Yes, the Eagles have a Snapchat account

Yes, the Eagles have a Snapchat account

In an overcrowded, constantly changing media landscape, Snapchat is here to stay.  Alright, I don’t really know that for sure.  But my friends and I like Snapchat.  So hopefully that counts for something.

If you don’t know about Snapchat, here are the basics: You can send pictures or short videos, and friends can see them on their phone for 10 seconds before they disappear forever.  You can also enhance photos with captions and colorful doodles.

If I haven’t convinced you it’s more fun than texting, consult Buzzfeed’s 35 Most Powerful Snapchats of 2013 [and then rejoin us for the conclusion of this story].

The best thing about Snapchat is that you can use it for anything— like sending pictures of burritos to your cousin every time you’re at Chipotle (maybe), or taking video of yourself singing in the car (only at red lights, Nana), or drawing inappropriate body parts on the skeleton in the doctor’s waiting room (uhhh… I think that was somebody else).

And Snapchat is gaining traction.  Did you know the Eagles have an official account?  I was floored the first company I had heard of using a corporate Snapchat account happened to be the NFL team in my own backyard.

— Philadelphia Eagles (@Eagles) December 24, 2013

I had to find out more, so I called up Linda Thomas, the Eagles’ digital and social media director.

It turns out the Eagles’ social media department was just like most offices, with coworkers using Snapchat for important matters like sending each other funny faces.  Then somebody came up with the idea to add the app to the team’s portfolio of social media platforms.

“Our team thinks that social media is a great way to connect with our fans,” Thomas said.  “People can connect with us and have a conversation with us.”

Sure, but people use Snapchat to take selfies in the club.  Do fans enjoy getting snaps from the Eagles?

As a matter of fact, they do.

“We didn’t do a great big media blitz,” Thomas said of the Snapchat launch.  They just posted about it on the team’s other platforms like Facebook, Twitter and Google Plus.  The response was immediate.

About 1,000 fans signed up within five hours, and the number grew to 7,000 in the first week.  Fortunately for the Eagles, signing up is easy.  Just search “eagles” and add the team.

Thomas said the following obviously doesn’t compare to the team’s 2 million Facebook fans, but the numbers are still surging.  And she said she’s been struck by the “intensity” of the fans who have added the Eagles on Snapchat.  “What’s funny is when we’re not Snapchatting regularly, we hear about it.  ‘Where are the Snapchats?’”

This shouldn’t be a surprise, Thomas is used to catering to Philly fans.

“We find with our Philadelphia Eagles fans, they are particularly passionate,” Thomas said.  “When we’ve lost a game they’ll tell us what we did wrong.  When we win, they’re very supportive.  These are fans that don’t go away.  Other markets— the fans— if you’re losing, they go away.  Our fans stay with us.”

So Thomas’s department feels an obligation to experiment with whatever the hot new medium is.  “We want to meet them where they are,” she said.

The Eagles Snapchat account is different from the ones you might have used to send me pictures of your dog wearing a Happy New Year party hat.  It mostly utilizes the My Story function, which enables users to combine photos and videos for a longer message.

Another key difference is that Eagles have opted not to receive pictures from followers.

So if you’re lying in bed striking a sexy pose in your Eagles Santa hat, you’ll have to keep it to yourself or your significant other(s).  Your picture won’t be opened by Swoop or DeSean Jackson or an intern in the communications department.

The Eagles are an early adopter when it comes to pro teams using Snapchat, but they are hardly alone in thinking about it.  The New Orleans Saints, for one, started an account earlier in the season than the Eagles.

And teams in other leagues are intrigued by the possibility too.

My friend Whitney Holtzman is a social media producer for MLB.com, so she develops social media strategies for the league itself and all 30 teams.

She said she expects MLB teams to start using Snapchat within the next few months.

“You don’t want to get left behind,” Holtzman said.  “With any emerging technology, you can’t bury your head in the sand.  You have to embrace it.”

She said her coworkers saw some early Snapchats from the Saints and have already started thinking about ways MLB teams could use the app too.

Holtzman said one team in particular reached out to MLB about starting to use it, and that she expects Snapchat to be a topic of conversation at an upcoming meeting with representatives from every big league club.

The Eagles are now Snapchatting everything from a video of the players singing “What Does the Fox Say?” after practice, to photos of gear you can buy at the online store.

So get used to the newest toy at the Eagles’ social media team’s disposal.  The photos may disappear faster than Chip Kelly calls in a play, but the use of Snapchat looks like it may last a while.

Mitch Goldich is a freelance sports writer originally from Philadelphia.  Follow him on Twitter at @mitchgoldich, mostly for ramblings about Philadelphia sports.

