NFL needs to lift restrictions: Twitter is essential part of following draft

Just minutes before the beginning of the NFL draft, Adam Schefter sent out the following tweet:

As one GM texted Tuesday, “Going dark.” As requested, we’ll resume tweeting after 1st round is complete. Enjoy draft on ESPN or @ESPNNFL.

That was it. The NFL reporter with the largest Twitter following at 2.24 million people shut it down during perhaps the biggest Twitter night of the year.

I can almost guarantee that won’t happen in 2014. If you’re ESPN, you can’t allow the NFL to place restrictions on your reporters and muffle your No. 1 Twitter guy.

Last night reaffirmed for me that being on Twitter is an essential part of following the NFL draft. If you’re not on Twitter when those picks start flying, you’re missing out. The tweets don’t detract from the coverage; they enhance it.

I followed CBS’ Jason La Canfora, Yahoo!’s Michael Silver, SI’s Peter King and many others. Their tweets definitely enhanced my draft experience.

As promised in an interview with me, La Canfora vowed to tweet out the upcoming pick (if he got it) before the official announcement on TV. Sure enough, beginning with Detroit’s pick of Ziggy Ansah at No. 5, La Canfora started tipping picks throughout the rest of the first round.

Did it ruin the drama for me? Hardly. In fact, there is something empowering knowing the upcoming pick before the analysts chirping on ESPN and NFL Network.

There was a point in ESPN’s telecast where they debated a Twitter question from a viewer asking if the New York Giants should take Manti Te’o at 19?

“I like this linebacker Manti Te’o for the Giants,” said Jon Gruden as only he can.

Meanwhile, those of us on Twitter learned several minutes earlier that the Giants already had taken Syracuse offensive tackle Justin Pugh. For once, the viewer knew more than Gruden.

Besides, what’s so special about hearing Roger Goodell announce the picks? He’s not that exciting. So you know a few minutes ahead of time? Big deal.

Where Twitter really shines with the NFL draft is in capturing the rapid-fire intensity of the event. There‚Äôs a real-time tick-tock of activity that has an even quicker pulse than what you see on TV. The ESPN and the NFL Network telecasts can’t keep up with all the possible trade scenarios that happen in an instant. Twitter is much better at giving you the behind-the-scenes.

For instance, if you were on Twitter, you learned Minnesota GM Rick Spielman was hastily called out of a press conference, presumably to complete a trade with New England.

Also, if you weren’t on Twitter, you missed out on the Onion Sports Network spoofing the draft. For example:

Manti Te’o Only Draft Attendee Sitting In Metropolitan Opera House

And perhaps Onion’s best of the night:

Bills Fans Actually Excited About Former Backup For Christian Ponder

While all this was happening, I almost could feel Schefter’s twitchy Twitter finger. It had to be killing him to be relegated to the Twitter sidelines last night as evidenced by this tweet shortly after the first round:

And as i was saying before I was so rudely interrupted at 8 pm….Bet Geno Smith, Manti Te’o and no RBs wind up going in round one.

Don’t worry, Adam, it won’t happen again. I’m betting you’ll be in full Twitter mode for next year’s NFL draft.





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