The mysterious, troubled fellow known in the Twittersphere as @ESPNSteve may be gone - but this week, his spirit lives on.
With Peyton Manning signing with the Denver Broncos, all eyes - and Twitter retweeting fingers, apparently - are on Tim Tebow, and where his next destination might be.
And with the widespread demand for instant information, some prankster - or pranksters - have taken the liberty of creating not one, but two fake accounts for the purpose of spreading false information (in case you're wondering, Erin Andrews is still with ESPN at the moment).
On Tuesday, an account was registered with the handle @AdarnSchefter. Let me repeat that: @AdarnSchefter. See, the real Adam Schefter is on Twitter - though, incidentally, his tweeting day would be cut short after he dropped his Blackberry and it was rendered "inoperable". Bad time for that to happen, considering not only the possibility of a huge story breaking while he buys a new smartphone, but the Twitter impostor going by the name of "Adarn Schefter" - that's A-D-A-R-N, as opposed to A-D-A-M... slick, huh? - could have broken more invalid stories at the real Schefter's expense.
Unlike the "@ESPNSteve" account, "Adarn's" bio doesn't copy the boilerplate ESPN legal notice you find on their Twitter accounts. Instead, it tells you right away that it's "a fake account, breaking fake news". "Adarn" made his debut at around 3 PM Eastern time on Tuesday. Within the hour, he would tweet "news" involving retired Steelers receiver Hines Ward and NFL Draft-bound quarterback Ryan Tannehill. But the crescendo would come at the end of the hour, when he wrote: "Filed to ESPN: The Jacksonville #Jaguars have offered The Denver #Broncos a 3rd round draft pick for QB Tim Tebow."
Some were quick to point out the fake, but others - including respected sports journalists like the New York Times' Judy Battista - were not so lucky.
"What's funnier," wondered Erik Frenz, "the speed at which [that] @AdarnSchefter tweet got retweeted, or the speed at which it was deleted from every account that did so?"
Even more confounding than the "Adarn" account is the one modeled in a similar fashion after Tebow himself. And by "a similar fashion," we mean the lowercase "M" in his name was replaced with a lowercase "RN."
And "@TirnTebow" was not being a comedian like "@AdarnSchefter," or the host of parody Tim Tebow accounts out there. He copied the Twitter avi of the real Tim Tebow, and since he signed up on Wednesday afternoon (with his first tweet being, incidentally, a retweet from the real Adam Schefter - in a tweet probably sent on his brand new droid) he proceeded not only to offer opinions on the current situation that only he would ("It would be nice to play for a team in FL, preferably the #Jaguars...He makes me stronger by folioing His faith"), he started replying to Twitter accounts belonging to the likes of Michael Wilbon, Jeff Darlington, and, yep, Adam Schefter. He also started interacting with everyone from football fans to Tebow impostor accounts.
But "Tirn" would drop the bomb at 7:14 PM:
Unfortunately, that bomb would explode in the face of NFL Network "insider" Michael Lombardi - and badly...
To NFL Network's credit, they didn't break into their "Total Access" program, which was on at the time, to break the "news" to viewers. That network has a great vetting staff. I commend them.
Meanwhile, if you were trying to pull up "Adarn's" account late Tuesday, you found an error message from Twitter. But lo and behold, the pretend Schefter was back to his old tricks on Wednesday, not only "[filing] to ESPN" that the Jaguars "have grabbed Tim Tebow from the New York Jets," but followed it up with an "it's official" tweet an hour later.
And that "official" tweet would be retweeted as "Breaking News" by ESPN's @SportsCenter account.
And right around the time SportsCenter was punked by the fraudulent Adam Schefter, the real Adam Schefter reported that the real Tim Tebow has been traded to the New York Jets... and not the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Fake Tim Tebow, your thoughts?
And what does the real Tim Tebow think about this? The last time he shared a comment on his verified Twitter account was way back on March 6, when he wrote: "Haha rumors can be crazy! Even though I've watched the show before, I'm definitely not gonna be on the Bachelor."
The moral of this story: Rumors can indeed be crazy.
But perhaps not as crazy as the sources they come from.
By the way, @SportsCenter has issued an apology to their millions of followers who may have fallen for the phony Adam Schefter tweet that the Worldwide Leader retweeted...
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