NFL Teams Scout Draft Picks By Friending Them on Facebook

You should know by now that you have to be smart about what you post socially. If not, former Tampa Bay Buccaneers operations employee turned NFL guru on Twitter Joe Bussell (@NFLosophy) covered the topic on Saturday.

Noteworthy is his understanding that the NFL teams have hired social consultants to “create profiles w/fake pics of an attractive female & friending potential draft picks. The friend requests are never denied”.

Here are a series of tweets from Joe on the subject:

Celebrating Collaboration

Sitting in my office on this cloudy, it’s only a matter of time until it rains Monday morning, I needed to find some music to fit the day. 

The XX seemed perfect, and in browsing YouTube, I stumbled upon a live performance from the band with the BBC Philharmonic

There’s something about artists collaborating that is exciting, and the more obscure (I’m looking at you, Nelly and Florida Georgia Line), the more interested I am to hear it. 

You can’t help but sense that when artists hook up for a collaboration, all sides are making sure to bring their “A” game. There’s no doubt learning happens when working so closely with someone else, especially when that someone is from another genre or style. 

The energy and inspiration from collaboration is certainly not limited to music. This morning, for example, there’s much speculation about what Yahoo!’s purchase of Tumblr might mean for both. 

What can collaboration do for you? Make that your challenge for the summer. Go find interesting people to connect with and see what kind of mutually beneficial energy and inspiration you can tap into. 

Seeing Boston, Remembering Bernabeu

After the shock, horror and anger that comes naturally when there is an attack like Monday’s at the Boston Marathon, there is a period of reflection. 

What took place in Boston is terrifying for so many people, but for those who work in the sports and events, it hits close to home and creates a different kind of lump in your throat.

I say this, in part, due to personal experience. In 2004, I had the opportunity to cross something off my sports fan bucket list: Attending a Real Madrid match at Santiago Bernabeu.

It was a surreal evening, with so much happening that I just simply could not understand due to my limited Spanish language skills.

The match was thrilling, and was knotted at 1-all in the closing minutes. At the far end of the pitch, there was a close challenge. In the near side endzone, chaos broke out amongst the most rabid fans. My initial thought was that challenge must have been closer than I thought. 

Quickly I realized something more was happening. The players were rushing to leave the field. Spectators were jumping over seats and rushing to the exits. Entire sections of fans from that endzone were being led onto the field and out a nearby exit. 

Next to me, a man and his pre-teen grandson darted away, leaving behind a backpack full of food, jackets and blankets.

Soon the public address announcer was speaking, but between my limited language skills and the chaos around me, I had no clue what was happening. But knew I had to leave.

Ushered out of the stadium onto the street, I came around the stadium and saw the same players who moments ago were playing on the field huddling on the street trying to stay warm on a cold December night.

In the back of my mind, I recalled recent attacks in Spain - the March 11 train attacks as well as a series of bombings in the month or so before the game at gas stations in the country.

With that in mind, I opted to not take a train, so I started walking. I was in daze. Eventually, I overhead someone speaking English, and stopped to ask what was happening. That’s when I learned the stadium was evacuated because of a bomb threat. 

By the next morning, more details were available: BBC story 

A professional colleague routinely posts to Facebook a photo from his “office,” whether it is the press table at a basketball game or pressbox at a baseball stadium. Like him, I am lucky enough that my job requires me to spend over 100 days a year in stadiums around the world. 

Sports events are high profile with a high concentration of people in a confined area. It’s not an exercise in sensationalism to say those events may be considered a target to those who wish to engage in acts of terror.

Monday’s events serve as a very clear reminder to organizers that every reasonable step to ensure the security and safety of everyone at these events must be taken.

But there is also an onus is on everyone in attendance. It’s said a lot, and it’s very simple: If you see something, say something. 

The man and his grandson in Spain, the family of the eight-year-old, everyone who has been affected by these acts deserve for us to continue to enjoy these games. They will go on, and I can’t wait to get to the next one. 

Xavier Goes Big (East)

Xavier officially is joining the Big East, a move that has been rumored for months is happening. While very happy for my alma mater, there’s also a sense of pride in seeing this move happen. 

