Shutdown Corner - NFL

Okay, so maybe it wasn't really Bill Parcells. But if you're an NFL prospect, and you get an out-of-the-blue friend request on MySpace or Facebook from a comely young lady, there could be a sweaty 50-year-old NFL scout behind it.

Teams are actually doing this. If there's a tiny little bit of information about your character that can be gleaned from your Facebook page, they want to know about it. Even if it means a little bit of dishonesty. Charles Robinson wrote a fantastic piece about the practice yesterday. Here's a snippet:

“It works like magic,” said a personnel source that was familiar with his team’s tactic of using counterfeit profiles to link to Facebook and Myspace pages of potential draft picks. The source directed Yahoo! Sports to one of the team’s “ghost profiles” – a term he coined because “once the draft is over, they disappear. It’s like they were never there.”

The practice may have an underhanded, back-alley feel to it, but most NFL teams are unapologetic when it comes to picking through the lives of prospective players. And with the tentacles of the Internet extending further than ever into the lives of athletes, online information has offered a wealth of fresh ammunition for teams. Whether it’s networking sites like Facebook, Myspace or Twitter, personal blogs, or just the random bits of information that can be found with an hour of free time and a powerful Internet search engine, NFL teams are gleefully delving into new cracks and corners that didn’t exist even a decade ago.

Unbelievable. Not just in a "technology keeps creeping deeper and deeper into everything" kind of way, but also in a "that's a huge moral gray area" way.

It brings up so many questions. If a guy hasn't learned by now that it's a bad idea to put incriminating information about himself on the internet, can you have too much sympathy for him? How deep into a guy's personal life should an NFL scout be allowed to go? Should we be okay with the blatant dishonesty?

If a team's willing to prey on a young man's love of the ladies in order to gain access to his Facebook page via a fake picture, how far are they willing to go? Is there really that much of a difference between that and hiring a woman to approach a guy in a bar, and see what he'll confess to her? See what kind of activities he'll engage in? See if he might be the kind of guy at risk for fathering thirty-seven children with thirty-seven different women? I see these as legitimate questions.

On the other hand, teams do what they feel like they have to do. If they're investing that much money in a guy, and the guy's been coached by an agent on how to answer every possible question he might get, then maybe they don't have a choice but to go that deep. I don't know.

Again, it's just a huge, huge moral gray area.

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