Dan Sullivan of the Tampa Bay Times reports that a gambler, 23-year-old Benjamin Tucker Patz, sent hundreds of threatening messages to athletes, both professional and college, over Facebook and Instagram. Several of those players were on the Rays, identified in the criminal complaint by their initials: E.P., A.K., T.P., and C.R. We won’t bother deducing which players the initials are referring to, but it’s not a terribly difficult endeavor.
The messages included racial slurs, as well as threats to break into their homes to behead them and their families. The FBI investigated the threats.
A member of the White Sox, identified as A.C., and two other unnamed Rays players were on the receiving end of Patz’s vitriol. Sullivan notes that players on the Braves, Nationals, Royals, Indians, Orioles, Padres, Athletics, and Blue Jays received similar messages, as did members of the NFL’s New England Patriots. Patz sometimes sent threatening messages to the athletes’ family members.
In one message to T.P., Patz wrote, “Unfortunately 0-5 against the Chicago White Sox isn’t going to cut it. Because of your sins, I will have to behead you and your family.”
This is, sadly, a very real look into the private messages of professional athletes. Given the ever-increasing popularity of sports gambling and the ubiquity of social media, this seems like a problem that will only become bigger.