News Column

Social Media New Source of Player Info

February 22, 2013

By Jim Corbett

It's official: This can now be considered "The Manti Te'o scouting combine," because the catfished linebacker has altered the way teams are scouring draft prospects' involvement on social media.

Te'o, the Notre Dame star and 2012 Heisman Trophy runner-up, said he was duped in an online and phone-only relationship with a girlfriend who turned out never to have existed.

His surreal story has driven a new-age evaluation process for what Minnesota Vikings general manager Rick Spielman called "these social media players."

"We've done a lot of digging on social media and have a pretty in-depth picture of players who are involved and not involved in social media -- how many times they tweet," Spielman said at the combine Thursday. "But it's interesting to see the patterns of these social media players."

The Seattle Seahawks' security staff is assigned with monitoring the Facebook and Twitter feeds of prospects the team is scouting, GM John Schneider said. Social media provides an unusual -- and not always positive -- view of a player's personality and daily life.

"There are guys on Twitter that are being like Eddie Haskell or something, putting out, 'I'm going to work out' and it's 3:30 in the morning or whatever. That's kind of weird," Schneider said. "But it goes both ways, because you'll see some things that are very alarming. A lot of the guys are probably catching on to that.

"A couple of years ago, I think there was a guy who had something with a pile of coke and a couple of guns sitting there. That kind of stuff doesn't bode real well. I know my boss wouldn't really like that."

Miami Dolphins general manager Jeff Ireland said for the last two years the team has focused on prospects' social media involvement, but it's becoming more important.

"I'm not very good at it," he said. "But I know I have guys on my staff who are very good at it. They follow it, look at it."

Tampa Bay Buccaneers coach Greg Schiano is interested in spending interview time with Te'o, because the Bucs need an inside linebacker and own the 13th overall pick.

"Beauty is in the eye of the beholder," he said. "Some people will see him one way; some will see him another. (The hoax) will be a small piece. We're not going to spend all of our time on that."

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Source: Copyright USA TODAY 2013

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