Updated: August 5, 2009 at 12:00 am
ENGLEWOOD — Many NFL players, including a handful of Denver Broncos, have been revealing details of their lives 140 characters at a time on the Internet.
Twitter, the micro-blogging social networking site, has become popular in NFL circles. One can answer New York Jets tight end Dustin Keller when he asks if he should buy an iPhone or a Blackberry, eavesdrop as Arizona receiver Larry Fitzgerald invites fellow players on Twitter to offseason workouts in Minnesota, hear Cardinals defensive tackle Darnell Dockett brag daily about how good-looking he is, or listen to Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco tweet about pretty much everything at all hours of the day.
Among Broncos, receiver Eddie Royal is probably the most prolific tweeter (a “tweet” is the term for a Twitter update, which has a maximum of 140 characters) and also keeps fans updated on Facebook, another social networking site. Cornerback Champ Bailey, defensive tackle Ronald Fields, linebacker Wesley Woodyard, running back Knowshon Moreno, running back Darius Walker and cornerback Alphonso Smith also have Twitter accounts.
Coach Josh McDaniels does not, although like many celebrities and athletes, there is an obviously fake Twitter account bearing his name.
“I don’t know what it means, I don’t know what it is, and I don’t know the MyFace, Spacebook, Facebook stuff, I don’t know what that is either,” McDaniels said when asked about Twitter. “The league talks about trying to protect your career and your family, so hopefully they’re doing the right things by what the league asks us to do.”
Broncos players don’t send updates from meetings, because McDaniels allows no electronic devices in meeting rooms. Some NFL players have gotten in trouble for tweets, as the league and teams try to solidify policies on social networking sites.
Vikings tight end Visanthe Shiancoe caused a stir when he sent a message from a meeting introducing the staff in which his reply was “Zzzzzz zzzzz zzz zzz.” Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie complained about the food at training camp on Twitter and was fined $2,500 by the team. There was an uproar when Ochocinco threatened to tweet during games.
Royal’s interactions are uncontroversial. Many are updates on how the team is doing or what’s new in his life. During the NBA playoffs he had plenty of basketball-related updates on Twitter and Facebook.
“They’re interested, and you want to show them you’re a normal person,” Royal said. “I’m a fan of basketball and like certain players just like them. It’s cool to bounce back topics with them and answer questions they want to ask directly.”
Other players have personal Web sites. Receiver Brandon Marshall has a blog on his site, www.bmarshall15.com, and posted an entry after his trade request in June that declared “change is probably best.” He hasn’t had a blog entry since.
Not everything is as it appears. Even though Bailey’s Twitter account is not a fake, per se, he said he doesn’t update it personally.
“I got somebody handling that for me,” Bailey said. “I did that to promote my football camp back home. I don’t have time for all of that.”
The NFL is ironing out its Twitter policies, although the league has a Twitter account, as does commissioner Roger Goodell. The Broncos have an official Twitter account, as do three of the team’s spokesmen. On Wednesday, the Broncos lifted a ban on fans and media tweeting from practice.
Royal said he thinks the Twitter craze among NFL players will continue.
“It’s becoming popular and it has grown and it seems the fans really like it,” Royal said. “If the fans are enjoying it and the players are, why not?”
The Nuggets’ J.R. Smith shut down his Twitter page according to The Denver Post when his tweets raised questions after several were written in a manner commonly associated with a street gang. His last message read: “ok people i love all of my fans im sorry but this will be my last tweet you know why but it is what it is love all an tke Care”.