When it comes to football fame, Rich Ohrnberger falls smack-dab on the opposite end of the spectrum from glamorous superstar quarterback Tom Brady. He’s 25 years old, a 6-foot-2-inch, 300-pound offensive lineman who has played five games in three seasons, none this year because of injury.
He’s presently obscure, and his NFL future may be uncertain. But on Twitter, the social network that has accumulated more than 300 million users worldwide, he’s a budding star.
In monitoring the accounts of more than 20 Patriots players during the two-week buildup to Super Bowl XLVI, it wasn’t social-media savvy wide receiver Chad Ochocinco (his @ochocinco account has more than 3.2 million followers) or gregarious tight end Rob Gronkowski (@RobGronkowski, more than 217,000 followers) who did the most with the allotted 140 characters Twitter permits per comment, or tweet.
It was Ohrnberger, which comes as no surprise to his teammates. Both Gronkowski and receiver Julian Edelman insisted this week that Ohrnberger is the funniest Patriot.
“He’s like Will Ferrell, he’s that funny,’’ Edelman said.
Ohrnberger has approximately 23,000 followers and a standup comic’s knack for a self-deprecating one-liner. A few of his recent gems:
I think Wesley Snipes would most accurately portray me in a movie
Today’s outfit: No-slip hospital socks, sweats (hole in crotch), a joke tuxedo thong, and a womens volleyball tshirt... I should do laundry
I blame cooler ranch doritos and marvel comics for my lack of female companionship until the 10th grade
“It’s just something I have fun with,’’ said Ohrnberger, who missed the entire season because of a head injury. “I don’t mind making fun of myself, obviously, and there’s a pretty good back and forth on Twitter. I get to try out some material. I’m not Ocho in terms of popularity or anything, but I enjoy it.’’
“Ocho’’ would be Ochocinco, a decorated performer for more than a decade with the Cincinnati Bengals who has endured a disappointing first season with the Patriots. He still remains a Twitter superstar, bantering good-naturedly with fans, reiterating his love of the International House of Pancakes, or riffing on his fear of appearing on a certain exploitative daytime talk show.
When asked this week by a follower which is more pressure, trying to make a field goal or a free throw with a game hanging in the balance, he replied:
Waiting for pregnancy test results on ‘Maury.’
Star wide receiver Wes Welker, who has the tagline “professional tweeter that wastes his talents playing American Football’’ on his account, is another Patriot who shows his humorous side on Twitter. He has more than 300,000 followers despite not starting his @WesWelker account until December, at Ochocinco’s urging. Welker, who has documented to comedic effect his progress in growing a mustache, has not tweeted since Jan. 25, but he did offer this after the Patriots’ victory over the Ravens in the AFC Championship game.
Woke up this am, and looked in the mirror. I rubbed my eyes, and saw a beautiful Stache! And I was instantly reminded. Were going to the SB!
Wide receiver Deion Branch (@Branch84) favors inspirational quotes. You miss 100% of the shots you don’t take - Wayne Gretzky. Gronkowski practices his interpretation of Spanish and is generous with the exclamation points. Hola!!! Me llamo Roberto! Yo soy muy inteligente! buena noche! And defensive lineman Kyle Love (@KyleLove74) makes it clear he has no interest in providing an injury report on his teammates. I will not answer questions about gronk so don’t ask.
Some accounts are more inane than amusing, and proper grammar can be at a premium. (Ochocinco says he takes pride in his spelling.) But collectively, the quiet confidence and professionalism that the Patriots project during interviews tends to come through on Twitter. There’s little bragging or trash talking, and it’s refreshing to discover that there is a sense of gratitude among many Patriots who can’t help but reflect on the journey that brought them to this moment.
And I’m Dreamin...... Ten years ago none of this was even in site!! =@ #TruStory, tweeted linebacker Brandon Spikes (@BrandonSpikes55)
Then there is Sterling Moore, who four years ago was attending junior college and working part time at Best Buy. He went on to play football at Southern Methodist, but he was not drafted out of college and was cut by the mediocre Oakland Raiders earlier this season. But the rookie caught on with the Patriots and made an impression, and it was Moore who came up with a pair of crucial defensive plays late in the AFC Championship game. A few days later, he tweeted:
Just got recognized in Best Buy. Things have come full circle lol
By the way, Tom Brady is not on Twitter. But to at least one fan, linebacker Dane Fletcher made a pretty reasonable facsimile for the quarterback.
Out in providence, lady comes up to me and asks if I’m tom brady, I say no, she has me sign a piece of paper just in case I’m lying #onlymeChad Finn can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter @globechadfinn.