You may have noticed over the weekend, based on the influx of Twitpic jokes, that future NFL Hall of Fame quarterback Brett Favre has now joined the ever-growing population of microbloggers on Twitter. Officially signing up on Thursday, he wrote his first tweet on Friday.
And while the quarterback, who has recorded over 71,000 passing yards in his 20-year career, is due to rack up 40,000 followers in his first four days in the Twitterverse, I couldn’t help but notice the limited number of entities that Favre has chosen to follow.
Now, you might see it as Favre being picky on who he chooses to follow on Twitter… but I see it a little differently.
Consider that exactly half of the entities that he initially selected to follow on Twitter are ESPN properties – SportsCenter, and, of course, ESPN.
With Favre retired from the NFL (although with him, you never know), the next logical step for a player with such a storied history is to become an NFL analyst. Just about three years ago, ESPN was considered the favorite in landing 4’s services, especially considering the departure of former running back Emmitt Smith from the Worldwide Leader.
ESPN’s executive vice president Norby Williamson is on record as singing the praises of Favre: “He’s a funny, dynamic guy and would add to anybody’s coverage.”
Note that this quote was made nearly three years before Favre made somewhat of a debut as an analyst on Comcast SportsNet Southeast for a college football game featuring his alma mater, the Southern Mississippi Golden Eagles. In this appearance from October 1 of last year, lead analyst Mike Morgan threw a curveball at Favre in informing him how Southern Miss QB Austin Davis - who will be available in this year’s NFL Draft after compiling four full collegiate seasons – is “taking a lot of your records away.” Favre: “I think, Mike, that I still have the interception record. That’s one he probably doesn’t want.”
Oh, yeah – this is the same Mike Morgan that has also called many college football games on ESPN’s family of networks, alongside the likes of Tom Luginbill and Danny Kanell. Perhaps he was getting to know Favre at the Golden Eagles/Owls game in more ways than one?
Of course, should Favre choose to throw his hat in the ring for a career in sports media, networks with an interest in the NFL – not just ESPN, but CBS, FOX, NBC and the NFL Network – will be bidding for his services. But let’s remember that ESPN has a ginormous war chest made possible by the money that comes rolling in from cable operators across the country. Did you know that ESPN commands a whopping $4.69 per subscriber on average? The next most expensive basic cable network, TNT, whose only sports programming consists of NBA basketball and a half-dozen NASCAR races per year, only rakes in $1.16 per subscriber. And with ESPN’s gigantic revenue stream comes great power: for example, all of the top college bowl games have been seen exclusively on ESPN since 2011. So while the other aforementioned networks will be courting Favre, don’t be surprised if the Worldwide Leader goes gunning for the gunslinger, big-time.
Here’s some more food for thought: Donald Driver, one of the few folks Favre follows (try saying that one five times fast), is going to be an official employee of ABC when he goes “Dancing With The Stars” this year. ABC, as you know, is a corporate sibling of ESPN. And the aforementioned Emmitt Smith was also a contestant on “DWTS” not too long ago, and it was the popularity from “DWTS” that led to him joining ESPN.
Also, how come Favre didn’t choose any other sports news sources to follow? I mean, sure, when you think “sports news,” ESPN is immediately the first thing that comes to mind for most people, but there are other esteemed sources of sports news, like FOX Sports, or NBC Sports (and their popular Pro Football Talk franchise), or even CBS Sports. (Okay, maybe not so much CBS Sports.) There’s also esteemed sports news sources not particularly tied to a broadcasting entity, like Yahoo! Sports and SBNation. And how come Favre follows the NFL on Twitter, but not NFL Network?
And let’s keep in mind that if you are a personality on a sports network or a sports program on a major broadcast network, chances are you have your own Twitter account. These days, it appears everybody but Tom Waddle (NFL Network) has a presence on Twitter. Hell, even Cleatus, FOX’s robot NFL mascot, has its own Twitter account. With that said, just last week – a mere few days before Favre signed up for Twitter – ESPN’s Senior Vice President of Talent and Development sent out a convenient reminder to their current roster of personalities that Twitter should not be utilized as one’s “personal playground” if you represent the Worldwide Leader. You might recall a couple of years ago, Favre made the news for reportedly sending ribald photos to a cheerleader during his one season with the New York Jets. (Hence the “influx of Twitpic jokes” greeting Favre upon his arrival to Twitter.) In 2006, former ESPN analyst Sean Salisbury was suspended for “indecent exposure” by way of photos that he had shown female colleagues – photos of his manhood. Do I even need to make the connection between the two here?
So, if Brett Favre were to begin his post-football career as an analyst – one who would be well sought-after – all signs point to him joining ESPN.
Which, of course, could lead to the inevitable following of Erin Andrews by Brett Favre.
That could be another sight best left unseen.