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To Catch A Prospect

7th

Charles Robinson of Yahoo Sports has an amazing story up today that details the deceptive tactics pro teams are taking to ensure they don’t have egg on their faces come draft day.

Once upon a time (last millennium) a few interviews with the player, his family and his coaches pretty much provided the team with sufficient assurance that the athlete they coveted wasn’t secretly a pimp, player or drug fiend.

Nowadays, any enterprising fool with a Facebook account can out an athlete who’s doing the dirt, and there are thousands of blogs all too eager to print the lurid details.

So teams are getting ahead of the curve…with fake Myspace and Facebook accounts designed to trick college players into friending!

The woman in the Facebook picture is attractive, with auburn hair and icy blue eyes. She is flanked by several other women, each armed with an inviting smile and curvy features. Along with the photo is a hopeful note from the female “fan” asking to be added to a player’s personal networking profile.

The twist? These women don’t actually exist, at least not in the way that some unsuspecting NFL prospects are led to believe. Indeed, they are a figment of one NFL team’s imagination – a phony Facebook profile, used as a tool by one franchise in the pre-draft vetting process. A Trojan horse that, when used effectively, unlocks a door to a world of Internet pictures and information which most NFL teams are now consistently compiling to help polish their dossiers on draft picks.

“It works like magic,” said a personnel source that was familiar with his team’s tactic of using counterfeit profiles to link to Facebook and Myspace pages of potential draft picks. The source directed Yahoo! Sports to one of the team’s “ghost profiles” – a term he coined because “once the draft is over, they disappear. It’s like they were never there.”

The practice may have an underhanded, back-alley feel to it, but most NFL teams are unapologetic when it comes to picking through the lives of prospective players. And with the tentacles of the Internet extending further than ever into the lives of athletes, online information has offered a wealth of fresh ammunition for teams. Whether it’s networking sites like Facebook, Myspace or Twitter, personal blogs, or just the random bits of information that can be found with an hour of free time and a powerful Internet search engine, NFL teams are gleefully delving into new cracks and corners that didn’t exist even a decade ago.

“Twenty years ago, if you weren’t getting a lot from a [college team’s] coaching staff or a family, you might put weeks into gathering good information on a couple guys,” the personnel source said. “Now, we can do a lot of it in a few days. We can sit down with 20 guys that we might be looking at, and have a pile of pictures and background things to hit them with. And every once in a while you come across something that probably saves you from making a big mistake. Not as much as you might think, but if it happens every couple years, it keeps you ahead of the game.”


You’re SOOOO good at football. Wanna be friends?

One example that Robinson cites is the notorious case of the 7th Floor Crew. We somehow never heard about this, and it’s simply amazing.

Basically, a bunch of Miami freshmen – including a number of top football players, some of whom are now in the NFL – recorded a rap track that detailed the sexual depredations they enjoyed indulging in.

Years later, it leaked to the press, leaving a bunch of teams with PR nightmares after they’d acquired members of the crew.

Since ROTI doesn’t want to completely offend our female readership, we’ll limit our lyrics excerpt to the verse performed by Chicago Bears tight end Greg Olsen, who apparently raps under the moniker G-Reg:

(What’s your name?)
G-Reg
(What’d you do?)
Get head
(How you do it?)
Drop my drawers and let her see my third leg
Chillin on the 7th floor
I gotta let these chickens know
Big Greg is in the house
And I’m fi’n’ to make these hoes choke
On my balls, on my dick
Then I bust a nut quick
On her face, on her chest
Stick my dick between her breasts
Come on fellas lets get weird
Stick your dick up in her ear

While I’m laughin’ at these guys
A second nut all in her eyes
(Wait a minute, in her eyes?)
In her eyes!!

(CHORUS:)
If your ho only know
That she was getting fucked on the 7th floor
If that bitch only knew
The she was getting’ mutted by the whole damn crew
What would she do?
What would she do?

That was actually not that bad of a verse, considering it came from the one cracker in the Crew…and believe us, it was the tamest. (Or see for yourself.)

olsen
When this guy says “Let’s get weird,” cover your ears!

Chicago media types like Jay Mariotti later ripped the Bears for selecting Olsen on account of his wicked, wicked rapping.

The award for funniest line in the song goes to the Baltimore Ravens’ Tavares Gooden, who came up with “She thought 5-2 was just my number/ Then she realized/ You multiply the bitch up/ Dog you get my dick size.”

Gooden told Yahoo that “My main thing is just not to worry about the past. If somebody else wants to chuckle and laugh about that, they can go right ahead…. All of us were young when we made that song. … That taught me, you’ve got to watch that you say, and who you do it around.”

Meanwhile, teams continue to scour the web to weed out – get it? – the next generation of athletic troublemakers.

Rick Spielman remembers one Myspace page, the kind that makes a personnel man sit up in his seat, reach for a pencil, and push a particular question to the top of his list. He refuses to divulge the name of the player involved, but concedes that the Minnesota Vikings ran into the profile “a year or two ago.” One that the Vikings looked at very closely at the league’s annual scouting combine in Indianapolis, then grilled privately over some of the things he had posted on his networking profile.

“He had a big picture of a bunch of drug money and drugs on a carpet,” the Vikings’ vice president of player personnel said, shaking his head. “It was the kind of thing that, you know, it was under his name. So when we had some time with him, of course we were like ‘What is this all about?’ … It was an interesting conversation. He had a legitimate explanation for what happened and we followed up on it and we believe it was what he said it was. But that’s one of the things that happens [with networking profiles].”

[…]

It has been a lucrative pursuit, too. One NFC North coach said his team has gotten particularly adept at collecting information from networking sites. The team combs through pictures, goes through archived “comments” sections, breezes through friend lists for other potential contacts, and spends untold amounts of time dissecting pages of information based on the potential draft status of a player.

And the process of “ghosting” – creating fake profiles to get added to the private pages of some draft picks – isn’t isolated. Executives from three NFL teams admitted that at one point or another, they had used a similar method to get information. And all three suggested that it was something that was likely used by the investigative sources of all teams.

Sometimes these searches produce nothing. Other times, they pan out with suggestive pictures or interesting tidbits of information that open other doors.

“It all depends on the context,” said Detroit Lions coach Jim Schwartz. “On the surface some things don’t necessarily matter. But if it’s something deeper, if it’s a sign there are some deeper problems, sure, it matters.”

The Internet age has brought a little bit of peril for everyone.

Still, the idea of fat, middle-aged NFL scouts making fake online profiles and friending players in little sting operations is more than a little reminiscent of Perverted Justice, the organization behind NBC’s To Catch A Predator.

You can imagine it now…the 7th Floor Crew lured to a “recording session” by a hot babe, only to have Chris Hansen walk out from the next room saying, “Nice to see you, why don’t you have a seat over there?”

hansen
“So…you call youself the big dick bandit, do you?”

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About Alpine McGregor
Just like you, man. I got the shotgun, you got the briefcase. All in the game, though, right?

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