Maryland's A.J. Francis gets political on Twitter
A.J. Francis can be found on Twitter here: @The_Franchyze
How often do you check Twitter? Rarely, if in class or attending to football matters. If I have down time, I check every 10 or 15 minutes.
Who introduced you to Twitter? I was introduced to Twitter in 2009 by my friend, Dee Redd, but I wasn't an active tweeter at first. "The first year or year and a half, I never even tweeted. He called me up and said 'You need to start tweeting more. You're a funny guy. I need more funny people on my timeline...' So I started tweeting more. Forty-one thousand tweets later..."
I wish ________ was on Twitter? I wish Jay-Z and Barack Obama actually wrote their own tweets.
An athlete from history I wish was on Twitter? Muhammad Ali
Last Twitter feud? I got into it with some Georgia Tech players after posting a picture of Maryland quatterback C.J. Brown breaking a long run against the Yellow Jackets.
Through Twitter, I've become friends with _______? Former Maryland basketball star Greivis Vasquez
How would you describe your Twitter followers? Fifty percent crazed Maryland fans and 10 percent people I know. I have no idea on the other 40 percent.
A few hours before the U.S. Supreme Court announced its ruling on a controversial health care initiative on June 28, A.J. Francis began firing off tweets.
7:51 a.m.: "If the GOP wasn't stupid it would embrace #ObamaCare and point out how it's a carbon copy of Romney's plan in Massachusetts..."
Also at 7:51 a.m.: "Then today would be a win for them too... And Romney might gain some points... But no they want to be stubborn"
Starting the morning with some pot-stirring political tweets would set off alarm bells at most major football programs, but in College Park, no one tries to stifle the 305-pound defensive tackle known as The_Franchyze when he goes on a 140-character-at-a-time rampage. That's probably wise, because if Francis has his way, one of college football's most entertaining and active tweeters will be Maryland's governor someday.
Francis has a better explanation for why coaches and administrators don't mind his topical tweeting, which included a lament after the Terrapins' second-half collapse against NC State last Nov. 26 that the game was "the worst [expletive] I've ever been involved with in my [expletive] life." He's only being brutally honest, and people appreciate that. "People recognize that, for lack of a better term, I don't BS anybody," Francis said. "I'm not a BS artist. If I have something to say, I'm going to say exactly how I feel."
Like most college football players on Twitter, Francis chimes in on the usual topics (movies, music, where he ate his most recent burrito), but as a summer intern for U.S. Rep. Steny Hoyer (D-Maryland) he is one of the few willing to sprinkle in political debate. Francis considers himself well versed on the major issues, and he has no qualms about engaging a Terps fan who might reside on the other side of aisle from Francis. "Maybe other people can't -- I know people in Congress can't -- but I can actually talk to people who have different opinions from me and not scream and yell and get upset," Francis said.
While it seems his political tweeting would draw a rebuke in this age of hypersensitive athletic departments, Francis said that of his 43,000-plus tweets, the one that drew the most ire within Maryland's department was a tweet about the Maryland's compliance office's complaint about a Francis tweet. Francis laughed as he explained the misunderstanding.
In June 2011, Francis tweeted a lyric from a song by rapper Rick Ross: "Seems like we getting money for the wrong things/Look around Maseratis for the whole team." Since everyone in the ACC had just watched North Carolina's football program come undone because of defensive tackle Marvin Austin's tweets about lush living on an agent's dime, officials at Maryland were understandably concerned about a tweet that -- to someone who doesn't know the difference between a Boss and a BAWSE -- might imply the receipt of improper benefits. A compliance official e-mailed Francis and asked him to remove the tweet. Francis did, but then he tweeted about the e-mail from compliance. That tweet, Francis said, really got him in trouble.
With convention season almost upon us, expect more rapid bursts of opinions from Francis. Don't be shy about challenging him. He loves to argue. Besides, it's easier to debate Francis than it is to block him -- but only slightly. "I would never tweet anything," he said, "that I can't back up."