Albert Breer and Ian Rapoport are both NFL Network reporters with Boston roots. They both appear to be in their mid-30s. They perform similar functions for their employer and neither seems to get caught up in much controversy.
My Twitter feed is nothing special, and my time really isn’t any more valuable than the next guy furiously loading four hours worth of tweets before descending into the internet-less depths of the subway.
Still, why do I follow both Breer and Rapoport, aka RapSheet? They file the same vanilla training camp reports with information that true fans of said team would procure through local beat writers anyway. They tweet the same stories with the same reactions. On June 15, when the Bills Twitter account announced how fast tickets were selling, within seconds of each other, both Breer and Rapoport retweeted the story and added in “Rex Effect.” I need to thank them for clearing that up, because until the Bills announced he’d be backing up Tyrod Taylor, I would have sworn it was the Matt Cassel Effect.
Breer and Rapoport are, Twitterly speaking, the same person.
But are they really? If you look hard enough, or if they tweet enough (which they do), there are some contrasts. Are these variances striking enough to differentiate the two and choose to follow the winner? Or, if there are noticeable differences, does that mean it makes sense to continue following both? Let’s take a look…
TWITTER BIO / AVATAR / COVER PHOTO
Breer: Straightforward bio, states his job, past places of employment and schooling, and, interestingly, threw in 98.5 The Sports Hub. Breer has recurring gigs with 98.5’s morning and midday shows, not to mention Pats pregame duties for the station. That’s all wonderful, but this is a completely biased examination, and 93.7 WEEI is the station of choice in this space. His cover photo is an awesome shot of Boston, which earns him some points. His avatar seems to be from an appearance on CSN New England. Funny, I just checked the CSNNE website and saw a clip of Gary Tanguay announcing, “Bert is stating the obvious” in regards to a Breer tweet. Not sure what’s worse, Breer being called out by Tanguay, or me sharing a thought with Tanguay.
Rapoport: Job description in his bio, but no mention of past employment or schooling. Shouts out his wife’s Twitter handle (@TheBanktress, a boss name even if I have no clue what it means) and tosses in “collector of Pez.” Quirks like a Pez collection are what we’re looking for. Cover photo is Ian with the always-funny and seemingly likable Rich Eisen. It’s not quite a beautiful night shot of Boston, but it’s okay. His avatar pic is notorious because it’s a standard NFLN headshot that’s been lifted for dozens of parody accounts. It was used for the account that tricked Peter King into a retweet during free agency back in March. Enabling wise asses is a good thing, but c’mon Ian, give us something with some color.
FAKE TWITTER ACCOUNTS
We basically just covered this. Are there any well known Breer fakes? If there are, did any sucker Peter King into looking like a schmuck for a few frantic minutes during free agency?
Both are three sentences featuring their alma maters and their professions. Breer’s has more about his employment history, but that’s probably info gleaned from his Twitter bio, which, as we’ve covered, contains more of that stuff than Rap’s.
Edge: Who cares?
Breer: Even though he’s gone national, he’s still a Boston guy. I believe he’s from MA and want to say I’ve seen him tweet about living in the South End, but maybe I hallucinated that. Regardless, cool that he still lives local, does local radio spots, and appears on local TV shows. Sure, he still spits company lines and is petrified to take a stance on DeflateGate, but he gets points.
Rapoport: His tweeting, and his wife’s Twitter bio, suggests a recent move to NYC from Texas, so kudos to them and welcome. I have no idea where Rap is from, but he’s a Mets fan and apparently went to Columbia, so he belongs in New York.
Edge: I’m from Boston. I live in New York. I think they’re the two greatest cities in America. But Breer’s shown more love to the region and is a local, giving him a slight edge.
Breer: I think he’s married, but don’t know much else.
Rapoport: His wife seems lovely and her Twitter bio claims she manages a Starbucks, which is great, except this space prefers Dunkin Donuts. So, unless Mrs. Rap is joking about the Starbucks thing, that hurts, because in an exercise as futile as this, inane details matter. The Rapoports tweet about their two young kids, and they do seem to have a nice little family.
Also, is Rapoport Jewish? I feel like he is, and the fact that he’s now a Mets fan living in New York kind of seals it. I’ll have to show his picture to my mother and ask her.
Edge: Can’t fault Breer for not publicizing his personal life, but we’ll give Rapoport and his family man image the nod.
Breer: THE Ohio State University, home to some of the smuggest fans in all of college football. They employ Urban Meyer, a terrific yet disingenuous coach who probably swept a thing or two under the rug, legally speaking, during his tenure at Florida.
Rapoport: According to Wikipedia, he attended Columbia. I’d venture to guess there are some smug people at Columbia, but the kind of smugness that’s actually warranted.
Breer: Short of holding up an “In Rog We Trust” sign on television, he’s done everything possible to make it clear that he doesn’t think Brady is innocent. He won’t come out and say he thinks Brady’s guilty of anything, just playing it right down the middle, zero opinion, exactly the way the NFL Network probably likes it. It’s bad enough he appears on a Boston radio station that’s unabashedly anti-Patriots and anti-Brady, it’s worse that he’s uber-sensitive when the subject is broached.
