LeSean McCoy Shows us the Ridiculous Side of the Twitter News Cycle

By Patrick Wall

Something bad happened in the life of Eagles RB LeSean “Shady” McCoy today.

At 12:59 Tuesday afternoon, McCoy tweeted, “Worst NEWS EVER!!!!so disappointed n myself”

No one’s really sure what happened. Only that it was, you know, the worst news ever. Within minutes, the local Philadelphia Twitterverse was aflutter with speculation.

Maybe he’s sick! Maybe he hurt himself and will miss time! Maybe his grandma fell down the stairs!

LeSean McCoy got some bad news today, but Twitter felt the pain.

Local reporters, doing their jobs diligently, began calling unnamed team sources to find out just what had happened.

Turns out it was nothing.

This morning’s episode is exactly the kind of reactionary, non-news muck old school journalistsmust loathe. But in our age of breaking news in 140 characters or less, this anecdote is simply another side of the coin that is the instant NFL news cycle.

Since its creation in 2006, Twitter has been steadily gaining traction, but has found a massive audience in a couple major areas—journalism and the entertainment world. Twitter gives actors, athletes, and yes, journalists the chance to engage and interact with their followers in a way that is unfiltered and occasionally concise.

Nearly every team in every sport in the country has at least one player on Twitter. According to twitter-athletes.com, 34 Eagles use the service. Some use it to communicate with friends and fans, while some use it as a way to vent. Some players, like Eagles linebacker Jamar Chaney, seem to live on the site, while QB Michael Vick only uses it to make brief public addresses (or to #salute at us.)

Writers from news agencies like NFL Network and ESPN are all hardwired to Twitter, using it to stay up to the minute with stories and musings, as well as sharing information with their followers. It’s because of this web of writers that the NFL news cycle has become instant.

The lockout’s over? Boom. It’s on Twitter. A blue chip free agent just signed with a new team? Twitter’s all over it hours before the team even announces it.

For diehard football fans, this kind of reporting can become addictive. Many fans (my guilty self included,) stayed glued to Twitter last week during the insane free agency moves that transpired.

This culture has created a new information landscape for the NFL. Take, for example, Eagles WR Jeremy Maclin. The third year wideout suffered “mono-like symptoms” during much of the offseason and reportedly lost about ten pounds. When he reported toLehighUniversityfor training camp last week, he was placed on the Physically Unable to Perform list, limiting him to only light conditioning.

Jeremy Maclin's "undisclosed illness" remains a mystery, even on Twitter.

The reason? An undisclosed illness.

Five years ago, this would likely be met with a collective “who cares” shoulder shrug from fans. But in our world of “get the breaking news five minutes before it happens” journalism, that wasn’t good enough.

And it didn’t take long for some nasty rumors about Maclin’s health to begin swirling. In fact, Maclin himself caught wind of it and responded publically, saying none of the rumors were true.

How did he respond? On Twitter, of course.

So like all things enjoyable, it’s important to remember that moderation and a little self-reflection go a long way.

Oh, and Shady, if your grandma did fall down the stairs, I hope she recovers soon.


About Patrick Wall

A Philly-based journalist. I like football, long walks on the beach and the first Counting Crows album.

Posted on August 9, 2011, in Commentary, Features and tagged , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

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