“NFL Stars and Twitter” Description
There are lots of ways an NFL player can be fined. By far, the most ridiculous way for a player to get dinged big bucks is by breaking the league’s Twitter rules. Yes, the NFL has rules regarding when players can and cannot Tweet. NFL players must refrain from using Twitter from 90 minutes before kickoff until they’ve spoken to the media (or at least availed themselves to reporters) after the game.
In 2010, former Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots wide receiver Chad Johnson was fined $25,000 for breaking the league’s Twitter policy. His fine isn’t that surprising when you realize Johnson is probably the most influential professional sports athlete ever on social media. Also, he has more Twitter followers than any player in the NFL.
Johnson has more than five million followers. Reggie Bush, running back for the Miami Dolphins, is second with just under three million. Coming in third is New York Jets quarterback Tim Tebow. He has more than two million followers. Rounding out the top five are San Francisco 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick. By the way, the much beleaguered Vick follows several well-known people including Bill Gates, Bubba Watson, and Piers Morgan Tonight.
Of the top ten NFL players on Twitter, seven are following the former “Chad Ochocinco.” Six are following Arizona Cardinals wide receiver Larry Fitzgerald and five are following former New Orleans Saints running back Reggie Bush. No one in the top ten is following Pittsburgh Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown and only one is following 49ers safety Dashon Goldson. Interestingly enough, only seven of the top ten NFL players on Twitter are following their own franchise. It should be noted that Johnson is currently a free agent and has no team.
The highest paid player in 2012 was Denver Broncos quarterback Peyton Manning. He was also the most mentioned NFL player on Twitter. The league’s second highest paid player, Indianapolis Colts defensive end Dwight Freeney, has hardly been mentioned at all. Of the NFL’s ten highest paid players in 2012 only Vick and Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan have been mentioned more than 200,000 times. Obviously, NFL players are paid for what they can do on the field, not for their Twitter prowess.
The NFL team with the most followers is the Baltimore Ravens—that’s what winning a Super Bowl can do for you. They have more than 625,000 followers. The only other NFL team with more than 600,000 followers is the Patriots. Other highly followed teams in the AFC include the Houston Texans, Steelers, and Jets. The most followed teams in the NFC are the Dallas Cowboys, New York Giants, and Green Bay Packers.
Twitter duds, with followers below 100,000, are the Jacksonville Jaguars and Arizona Cardinals. Hovering right around the 100,000 mark are the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, St. Louis Rams, and Cleveland Browns.
Although the Oakland Raiders, San Diego Chargers, and Chicago Bears all have more than 200,000 followers you’d think they’d have far more. After all, they are three of the most popular teams in the NFL. Perhaps it’s not fair to compare Twitter followers of an expansion team like the Carolina Panthers to a longtime NFL stalwart like the Washington Redskins. Then again, all of the current 32 NFL teams were founded before the advent of Twitter (2006).
The 49ers hold the title as the NFL’s most mentioned team on Twitter. Their official Twitter handle has been used more than 750,000 times in the history of the site. Teams that have been mentioned more than 500,000 times include the Patriots, Jets, and Giants.
On Sept. 25, 2012, Packers guard T.J. Lang posted 14 words that summed up the feelings of many NFL players and fans. He Tweeted “F**K it NFL. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.” Lang’s passionate sentiment, coming after his team’s defeat to the Seattle Seahawks on the infamous “Fail Mary” play, was re-Tweeted nearly 100,000 times. The NFL ended its lockout of the referees the following the day and Lang was not fined for his Tweet.
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