| Darnell Dockett has always said what was on his mind, even before he started using a Twitter account.|
FLAGSTAFF – Knowing what Darnell Dockett thought was never a question, because if the Cardinals ever had a player who saw blunt as a way of life, it was their star defensive lineman.
Then came Twitter, the social networking device – all messages 140 characters or less – that gave Dockett an outlet to the world to talk about anything he wanted. It may be about the music getting him jacked up for the day's workout, his thoughts on relationships between men and women, or what kind of food he's ordering at a restaurant.
It also could be about how ESPN was covering or not covering the civil suit this summer against Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger, or how he would be coming to training camp in good spirits determined not to let his desire for a new contract bother him.
Before camp and now at camp, the "tweets" come fast and furious. And they are 100 percent Dockett.
"I love it to death," Dockett said. "I speak my mind."
U won't find a dude over 250 that dress better than me ill put a mill on it – Dockett tweet on his fashion sense
Ok I have a big decision to make do I ask my coach can I go to my class 10yr reunion or Go to U of Phx stadium to play the colts 60k people? – Dockett tweet on his high school reunion landing on the same weekend as the Colts game on Sunday Night Football.
The tweets aren't going to follow proper English rules. Sometimes, they are difficult to wade through. They are honest, however, and that's what you get with Dockett, the man who was briefly better known for tying a Super Bowl record when he sacked Roethlisberger three times.
"A guy who speaks his mind and doesn't really care what people think, it's refreshing they don't care about the repercussions of it," safety Adrian Wilson said. "There aren't that many people out there that will do that. There are a lot
of people that love to be politically correct. I always say Dockett is the mouthpiece of the team. He can say what he wants to say."
Dockett rarely holds back. He'll argue with coaches and has done so with new defensive coordinator Bill Davis when Davis was still linebackers coach. Davis appreciates such honesty. If Davis knows where a player is coming from, he can explain why he is making certain coaching decisions.
A player still might not like the choice, but at least both sides will have an understanding.
"I love Darnell's honesty," Davis said. "That is so much easier to coach than the guy who is conning you or the guy who is buddy-buddy with you and really doesn't feel that way. Darnell is easy and for me, he's fun to be around."
He's also a key to the Cardinals' defense. His sacks were down last season (from nine in 2007 to four last season) but he is the linchpin to the line. He also shines in the biggest games, whether it was the regular-season showdown with the Cowboys or the playoffs. Not only did he have three sacks against the Steelers, he nearly felled Roethlisberger another time on the fateful drive that ultimately cost the Cards a championship.
"They always want to talk about 'One play away,' " Dockett said. "I'm just ready to get the season started and get it out of the way."
Who's up, its 6am in phoenix I'm the first one in the weight taking another step in my journey I want all u to do the same- have a good day – Dockett tweet before camp
For yall that been following me remember this prayer FORGIVE ME FATHER FOR I HAVE SIN, WITH YOUR HELP I KNOW THE DEVIL WONT WIN … AMEN – Dockett tweet from a book of prayers he reads every morning
Dockett doesn't understand why there is any Twitter fuss. If you don't want to read what he has to say, simply don't follow his feed. He (mostly) avoids foul language, but it pops up from time to time, and there have been R-rated subjects. There are also tweets like the one telling everyone one morning they should feel blessed to be alive.
"It's funny because I always get the question, 'Do you think you are going overboard with this comment?' " Dockett said. "OK, why do people say something about this comment when I post so many (other) positive comments?"
He pointed out the responses – responses he should have expected given the profile of both he and Roethlisberger – after he tweeted about the lack of media coverage on the Roethlisberger suit.
"Someone posted, 'Don't turn this into a racial thing with Ben Roethlisberger,' " Dockett said. "I don't have anything against Ben Roethlisberger, I'm just pointing out the media side of it. But why didn't they address me when I (tweeted that I) bought shoes for random kids in the projects, or talk about how I bought out the whole ice cream truck in my neighborhood give it to all the kids out there? Talk about that stuff.
"Re-tweet those messages I put out there about guys who whoop on their girl and I say that's a coward act and a real man don't put their hand on your woman, being real. I treat Twitter for what it is – I speak my mind."
Once in a while, Dockett talks football too; right now, he has tweeted a few times how he is anxious to see the 49ers in the regular-season opener.
General manager Rod Graves said the Cards have long known Dockett is "boisterous and opinionated -- and we don't think there is anything wrong with that." His main concern is that Dockett's messages, whether they be on Twitter or otherwise, aren't damaging.
"The only time I get a little concerned when it's not in his best interest or the best interest of the team," Graves said. "I think so far in this camp we have seen a more mature Darnell Dockett. I don't know if that's reflected in any of the postings he has made because I'm not one to read Twitter, but I do think he is more focused and his leadership is felt more in this camp. (On-field) is what I am concerned about most of all. Off the field, players have to be concerned about their image and I think Darnell is an intelligent person and in my opinion he has been raised right."
There are other elements to this story. Dockett at one point tweeted he'd love to do his own reality show, and there is little question he started Twitter to raise his profile. His agent, Drew Rosenhaus, was the one who announced to the world – via his own Twitter account – that Dockett was on Twitter.
Whether it bubbled up during his quest to get a new contract or not doesn't really matter now. Dockett believes in the power of Twitter because it was made for him.
"If I've got something to say, I've got no problem saying it," Dockett said. "If I am not hurting my team or my job, then I don't care."
Fans, media, friends, I now go by the name of NINE-O and if u call me dockett I might just ignore u, if u call me darnell I will ignore u.— Dockett tweet on his new nickname. And no, he doesn't want to legally change it. At least, according to one of his tweets.