At the time this article was published, the foregoing belief on Twitter was the Anthony's Smith's Twitter Jail time was due to being reported (in fact, as I learned this halfway through writing the article and included this information). Soon after it was published, we learned that Smith was auto-banned due to tweeting too much in a time period.
I included an immediate post-script acknowledging this, and said I would republish the article with the information corrected. I removed three instances claiming that "somebody reported Smith" to the Twitter, as well as my firm belief that Alex had nothing to do with it.
I have included the original article in the comment section of this one.
If there was no other reason to plead with the players and owners to settle the work stoppage and get everyone back to football, tonight's blowup between CheeseheadTV's Alex Tallitsch and Green Bay Packer Anthony Smith left many heads shaking.
In short: Smith, the boisterous and confident tweeter, decided to spend much of Saturday afternoon coming up with his own responses to the trending hashtag #fourwordsaftersex, apparently offering many of his own off-color one-liners while interacting with other Tweeters who were doing the same thing.
Tallitsch, longtime Packer blogger, took umbrage to seeing a Packer representing the Green and Gold with street-alley humor and told Smith straight out he didn't like it. This set off a war of words between the two, resulting in Smith's pre-emptive block of Tallistch's Twitter account before Tallitsch could unfollow Smith.
Now, I know Alex. And I am fortunate enough to have shared a beer with him. Alex was one of our original hosts of Cheesehead Radio last year and is an incredible talent. There's a reason that he has 6,700 followers on Twitter and has tweeted 22,000 times. He has a passionate following among Packer bloggers, and it is well-deserved. He has also aired his displeasure with Anthony Smith several times on his blog, so no one should have been too surprised when he took exception to some below-the-belt humor from Smith.
I also had the pleasure of having Anthony Smith on Cheesehead Radio last week. He's a boisterous personality, a Packer, and a Super Bowl Champion. Now, mind you, after he publicly announced pre-show that everyone should "loosen their jocks and panties" for the show, I was half-expecting to be censoring out a couple of words post-show to avoid a "Mature" rating on iTunes. On the contrary, Smith was a total professional (if not a gentleman) on the show and gave a great interview.
There's a lot of emotions and "stances" on this issue. Should Packers be squeaky-clean at all times when they are in the public eye? Should fans judge players on their personalities or based on their play on the field? Does Smith have his First Amendment rights to free speech? Likewise, does Alex have those same rights, too?
All of the questions are worthy ones, and all can be debated. But, I want to address the one that weighs most on my mind: his #fourwordsaftersex brainstorming session--that while offensive to many, was no different from hundreds of thousands of other Tweeters who regularly post offensive subject matter to trending topics.
I mean, there's a reason it was a trending topic, and it wasn't Anthony Smith that started it. Now, maybe Smith crossed a line that a professional football player shouldn't, but under normal circumstances, that would be Aaron Popkey's job to supervise and discuss it with players that are getting a little too jiggy with their tweets.
But Alex's actions in how he handled Popkey's job in lieu of the lockout has repercussions for all bloggers. You see, what's happened in the last year or so, especially for Packer bloggers, has been nothing short of revolutionary.
Last year at this time, while being a part of the also-revolutionary Packer Transplant Blogcasts, Aaron Nagler and Corey Behnke often called for the credentialing of bloggers, so that we would have the same access to players and coaches that professional journalists do. It was a rather radical idea, not one that endeared bloggers to media writers, who justifiably protected that perk from the start-ups that wanted equal access.
But, with Nagler's persistence, several writers at CheeseheadTV were partially credentialed for the Super Bowl and the NFL Draft. Don't second-guess what Aaron and many other bloggers have fought for and how powerful it is in the evolution of sports coverage. It's amazing.
But even Nagler's access in major market issues doesn't allow all of us bloggers being able to have locker room access after every training camp practice. And when it comes down to it, being credentialed means you simply get the same access as the media...the same carefully worded responses to questions in press conferences, the same avoidance of bulletin board gunpowder.
Enter the next revolution: Twitter. Over the course of the season and subsequent offseason lockout, the number of ring-toting Packer players on the social network has boomed. And what we're finding is that they aren't commercial or politically correct. Some of them pick and choose what they send out into the Twittosphere, such as @AaronRodgers12, but many of them use Twitter as if it were their own text messaging service.
