The Observer is a student-run, daily print & online newspaper serving Notre Dame, Saint Mary's & Holy Cross. Learn about us.



Gastelum: Tommy Rees is a new breed of Irish quarterback (Oct. 18)

Andrew Gastelum | Wednesday, October 16, 2013

“If you’re too big for the little things, then you’re too little for the big things”- @t_rees11’s Twitter bio


He is one of a kind, that @t_rees11

No quarterback in Notre Dame history has dealt with this kind of pass rush before. Not Montana, nor Theismann, certainly not Bertelli nor Hanratty and not even Quinn or Clausen

Tommy Rees is an original of the species, a hybrid of the Notre Dame quarterback. Because never before has a Notre Dame quarterback had to deal with the all-out, weak-side social media blitz. 

The 12th man in his case is Twitter and the boos sometimes come louder than ever, one mention at a time: 

“@t_rees11 you are literally the worst thing that has ever happened to Notre Dame”

“@t_rees11 you are a poor excuse for an athlete and don’t deserve to wear an ND jersey”

“Break both his legs pls [sic] @t_rees11″

After one Oklahoma loss and three interceptions,  these were just a sample of the few we could print without going to confession.

However, this hit can’t really be considered one from the blind side. By signing up for Twitter and keeping his profile public, it’s more like Rees told his linemen to let the defense through like he’s Sunshine in “Remember the Titans.” It’s both the beauty and drawback of social media; anyone can express his or her freedom of speech behind the curtain of a computer screen or smart phone. 

“Being a quarterback at Notre Dame, it’s one of the things that you kind of sign up for,” Rees said after defeating Arizona State. “But for me, I rely on my teammates first, coaches, family, the people that I care about, and I care about what they think.  For me, it’s just staying focused and staying within the people that matter.”

But here is where his wall of 6-foot-5, 300-plus-pound linemen, go-to targets and third-down backs can’t bail him out. In fact, Rees goes into this game with a zero percent chance to win, which many on Twitter say he has every Saturday anyway. 

Delete his Twitter or change his profile to private and it looks like Rees is running away from pressure, which many on Twitter say he cannot do anyway. Yet if Rees or any of his teammates respond, they are publicly vilified for talking back to fans who are only trying to draw a response.

In this area though, Rees has no mentor to turn to for advice. Surely every Notre Dame quarterback has made his enemies, but they have been able to block out the critics when they shut off their lights for the night. For Rees, the criticism sits in his pocket and is just a touch away at any point during the day.  

“I think Tommy chose to not pay attention to a lot of the criticism he was held to,” senior captain TJ Jones said after playing Arizona State. “He put that to the side and brush it off and we all supported him. We just believed in him and just went back to work.” 

The sad thing is, the criticism will always be there. It’s as simple as a mention and the send button, providing yet another form for the masses to attempt to break down Rees and every other quarterback after him. 

Everett Golson chose to remain oblivious to it, as he refused to sign up for Twitter. Regardless, someone fabricated one for him to serve as lightning rod, for both good and bad. But with Rees, much of the comments shed a negative light, and Irish coach Brian Kelly doesn’t think that will end even after a solid performance against Arizona State. 

“No.  No.  They will still be there,” Kelly said. 

The key will be for T. Rees, No. 11, to separate himself from @t_rees11 and do as he has done throughout the last four years: play, lead and leave the talking, typing and tweeting to the rest. 

He’s one of a kind, that Tommy Rees. But maybe, there is just one little thing he should make sure he is too big to sack him.

Contact Andrew Gastelum at [email protected]
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.