Two former members of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers have co-founded "Gridiron Grunts,'' a mobile application that allows NFL players to communicate directly with fans through their iPhone, iPad or iPod.
Middle linebacker Barrett Ruud, who led the Bucs in tackles in each of the past four seasons, signed up to provide real-time verbal updates to fans. Other players who have committed to the program include Tampa Bay defensive tackle Brian Price, Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers, 49ers tight end Vernon Davis and Falcons rookie wide receiver Julio Jones.
"Jeb Terry and I sat down a year ago with an idea – how can players connect more directly to their fans?'' said Ryan Nece, an outside linebacker for the Bucs from 2002-07. "This application allows NFL fans to get inside information from their favorite players. Why not create something using the new technology? The access it will give fans is unique.''
Players in the program will be obligated to "grunt'' a minimum of five times per week.
"When you've got two football players sitting in a room, that's the word (grunt) we came up with,'' Nece said. "It's a word that represents exactly what we're trying to do.''
The application is up and running, with Jones describing his plans to work with Alabama coach Nick Saban to help tornado victims in Tuscaloosa and Rams center Jason Brown revealing his thoughts concerning the NFL lockout.
"I'm not a Facebook guy or a Twitter guy, but I thought this was a cool idea,'' Ruud said. "It's kind of like leaving voicemails for anyone who wants to listen. During the football season, when fans are really focused, they can get direct feedback from players. It could be a mid-week quote on the upcoming game or a grunt Sunday night about the game that was just played.''
Fans can download the app to their iOS device of choice, pick the players they want to follow and subscribe to the program.
"You've got to have a catchy name,'' Ruud said of Gridiron Grunts. "At the same time, you don't want people to think you're a Neanderthal. I'm OK with 'grunt,' because we're talking about short, quick messages.''
Terry, a guard with the Bucs from 2004-06, said Gridiron Grunts will fill a void for fans seeking exclusive content.
"As seen through the popularity of shows like 'Hard Knocks,' there's incredible interest in the behind-the-scenes lives of athletes,'' Terry said. "Grunts fill this void, bringing spontaneous, unfiltered commentary, right from the source. We've got a great roster of grunters already creating exciting, authentic content for their fans.''