Pro Athletes Creating Their Own Buzz

The NFL’s free-agency period has always been a top priority on media members’ agendas. Since 1989, when the league first instituted free agency, writers and league insiders have worked around the clock to break the latest, most up to date news on where some of the league’s biggest stars wind up “taking their talents.”

But the days of reporters breaking the news of free agency signings may soon be numbered.

“The first things fans hear, the first impression they get about a player’s next move is going to come from what he says rather than what the media says,” Jeff Weiner, the founder and CEO of ESBL Sports Management told Mashable.com writer Sam Laird. “Reporters and mainstream media are going to have to continue to adapt to it and accept that they’re not always going to be the ones breaking news, but breaking the news the athlete already broke.”

Weiner, who advises multiple NFL stars on how to leverage their social media platforms to help better brand and market themselves, believes that the trend of free agents breaking their own news about where they sign will help them to better control and manage their images.

Three weeks ago, wide receiver Pierre Garcon a player whom Weiner advises, became the first free agent in NFL history to announce his intentions to sign a contract with a new franchise via social media.

Pierre Garcon

Garcon, who had spent the past four seasons with the Indianapolis Colts, announced through his Facebook page that he would be joining the Washington Redskins, and teaming up with their quarterback of the future Robert Griffin III to form what is sure to be one of the more dynamic offenses in the NFL for years to come. Garcon broke the news of his free agent signing hours before any major media publication picked up on the story.

“Social media is taking over,” Garcon told Laird. “It’s a great opportunity for me to make the announcement and make sure the story is accurate and the facts are 100% correct by having it come from me directly.”

The Mashable article by Laird goes on to detail how other NFL free agents have begun to follow suit. Cornerback Richard Marshall and tight end Martellus Bennet have both since announced through their twitter accounts that they would be sporting different threads in new cities.

Players aren’t only using the avenue of social media to help brand themselves once they arrive in their new cities; some are using it as a tool for damage control. Cornerback Cortland Finnegan, another player whom Weiner advises took to his Facebook page to thank the fans of Tennessee for their support. Finnegan, had become one of the Tennessee Titans most notable players during his six-year tenure with the team, and he wanted to be sure he left on good terms after signing a free agent contract with the St. Louis Rams.

Cortland Finnegan being introduced to the media in St. Louis, Mo.

 

“I want the fans to be able to interact with me on a personal level,” Finnegan told Laird. “Social Media is just a great way for fans to be able to interact with players on a personal level and see the guy without the helmet on.”

Gilbert Goes To Grizzles 

Since I’m on the topic of athletes and social media, it’s only fitting that I mention Gilbert Arenas’ return to the NBA. Arenas, a player who’s made more news in recent years with his silly and often times very inappropriate tweets will be calling Memphis home for the remainder of the season after inking a free agent deal worth the veteran’s minimum with the Grizzlies last Tuesday. Don’t worry, he didn’t make the announcement via twitter — the once infamous “agentzero” twitter account was deactivated this summer.

The three-time All-Star last played in the NBA with the Orlando Magic last season. He came to the Magic in a mid-season blockbuster deal with the Washington Wizards that sent forward Rashard Lewis to D.C. Arenas’ time spent with the Magic was disappointing to say the least — he was out of shape, and struggled to play through lingering leg problems after undergoing three arthroscopic knee surgeries two years ago.

Arenas was eventually designated as an amnesty player last December by the Magic, and was subsequently waived prior to this season. He’s 20 pounds lighter now, and claims to be in the best shape of his life. The Grizzlies are hoping that a healthy Arenas can provide a nice scoring punch off the bench as they jockey for playoff seeding in the competitive Western Conference.

Arenas made his Memphis debut last Thursday in Portland when the Grizzlies took on the Trail Blazers. He recorded two points in 12 minutes of play, as the Grizzlies lost to the Blazers 97-93.

This could very well be Arenas’ last shot at salvaging his pro basketball career — Let’s just hope he left his guns back in D.C.

 

Arenas in his new Grizzlies uniform.

 By: Daniel Rodriguez

 

 

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