Most NFL players limit their use of Twitter to the most mind-numbing ephemera. Take Green Bay Packers' tight end Tom Crabtree. "Just got an insane workout in," reads a recent entry. "Feel like I could go outside and beat the shit out of this blizzard."
But then there's this, from Monday: "I don't like to get into politics on Twitter. But I fully support WI unions and I think Gov. Walker is out of his damn mind."
In subsequent entries, Crabtree explains that his wife is a teacher and he has a degree in secondary education (with a minor in history). He also takes aim at the myth of entitled athletes, writing, "I come from a family of leftover eaters."
Messages from guys like Crabtree and, more prominently, Packers cornerback Charles Woodson, who announced his support for the union protesters in a statement released Sunday, are being brandished on signs carried around the state Capitol by demonstrating workers. But they're also important as the NFL players union continues negotiations with the owners this week - talks that many believe could lead to a lockout.
The players union has even released a "Guide to the Lockout," which urges players to mention their communities when speaking to reporters. That kind of language will help win a public-relations battle with the owners, who are at a decided disadvantage in dealing with the public.
Teachers and other public servants have a similar disadvantage, in that they are targets of popular resentment; but that can only be helped by having guys like Crabtree and Woodson on board.