On any given day, you can see a conversation between @RyanGrant25 and @Quinn_Johnson45, or @JermichaelF88 and @stickyshields9 as they decide where they are going out to eat that night, or what they did the night before, or how/where they are working out over the offseason. In many ways, this is the access, the public access, that allows all fans (and bloggers) access to the players we love.
But, it is uncensored. It is untempered. It's exactly what the media usually doesn't get to see and often doesn't report: the guys being themselves, and sometimes, saying stuff they wouldn't say in an interview. There's a reason we always have a Twitterverse segment during our Packer News on Cheesehead Radio: many times it isn't even just a tweet from a Packer player or a fan, its a result of a conversation between a Packer player and a fan.
Last year at this time, I wouldn't have even imagined Cheesehead Radio being able to land a player on the show. We simply didn't have access to them, as Nagler opined often last summer. Now, we do, and as a result we've been lucky to have some great Packer players on the show in the last month: Tom Crabtree, Daryn Colledge, and Smith.
As bloggers, we've gotten one of the greatest gifts we could have ever ask for: insight into the daily lives and thoughts of the players we strive to write about, and often, actual interaction with them. We are no longer solely dependent on media sources for what's going on. We can get it from the players themselves, and if that isn't revolutionary, I don't know what is.
But we have to accept that not every Packer is a choir boy. Smith has always been boisterous and not known for his personal filter before he speaks, but that is who he is. Whether you believe he is a bubble player or a solid backup in 2011 is irrelevant. He's a Packer, wearing Green and Gold.
Does that put him on some sort of higher plane than everyone else, meaning a Packer can get away with anything? Of course not. Just ask Fuzzy Thurston. At the same time, I take issue with Smith being vilified for making the same kind of crass comments as hundreds of thousands of other tweeters, simply because he is a Packer.
Sometimes we get a gift that is far more than we would have ever expected. We go from 2010 and having no access to 2011 and seeing many Packer bloggers with credentials and all of us with Twitter "inside access" to the lives of the players we are passionate about. The stupidest thing we can do is to bite the hand that feeds us and drive them off of Twitter because of the hassles they endure from the people that follow them.
As Tweeters, we have the option to follow or not to follow. Mr Chang said it best: "I have no fantasy that football players are a bunch of boy scouts. That why I don't follow a lot on twitter. My Packer people are the fans"
Was Alex "wrong" to stand up for his beliefs? No, but there are other ways to deal with it other than going directly on to Twitter and starting a real-time flame war.. Hey...as bloggers, we've been writing critical articles about players for years. Perhaps that is the smarter venue to voice our concerns about a player, instead of engaging them toe-to-toe in a real-time public throwdown.
As a blogger, I value the access I have to the players through Twitter, even if Randall Cobb won't follow me back (hint, hint). The reality of the situation is that players are human beings and not all of them will view wearing the Green and Gold in the same vein as wearing a purity ring, even if we think it should.
Did I find any entertainment value in Anthony's contributions to #fourwordsaftersex? Nope. I'm a parent, and take a lot of pride in making sure my blog and Cheesehead Radio are suitable for my kids to read and listen to. (Of course, they don't. *sigh*) But my kids don't have Twitter and I don't let them read my Twitter, either. So, in the end, I'm not worried about censoring my timeline from any no-no words because my kids aren't reading them, and in the end, that's who I worry most about. Personally, I didn't find the entire #fourwordsaftersex hashtag entertaining, period, because that's not what makes me laugh.*
But that's no reason for me to become the Packer Police. I have a choice, and it is to follow or unfollow, just as I have to make that decision with many other people whose tweets I may find irritating, offensive, boring, or just plain stupid. Sometimes, the person who is irritating/offending/boring/stupefying me is someone whose tweets I highly value, and I live with some of the garbage between the tweets that I enjoy reading.
And I enjoy being a Packer blogger and reading the tweets of the players, and I want to keep it that way. And when other Packers see their teammates getting hassled, they will once again start censoring themselves and limiting our access to them.
* What makes me laugh, if raunchy trending topics don't? Jon Stewart, Wipeout, and old videos of my kids eating their first birthday cake.