For a decade, 1994-04, I was involved with XU athletics, whether as a student covering sports for the Newswire, or later as a staff member in the Sports Information Department. It is great to see the work and vision of so many people paying off with Xavier’s invitation to this new league.

No one would be prouder today to see Xavier aligning with these other schools than former president Fr. James Hoff. And his leadership of the University in the 80s and 90s was critical in setting the stage for this success. 

Many, many people - from administrators to coaches to the student-athletes themselves - contributed to put Xavier in a position to be able to make such a move. Today I reflect on my time at Xavier and feel great pride to have been one small part of the process that has led to this historic event for the athletic department and University. 

Go X!

Tennis Australia is doing a great job embracing social media, from these signs blanketing the site to Tournament Director Craig Tiley using Twitter to announce which halves of the draw will play Monday to an “SOS” Twitter account to address fan queries (@aosos). Kudos to the Australian Open. 

Tennis Australia is doing a great job embracing social media, from these signs blanketing the site to Tournament Director Craig Tiley using Twitter to announce which halves of the draw will play Monday to an “SOS” Twitter account to address fan queries (@aosos). Kudos to the Australian Open

Officials Lack of Explanation Compounds Confounding Calls

Saturday’s Xavier-Butler game will be the source of considerable debate for how it ended. But there’s a lesson buried in the controversy, and that’s the value of good communication.

On Butler’s final possession, the clock, for reasons we may never know, stopped at 14.7 seconds. It was quickly restarted, and play on the court continued with a flurry of activity that ended with Butler making a basket and the clock stopping at 1.2 seconds.

Xavier quickly called a timeout to set up its last ditch play. During that stoppage, the referees went to the scorer’s table to review the timing.

For nearly 10 minutes the officials looked a replays and deliberated about the play. At home, ESPN’s announcers had some inkling what was going on, thanks in part to the referees needing the ESPN crew to roll back the replays.

In the arena, fans were starting to boo at the lengthy delay. While it was clear the referees were looking at something, it was hard to tell what exactly was in question.

So it’s no wonder that when finally the referees called the coaches to center of the court to say the game was over things got ugly.

The coaches were told of the referee’s decision, and while that discussion was still happening, one of the referees instructed the scorer’s table to sound the horn signaling the end of the game.

Xavier Coach Chris Mack, who understandably was still pleading his case with the officials when the horn sounded, and he never had the chance to go explain to his team how 1.2 seconds were being erased from the clock.

No official made any effort to go offer that explanation to the team, nor did any official wait to give Mack a chance to tell his team before the whole arena learned at once, causing quite a frenzy.

There are players with Xavier who were furious. That emotion got the best of them, and that is inexcusable.

However, emotions were just as raw less than a week ago as Xavier played Cincinnati. The officials wisely handled that game, and after two near-altercations in the first half, the rest of the game was played with nothing close to a fight. Full credit for that rests with the officials who deftly handled a delicate situation.

On Saturday, the referees had a chance to keep things under control. Making sure both teams knew why the game was over - in particular the Xavier squad that was suddenly going from preparing for a last second shot to losing without ever touching the ball – might have helped keep emotions in check.

Instead, a long delay ended with a sudden and very unexpected horn ending the game. It’s no wonder reactions were so extreme.

Hopefully there is no next time, but if there is, the officials would be wise to remember they are in control of the information, and with that can help keep a tense situation from becoming an ugly one.

BCS Takes Bold Jump Into Social Media

There is no company or client that is immune from criticism and negative feedback. Engaging in social media is certainly going to result in taking some of that flak head on.

When the product is a lightening rod that people are rallying against, dipping toes into the world of social media is a very bold proposition.

The BCS, college football’s Bowl Championship Series, joined Facebook and Twitter this week. In short, the BCS is co-op between the five largest college football bowl games and the six largest conferences.

BCS spots are reserved for the conference champions of those six leagues, and the remaining four berths go to at-large teams, meaning the second-best teams from those conferences or schools from other conferences.

A computer formula that accounts for human voting as well as other computer calculations ranks the teams, and the top two in that ranking get to play for the National Championship. Quality teams from outside the six BCS conferences are really at the mercy of these rankings, and face long odds to get a BCS Bowl berth, even if going undefeated.

