Twitter is busy reminding us what's wrong with sports and more specifically, sports fans.
Thanks to Owen Shure, seven years old from Los Angeles, we have an example of what's right.
San Francisco 49ers wide receiver Kyle Williams, 23 years old from San Jose, is now well known to even the most indifferent football fan. Williams showed his lack of experience in the fourth quarter of the NFC Championship game and carelessly allowed a punt to graze his leg. Fumble, Giants ball at the San Francisco 29 and seven plays later, a touchdown and a 17-14 Giants lead.
Then, in overtime, a more forgivable mistake, but one that cost the 49ers the game. While returning a punt, Kyle Williams had the ball poked away by Jacquian Williams of the Giants. A great play, but another fumble, Giants ball at the San Francisco 24 and five plays later, the Giants win, 20-17.
But this isn't another story about Kyle Williams and the stand-up way he's faced his football mistakes. Nor is it about the intentionally cruel, mean, and depressing response of some really bad people on Twitter. This is a story about Owen Shure, who's bigger at seven years old than any of these jackbags on Twitter.
First, in case you missed it -- and you're lucky if you did -- here's a sampling of the ugliness directed at Williams via Twitter:
@KyleWilliams_10 you should jump off the golden gate bridge for that one
@KyleWilliams_10 HOPE U RUN n2 A BULLET DA WAY U RAN INTO DAT BALL...
Jim Harbaugh, please give @KyleWilliams_10 the game ball. And make sure it explodes when he gets in his car.
@KyleWilliams_10. I hope you, youre wife, kids and family die, you deserve it
That last one is my favorite because Kyle Williams is single and doesn't have kids. Mean, cruel, vindictive and epically stupid -- it's a winning combination.
Owen inherited his love of the 49ers from his dad, Michael Shure, a political contributor to The Young Turks on Current TV. Michael is my friend and Owen, I should point out, is my godson. Sundays during the season, Owen races around the house in his Frank Gore jersey, cheering every Patrick Willis tackle ("P-Willie" to Owen) and referring to Alex Smith as "Alex." He's not just the quarterback. He's a friend.
So Sunday, as the Niners lost in memorably disheartening fashion, Owen became inconsolable. He was crying, saying of Kyle Williams, with the distinct sobs of a seven-year-old between each word, "But... why... did he... have to... fumble?"
I can relate to Owen's anguish easily -- as can every other boy who ever truly loved a team. When Roger Staubach and Tony Hill teamed up to beat Lamar Parrish on a little fade route from eight yards out with 39 seconds to play to give Dallas a 35-34 win over Washington in the last game of the 1979 season, eliminating the Redskins from the playoffs, I didn't cry. I broke a lamp. Then I cried. And I was 12.
So I get Owen's agony. Heck, I respect it. He's not going to start following the Los Angeles Jaguars when they finally move to town. He's a Niner fan for life. 2-14 or 14-2, those are Owen's guys.
Which is why, I imagine, it was easy for Owen to pivot from the agony of defeat to the thrill of loyalty. Trying to get his son to stop crying, Michael asked him, "If you feel this way, how sad do you think Kyle Williams is?"
Owen paused a second, then asked his dad, "Can I write him a letter to make him feel better?" And from that, an old-fashioned letter -- the ultimate anti-Twitter, the un-social media -- was born.
Here's the letter (how does Owen even know what a letter is?). I will leave his beautiful seven-year old grammar uncorrected.
Dear Mr. Williams:
We just watched the Playoff game. I feel really bad for you but I wanted to tell you that you had a great season. you sould be very proud, so I wanted to say thank you.
I am your #1 FAN!
Los Angeles, CA
p.s. your awsome
Next season I'll have a new favorite player. It's Kyle Williams. I'll also have an old favorite little boy. It's Owen Shure.
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