The League

Jason Maloni
Crisis Communications Expert

Jason Maloni

Senior Vice President with
Levick Strategic Communications
and Chair of the firm's Sports & Entertainment Practice.

The Chris Cooley Rule


Social media has already changed the relationship between players and fans in a way that perhaps only talk radio did years ago. Athletes like the Redskins' DeAngelo Hall (@Dhall23) take questions from fans on a regular basis, fans love it and radio stations and talk show hosts feel cut out.

Social media, particularly blogging and Twitter, has allowed athletes and fans to connect and Twitter has become a virtual backstage pass into the private lives of a number of professional athletes - something which can be both a blessing and a curse for the NFL.

Twittering and blogging should be allowed, even encouraged. If they can be used responsibly, these tools foster a stronger bond with players and teams and, ultimately, enhance the NFL experience. However, if misused or abused, they can have equally detrimental effects on all involved. While players Tweet under their own personal identities and on their own time, they need to remember that, year round, they represent the NFL. Like it or not, they are role models 24/7.

If I were advising the NFL , I'd educate the players on the responsible use of social media. The NFL already counsels rookies on fiscal responsibility and this preseason has shown that some players need a lesson on when it's right to Tweet. Naturally, there needs to be consequences for the misuse of these tools. The NFL should designate a bright boundary line when it comes to acceptable uses of social media and the appropriate time to use these tools. Players should be fined when they cross this line.

For example, leave the cell phone in your dorm room during training camp and on game day. Improper disclosure and inappropriate behavior are also grounds for discipline. Chris Cooley pulled off a rare double last year when he (inadvertently) photographed himself for his blog naked and with an open playbook. We have the Roy Williams Rule for horse collar tackles, perhaps we need the Chris Cooley Rule for misusing social media.

You can do a lot of harm in 140 characters but you can do a lot of good too. As the most visible representatives of the NFL, players should take care to ensure that what ends up in the digital space accurately and positively reflects themselves, their teammates and coaches, and the league.

As I've said in this space before...Don't be a Twit.

By Jason Maloni  |  August 25, 2009; 9:04 AM ET  | Category:  Roger Goodell , Twitter Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
Previous: Much Ado About Tweeting | Next: Bono to Fix Scoreboard?

The comments to this entry are closed.

RSS Feed
Subscribe to The Post

© 2011 The Washington Post Company