COMMENTARY | Poor Brek Shea just can't catch a break these days. The American footballer fell out of favor at Major League Soccer side FC Dallas in 2012, but it seemed as if his fortunes had taken a positive turn when he executed a dream move to Premier League team Stoke City this past January. That switch didn't work out as planned for the player, however, as injury woes saw him make only two appearances for his new club in 2013. Now, for the second time in roughly two months, Shea has made headlines due to an Instagram picture.
That photo features Shea wearing an American flag tank top and shorts that are, in my opinion, without question the most offensive thing about the picture. It is what Shea was holding at the time, two large guns, that caused a stir on Twitter and across the pond. Shea has since deleted the picture, and he posted the following to his Twitter page on Tuesday morning ET: "I realize I should not have posted the picture earlier yesterday on Instagram. I sincerely apologize to all who were offended by it."
The subsequent reactions to Shea's social media activity have been more glorious than I expected. The Daily Mail described the incident as Shea adding himself to a "shameful list of gun-toting footballers," and that story also stated that the picture was "misguidedly" posted. Going even further, the Daily Mail also likened Shea's photo to those that featured other footballers holding guns as if the weapons were about to be or already had been used.
Shea's uploaded picture was, intentional or not, a caricature of a perceived lifestyle of those who live in Texas (where Shea was born). The pickup truck in the background only adds to the photo's "'MURICA" nature. All that's missing is some barbecue and a cheesy opening that includes former US international Jimmy Conrad.
Those making their displeasure about the picture known via social media websites have since been joined by a plethora of Shea supporters. Such individuals have pointed out that Shea has the right to posses the firearms in these here United States, and that some are "too sensitive" about this particular issue. My personal favorite goes to the person in charge of the @hoover_dam Twitter page: "Really, guys, @BrekShea was just displaying his appreciation for Arsenal."
Then you have the crowd of people looking to analyze the meaning behind the Instagram post. Maybe Shea, who used that same platform last month to document a prank that went terribly wrong, is trying to force an exit from an unhappy situation. Perhaps it was another sign that the 23-year old's "priorities are in the wrong place."
Or maybe a guy who grew up in Texas decided he was going to put on a funny outfit and hold two guns while being photographed.
This matter has nothing to do with gun control and anybody's stance on the issue. A young man uploaded a wacky picture, one innocent in nature that only depicts violence against those who appreciate fashion. The absurd overreactions that one photo caused are the result of people deciding that they want to be outraged about something.
If Shea is, by chance, looking to leave Stoke, I could think of a NJ-based MLS club that could utilize his services as soon as the player is again fully fit. I would, in that case, advise Shea to keep the guns outside of Manhattan.
Zac has been covering the New York Red Bulls, Holland, Tottenham Hotspur, USMNT, Major League Soccer and other soccer leagues for Yahoo! Sports since 2010.
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