Sean Weatherspoon and Julio Jones, the Falcons first-round picks in the last two drafts, are staying ahead of the technology curve.
Weatherspoon’s love for twitter.com is well known and Jones is also on the social networking site.
But both are taking part in a new phone application called Gridiron Grunts that was created by former NFL players Jeb Terry and Ryan Nece, former teammates with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
The application allows players to communicate directly to fans through their iPhone, iPad or iPod. It also allows fans to interact with each other. (It should be ready for Droid phones soon.)
Terry, a former offensive lineman, played with the Bucs from 2004 to 2007 and with San Francisco in 2008. Nece, a former linebacker, played for the Bucs from 2002 to 2007 and with the Detroit Lions in 2008.
“We created the app because being former players we realized that we needed to give guys the ability to connect with their fans,” Nece said. “We needed to give players the ability to take away the filters and so that they can speak directly to the fans and give their fans insight that they may never have had before.”
Terry and Nece believe that athletes are misunderstood. The grunt app gives the player a chance to take his message directly to the fans. Just recently, we’ve seen Shaquille O’Neal announce his retirement and Tiger Woods withdraw from the U.S. Open on Twitter.com.
Terry and Nece see the technology as a way to help players do some branding that’s fun.
“Often times players get a microphone stuck in their face or somebody takes some quote and puts it in the paper, or writes a story and that’s not what they really wanted to say or really how they wanted it to come across,” Nece said. “This gives the player the ability to share his mind, share his thoughts and provide content that to us, is great content.
Nowadays, fans want as much information as possible.”
Weatherspoon has adapted quickly to the new app. He used his twitter account to promote how fans can hear his grunts.
“Sean has a great personality and fans are going to realize that,” Nece said. “With this app, you know that he’s a charismatic and fun loving guy.”
Here’s the text of a grunt from Jones on May 31 at 1:22 p.m.: “Hey everyone, Julio Jones, I just got done with 7-on-7 with “Matty-Ice” and “JP,” had a great time throwing the ball, learning the new routes and the concepts. Now, I’m off, about to go grab something to eat and everybody have a blessed day; thank you.”
Some of the other NFL players using the Gridiron Grunts application include San Francisco tight end Vernon Davis, Miami cornerback Vontae Davis, Oakland quarterback Bruce Gradkowski, New England tight end Aaron Hernandez, Philadelphia wide receiver Jeremy Macklin, San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers, Tampa Bay linebacker Barrett Rudd, Dallas tight end Jason Witten and Tennessee running back Chris Johnson.
Recently drafted players Randall Cobb (Green Bay), Ryan Kerrigan (Washington) and Carolina’s Lee Ziemba (Carolina) are also using the application.
“The players love it,” Nece said. “The players always have their phones with them wherever they go. They always have something on their minds.”
–D. Orlando Ledbetter, The Atlanta Falcons beat blog