If three or more teams finish with identical records, often undefeated, the computer spits out its rankings and the top two teams get to play for the National Championship. The others are left to ponder “what if?”

As of November 20, six teams have yet to lose a game, setting the stage for one or more schools to be slighted this season when the final BCS poll comes out in early December.

In 2007, a Gallup Poll found the BCS had an approval rating of 15%. Right around his election, even President Obama chimed in, saying the BCS should be changed to a traditional playoff format and Congress held hearings charging that public universities should not be participating in something that could be argued is a monopoly.

With that kind of public support, it’s no wonder it wasn’t exactly a welcome mat that greeted the BCS on its foray into social media.

Take a minute to search “insidethebcs” on twitter, and you’ll get a sense for the reception. Mostly it’s jokes at the BCS expense, use of everyone’s favorite twitterism “#fail,” or venom filled posts with another word that begins with “f” that I will not repeat in this polite company.

The mere entrance into Twitter is being mocked, with one member of the Twitterverse asking if Lehman Brothers will be the next to join Twitter.

On Facebook, a more controlled environment than Twitter, the motives of the BCS for jumping into social media become a little more apparent. The  BCS is working to create a dialogue about its format on its Facebook fan page.

This statement greets fans visiting the Facebook page: “First, we welcome and respect everyone’s views, whether for or against the BCS, so long as they are expressed appropriately. In that light, let me ask those who prefer a playoff these questions: using today’s standings, which 8 teams would be in a playoff, how are they selected & seeded, where are games played, and when? This should be fun, and that’s what this page is supposed to be.”

Bill Hancock, a respected college athletics administrator, has been brought in by the BCS recently as executive director, a role that includes being the face and spokesperson for the BCS.

SI.com announced the move with a headline that declares “Hancock has horrible job: Defending the Indefensible.”

Putting this brand into the social media environment certainly smacks of sticking one’s head into the mouth of the lion.

Perhaps, though, it’s a brilliant strategy.

Hancock is smart and knows that college football fans and media sit around bars, tailgate parties and press boxes railing the system. The mob mentality takes over and a consensus is formed that the BCS is terrible.

By engaging in these conversations via Twitter and Facebook, the BCS will now have the opportunity to fight back and state its case.

It will not be pretty, and the conversations will be bruising to say the least. But if the BCS can convert some people, perhaps that 15% approval rating will creep north.

This is certainly risky move, similar to that of a kamikaze mission. It might also be a stroke of genius that can be learned from.

Summer Swing

Perhaps you missed me, or maybe you didn’t even notice my absence. But it’s been a frantic few months, working the French Open, Wimbledon, Campbell’s Hall of Fame Tennis Championships in Newport, LA Tennis Open Presented by Farmer’s Insurance Group and Western & Southern Financial Group Masters & Women’s Open before wrapping up the summer at the US Open. 

If you have missed my writing, condensed musings can be found on twitter. 

An Open Letter to Brett Favre

Mr. Brett Favre
Kiln, MS

May 6, 2009

Dear Brett, 

Please find enclosed all my memorabilia from your great career with the Packers. These items include the #4 jersey, the picture from my wall, EA’s Madden ’09 with you on the cover and every Sports Illustrated cover you’ve appeared on (yes, even the one with Coach Holmgren and the breakfast sausage on a fork).

I return these items to you because I am no longer a fan. I’m not like so many of your former fans who now hate you. I can’t. You were too good to me for too long. But I’m over you just the same.

Brett, I feel like you’ve changed. You drew me in with your childlike enthusiasm for the game. No doubt I loved you for all the touchdowns you threw for the Pack, but I loved you more for your celebrating a touchdown with a friendly snowball or for carrying the receiver on your shoulders.

You, Brett, were the poster child for the phrase “for the love of the game.” This was perfect for the blue collar Midwest, for the smallest market in the NFL. The  enthusiasm you brought to the field was like that of a child, not a jaded, spoiled professional that has become far too common in sports.

