The League

Joel Thorman
Chiefs Blogger

Joel Thorman

Co-editor of Arrowhead Pride, a Kansas City Chiefs website.

Twitter Not the Enemy


Despite its simplicity, Twitter intimidates people. It intimidates companies and other organizations who have great fear of social media's potential to do them harm.

And Twitter scares the No Fun League.

It must scare the NFL like YouTube did when it first became wildly popular. As every Joe Schmo with a cell phone camera began uploading nearly-live video to YouTube over the last five years, I'm sure there have been plenty of coaches and GMs who lay awake at night wondering how the next controversial clip of a star player was going to destroy their team.

Those fears surrounding YouTube never materialized and my prediction is that the same will happen with Twitter. What scares the NFL now -- the lack of control over player tweets -- is what makes the NFL paranoid. If the league isn't in control of something it potentially dangerous, you can bet that soon enough Roger Goodell will get his hands around it. The NFL is smart - it wants to control its message. It's business. But pleasing the fans is also business.

So how should the NFL control the use of Twitter?

What can't be overstated is that Twitter is just another form of communication. It's nothing particularly complicated or special. The problem is that for many of the players tweeting today, their thoughts are sent out instantly to the entire World Wide Web. That is, if they choose to leave their tweets unrestricted from public view, which many do.

The NFL shouldn't be scared of this. They hold live press conferences all the time and 99% of the time those pass without incident.

NFL players should be held to the same behavior standards on Twitter that they are for every other type of team activity. A player who Tweets about an injury, should be treated the same way as a player who blabs about it to local beat reporter.

Here's the rule that Roger Goodell and the NFL should follow in regards to Twitter: If a banned action is already punishable during a game, practice or press conference, that same action or speech should be punished if it happens on Twitter.

Twitter doesn't need any special rules surrounding its use.

For example, San Diego Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was recently fined by the team for complaining about the Chargers food at training camp. Would anybody be surprised by the punishment if he "spoke" his tweet out loud at a press conference? Of course they wouldn't. Cromartie was being openly insubordinate - tweet or no tweet.

Roger Goodell and the NFL, don't over think this one. Don't stifle the biggest avenue for fan/player interaction ever by instituting some draconian media policy around Twitter. It's not the enemy. Players are going to run their mouths on Twitter and they're going to run their mouths at practices, in interviews and after games like they've always done. Keep doling out the appropriate punishment for speech infractions as well as those with cell phones and the web. The players will learn it's not in their best interest to broadcast every piece of information to the world.

By Joel Thorman  |  August 24, 2009; 7:10 AM ET  | Category:  Roger Goodell , Twitter Save & Share:  Send E-mail   Facebook   Twitter   Digg   Yahoo Buzz   StumbleUpon   Technorati  
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