Which NFL Teams Come to Mind When People Think About Criminals?
At 10:20am Wednesday morning, the Patriots established the sports talking point of the day by succinctly breaking the news that alleged murderer Aaron Hernandez was no longer a teammate of Tim Tebow (and the rest of the New England Patriots):
The New England #Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez.
— New England Patriots (@Patriots) June 26, 2013
Predictably, Twitter users came out en masse and did what Twitter users do whenever news breaks, and also all other times: Made bad jokes. In this case, the quips were about which NFL teams were now going to sign the free agent / accused murderer. They looked something like this:
Aaron Hernandez released by Patriots, picked up by police moments before he was nearly picked up by the Bengals
— The Fake ESPN (@TheFakeESPN) June 26, 2013
When people weren't even really trying, the tweets looked like this:
The New England Patriots have released Aaron Hernandez...Luckily for him the Bengals and Lions love criminals.
— Tom Tebow (@IamEvilTebow) June 26, 2013
The volume of tweets all saying the same thing was staggering, but creativity's death was not in vain. By searching Twitter for "Aaron Hernandez + [a variety of team names]" and then counting all the tweets, we were able to get a sense of which NFL teams most readily spring to the minds of fans when murderers and criminals are discussed.
This is a loose approximation, as counting tweets and doing the necessary filtering (eliminating RTs, deciding if people were making a joke or were just dummies) was a tedious, mind-numbing job. Nevertheless, here's how often teams appeared as the butt of Aaron Hernandez jokes during the first two hours after the news broke that he had been released (roughly 10:20am-12:20pm):
No surprises here. The Bengals are still struggling to shed a reputation earned during a truly remarkable run of ne'er-doing-well, the Raiders are the Raiders, and the Lions may have benefitted, if you will, from Titus Young's recent criminal efforts. After that you get into a somewhat predictable mix of teams who endured a few semi-recent incidents and / or the career of Ray Lewis.
So was this a case of originality taking the day off (as it so often does on Twitter), or were we witnesses to rampant joke theft? There's no way of knowing—though if it was the latter, the Bengals will gladly create some roster spots for the thieves.