Shawn Long the latest of Sixers to seize opportunity

Shawn Long the latest of Sixers to seize opportunity

CHICAGO -- Injuries have been creating opportunities for different players on the Sixers all season.

Just last week, we took a look at the emergence of Richaun Holmes and how he has moved up the depth chart and proven himself to be a reliable first backup center next season (see story).

Shawn Long has been capitalizing on the same opportunities since earning a call-up from the Delaware 87ers. The Sixers signed Long to a multi-year deal on March 16 following the end of his 10-day contract. His contract is guaranteed for the remainder of this season but partially guaranteed after that, making every game an audition for the future.

The Sixers are down to three centers since the season-ending injury of Joel Embiid (see story), and just two when Jahlil Okafor is out. Long has slid into the backup (and sometimes backup-to-the-backup) role Holmes previously held.

"I think that Shawn Long has really grabbed his brief opportunities and been more than serviceable," Brett Brown said this week. "He's shown reasons why he should be considered a genuine NBA player."

Long's numbers, standing alone, aren't jaw-dropping. Taking a closer look, though, they are efficient. In seven games this month, Long is averaging 5.8 points (shooting 59.3 percent from the field) and 3.5 rebounds in 9.0 minutes.

In Wednesday's loss to the Thunder, Long led the Sixers with six rebounds (in a game they were held to a season-low 25 boards) and 13 points in 15 minutes off the bench. Seven of those minutes came in the first half, so this wasn't just a case of getting a run in a fourth-quarter blowout situation.

On Monday, Long spread his contributions across the stat sheet in the Sixers' overtime loss to the Magic: four points, two rebounds, two assists, two steals and two blocks in 11 minutes.

Going back to Sunday's 105-99 win over the Celtics, he played a key role in the Sixers' third-quarter push that cut a double-digit deficit to only three points heading into the fourth. He posted eight points and three rebounds in 5:52 during the third.

Long has to watch his foul trouble as he gets adjusted to defending NBA opponents. He is averaging 4.7 personal fouls in 11.0 minutes over the last three games.

Long also continues to focus on his three-point shooting to stretch the floor. He is just 2 for 3 from three as a Sixer. On Wednesday, he worked on long-range drills with Holmes after shootaround.

With the skills he has and those he is honing, Long could be the latest member of the Sixers to make a name for himself by maximizing playing time when he receives it.

"Isn't it fantastic -- as we've seen over the years, opportunity uncovers different qualities in people," Brown said.

Eagles propose four rules to be considered by NFL next week

Eagles propose four rules to be considered by NFL next week

Next week, when the NFL convenes for its owners meetings in Phoenix, there will be 15 proposed rule changes under consideration by the competition committee. 

While the one proposed rule change would cut regular-season overtime from 15 to 10 minutes (see story), there are 14 others up for discussion. 

Of those 15, seven were submitted by NFL teams. And of those seven, four were submitted by the Eagles

Three of the four rule proposals from the Eagles are safety related. 

Here are the four from the Eagles, per the NFL: 

1. Gives additional protections for long snappers on kick plays. 

2. Prohibits the “leaper” block attempt on field goal and extra point plays. 

3. Expands the “crown of helmet” foul to include “hairline” part of helmet. 

4. Amends the challenge system by granting a third challenge if a club is successful on at least one of its initial two challenges, and expands reviewable plays outside of two minutes of each half.

The first proposed rule would offer long snappers -- Jon Dorenbos included -- some extra protection. It would add this language to Article 6, Unnecessary Roughness: "When a team is in scrimmage kick formation, a defensive player may not initiate contact with the snapper until one second has elapsed after the snap." 

The second proposed rule change is one of the proposals that has garnered the most attention. Basically, the league now allows players to leap over the line of scrimmage on kicks as long as they don't touch anyone. This new rule would completely outlaw the process of leaping over the line. 

It seems like this rule change is likely to happen. The NFLPA has previously asked for this rule to be changed. 

"So the inevitable is going to happen, and just hearing from the players association, Philly now proposing it is really in the best interest of the game," former Eagle and league football operations director Troy Vincent said on a conference call Thursday. 

The next rule does pretty much exactly what it says: it expands the area that is considered to be the "crown of the helmet." 

Here's the new language that would be added to Article 8, Initiating Contact with the Crown of the Helmet: "Lowering the head and making forcible contact with the crown or 'hairline' parts of the helmet against any part of an opponent shall be considered a foul even if the initiating player's head moves after initial contact and the majority of contact occurs with the side or front of the helmet."

Finally, the last proposal isn't a safety one. It's about replay and is pretty self-explanatory for the most part. 

The reasoning given for this rule change on the proposal: "Provides coaches with a greater opportunity to correct subjective officiating errors, but excludes those fouls that have a minimal opportunity for reversal."