THIS STORY HAS BEEN FORMATTED FOR EASY PRINTING

This has Patriots atwitter

New method for announcing picks

By Christopher L. Gasper
Globe Staff / April 25, 2009
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Twitter is taking over the NFL draft.

The Patriots announced yesterday they will use the popular free social networking and activity update website to reveal the team's picks in real time.

Fans can follow the Patriots' Twitter draft feed at www.twitter.com/realpatriots, which will provide updates, or "tweets."

"We might even get a few draft picks out via Twitter before they are announced on TV, so any Patriots fans following the draft closely are encouraged to begin following RealPatriots on Twitter," said team spokesman Stacey James in a statement. "Of course, this is the first time we are attempting this, so it should be interesting."

James said the Patriots decided to tweet their picks after a meeting this week. There is no NFL rule about the use of Twitter, and the team did not need to seek permission from the league.

Spokesman Greg Aiello said the league will review after the draft whether it needs to develop a policy about how teams announce their selections.

"The issue to be reviewed would be teams announcing picks before the commissioner announces them," Aiello said in an e-mail.

Commissioner Roger Goodell has a Twitter feed, as do Aiello and his colleague Brian McCarthy. McCarthy's page said he'll be Twittering from the draft, and it's possible Goodell will as well.

When it was pointed out that it seemed league officials were planning on Twittering from the draft, Aiello responded via e-mail, "There is no issue regarding Twitter."

The Chargers are also trying to get their picks out before they're announced on television via the team's website. San Diego will have a "pick cam" located outside its war room, and as soon as the pick is made, a team official will bring a card to the "pick cam." A story on the Chargers' website trumpeted the fact that fans will hear each selection on Chargers.com "BEFORE any other news outlet, including NFL Network and ESPN."

San Diego also is offering a service in which fans can sign up to receive a text message announcing each of the team's picks.

James said the idea behind the Patriots' use of Twitter is to allow fans to learn of the team's picks as fast as possible on both days of the draft.

"In the first round, a lot of attention is paid to the card, but in the second, third, fourth, and fifth rounds, the TVs are carrying dialogue when teams are picking," said James. "It's just a faster way of getting info to the fans."

James said the Patriots' intention is not to upstage the draft coverage on ESPN or the NFL Network.

"I don't sense that a 140-character update is going to upstage the coverage," he said. "People are tuning in not just for the picks but for analysis. It's all the rage, and we're trying to give fans a reason to follow us."

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