It's not the first time, and it won't be the last, that players engage in a war of words over Twitter. Just this week, we've seen more players talk trash more than one, 140 characters at a time. First it was Jay Cutler on Sunday, who was lambasted by players and NFL media types on Twitter for being soft and quitting on his team before anyone knew the extent of his injuries. Cutler suffered a torn MCL, it turns out, and was not allowed to re-enter the game.
Fast forward to Thursday. Antonio Cromartie was critical of the NFL Players' Union in Twitter comments about the ongoing collective bargaining agreement. Matt Hasselbeck and others didn't take kindly to it, blasting the Jets' cornerback on -- you guessed it -- Twitter. Cromartie fired back, calling Hasselbeck's manhood into question, and the battle was on.
Hasselbeck apologized to Cromartie shortly after the threat, but the damage was still done.
@A_Cromartie31 Sorry for the joke man. No hard feelings. DB's & QB's have a hard time getting along I guess sometimes. lol
The problem with the ability to quickly send thoughts out to the masses is the lack of a filter. Players can pass along their own thoughts to tens and hundreds of thousands of followers, all without the muzzle of the union or other representatives. In many ways it's good, but as we saw this morning it can create a messy situation.
The NFLPA has embraced Twitter as a whole, something I praised when I wrote about the stop the lockout campaign. When presented as a unified front, the union can be as strong as anything, using that power to bend the negotiations to its will. But with the large number of NFL players out there, it's almost impossible to get everyone on the same page.
At least if the union is speaking, and everyone else is silent, it gives the perception of a unified front and solidarity. When you give the players a Twitter account, they can then throw out their opinions on the matter, creating friction and dissent. This is what happened with Cromartie and those that disagreed with his statements.
While the players are fighting within the ranks about the negotiations, the owners are laughing at them. It helps the bargaining position of the ownership and hurts the NFLPA when players are flying off the handle and criticizing what the union is doing in the CBA negotiations. For business, and for the players' own livelihoods, a Twitter fight is harmful.
While Twitter can be a powerful tool for the NFLPA in the CBA negotiations, it can also present a unique set of problems. The players have to police themselves, and filter their comments, if they expect to get anywhere in the upcoming negotiations. If Cromartie and others continue to volley shots at each other, these negotiations will go nowhere in a hurry as the media pounces on dissension in the ranks.