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The New York Post


A day before the 2018 NFL draft in April, a bombshell hit University of Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen, when racially offensive tweets sent from the white player's account in 2012 and 2013 — when the now-22-year-old was in high school — surfaced in a Yahoo Sports story.

"i dont think you [N-word] want a troubled son!" one said. Allen had been projected as a possible first pick in the draft. But once the tweets hit, his future was in question.

"We used to worry about people accidentally posting d--k pics," a publicist for pro athletes told The Post. "Now we're in a new version of social-media danger. These kids [going into pro leagues] grew up on social media. There's a longer trail [of potential landmines]."

Call it tweet reflux: when old social-media posts — sometimes written during adolescence — come roaring back at the most inopportune time. It's a syndrome very much on the mind of agents, players and teams as the NBA draft kicks off Thursday at the Barclays Center.

"[Allen] was a wake-up call for me," said agent Daniel Poneman. "My initial reaction was sympathy. Twitter came out when I was a senior in high school, and my first post was cringe-worthy. This could happen to anybody."

In March, Villanova University hoops star Donte DiVincenzo, 21 and also white, was celebrating his team's national championship when insensitive tweets — including rap lyrics with the N-word — from 2011 began circulating online.

"Your past is not your past. It's alive on the Internet," said Derrick Mayes, vice president of talent-management megacompany WME/IMG.

Mayes co-founded 5.0 Communications, which works with companies to conduct forensic examinations of employees' online footprints and single out potentially damaging posts.

He added that the Allen incident "moved the needle" in a way that brought him new business.

Meanwhile, Mark Cuban — the "Shark Tank" entrepreneur and owner of the NBA's Dallas Mavericks — co-founded Xpire, an app that ­allows users to set expiration dates for their Twitter and Facebook posts.

"I literally go back through old tweets and delete anything that may be misconstrued," Cuban told The Post. "We all make mistakes with digital media. In a lot of respects, it's like fashion. What seemed relevant and smart one day may seem ridiculous or even malicious a couple of years later."

One football agent, who asked to remain anonymous, said that while Allen's tweets were unsavory, the fault lies with his agents at powerhouse firm Creative Artists Agency: "It was malpractice by CAA."

In fact, he's now using that case as a recruitment tool — as in, sign with him and it won't happen to you.

"[CAA] should be going through [clients'] social media line by line the minute they become a client," he said. "This is no different than representing a politician. You have to know everything that could potentially come out."

CAA did not return a call for comment. After an apology, Allen was eventually selected by the Buffalo Bills as the seventh overall pick in the draft.

In the end, he was lucky that his career wasn't totally trashed. But Cuban points out that even tweeting less incendiary statements can come back to bite anyone. "The reality of anything digital is: The minute you hit send or post, you no longer control the message."

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June 18, 2018


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