Published: July 6, 2013
DENVER - The most influential tool in sports is available to any Joe or Jane with an Internet connection.
Twitter can break an athlete's reputation as quickly as it can make an athlete's reputation.
The latest example of the dangers of Twitter was on display Friday during the Dwight Howard saga (#Dwightmare?). Would the NBA's biggest free-agent prize sign with the Mavericks, Rockets or Warriors - or return to the Lakers?
One Twitter report suggested Howard had chosen the Rockets and the chase was over. Hours later, Twitter reports suggested Howard was waffling on his decision and the Lakers were still in play.
The whole ordeal made the All-NBA center appear silly and incompetent.
And that might be the case. Howard's history suggests that decision-making, like free-throw shooting, is not a strong suit.
But are we certain Howard ever changed his mind? None of the Twitter reports actually quoted Howard as saying he was unsure of his ultimate decision.
That information came later, in a more traditional form: actual news reports.
I dig Twitter the most. It's a valuable and entertaining form of social media with more influence than this column will ever hold.
Twitter is critical for college coaches to use in recruiting. Take a recruiting visit, for example. If a prospect is on campus and fans are showing the love - using his Twitter handle in their tweets - that can make a difference.
I've seen a basketball prospect commit to a program partly because his Twitter followers doubled on a recruiting visit.
Twitter can be a bridge between athletes and their fans. Broncos defensive tackle Sylvester Williams did a wise thing Saturday. He held a question-and-answer session on Twitter to provide some insight into life as an NFL rookie.
Discerning athletes have their own set of Twitter rules.
"I try not to be vulgar on Twitter. I try not to use profanity. But for the most part, I do feel like society as a whole is kind of sensitive," Colorado Buffaloes basketball standout Spencer Dinwiddie said.
"I would rather say what I feel and mean what I say. I want to be a man and say what I think. For the most part I try to keep it honest on my Twitter."
Mostly, I think it's important we don't form an opinion of an athlete based on what is written in 140 characters or less.
Leave it to a college kid to breathe some sense into an irrational Twitter world.
"I really have only one rule: 'Think before you tweet,'" Creighton basketball star and All-American forward Doug McDermott told me.
Good rule. Here's another one: Think before you believe a tweet.
Line of concern
The Broncos are built to score.
Few teams in the AFC can match the firepower of Peyton Manning's offense, particularly with the elusive Wes Welker joining Demaryius Thomas and Eric Decker at wide receiver.
As I see it, there's an overlooked issue with the group that usually gets overlooked: offensive line.
Ryan Clady, the Pro Bowl left tackle, is coming off shoulder surgery and hasn't signed a franchise tender. J.D. Walton, the center, could miss the season due to ankle surgery. Right guard Louis Vasquez, the hefty free agent stolen from the Chargers, should enjoy a seamless transition. But we don't know yet.
When Manning is upright, the Broncos are the team to beat in the AFC.
But the offensive line is Manning's security blanket. It is also the only unit with significant concerns.
When training camp opens July 25, the toughest unit to evaluate is the one that needs to be evaluated.
Goalies on goalies
Jean Sebastien-Giguere's ice cred runs deep. When the veteran goalie erupted on a midseason rant about the lack of commitment in the Avalanche locker room, it struck a nerve.
Fifteen seasons in the NHL builds a sturdy platform to speak from.
So when Jiggy, a goalie, says Patrick Roy, the greatest goalie, has the goods to deliver as a head coach, it's worth noting.
"We can use some of that confidence he's going to bring in," Giguere told me recently.
It's not often a reference to the Red Wings is received with open arms in Colorado.
Here's an exception: Giguere said Roy's confidence reminds him of the current coach in Detroit.
"Mike Babcock is like that. He's a guy that coached me in Anaheim. He's very self-assured," Giguere said. "He just knows he's the best coach, that he's one of the best coaches in the league. He probably would tell you that if you asked him. And he would say it with reason, because he is."