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Martin's advice to O'Neill: 'Ignore the Twitter clowns, brother'

Josh Katzenstein
The Detroit News
Blake O'Neill walks off the field after Saturday's game at Michigan Stadium.

Allen Park — Lions punter Sam Martin understands, to some extent, what Michigan's Blake O'Neill has experienced the past few days.

After Martin hit a 10-yard punt in the fourth quarter of the Lions' playoff loss to the Dallas Cowboys in January, he received plenty of nasty comments on social media, too.

"I got death threats after Dallas, and it wasn't even the last play of the game," he said. "That's people on Twitter who probably wouldn't kill a fly, but they feel comfortable saying stuff like that on Twitter. I never took any of it seriously."

O'Neill's miscue was, of course, on the last play of the game. With a chance to seal Michigan's victory over Michigan State, he dropped the snap and the play resulted in the Spartans returning the fumble for the game-winning touchdown as time expired.

Sam Martin watches his 10-yard punt in the playoff loss to the Cowboys last season.

Martin directed words of encouragement to O'Neill after the game, saying to "ignore the Twitter clowns, brother." The Lions punter, who was watching the game Saturday, also told the team's media relations department to pass along his phone number to people at Michigan in case the 22-year-old wanted to talk.

"It (stunk) obviously. I felt bad for him," Martin said. "It sounds stupid to say, but mistakes happen. Unfortunately, that was just a critical time in the game. Just like anything else, there's absolutely nothing he can do about it now except prevent it from happening again and just finish the season strong."

Like Martin, Pistons legend Isiah Thomas reached out to O'Neill, too. Before the botched punt, O'Neill had a strong game, averaging 44.6 yards per punt with an 80-yarder in the first quarter.

Martin said errant kicks like his against the Cowboys actually help his mindset for future punts. Now, he understands what it's like to feel the lowest of lows, so it's easy to approach each punt with positive thoughts.

"I move on pretty quick from it because that's the only option," he said. "If you think about it, what the hell is mourning over it going to do? You can't re-kick it, so you've just got to move on from it."