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League announces policy on social media for before and after games

NEW YORK -- Tweet away, boys. Just save it for before and after the games.

The NFL said Monday it will allow players to use social media networks this season, but not during games. Players, coaches and football operations personnel can use Twitter, Facebook and other social media up to 90 minutes before kickoff, and after the game following traditional media interviews.

During games, no updates will be permitted by the individual himself or anyone representing him on his personal Twitter, Facebook or any other social media account, the league said.

The use of social media by NFL game officials and officiating department personnel will be prohibited at all times. The league, which has always barred play-by-play descriptions of games in progress, also extended that ban to social media platforms.

Earlier this summer, Chargers cornerback Antonio Cromartie was fined $2,500 by the team for criticizing the food service at training camp on Twitter.

The Miami Dolphins imposed restrictions on players, reporters and even spectators at their training camp, and several other teams also set up some restrictions on practice fields, including the Broncos, Patriots, Bills, Colts, Saints and Lions.

But NFL players have embraced the network to the point that some announce news by tweeting, including Saints rookie cornerback Malcolm Jenkins. He sent out word of his signing with the team on Twitter.

The Cincinnati Bengals sent out first official word of first-round draft pick Andre Smith's signing Sunday on a tweet on their Web site. That came one day after Bengals receiver Chad Ochocinco sent out a tweet saying Smith had signed, which was wrong. So Smith's agent, Alvin Keels, sent out his own tweet saying the report was incorrect.

The NFL's security department assists players in removing fake sites on Facebook and Twitter.

"The growth of social media platforms such as Twitter and Facebook has created important new ways for the NFL and clubs to communicate and connect with fans," the league said in a statement. "The NFL ... will continue to emphasize innovative and appropriate use of these new forms of communication."

Commissioner Roger Goodell tweeted from the draft in April.

Other leagues have not issued formal policies on social media.

Charlie Villanueva, then with the Milwaukee Bucks, posted a message on Twitter during halftime of a game and got a stern lecture from coach Scott Skiles, who thought it gave the impression that Villanueva wasn't focused. Villanueva also tweeted that he was signing as a free agent with the Pistons earlier this summer.

Copyright 2009 by The Associated Press

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