My four biggest reasons that no amount of replacement refs, scandals, celebration penalties, PSL's, other sports, concussions or CTE has been able to assuage the rapid ascension of the NFL in the US and abroad over the past 19 years are as follows:The 1994 MLB strike, fantasy football, high-definition televisions, and Twitter.
When I first signed onto Twitter, I initially was turned off by the 140 character limit, and I also thought the whole "Following" system could create a sad, high-school, melodramatic clique system.
In just over four years, I now see all other social media as relatively pointless. Twitter is one of the greatest modern conveniences we experience in the 21st century. News flows fast and seamlessly and is accessible anywhere, allowing information to spread like wildfire, and for people all over the globe to react in real-time.
The truth is that, for me, I sometimes find myself enjoying college football and NFL games in which I have close to zero rooting interest, thanks to the running commentary on Twitter. And now, here are some suggestions:
1. Cat Scratch Reader
Duh. Every Panthers news story in one feed.
2. James Dockery
At over 15,000 tweets, Dockery is the Panthers' most prolific tweeter (WR Brandon LaFell is not far behind).
3. Adam Schefter
The top dog of NFL insiders, yet he could fall completely off the list depending on if he waits until afternoons to give out his information this fall (he's featured on the new ESPN show "The Insiders Show", debuting August 5th).
4. Mike Solarte
News 14 Carolina sports director.
5. Joseph Person
Charlotte Observer Panthers beat writer.
6. Jonathan Jones
Charlotte Observer Panthers writer.
7. Brett Jensen
WFNZ 610 AM radio personality in Charlotte.
8. Steve Reed
Carolina Panthers and Charlotte Bobcats beat reporter for Associated Press.
9. Daniel Jeremiah
Ex-Ravens/Eagles/Browns scout who tweets interesting insight during games, as well as college tape breakdowns for the NFL Draft (his dad is famous TV pastor David Jeremiah).
10. Matt Bowen
Ex-Rams, Redskins, Packers, and Bills defensive back who talks X's and O's with a true love for passing game match-ups.
11. Jason La Canfora
Dude does make some tweets about his family life, but often has exclusive breaking news.
12. Panthers official Twitter
I would never have an official page ranked very high, as their best features are player profiles and news conferences (fun, but not as important as unfiltered game/roster analysis or breaking news). I do believe Bryan Strickland, senior writer, should get a Twitter and give fans real-time training camp observations. Some of us truly are never bored with information about our favorite teams.
13. Jay Glazer
When he's not MMA training, he's sending out exclusive information. He may be obnoxious, but he's probably got the most player connections in all the media.
Yes, I'm a Giants (and Ravens and Vikings) fan. That said, I don't discriminate against any pro, semi-pro or college team. If I've got a salient point, I'll tweet it. I have mass benders of free-flowing information, so you've been warned.
15. Albert Breer
The NFL Network's latest insider, who has a modest amount of exclusive nuggets but is worth a follow. Two of the NFL Network's fantasy football fellows to follow on Twitter are pretty funny, Dave Dameshek and Adam Rank.
With Panthers training camp 13 days away, it's time to set up your football-season internet regiments.
Who do you follow on Twitter? Do you set up your laptop next to the TV? Do you check Twitter at the Stadium? Do you make Twitter lists, subscribe to or frequent others' Twitter lists?
Let me know in the comments!