How Controversial Tweets are Changing the Game for NFL Players and Fans

Recently, Arian Foster, NFL running back for the Houston Texans, created quite a stir when he tweeted an image of the MRI for his injured hamstring.  Along with the image, he posted the following:

As the tweet circulated around the Twitter-verse, everyone from ESPN commentators to water cooler analysts were stating their case as to whether or not it was a big deal.  Most of the analysts that are former NFL players agreed; this was a bad move on Foster’s part. 

Former linebacker for the New England Patriots, Tedy Bruschi, was quoted as saying what every other former and current defensive player was probably thinking:

“As a defensive player, if this is his hamstring, noting that the sore spot — the white spot that he calls anti-awesomeness — is in the middle of the hamstring, as I’m getting off of a pile, maybe I push,” Bruschi said. “Maybe that’s where I push. Because I know that’s exactly where it is. I give it a little dig, I give it a little twist as I get off the pile. Maybe I do that.”

As most professional athletes will tell you, it’s best to keep information like this close to the vest.  The amount of work it takes to win an NFL game is daunting, and players will look for any piece of information that could give them a competitive advantage.  If you’re a key player with an injury, you’d like to keep the opposing team in the dark about your condition.  That way, they don’t know whether they should prepare for you to be in the game or not.

By contrast, most fans of the game and social media will tell you that they loved the tweet.  Twitter has allowed us to connect with athletes in ways that we never could before, and this is another prime example of that.  We get to see first hand what athletes are thinking, without having their comments filtered through a PR team. 

Another point to consider is the fact that controversial tweets can increase a player’s notoriety.  Chances are, more people know who Arian Foster is now that the story has been blasted over every sports outlet in the country.  That means more Arian Foster jerseys sold, more seats filled at Houston Texans games, and more people tuning in to see if a defensive player does exactly what Tedy Bruschi described.  As a coach, this is your worst nightmare.  As an NFL owner, you may be outwardly opposed to the idea, but there has to be some part of you that likes the attention it brings.

Similar to the way fantasy football enhanced the fans’ gameday experience, social media is bringing a new element to the game that makes Sunday afternoons even more fun.  Now that the dust has settled from this latest Twitter controversy, we’ve all learned a valuable lesson; be sure to follow your favorite players, because you never know what they might say next.

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