September 01, 2009
Twitter lockdown goes into effect for all NFL players 90 minutes before gametime, and doesn't end until well after the game, when all of the post-game media interviews have been conducted. During that time span, all players, coaches and team personnel are prohibited from tweeting. If they do tweet, Roger Goodell gets to waterboard them for 45 minutes or so.
Are they fair? Perhaps that's a useless questions, as "fairness" isn't a concept that really applies here. The NFL has employees, and they can set rules by which those employees have to abide. No one's saying that they can't use Twitter at all (unless they're an official -- then they can't use Twitter); they just have to shut it down for a few hours on gameday. The NFL can do that if they want.
I do wonder, though, how much of the NFL's motivation behind the new policy is aimed at protecting traditional media sources. Players can't break any injury news or anything in the moments leading up to the game, so those tidbits still have to come from Yahoo! Sports, ESPN, Fox, CBS, or whoever. Juicy postgame quotes can't go directly to Twitter. They'd either have to wait 90 minutes, or go through a traditional media source. I can see why the NFL would want it that way. They want as much news and exposure as possible on the television networks, and that's good business for them. For my personal tastes, though, it's a little restrictive on the players. I'd like to hear what they have to say.
Meanwhile, the new policy is great news for guys like Michael Silver, Chris Mortensen, Peter King, and Jay Glazer. But does it benefit them at the cost of the players?
One of the reasons players embrace Twitter (aside from rampant narcissism [cough] Ochocinco) is that they can get messages out to the public on their own terms, when they want and in the words they want. There's no misquoting on Twitter, and there's no being taken out of context. It's a direct connection, and I can't blame a player if they'd prefer that method through traditional methods.
It's an option that's not available to them now, at least during the times of the week when quotes are the juiciest and most sought-after. That's how the NFL wants it, so that's how it's going to be.
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