The essence of a New England Patriots fan and a Bostonian in 5 tweets.

This is a beautiful story. If you ever lived in Massachusetts, and especially in the greater Boston area, this will ring so true.

People in the Boston area are hardcore.  

It's Marathon Monday in Boston. As the runners make their way along the race route, a man stands on the side of the road, encouraging them with this sign that reminds them that in the third quarter of the Super Bowl, the Patriots were losing to the Falcons 28-3.

Keep going, marathoners. Don't give up. Anything is possible.

On Twitter, Addul Dremali, a biomechanical & data scientist and amateur photographer, posts a photo of the unidentified man and his sign.  

About an hour later, ESPN tweets at Dremali, asking if they can use the photo on all their platforms with a credit to him. 

This is where things get beautiful. With the opportunity to have his photo, name, and Twitter handle disseminated across ESPN's enormous and far reaching platforms, Dremail responds like a true and absolute Patriots fan.

This is a perfect reflection of what the people of Boston and its surrounding communities are like:

Fanatic, aggressive, perpetually angry, and so rarely self-serving. 

Forgive Dremali's language. It's also authentic to the Boston area.  

That is a thing of beauty. The perfect response by a man who had an opportunity to gain a little notoriety (in a culture where people will do almost anything to gain notoriety), and he decided to be a fan instead. 

About 30 minutes later, Dremail is contacted via Twitter by another news agency, requesting to use the photo. Their tweet is hilarious. 

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One minute later, Dremali responds perfectly.

Curt Shilling is wrong about evolution, but his response to Internet trolls was commendable and enough to make this Yankees fan cheer.

As a New York Yankees fan – as well as someone who supports science and knows that evolution is real – I’ve never been a fan of Curt Shilling.

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But when Shilling took to Twitter last week to congratulate his daughter on her invitation to pitch for the Salve Regina University baseball team, Internet trolls emerged from under their bridges in numbers that Shilling never expected.

“I expected the trolls. The one kid kind of came at me and said, ‘I can’t wait to take your daughter out.’ Kind of borderline stuff, which again, I expected. I’ve been on the Internet since, I started playing on computers in 1980, so I understand how it works and I knew there would be stuff. The stuff that they did, that is not bad or vile, it’s illegal. It’s against the law.”

“When that started -- again, I thought it might be a one-off, but then it started to steamroll. And then [my daughter] started to get private correspondence and then I said 'OK, this needs to get fixed.’ This generation of kids doesn’t understand, and adults too, doesn’t understand that the Internet is not even remotely anonymous.”

Shilling went on the offensive, attacking the trolls on his blog and identifying a handful of the offenders.

One of the offenders – a part-time ticket-seller for the Yankees – has been fired, the team’s director of communications confirmed to NJ.com. Another, a student at a community college in New Jersey, was reportedly suspended from school.

As the victim of an large scale, anonymous attack on my professional credibility several years ago, I understand the power that a person has when they hide behind the curtain of anonymity and hurl false accusations and libelous statements at people who are unable to confront their accusers. I also understand how anonymity can embolden a person to say terrible things that they would never dare say in public.

Shilling refers to his not-so-anonymous offenders as “garbage” on his blog. I have often called them cowards, but I like garbage a lot, too.

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Unlike Shilling, I was never able to positively identify the persons responsible in my case, mostly because the cowards (or pieces of garbage) used old fashioned paper and ink, thereby eliminating any digital trail (though the search for their identities remains active). As a staunch  advocate of free speech, I believe in the power of using that freedom to publicly identify people who make threats and spout hatred and vulgarity online.

It’s time to pull back that curtain of electrons and force people to own their words.  

Shilling may be wrong when it comes to evolution, and that stupid bloody sock may have been completely overblown, but when it comes to his response to Internet trolls, Shilling has my full support.  

The sooner we let these cretins know that they cannot hide behind their computer screens, the sooner they will crawl back under their bridges and leave the rest of us alone.

Three ideas to increase profitability at ESPN

These three ideas are free, ESPN. You’d be a fool not to use them.

I have many more, and I’d be more than happy to discuss a consulting position within your organization.

Call me.

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1. Longer NFL highlights

The National Football League is king. It is by far the most popular sport in America and is routinely the most watched television program each week.

Add to this the scarcity of NFL games: only 16 games a week, spread out over the course of three days, making impossible for the average football fan to watch more than three or four games a week.

As a result, there is a lot of football that NFL fans would like to see but can’t. So please, ESPN, lengthen your NFL highlight packages. Cover more of the action in the game. No one will ever complain about seeing more football highlights. I’d rather see every touchdown from every game than a former football player yap about the importance of minimizing distractions or how special teams often wins or loses the game.  

2. Coordinated commercial breaks

ESPN and ESPN2 should never, ever be on a commercial break simultaneously. On every cable network, these two stations, in addition to ESPN’s other offerings, occupy channels adjacent to each other. I should be able to flip back and forth between the two during the commercial break and maintain nonstop sports programming.

When I flip the channel from ESPN to ESPN2 and find commercials on both networks, I often leave the network entirely, channel surfing for some other distant shore. This should not be permitted to happen. Ever. 

3. Longer B-roll packages

As ESPN analysts and hosts are talking about athletes and teams, B-roll is often running in order to provide the viewer with something to look at other than a talk head’s head. But that B-roll is almost never long enough, which means it eventually loops to the beginning, forcing the viewer to watch the same touchdown pass, the same three-point shot, the same slap shot, and the same homerun again and again.

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Is it really that hard to create B-roll packages that are long enough to fill any segment?

ESPN makes the same stupid mistake that they criticized NFL commissioner Roger Goodell for two months ago.

Bill Simmons is suspended by ESPN for three weeks after calling NFL commissioner Roger Goodell “a liar” after the commissioner claimed that he never saw the Ray Rice video in which the running back punches his then fiancée on a Las Vegas elevator and knocks her out.

Police report that the video of the incident was handed over to the NFL in April. 

Back in July, ESPN’s Stephen A. Smith implies that Ray Rice’s fiancée had some culpability in her beating and advises women to be wary about provoking their spouses into domestic violence.

He is suspended for two weeks.

Are companies like the NFL and ESPN trying to make us hate them?

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SportsCenter anchor? No big deal. Actor in a 30 second commercial? AWE INSPIRING.

My friend, Bram Weinstein, is an ESPN anchor. When I first met him, I stood in awe of his occupation and talent.

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This is understandable. There was a time in my life when I wore a SportsCenter hat like others wear hats denoting their favorite sports teams. 

I was a SportsCenter junkie.

But over the years, as I’ve gotten to know Bram better, the celebrity-status that I once assigned to the SportsCenter anchor has begun to wane.

I’ve come to realize that despite his occupation, he’s just Bram. Sure, he’s excellent at his job, and yes, he has the opportunity to spend time with the greatest athletes in the world.

But I’ve also seen Bram eat birthday cake. Change a diaper. Shank a tee shot. Play princess with his daughter. Wash the dishes. Dance with his son in his arms.

Sadly, the bloom is off the rose when it comes to ESPN anchors. It turns out that they are just regular people.

The only exception to this rule is when Bram does a “This is SportsCenter” commercial. His second commercial aired this week, and for at least a while, he has once again ascended to celebrity status in my mind.

I’ve been watching these commercials for years. Writing and direction my own versions of these commercials in my head. Dreaming of the day when I could make a “This is SportsCenter” commercial of my own. 

To think that Bram is immortalized in another one of these iconic advertisements is amazing. Unbelievable. Awe inspiring.

At least for now.