August 31, Breer tweets “Biggest stumbling block remained largely the same thru every set of Brady settlement talks – Admission of guilt/acceptance of Wells Report.” Groundbreaking, I know. So one of his followers harmlessly tweets “why should he admit to something he stated clearly under oath he had nothing to do with and no knowledge of?” Fair question, to which anyone with knowledge of, and the slightest whiff of an opinion on the situation would say, “Agreed, he shouldn’t.” A simple answer that wouldn’t get him in trouble with his bosses but also prove that Breer understands what’s really going on. Instead, Breer runs for the hills, replying “I’m not saying he should’ve/shouldn’t have … Just telling you what the issue was.” Gee Bert, with that kind of edgy take, New Englanders will be sprinting to their TVs to watch CSNNE later!
I get it, he’s a “reporter,” here to report facts and information without slant. It’s somewhat paradoxical: He’s a local guy so he’s really in tune with the scene…but his current job prohibits him from adding any legitimate points about the local team. Oh, and after that rousing exchange on August 31, he linked to a story by…
Rapoport: …which is why we’re doing this exercise, because it’s really like following two for the information intake of one. Perhaps I unfairly held Breer to a higher standard because being native to Boston, he should know better. Knowing it’s not his turf, Rap has stayed out of the mess, but not in the “You won’t get me to say Brady’s innocent so don’t even think it!” way that Breer has. Rapoport usually just retweets other reporters and doesn’t even pretend to get involved.
However, he did get involved in a large way on Super Bowl weekend. He crushed Chris Mortensen’s incendiary and utterly false report, announcing that 11 of the 12 Patriot footballs from the first half were under 12.5 psi, but many were “just a few ticks under the minimum.” Kudos to Rapoport for reporting what turned out to be the truth. Of course, trolls and those with agendas had already taken the Mortensen story as gospel and Rapoport’s story never got much traction…despite being as accurate as any story on the subject to that point. I guess the memo never made it from Dave Gardi to Mike Kensil to Goodell to the guy who oversees RapSheet that they had already spread fake measurements and those were the ones to run with. Hell, after that story, I’m surprised Goodell didn’t have Rapoport deported.
Edge: Rapoport in a walk.
CREATIVITY / PERSONALITY
I’ve dug up some tweets for this examination, but I don’t have all day. So, without getting into detail, let’s note that both guys, for the most part, have a sense of humor. They’ll parry combative tweeps with emojis or quick bits of sarcasm. They’ll cross over into other sports, whether it’s Breer slurping his Buckeyes or Rapoport rediscovering his Mets amidst their Cespedes-infused pennant race. Even better, they don’t take themselves too seriously and usually have either witty or self-deprecating retorts for the Twitter tough guys clamoring that they “Stick to football!” For the record, tweeting “Stick to football!” is about as funny and imaginative as yelling “Get in the hole” at a PGA event.
Both also engage in fun banter with fellow football writers. It’s not unusual to see Breer have a spirited back and forth with his occasional CSNNE comrade Tom E. Curran, or to see Rapoport get into it with his Boston Herald progeny Jeff Howe. Yeah, Breer and Rap may vacillate between regular dude and league suit, but when they’re not doing the league’s bidding, they seem like cool guys to grab a beer with.
Breer: He’s less about scoops and more about reporting on various processes and how situations are playing out. He breaks some news, and is often quick to retweet others regarding a signing, a suspension, etc. But rather than being on the pulse of free agency, or nabbing a tidbit that no other reporter could snag, you’ll see Breer filing reports from Redskins training camp with a six-tweet explanation about their quarterback situation. Same thing goes with DeflateGate. He wouldn’t take much of a stance, but would explain the nuts and bolts. He’s an information guy, even though that information isn’t necessarily exclusive.
Rapoport: He’s more of a story-breaker. He had the news about Eli wanting to be the highest paid quarterback in the league. He had the aforementioned, more accurate of the football PSI reports. The news breaker in our duo, he’ll hit everything from a few higher profile stories per year to hundreds of minor stories, whether it’s a marginal free agent signing during the preseason, how long an injury will keep someone out, or how far apart two sides are on a contract extension. He’ll get into the stuff Breer specializes in, but more in the way of retweets or even directing readers to Breer himself (something Breer does too, as we’ve covered).
Edge: Both guys do what the NFL Net dispatches them to do and seem to do it well enough, so who the hell am I to pretend to be a media critic?
Breer: Called ESPN reporter Tim McMahon “Assface!” a few years back on Twitter. There’s a good chance the tweet was in jest, but still, friskiness and politically incorrect language—even when joking—get points here.
With this evidence of Breer being a clown at heart, it makes us wish that maybe he’d take the gloves off more often. And Google Images suggests that before he went with his current borderline faux-hawk, he had longer hair and was just an Ohio State bro trying to talk some pigskin.
Rapoport: Speaking of bros, RapSheet is probably still trying to clarify that the bro from the Bud Light Super Bowl ad was not him, but a different guy with the same name, and, apparently, a much, much lower IQ.
There’s also the video of Rapoport filing a report from a team’s practice and taking a football to the head in the middle of his report. Like a pro, he shakes it off and does his job with aplomb.
Edge: Again, when they’re not taking the high road, these are guys you’d want to spend a Sunday afternoon with.
Both of these guys generally stay above the fray, so why shouldn’t I? Rapoport took the slight advantage in the breakdown, but Breer’s penchant for sarcasm is a great equalizer. Plus, as we covered in the “Reporting” section, there are some inherent differences. Yes, they can be league flunkies at times, but compared to others (Mortensen and King), they’re much more down to earth. Football season is here, fantasy football season is here, and Twitter is a great tool for killing time and learning a thing or two. Breer and Rap have both proven to be worthy parts of the experience, so, congrats to them, I guess, for both remaining on the timeline for the 2015 NFL season.