Chad Ochocinco is many things: a wide receiver for the New England Patriots, a showman, one of the most quotable athletes on the planet and maybe someday soon, a media tycoon.
Via his OCNN feed on Twitterand through the official Ochocinco news account, the always eccentric and sometimes on point Ochocinco hopes to someday challenge the legitimate media outlets with breaking news and insight.
This past month, he's re-launched his OCNN presence through a partnership with Motorola and the tweets are flying fast and furious, from football related to IHOP menu choices. It is very much stream of consciousness stuff from Ochocinco.
"I'm interesting; I have a lot to say. I don't bite my tongue — I have no filter when I do speak," Ochocinco told Yahoo! Sports. "However I feel, I'm going to say it no matter what the consequences are, not that I'm one to get in trouble. But I'm going to call it as it is."
But there has been less of Ochocinco to share over the past three years. From September through December the past two NFL seasons, a bulk of time which represents the vast chunk of his on the field time with the Cincinnati Bengals during that stretch, Ochocinco sent out 5,173 tweets during that four-month span in 2009 and 3,087 during the same stretch a year later.
Eerily that represents a 79 percent drop off — on pace with his percentage drop off of his tweets from two years ago till now - though he does still have one game left to impact that number. Ochocinco insists that joining the Patriots this year, a notoriously close-lipped team that gives little away in the media, had nothing to do with the decline in tweets and he was never asked to curtail his social media presence.
"They trust me as a person," Ochocinco said. "There's no need for that and I've never done anything else to cause a problem. I've still been the same, been me, tweeting the same. Nothing's changed."
It may not just be Ochocinco advancing the "Patriots Way" by being a bit more tight-lipped. Social media consultant Erik Manassy cautions that lots of tweeting isn't always better or smarter.
"Remember, the entire world is watching and as history has shown, it's easy for a 140 message to be taken out of context. Because you need to talk in short bursts, talking about a subject in multiple tweets is not a good idea if one single tweet can be taken the wrong way," said Manassy, who is president of his Manassy Media.
"If a player is talking about a television show or the music they listen to that's fine, but when they start taking a certain political stance or a topic that could be sensitive, they should be careful. I'm not saying don't use freedom of speech, but again stress that everyone is watching including your ownership, media and fans. Showing up on a headline of a newspaper due to a tweet is not a good idea."
So far, Ochocinco's headlines through social media and OCNN have all been positives.
Like last year, Ochocinco will be attending the Super Bowl as a credentialed member of the media if the Patriots don't advance that far. He attended press conferences, asked questions and prepared just like he was with a mainstream media outlet. This year, a fan will get the chance to join him and tag along, perhaps kickstarting a career in journalism.
"I got an appreciation for the media standpoint — seeing how hard their job really is and really what goes into it, especially at something as big as the Super Bowl," Ochocinco said.
He even asked a question, >of commissioner Roger Goodell during a press conference with Ochocinco calling him a "friend outside of football" but "when I speak and come into those forums with all the media — I'm speaking on behalf of 1,800 football players in the NFL. When I ask a question, I'm asking a question for all of them."
The beauty of OCNN -- and perhaps, as critics will easily point out, its curse -- is that Ochocinco is accountable to himself and only himself. There is no filter as he aptly points out and his designs to seriously grown the network to include other athletes and sports is not just bold talk but an ambition to weed out what he sees as bias in the media.
Ochocinco doesn't want sports reporting to be a one horse race.
"One of the things about it, one of the things I want to be able to do is challenge the ESPNs, the Fox Sports — for me being a player and still playing — to get information from athletes still playing the game, they're more in tune to give me information first before anyone else," Ochocinco said.
"The media will always twist and turn it their way; however they'd like it to be. It'd be awesome to be the first active player to be able to give the news and report things first."
Kristian R. Dyer can be followed at twitter.com/KristianRDyer
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