNED WITH ST. LOUIS - Five years, $37.5 million
    The Latest: Brown didn't get the contract offer he was seeking from the Ravens, so he will head south to anchor the Rams line.

    Scott Boehm, Getty Images

    Bart Scott, Linebacker, Baltimore Ravens
    SIGNED WITH JETS - Six years, $48 million
    The Latest: After a confusing dance between Baltimore and New York, Scott finally landed a long-term deal with the Jets.

    G. Newman Lowrance, Getty Images

    Kerry Collins, Quarterback, Tennessee Titans
    RE-SIGNED WITH TENNESSEE - Two years, $15 million
    The Latest: Collins wanted big money in what will likely be his last contract year. He got it, so the Titans can keep waiting on Vince Young's development.

    Scott Boehm, Getty Images

    DeAngelo Hall, Cornerback, Washington Redskins
    RE-SIGNED WITH WASHINGTON - Six years, $54 million
    The Latest: For the second time in his young career, Hall received a massive deal, this time from big-spending Washington.

    Nick Wass, AP

    Chris Kemoeatu, Guard, Pittsburgh Steelers
    RE-SIGNED WITH STEELERS - Five years, $20 million
    The Latest: Despite rumors claiming he was headed to the Jets, Kemoeatu decided to stick with the Steelers, a boost for their mediocre offensive line.

    Paul Spinelli, Getty Images

    Nnamdi Asomugha, Cornerback, Oakland Raiders
    RE-SIGNED WITH OAKLAND - Three years, $45.3 million
    The Latest: One of the NFL's brightest young stars, Asomugha inked a gigantic contract to stay in Oakland.

    Greg Trott, Getty Images

But as sad as the story is, and as much as Gonzalez wants to portray the Eagles as a cold, uncaring organization, I'm going to have to go ahead and agree with the team here: if you are employed by a company, in any capacity, and they give you a paycheck, you should, under no circumstances, ever write something derogatory about the company in a public forum.

And yeah, I'm sure that Leone isn't the only Eagles fan who is upset about Dawkins leaving, but (just as Dan Levy told FanHouse recently) football is a business. And teams are required to make business decisions. If you're an employee of that team, you're probably best served remembering that Facebook updates have a way of making it out into the world at large.
Filed under: Sports