The League

Jim McCormick
Blitz Magazine Publisher

Jim McCormick

The editor and publisher of Blitz Magazine

Language Barrier


OGOchoCinco: Damn NFL and these rules, I am going by my own set of rules, I ain't hurting nobody or getting in trouble, I am putting my foot down!!

These NFL rules rule, I am going by my own set of rules. My calves hurt from hiking but I am putting my foot down!!

The first tweet is the sage wordplay of one Chad Ochocinco on his actual Twitter feed. While correctly identifying Spanish numbering is of little use for this man, using Twitter, and thus regularly tweeting, is a paramount priority for him.

The second tweet is the hypothetical tweeting of one Roger Goodell, the overlord of professional football. While his calves must legitimately be sore, it's also true that he employs his own, or at least his league's, set of rules. That, and he's certainly adept at putting his foot down.

While SeƱor "Ochenta y Cinco" loves to test the bounds of Spanish as well as the league's rulebook, he is right in that he's not hurting "nobody" or getting in any trouble of significance. He is, however, testing the bounds of what is acceptable for a professional athlete in this age of direct communication.

The media must accept that they are no longer, and haven't been for some time, the conduit of information from the player to the fan. Publicists and agents once filtered the channel but now there is a direct forum for an athlete to communicate with the fan without any intermediary. The dangers aside, Ochocinco has welded his direct path to the fan's ear somewhat deftly in the sense that he can now make news with out creating much actual news at all. And this is why the league is compelled to intervene.

While I risk sounding like a broken record, this once again boils down to brand protection for the league. As harmless as it may seem to allow players to directly communicate during a game, the league spots the potential for harm, however small, and thus shuts it down. Tweeting as a gateway drug of sorts.

If you haven't noticed, the NFL isn't a huge fan of individualism.

Whether it's nixing Peyton Manning's fitting tribute to Johnny Unitas or curtailing absurd, albeit, creative touchdown celebrations, the message is clear that uniformity is both a literal and figurative ideology.

What harm can come from allowing Ocho to Tweet away during games? Let's just assume that the Bengals won't be challenging the Pats or Steelers for the best record in the AFC, or even the Ravens for second in the division. That said, let's assume that the Bengals continue to be the Bengals; mired in ever depressing results. Do we envision supportive messages from the league's most loquacious 140-character author?

Sunday, November 15, 2009, 2:17 PM, Pittsburgh, PA.
OGOchoCinco: Paging Dr. Drew! Getta brotha outta this nasty USFL uniform! 1st, Carson wouldn't let me crash at the crib and now dude won't even throw me a post when I'm more open than McDonalds!

Direct insults to the coaching staff and fellow players might well follow, but a brewing series of jabs at Carson Palmer would likely be part and parcel.

Personally, I'd love to add one more tab to my browser on Sundays, following the incessant tweets of players and the like throughout the season. But at the same time, I completely understand and even agree that there's actually no legitimate value or net gain in their presence.

In the end, we are witnessing one amazingly effective self-promoter promote. Stuck on a bad team, in a minuscule market, coming off of a career-worst campaign, and we're still discussing him.

Come fall? Just don't expect individualism, of any sort, to flourish in this league.

By Jim McCormick  |  July 10, 2009; 8:14 AM ET  | Category:  Cincinnati Bengals , NFL , Roger Goodell Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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