Childlike also comes to mind with how you’re managing your career these days. You don’t say much, but what you have said paints a pretty shallow and disappointing picture.

The crux of the issue is you want to “stick it” to the Packers, and namely General Manager Ted Thompson. From what I can tell, there are four instances you are unhappy about.

Three are personnel decisions not related to you that you explained in your interview with FOX News and Greta Van Susteren. You wanted the Packers to sign Randy Moss. You wanted Steve Mariucci to at the very least get interviewed for the head coaching job, if not get it, when Mike Sherman left (after Mariucci was fired and said he was looking forward to a season off). You wanted Mike Wahle and Marco Rivera re-signed so they could block for you.

Personally, I find no fault with any of these desires, but none of these happened. As it turns out, Brett, you are not the GM. There is someone else who does that job. I have had occasions in my job where my boss has made a decision I didn’t agree with, but I’ve had to accept it and move on. To harbor a grudge over these decisions is, well, childish.

The fourth issue you have the Thompson and the Packers is how they handled you after the stellar 2007 season you had. You heard “crickets” from the team about wanting you to come back for 2008. Certainly we all want to feel wanted, I get that. But how many years in a row does the team need to do this for you, after all you’ve flirted with retirement for quite some time? Can you please help me understand what the Packers failed to do that leaves you so bitter?

Then you tearfully retired in March and said you were worn out and didn’t want to do what it takes to prepare for football again. So the Packers drafted two more quarterbacks to come in and work hard along with Aaron Rodgers, who had been drafted a few years earlier to prepare to take over the team whenever you chose to leave. How can this upset you? These appear to be prudent football decisions, don’t they? You did retire, didn’t you?

Brett, there’s nothing “for the love of the game” about carrying such a major axe to grind against Ted Thompson. It is childlike, however. Like the five-year-old who doesn’t want to leave the park when it’s time to go home for dinner and throws a kicking and screaming fit.

I gave you the benefit of the doubt when last year you got the itch and wanted to come back. It was an impossible spot for the Packers and for you. Nobody was going to win. Now, however, to come back for the Vikings is strictly an egomaniacal move on your part. I don’t want to wish you ill, but I also hope such a bitter, vindictive move backfires because it’s not representative of who you were when you were the face of my favorite team for half of my lifetime.

There are things I will never forget. The Monday Night game in Oakland right after your father died in 2003 is one of the greatest performances I have ever seen. The bomb you threw to beat Denver in overtime in Monday Night Football in 2007. The Super Bowl win. The final game at County Stadium when you dove into the end zone to beat the Falcons.

I could go on and on.

When you return to Lambeau on November 1, I don’t think I’ll bother to boo. But I won’t bother to clap either. I hope, as I always do, that the Packers beat the Vikings by a few touchdowns, and, you know what, there’s part of me that hopes you have a terrible day. But hey, that’s ok, because sticking it to somebody who begrudges you is ok, right?

I was a Green Bay Packer fan when Lynn Dickey was the quarterback. I am a Green Bay Packer fan with Aaron Rodgers as quarterback. I’ll continue to be a Green Bay Packer fan for a long, long time.

But Brett, I am no longer a fan of yours. When you pick up Percy Harvin and carry him after throwing a touchdown to him, it just won’t seem genuine. When you dump the ball off to Adrian Peterson over the middle in the last possible second before you get sacked, it’ll seem like a good play, but I won’t have the same awe and wonder that I had when you’ve done that for the past 17 years.

That is very sad to me, Brett. Honestly, on March 6, 2008, I would have lobbied hard to name my son after you. Thankfully, I hadn’t done that yet, and I won’t. I held you as a hero in such incredibly high regard, territory that really, few others have attained in my life (Robin Yount and Bruce Springsteen come to mind).

But now, you’re just another athlete. A very good one at that, but aside from the fact that you played for my favorite team, there’s not a whole lot that separates you from Alex Rodriguez or Pete Rose in my book – a great player with a miserable reputation due to unfortunate missteps. You were better than that, but this bitter plot for revenge has ruined it.

Maybe time can heal these wounds, and I’ll get over it enough to be in Canton, as planned, for your Hall of Fame induction. Maybe. Only time will tell.