Sports

Melvin Gordon Ripped by Broncos Fans on Twitter After Loss to Raiders: Too Far?

A forlorn Melvin Gordon following the Denver Broncos' 32-23 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on October 2.
A forlorn Melvin Gordon following the Denver Broncos' 32-23 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on October 2. Denver Broncos via YouTube
As anyone with even a glancing knowledge of internet culture understands, social media isn't a paragon of polite conversation. But the reaction to a Melvin Gordon fumble returned for a touchdown in the Denver Broncos' agonizing 32-23 loss to the Las Vegas Raiders on October 2 — particularly after his emotional walkout during a post-game interview — has touched off a debate about whether the absolutely reasonable criticism of his ball-security issues has gone too far.

Witness the conversation on the page titled "Disrespecting Melvin Gordon the way this subreddit has been today is disgusting."

That Gordon is even a Denver Bronco at this point is something of a surprise. The team's decision to draft Javonte Williams in the second round of the 2021 NFL draft was widely interpreted as an indication that management was ready to move on from the former San Diego Chargers standout — but when the running back didn't get a big free-agent deal from another franchise during the off-season, he returned to Denver on a one-year contract at a reduced rate, but with performance incentives built in. And while Williams is technically RB1, so far Gordon has gotten plenty of carries in the 2022-2023 campaign.

He's also coughed up the ball on an all-too-regular basis. Prior to Sunday, Pro Football Reference calculated that he'd fumbled ten times in 34 games for Denver, including at the goal line in the Broncos' 17-16 opening-game loss to the Seattle Seahawks. Gordon apologists tried to excuse away that gaffe by arguing that he'd been reaching for the end zone on fourth down. But he fumbled twice more during Denver's 11-10 win over the San Francisco 49ers, albeit without losing either — and then, on his first carry yesterday, the rock again slipped out of his hands and into the mitts of the Raiders' Amik Robertson, who returned it for six points.

This gridiron disaster wasn't the sole reason for the victory achieved by the previously winless Raiders and unmissed ex-Denver coach Josh McDaniels. Denver is still racking up way too many penalties, and the seven miscues against Vegas (two by offensive lineman Garett Holds/Bolles) regularly sabotaged drives. And while quarterback Russell Wilson had one of his best games in orange to date, he was hamstrung for long stretches by the sort of conservative play-calling that head coach Nathaniel Hackett was supposed to eliminate rather than embrace. And that's not to mention the previously stellar defense's inability to stop Raiders runner Josh Jacobs, who would be Hall of Fame bound if he played against the Broncos every week.

Still, the scoop-and-score supplied by Gordon was the game's turning point — an unforced error that, at this point, is absolutely predictable. No wonder former Bronco Tyler Polumbus, whose recent exit from 104.3/ The Fan is still a big story among the fan base, tweeted, "Pretty sure that should be the last carry Melvin Gordon ever has as a Bronco.... No, I am not being dramatic."

Lots of other folks on Twitter were — but they may need to get accustomed to seeing Gordon in the Broncos' backfield for weeks to come, since Williams tore his ACL and is out for the year.

Continue for a sampling of the less objectionable reactions to Gordon's fumble, followed by the final moments of his press conference:

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Michael Roberts has written for Westword since October 1990, serving stints as music editor and media columnist. He currently covers everything from breaking news and politics to sports and stories that defy categorization.
Contact: Michael Roberts

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