Warning: this post contains language that may be offensive to children or Packers fans.
This past week, Green Bay Packers guard T.J. Lang set a record – and it wasn’t on the field.
After losing to the Seattle Seahawks on a last-second, controversial call, Lang tweeted:
F*** it NFL.. Fine me and use the money to pay the regular refs.
— TJ Lang (@TJLang70) September 25, 2012
And with less than 140 characters, Lang added fuel to a fire that burned long into the night. Just moments prior, with no time left on the clock, Packers defensive back M.D. Jennings jumped up and appeared to intercept the football, but Seahawks receiver (and Notre Dame alum…) Golden Tate got his hands on it as the two fell to the ground. Two referees, replacements for the locked-out regular officials, each ruled differently on the play. In the end, they awarded a touchdown to Seattle.
Less than two days later, the NFL compromised and agreed on a deal with the locked out referees. If Golden Tate’s not-so-simultaneous “catch” was the turning point of negotiations, then T.J. Lang’s tweet may have been the union’s biggest bargaining chip. 34 minutes later, over 40,000 people had retweeted him, and in just two days, it garnered over 90,000 retweets, making it the most retweeted post in Twitter history. Not only did Lang’s outburst reach almost 100,000 people (and many, many more that read it but didn’t retweet), but it gave an insight to how NFL players viewed the lockout and the presence of replacement referees.
Topics relating to the game, the call, and the replacements trended all night and into the next day. On Tuesday, Sportscenter and news stations across America lambasted the call, and by late Wednesday night, a deal was in place. And in the end, the NFL didn’t even fine Lang, presumably out of fear for the mob that is Twitter, including Lang’s 90,000 new followers. The league seems to be the latest victim of the “Power Law of Participation,” including the idea that a small group of people can reach a inversely large amount of followers – in Twitter’s case, within hours.
After all of this, we can all agree on one thing: it’s time for some hockey players to start tweeting.