Now, he’s trying to clean it all up. Before we can explain this latest social media drama, let’s go for some context. Defensive backs and receivers do this sort of verbal stuff every NFL Sunday. They trash-talk each other in person, sometimes for fun, but mainly to intimidate and play mind games. Apple continued it off the field after the Bengals whipped the Bills 27-10.
And without mentioning Damar Hamlin, Eli Apple certainly appeared to make fun of the Buffalo safety, who is recovering from a near-fatal cardiac injury, and Diggs, a close friend. For fans and friends of Hamlin, perception was reality.
This all started Sunday night, when Apple posted a video of Diggs, who appeared to be yelling at Josh Allen, his quarterback. The Buffalo receiver took the troll bait, answering, “it’s easy to criticize my reaction more than the result.”
Then Apple quipped: “Cancun on 3,” as he used a hands-heart emoji.
Eli Apple Clarified He Wasn’t Talking About Damar Hamlin
As you can see, Eli Apple didn’t specifically reference Damar Hamlin. But Hamlin wears No. 3. And while Hamlin still was in the hospital, NFL teams did all sorts of salutes to the safety by using the number.
Plus, Hamlin often makes the heart sign with his hands. It’s even on T-shirts being sold to raise money for first responders. Hamlin attended the Bills-Bengals playoff game. It’s the first time he’s been seen in public. And when the scoreboard cameras flashed him on the video board, Hamlin made the heart sign to show his love for the fans.
Yet Apple said he never intended to insult Hamlin when he was wishing Diggs a pleasant off-season vacation. (The Bengals play the Kansas City Chiefs Sunday with the winner going to the Super Bowl.)
He posted Tuesday afternoon: “All love thoughts prayers and concerns to Damar Hamlin as he continues to recover from that tragic incident. Never would I make light of that scary unfortunate scene. This game is truly a dangerous risk to our bodies mind and spirit. Nothing but love to all my football brothers.”
Eli Apple probably didn’t realize how close he really came to mocking Damar Hamlin with his tweet. The cornerback was on the field that night at Paycor Stadium when Hamlin collapsed in the first quarter of the game, Jan. 2. An assistant athletic trainer kept Hamlin’s heartbeat going with CPR and an automated external defibrillator.
But Apple appears to be taking a page from the troll book established by Los Angeles Clipper star Patrick Beverley. Back in 2020, Beverley mocked Damian Lillard on Instagram with “Cancun on 3” taunts after the Trailblazers lost in the playoffs.