The Manti Te’o hoax has spun out of control but with Katie Couric’s interview set to air tomorrow, we may have some clarification as to what exactly happened. But as Te’o is being singled out as a naive fool, he’s not the only football player who has ever been duped by a woman online.
Phillip Daniels, the Washington Redskin’s director of player development, sent out a memo in December warning players to stay away from @RedRidnH00d, and not to contact her in any ways, shape or form.
The reason for the warning was that NFL security had flagged a person behind the account using the pseudonym Sidney Ackerman, who was using fake pictures to contact NFL players and start a dialog with them. Ackerman used the photos of adult film star C.J. Miles to lure in players, but none of the Redskins players got deep enough to see where the relationship would go.
Daniels says he understands why football players would be tempted to get into contact with a beautiful woman, but after this situation and the Te’o situation, everyone needs to put the brakes on their online interactions with everyone.
“If you think about it, a lot of them are single guys, and they see somebody who looks good in a picture or something,” Daniels said. “In many cases, it involves someone who is a fan of the team, so they’ll start talking about the team. You have to recognize that something just isn’t right.”
The Redskins players never got involved enough to become as emotionally attached as Te’o seems to have gotten with Lennay Kekua. However Daniels said that it likely wasn’t a romantic thing with his players as much as it was about the attention.
“I think it was all about attention,” Daniels said. “I don’t think it was any of the other stuff. It was just about being able to talk to them, pretending to be someone they aren’t. It was never a situation where guys were giving money or anything like that.”
However, while the Twitter and Facebook accounts connected to Ackerman have been shut down, there is another account currently active that uses Miles photo as the avatar.
Even worse, the account is followed by 22 confirmed NFL players.
The NFL already has some restrictions regarding Twitter, but none of those restrictions surround interaction with fake accounts. But in light of the Te’o scandal and news that at least two other fake accounts have lured in NFL players as followers, expect everyone in professional sports to impose tighter laws when it comes to how their athletes interact on Twitter.