On Saturday, former NFL kicker Jay Feely shared a photo on Twitter of his daughter and her boyfriend preparing for their high school prom. But one detail in the photo sparked controversy and drew several outraged reactions―a gun clenched in Feely’s hand.
The photo was apparently meant to be a joke, in the mold of countless “you better not mess with my daughter”—style dad memes. But it nonetheless drew a lot of criticism on the grounds that it’s not the best time to be joking about gun violence, much less against a teenager.
I wasn't all that upset about Jay Feely's prom tweet but this one seems to be a bit much pic.twitter.com/iZ86SryRKM— Juggalocialism (@UweBollocks) April 22, 2018
Oh yay – American dads have kicked off the season of “let’s pretend I’m going to shoot my daughter’s date for for impugning her chastity” pics. https://t.co/JRkhQTmKRV— Shannon Watts (@shannonrwatts) April 22, 2018
Wishing my beautiful daughter and her date *a violent reminder that I consider her my property pic.twitter.com/RDM7SpXBAE— Lauren Duca (@laurenduca) April 22, 2018
"Jay Feely made a dumb gun joke that was intended only for other shitty Facebook dads, but regular people saw it and pointed out how dumb it was and now he has to act contrite," I explain to a stranger who is walking away from me at top speed.— David Roth (@david_j_roth) April 22, 2018
Jokes are all about context, about time and place. Jay Feely obviously has been under a rock to not realize now is probably not the time.— DJ Polite (@Polite_DPJ) April 22, 2018
Not everyone was offended, to be clear, as some people just saw it as a relatively harmless joke. It’s also worth noting that Feely’s daughter and her boyfriend have been dating for more than a year, according to what Feely said in an explanatory tweet on Sunday. Feely also maintained that both his daughter and her boyfriend knew he was joking, and that the gun was unloaded and had no clip.
The prom picture I posted was obviously intended to be a joke. My Daughter has dated her boyfriend for over a year and they knew I was joking.— Jay Feely (@jayfeely) April 22, 2018
I take gun safety seriously (the gun was not loaded and had no clip in) and I did not intend to be insensitive to that important issue
Feely, 41, last played football for the Chicago Bears in 2015. Since then, he’s made his career as a sports commentator. He’s made no secret of his political conservatism throughout the years, having been an occasional guest on Fox News host Sean Hannity’s show. Judging by his response to the criticism of his gun-toting prom photo, however, it seems as if this was not the kind of publicity he wanted.