CINCINNATI -- To those who tweet at him or message him on Instagram or comment about him on television, Andy Dalton has a message for you.
He hears you and he sees much of what you post.
But it isn't like the Cincinnati Bengals quarterback is constantly scrolling through his timeline or flipping channels seeking opinions about his play. All he has to do is open up an app or two on his phone to see them.
"I hear it just because it's hard not to," Dalton told ESPN on Wednesday. "I'm sure you know, but I can post a picture on my Instagram and all it's about is ... different stuff."
Different stuff, like the mix of rude, crude and smattering of friendly comments on an otherwise innocuous picture Dalton posted from the Western & Southern Open last week. During a break between preseason games and practices, the quarterback attended a session of the tennis championships just outside Cincinnati. They featured eventual tournament winners Serena Williams and Roger Federer.
Some of the commenters attacked Dalton. Others featured inappropriate innuendo. The most recent, at time of the writing of this story, implored Dalton to berate his offensive line into blocking better.
"As much as I want to say I don't look at it and I don’t see it, with the world today, it's hard not to see stuff," Dalton said. "And a lot of stuff that's said, you can look at it and it could be an eighth grader or something. People can hide behind a computer screen and it's the same person that's coming up wanting my autograph. So it is what it is."
Among recent playoff quarterbacks, Dalton is arguably the one who is most antagonized because of his play. Perhaps justifiably so. He's had a talented roster around him the past four seasons, and despite reaching the playoffs all of those years, the Bengals continuously fold once January arrives. Dalton has 40 regular-season wins in his four years, but is 0-4 in the postseason. The Bengals haven't won in the playoffs since 1991.
Some of that recent postseason ineptitude rests with Dalton. With six playoff interceptions to one career playoff touchdown, his play in the playoffs has been largely uninspiring.
"When I first came in, they didn't expect us to win a game and we won nine and made it to the playoffs and made it to the Pro Bowl, so there wasn't any negative then," Dalton said. "It's just because time has gone on. I think it just comes down to the whole playoff thing.
"But I'm not playing for the opinion of other people. This organization and the people here understand the type of person, player and what actually goes on out there. I understand that. So with all the negative stuff, there's still a bunch of positive support that comes."
The Bengals certainly believe Dalton is their man. Head coach Marvin Lewis and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson have gone out of their way often this past year to reaffirm that belief. The six-year contract extension Dalton signed last August was ownership's indication of that, too, even if the deal's structure allows the Bengals to part with the quarterback after this season cap hit-free.
"At the end of the day, the way I go about it is don't let somebody else's opinion of you define who you are," Dalton said, referring to critics. "Don't let other people's thoughts or whatever it is be true. I know who I am and this team knows who I am."