If fake quotes on Wikipedia and premature obituaries on Twitter aren’t enough to prove that social media can be a minefield, consider the case of Calgary Stampeders quarterback Henry Burris. The reigning CFL Most Outstanding Player is a frequent contributor to Twitter, offering everything from inspirational messages (“Failures do what is tension relieving while winners do what is goal achieving! Continue to achieve and let nobody deter you! #wisechoice) to innocuous observations about life (“Only God could create her beauty to show the world how amazing his work is!”).
Tame stuff compared to what other athletes such as NBA star Gilbert Arenas – aka Agent Zero – put out.
Tuesday evening, however, a tweet appearing under Burris’s name sent him and the Stampeders into maximum damage control. The tweet was sexual in nature and crude. It was quickly removed from the site with an apology from Burris. “I got word some weird tweet was on my page! If anyone saw that, I don’t know where that came from and I’d never tweet that! Apologies!”
Inquiring minds wanted to know how it got there and what Burris had to say in explanation. Wednesday, the team addressed the issue with the Calgary media. Stampeders president Lyle Bauer said that Burris told them he’d been duped, and that the club was accepting the explanation. “He does not have any explanations of how it got there,” Bauer told reporters at McMahon Stadium. “So, obviously if he didn’t do it, it happened in another manner.”
Burris, meanwhile, was more opaque, wanting to put the incident behind him with the Montreal Alouettes coming to town Saturday. “I’m not paying attention to it,” Burris told the media at Stamps practice. “There are more important things than what people are thinking. It’s all about security for me and my family.”
While a number of college sports teams have prohibited social media for their athletes, Bauer says the club won’t be banning Twitter or other social media as a result. “Social media is an unbelievable marketing tool to communicate with our fans and keep in touch with our supporters,” Bauer said. “I don’t think necessarily banning is the answer. I think it’s behaviour and dealing with issues as they arise.”
If this was a hacking, it was the first time Burris’s account was tampered with. Could it have been some teammates having fun with Burris’s unattended phone? Or someone else who had access to Burris’s phone? No one in the Stamps camp was saying. But it is a cautionary tale that if an athlete’s cell phone is out of sight, it’s far from out of mind.
Oh No You Don’t
Speaking of Arenas, breaking up is hard to do. Thursday, the controversial NBA baller lost a court case attempting to block his ex-fiancée Laura Govan from appearing on Basketball Wives LA to diss her former flame. While Arenas said he was afraid of Govan exploiting his likeness and trademark, the skinny is that Arenas doesn’t want his “bidness” laundered in public. California judge Dolly Gee thought that explanation was rich coming from Arenas. “Gilbert’s claim that details of his family life should not be aired on the reality show is undercut by the fact he has tens of thousands of Twitter users who follow [him] as he tweets about a variety of mundane occurrences.” Snap!
Bob’s Your Uncle
We weren’t quite sure what Bob Mackowycz – formerly of TSN’s Off The Record and CBC’s The Hour – was going to bring as co-host with James Cybulski on the TSN Radio afternoon drive show. Apparently he’s the comic relief. Monday, Mackowycz was riffing on his favourite U.S. town, San Francisco. Macko likes the Bay Area’s laid-back nature. It’s sorta’ like Toronto. “If there’s such a thing as a city of four million that’s like a village, it’s Toronto,” said Mackowycz. “It’s so laid back.” Toronto. Laid back. Definitely how the rest of the country sees the city that sleeps with one eye open.
Mackowycz actually brings some intriguing possibilities to a show that needs to distinguish itself versus the Bob McCown Miracle on Sportsnet Radio Fan 590. When he was steering the conversation Monday, the show seemed a little more focused (a Sportsnet versus etalk routine with Tanya Kim worked nicely). While Cybulski has tried to take on big issues (he recently called the Blue Jays cheap) he still seems like a nice guy. And as Leo Durocher famously said about nice guys … well, you know.
Mackowycz has edge. TSN Radio can use more production values on all its shows, and Mackowycz has the experience to push Cybulski. And maybe even McCown?
Former Panther, Sabre and Flame Rhett Warrener is joining the morning crew at Sportsnet Radio The Fan 960 in Calgary. The station is trying to find a new identity for its morning drive show since Mike Richards departed for TSN Radio 1050. Warrener has a wry sense of humour (he once nicknamed Dion Phaneuf “2/10.” As in, been in the NHL two years, acts like he’s been there 10), but the best hope for the show would be for the ancient Flames to get back into the postseason for the first time since 2009.
Meanwhile, the Winnipeg Jets have announced that veteran announcer Dennis Beyak will be the voice for the team on TSN and TSN's Sports Radio 1290. Manitoba native Beyak will be responsible for doing TSN regional TV broadcasts and radio play-by-play, while Brian Munz – ex of CJOB – will handle radio duties when Beyak is on TV. Beyak has done games on TV and radio for both the Maple Leafs and Oilers. Good hire.
Finally, Montreal's TEAM 990 announced that former Marlie announcer John Bartlett has been named the play-by-play radio voice of the Montreal Canadiens. The Team 990 acquired exclusive English radio broadcast rights from CJAD to all Canadiens games in a seven-year deal earlier this summer. In his bio, Bartlett – who was born in Kingston, Ont. – says he's always been a Canadiens fan. Glad we got that out of the way.