June 25, 2011
Washington Redskins quarterback Donovan McNabb(notes) continued his recent media blitz with a recent spot on ESPN Chicago's "The Waddle and Silvy Show." McNabb discussed several subjects, most notably his future in the nation's capital, but one subject was of special interest — when asked his thoughts when it comes to athletes putting their lives on Twitter, McNabb had some very definite opinions.
First of all, I'm not a fan of Twitter. Nothing against their program or what they have, but as an athlete I think you need to get off twitter. All these social networks of you tweeting about you watching a game when you want to be playing in it, but you're mad you're not playing in it, so you're gonna criticize someone that's playing in it. I don't believe that that's the right deal. That's not professional by any means and you know we are all in a fraternity, so if you see a guy who's struggling this isn't the time to jump on him or kick him while he's down because that same guy will come against you and kinda blast your team out the water, so I think for an athlete to be 'twittering' is the wrong move. It's one of those things to leave to the fans and let them comment on certain things, but athletes need to get off Twitter.
Hmm. Well, never mind that McNabb sounds like an out-of-touch grandpa when he talks about all these darned kids 'twittering' (it's a wonder he didn't tell Waddle and Silvy to get off his lawn). The idea that athletes should stay off a viable social media tool because a few people can't help acting like jackasses is just this side of ridiculous. I understand the NFL policy that prevents players from tweeting (that's the official term, Donovan) — it's important to foster team unity and avoid giving away state secrets. But McNabb should know as well as anyone that it's not the medium, it's the message. After all, he was the quarterback thrown under the bus by Terrell Owens(notes) half a decade ago when both men played for the Philadelphia Eagles, and T.O. didn't need Twitter to do that. He had a willing media and an open microphone. Owens would have used homing pigeons if they were his only option.
It is a good point of discussion, and an interesting referendum: Should athletes be allowed to express themselves freely on Twitter? In my opinion, as long as they're not going off the reservation in ways that could hurt themselves or others (same rules as would apply to anyone else), I think it's a great way for players and fans to get to know more about each other. I follow about 100 players on Twitter, and it's allowed me to ask questions, set up interviews, and get better insight into what they're thinking. Again, same as everybody else. It's a ridiculous conceit to assume that because some people play a sport for a living, they should be denied the rights given to others.
If McNabb doesn't want to set up an account and let fly with his thoughts, that's certainly his prerogative. But it's especially goofy for him to propose communication restrictions at the same time he's getting himself out there in just about every other way. And his comments in the same interview about the NFL Network's Top 100 list and how the players didn't vote on it (a comment we've heard from other players on … ummm … Twitter) is just one example of the fact that interesting and honest dialogue should never be restricted — no matter what the medium may be.
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