Former player has his side of storyPublished 6:00am Wednesday, December 26, 2012
Bradley Patterson is a freshman at the University of North Alabama.
He was a standout on the football field at Red Bay High School until his graduation last year.
He was named the 2A Lineman of the Year by the Alabama Sports Writers Association at the 2011 ASWA Mr. Football Banquet just last summer.
He decided to walk onto the Lions’ football team after enrolling, and he had made the depth chart as a third-string long snapper, but his main duties at the time were on the practice squad.
All of that changed for Patterson on Dec. 15 when he sent out a certain tweet on Twitter.
While watching coverage of the NFL that night, a speech by President Barack Obama preempted the game he was watching, and Patterson then sent out the tweet, which contained a racial slur aimed at President Obama.
Soon after, the university was alerted to this action and Patterson was dismissed from the football team.
Stories about this incident have run all the way from Los Angeles to the United Kingdom.
Some websites went onto Patterson’s Facebook page to get a photo of him for stories.
Some of them even mistakenly ran a picture of another student at UNA named Bradley Patterson who is unrelated to the story.
Much negative publicity had come upon Patterson and UNA after the tweet was sent, and the young man has been interviewed by local newspapers and WAFF out of Huntsville.
But that coverage was focused more on what he did than what he had to say.
What follows is an interview with Patterson that has his side of the story, from when and why the tweet was sent out to what he has to say about it afterwards.
What made you decide to send out that tweet Sunday night?
“At that moment I didn’t know what I was doing. I wasn’t really thinking when I sent it.
At that time it was just for some humor. Honestly I didn’t hear what [President Obama] was saying during that speech before it was sent.
After it was sent I heard what he was saying, and I regretted it.”
When you sent out that tweet did you think it would have this kind of impact?
“Not really. I didn’t think it would get as serious as it did.”
How long did it take for you to hear from the university after sending that tweet?
“It was around 45 minutes later. Coach [Steadman] Campbell talked to me first. That’s when I found out I wasn’t going to be allowed on the team anymore.”
Since this has happened what kind of response has the university had?
“I haven’t had any communication with the university yet. I am planning on speaking to them sometime before the week is over.
I want to get a meeting with [UNA President] Dr. [William] Cale, the coaching staff and [UNA Athletic Director] Mark Linder.”
If you get a meeting with those parties what are you going to tell them?
“I’m going to apologize for all of the negative publicity it caused.
I’m going to pray about it, and we’ll see where it goes from there.”
After this incident have you had any contact with your now former teammates on the football team?
“I haven’t talked to any of them yet.
One of them texted me Sunday night and asked me what happened.
I told him that something blew up out of proportion and got too serious.”
Do you feel like the punishment you have received is appropriate for your actions?
“Yes I do. I respect how the university is handling the situation.”
What has been your reaction to the media’s response on this story?
“I was shocked. Monday evening I called the news lady at WAFF and did a media apology.
Right now I haven’t heard anything from anyone since.”
After you sent this tweet what kind of a response did you get on your Twitter and Facebook page?
“I ended up deleting my Twitter account Monday night.
Before I could delete it I had 460 responses sent to my phone about it. All of them were negative.
I deleted my Facebook page a couple of minutes after.”
What kind of things did those messages say?
“They said that I was an idiot and a retard. They said they wouldn’t expect anything less from someone from the South.”
After putting in so much effort to make it onto the Lions’ football team, what was it like for this message to basically take away any foreseeable future you have in football at UNA?
“It was heartbreaking when I got that call. After they hung up I basically just laid down and cried.”
Did you know that some media outlets were going onto your Facebook page and getting photos of you to use in their stories?
“That’s what I have been told, but I haven’t turned on the TV or read anything about it since this started.”
What was it like going from a basically unknown freshman student at UNA to having all of this negative publicity and being in front of news cameras pleading your case?
“It was a shock to me. I’ve never had anything like this happen before.
I’m going to learn from this mistake, and maybe someday I can help somebody else learn from it too.”
Do you have anything to say in your defense?
“I’m not a racist. I was raised better than that. I know I shouldn’t have put that in that tweet, but all I can do is apologize.”
What kind of response did you get from your family?
“My mom was really upset. I was raised better than that and she said she didn’t see why I put that. She said that she wasn’t going to support my wrongs, but she would stand behind me through it.”
Is there anything else you would like to say to the university staff in apology for what you did?
“I want to apologize to Dr. Cale, the UNA coaching staff and Mr. Linder for all of this.
I want to apologize for everything that they’ve been through this past week.”