NBC analyst Chris Simms has long had a frosty relationship with Miami Dolphins fans, who resent his frequent criticism of Tua Tagovailoa. The quarterback, for all his flaws, has developed a loyal following on social media, culminating in the phenomenon known as “TuAnon” (an obvious play on the far-right conspiracy group, QAnon), a popular Twitter account waging war on Tua’s many doubters.
In a stunning tragedy, TuAnon’s founder, Eric Carmona, was killed in a fatal motorcycle accident last week, leaving behind a wife and four children. A GoFundMe page for Carmona’s family has already raised $86,000 including a generous $10,000 donation from Tagovailoa. Mike Florio applauded Tua’s gesture on PFT Live, though Simms, still bruised from his previous interactions with TuAnon, didn’t share his enthusiasm, coming off as unmistakably bitter toward a team and fanbase that, for years, has been a thorn in his side.
“It is a nice gesture. It really is,” said Simms of Tua’s donation. “It’s a horrible thing, a horrible accident. He obviously is a huge Tua fan. Also a huge guy that trolled me a lot on Twitter.”
Here is the full context of Simms’ comments, and it’s not better.
He starts by saying it’s a nice gesture and a horrible thing, but then immediately goes into “he trolled me a lot.” Florio then goes into saying it’s better to be trolled than ignored because people are… https://t.co/N3VIWtZB3U pic.twitter.com/AB3UrH8GzU
— King of Phinland?? (@KingOfPhinland) June 8, 2023
Hiding behind a voice modulator and a latex dolphin mask, Carmona’s TuAnon persona was largely satirical, a parody of the kind of gung-ho, ride-or-die fan that would run through a wall for their favorite player. Simms, however, must not have seen the humor in it, holding a grudge, even in the aftermath of Carmona’s tragic death.
“This is a deep subject and I think it’s societal and I won’t go into it because I’m only going to get myself in trouble,” said Simms. “We’re also setting an example like, ‘Hey here’s money to a guy who was very negative too.’ That’s all I’m saying.”
— We Are TuAnon (@TheGaluminati) March 3, 2022
Sports discourse can be a special kind of toxic and TuAnon has, at times, straddled the line between playful banter and outright trolling. Clearly, Simms felt singled out, made to be a villain by a community of zealots hopelessly committed to their star quarterback.
But there’s a time and a place for that discussion and it certainly wasn’t then. To Florio’s credit, he didn’t let Simms off the hook, arguing that fans are allowed to be irrational, even if that blind passion leads to feuds and other pettiness.
“Consider being trolled a good thing. Being trolled is better than being ignored in this space that we occupy,” said Florio. “It’s not that deep. Sports fans love their team.”
Florio himself made a $2,500 donation to the GoFundMe:
Thank you to Mike Florio for the donation. Eric always loved seeing himself on PFT, never truly hated you guys at all. He truly enjoyed being able to playfully critique you guys. Out of respect for Eric we’re going to stay positive and enjoy the good times. pic.twitter.com/bcnlk367Yz
— We Are TuAnon (@TheGaluminati) June 8, 2023
You’d think Simms, who has lived his entire life in the public eye (his father, Phil, is a former Super Bowl MVP), would have a thicker skin by now, but apparently not, too stubborn to show even the slightest compassion for a family that suffered an immense loss.