CINCINNATI -- Welcome to a new age of football trash talk.
Social media has colored the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers’ rivalry this season, as players from both sides have sent messages -- some serious, some funny, some threatening in nature -- across multiple platforms in order to make one thing clear: They don’t like each other, but relish the chance to play one another.
Bengals defensive end Carlos Dunlap isn't one to engage in the 140-character drama, but ahead of Saturday night's wild-card round playoff game against the Steelers, he did offer a subtle rebuttal Tuesday to prolific Pittsburgh tweeter, and longtime friend, Marcus Gilbert.
Asked about Gilbert's messages that have been critical of the Bengals, Dunlap simply replied: "To each his own."
It's clear the Bengals aren’t trying to rattle any cages this week after some explosive chatter in the days leading up to and after a Dec. 13 meeting with the Steelers. Bengals players weren’t happy with threatening messages Steelers players sent over social media the month before, referencing what they would do off the field to Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict.
Several Steelers were upset with Burfict following the Nov. 1 game in Pittsburgh after he demonstratively celebrated a tackle on Le'Veon Bell. It was at the same time that the midfield celebrations were raging that Bell was being evaluated for what was later ruled a season-ending MCL injury.
After Pittsburgh's win at Cleveland on Sunday, Gilbert said he would be "very excited" to draw a playoff matchup with the Bengals. Hours later, that matchup was set in stone.
Gilbert's excitement echoed what he posted online just after the Dec. 13 game when he said all he wanted for Christmas was the Bengals.
"Would love to see them in the playoffs where they choke," Gilbert said in a tweet that has since been deleted.
Pushed to comment further on his former University of Florida teammate, Dunlap wouldn't really budge.
"He's been vocal," Dunlap said. "But it is what it is if that’s what he wants to do. He wanted us for Christmas, he got it. Now we've got to see what he’s going to do."