With apologies to Greg Dulli for the above headline, I link to the Philadelphia Inquirer’s John Gonzalez, covering the story of (former) Lincoln Financial Field gopher Dan Leone. Stricken with the the neurological disorder transverse myelitis, when Leone isn’t running game day errands at the Linc in his wheelchair, he’s sharing his innermost thoughts via the planet’s 1st or 2nd most popular social networking platform. And that, predictably enough, is where it all went wrong.
Like a lot of Philadelphians, Leone was upset when Brian Dawkins (above) became a Bronco. So he did what a 32-year-old does these days: He vented on Facebook. “Dan is [expletive] devastated about Dawkins signing with Denver. . .Dam Eagles R Retarted!!”
“I shouldn’t have put it up there,” Leone said. “I was ticked off, and I let my emotions go, but I didn’t offend any one person or target a specific individual. I was just upset that we lost such a great guy. Dawkins was one of my favorite players. I made a mistake.”
Less than two days after posting the Dawkins remarks, Leone said, he was contacted by Leonard Bonacci, the team’s director of event operations. According to Leone, Bonacci said they needed to talk about Leone’s Facebook page, and Leone agreed. Leone – who deleted the comment – figured that the two would sit down and that he could apologize to Bonacci in person. But Leone said Bonacci never got back to him after that.
Two days later, Leone said, he received a call from Rachel Vitagliano, the team’s guest services manager. Leone said she fired him over the phone. The conversation lasted less than 10 minutes.
“I tried putting in my case to Rachel,” Leone said. “I told her I worked there for six years. I did whatever they asked. I only missed one Eagles game the entire time I worked there, and that was because I’m a Mummer. I told her it was my dream to work for the Eagles and that I’d never do anything like that again.”
Leone said Vitagliano didn’t want to hear it. He said that she told him he couldn’t be trusted, that the post made the team look bad, and that the only way to resolve the situation was to fire him.
“I apologized for it,” Leone said. “I apologized 20 million times. I never bad-mouthed the organization before. I made one mistake and they terminate me? And they couldn’t even bring me into the office to talk to me? They had to do it over the phone? At least look me in the eye. To get done dirty like this, I can’t believe it. I’m devastated.”