The 24-hour period on Wednesday and Thursday of this week saw something that most people would have never predicted six, eight…well weeks ago – that March Madness and Linsanity could take a back seat in the beginning of spring toTim Tebow and the New York Jets.
In less than 12 hours the NFL again rose up and showed the power it has in popular culture, first with the announcements of the suspensions brought down on the New Orleans Saints, and then through the Tim Tebow trade, untrade, negotiation and finally move to New York. The debate will rage on for months, but the medium of how the story carried out showed again how social media, without brands, without large dollars, took over the conversation, broke news, broke news again, led controversy and sent everyone scurrying for their smart phones.
Yet the entire day was not ruled by the latest way to get news out. The NFL stuck with the traditional: large scale statements and press releases, a formal media availability, Q&A and lots of follow-up for their decisions against the Saints staff and the organization. Well-planned, thought out and effectively messaged.
Then the medium and the conversation changed. The Record newspaper on Thursday provided a very interesting “Anatomy of the Deal” that eventually brought the mercurial Broncos quarterback east to Gotham. It showed very clearly that the first line of information changed from the NFL’s stance in the morning to a media and public conscious team just a few hours later. At 12:50, the timeline shows, the Jets announce an agreement on a trade with Denver…not on their website or on radio or through a press release or conference call. It was on Twitter. Then at 1:03 the Jets contact their media members that they have reached an agreement with the Broncos via text message. The next piece of news comes from ESPN’s Adam Schefter that there is a hang-up because of contract language again on Twitter.
5:18 comes and Schefter, one of sports’ most well connected media members reports again on Twitter that the Jacksonville Jaguars are again in the mix. While many other pundits are friending, monitoring and following every player, coach and media member connected with everyone from Florida to Broadway; while players like Antonio Cromartie vilified his team and others chimed in with opinion officially nothing, the Broncos official twitter feed? crickets. Finally at 8:47 Schefter again tweets that the trade is done.
Also in a world where news does not hold, the Jets finalize the deal, rally their parties and hold an extensive conference call not a tweet up late into the night, at a time when back in the day deadlines would have passed (they no longer really exist) answering questions with all interested parties. In the postmortem and debate that will continue to rage on, the social media using Jets post 23 tweets, re-tweets or statements from press conferences, positive statements from players…one tweet saying an unauthorized tweet was posted to continue to manage their message. GM Mike Tannenbaum, coach Rex Ryan and Tebow himself all use the traditional airwaves to tell their story lest it be lost in the fast moving public opinion of the day.