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.
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
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
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."