Stars like Brady are now being watched by everyone

PHOENIX -- With all the conversation about new media, we now have a better idea of what it actually is.

Amongst its many branches, new media somehow groups the AFC and NFC with TMZ, providing the type of 25-8-366 coverage that society craves and athletes abhor.

Leave it to private eyes, nifty cell phones and pseudo photo-journalists to make Patriots quarterback Tom Brady look more uncomfortable than he has against any defense. They tracked Brady through New York. They followed him through the city's streets. They made Brady look as if little could make him any happier than returning to the anonymity of being a sixth-round pick.

But those days, like Brady's walking boot, are long gone. His life is immensely different, and so is the way we cover our athletes. Seldom before have celebrities and athletes been so visible. Never have they been more vulnerable. Now, it's not just opponents that want a slice of them. Anyone with a cell phone or blog also does.

Thousands of reporters have converged on the Patriots, Giants and Super Bowl XLII, yet when their traditional interview time with the players comes to an end, new media's time is just beginning. Players never are off, not anymore. Cameras keep clicking, constantly. They are everywhere, even outside this country.

Just ask Cowboys quarterback Tony Romo. What was supposed to be private time for him and Jessica Simpson became acutely public. A week later, after the debate about his personal choices would not die, the Cowboys season did. It crumbled like a broken romance.

The paparazzi has infiltrated sports slightly slower than it did society. No one is safe. The bigger the name in football, the bigger target for paparazzi. Joe Namath, his peers and his early successors should convene at Bachelors III, raise a glass and make a toast to the fact that they are not subjected to the perils today's players are.

It's a new game today.

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