Here's a fascinating story from Yahoo!'s Charles Robinson about how some NFL teams create phony social networking accounts to do some clandestine character background checks of potential draft picks. This is what we hath wrought.
It might seem a little invasive, but this isn't completely outside the scope of what many multi-million dollar businesses do when they recruit prospective employees and plan on paying them large sums of money. However, in this case, the NFL's red flags are the things that may or may not end up on a blog some place like racist status updates or incriminating drunk photos. Stuff like that. The bait used in most of these "ghosting" tactics is usually a young, attractive girl, proclaiming her undying admiration for the player. Most of the time, players bite. Then, right after the draft, just like Keyser Soze, poof, the winsome lady has vanished.
Robinson spoke to many NFL personnel sources for the piece and most of them were not apologetic about the practice. Most were just anonymous.
"Twenty years ago, if you weren't getting a lot from a [college team's] coaching staff or a family, you might put weeks into gathering good information on a couple guys," the personnel source said. "Now, we can do a lot of it in a few days. We can sit down with 20 guys that we might be looking at, and have a pile of pictures and background things to hit them with. And every once in a while you come across something that probably saves you from making a big mistake. Not as much as you might think, but if it happens every couple years, it keeps you ahead of the game."
It would be interesting to see how some of the more infamous internet photos of certain players would have impacted their draft spots. Would Leinart drop out of the first round? Would Roethlisberger? Would Kyle Orton be institutionalized?