Stamp fights for Twitter rights

Stampeders wide receiver Romby Bryant runs with the ball against the Alouettes at McMahon Stadium...

Stampeders wide receiver Romby Bryant runs with the ball against the Alouettes at McMahon Stadium in Calgary, Alta., Aug. 27, 2011. (AL CHAREST/QMI Agency)

IAN BUSBY, QMI Agency

, Last Updated: 7:55 PM ET

CALGARY - A day after his quarterback landed in some hot water thanks to social media, Romby Bryant pleaded for free speech on Twitter.

Nevermind that the Calgary Stampeders receiver would never say anything remotely controversial with a microphone in his face.

He felt the need to reserve the right to say what he wants via a technology CFL players use as their personal message boards these days.

“I think I should be able to tweet about anything I want,” Bryant wrote on his feed (@tharbryant).

“Well I’m going to say what I want anyway. POINT BLANK!!!!

“Believe or not. But I bite my tongue! People would think I was crazy if I said what I really feel.”

So far, Bryant doesn’t seem crazy for what he’s put on his Twitter feed, and it’s hard not to agree with him about saying what he wants.

But in a league where players are assets and promoted as such, image means a lot to CFL teams.

So when an offensive comment showed up on Henry Burris’ page, even for a brief moment, the Stampeders were obviously upset.

Burris told the Stamps he has no idea what happened and why the message showed up and disappeared.

The team came out quickly and said it was investigating what happened, which might have been the wrong course of action.

As with anything on Twitter, things get quickly forgotten as something else takes over as the topic of conversation.

Within days, the Winnipeg Blue Bombers and their head coach, Paul LaPolice, were left a little red-faced after going to great lengths not to get into a war of words with the Hamilton Tiger-Cats.

While LaPolice had his players avoiding the trash talk, his wife Tina joined the fray, referring to Dave Stala as ‘hackey-sack boy.’

That was all in fun, but after the Bombers beat the Ticats 30-27, a vicious campaign against Stala spread among the Bombers fanbase.

While there are cases of trash talk between players on Twitter (the biggest example being a war between Avon Cobourne and the agent for Dwight Anderson), more often than not, they are just talking with each other about daily life.

Being that the CFL is a small community of eight teams, the chatter goes across team lines.

As long as you follow both players who happen to be corresponding, a normal user can listen in on the conversation.

Unlike the NHL, for instance, more often than not, CFL players will respond to messages sent via Twitter.

In fact, some welcome it. When the Toronto Argonauts’ Rob Murphy is stuck in an airport or bored somewhere, he asks fans to shoot him some questions to pass the time.

But Murphy got himself into hot water with the CFL a year ago for some off-colour remarks during a train trip to Montreal.

Still, Murphy has completely changed his image as a troublemaker with an always entertaining stream of updates.

Twitter is now the place to go for breaking news at all times in the CFL, and it’s rarely official team feeds that are sending them out.

Tad Kornegay announced on Twitter he was getting waived by the Saskatchewan Roughriders, a day before the team came out and explained the move.

More recently, Kamau Peterson predicted his release from the B.C. Lions a full week before team officially put him on the street.

Right after games, players usually quickly head to their phones to send out messages about the game, sometimes even before the media gets into the locker-room for interviews.

Maybe there will be a day when Twitter will be the forum for post-game interviews.

At least there, the generally quiet Bryant could speak his mind instead of clamming up.


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