R. Lewis’ Twit­ter fol­low­ers purged

Ti­tans vet­eran RB Mur­ray re­tir­ing af­ter seven sea­sons

Baltimore Sun - - NFL - By Kather­ine Fominykh kfominykh@balt­sun.com twit­ter.com/kat­fominykh The As­so­ci­ated Press contributed to this story.

Twit­ter took its “Will the real fol­low­ers stand up?” show on the road Thurs­day, be­gin­ning a mas­sive purge of fake Twit­ter ac­counts and bots.

When the dust set­tled, dozens of me­dia fig­ures, celebri­ties and ath­letes saw their fol­low­ing dec­i­mated. For­mer Ravens and Hall of Fame-bound line­backer Ray Lewis was among them.

In Jan­uary, The New York Times re­ported on De­vumi, a com­pany that sells fol­low­ers and retweets to any­one who wants to in­flate their so­cial me­dia in­flu­ence. Lewis’ ac­count, then with over 700,000 fol­low­ers, was found to be a client.

As of Fri­day morn­ing, Lewis now car­ries only 360,000 fol­low­ers, ap­prox­i­mately half of what he once had. Of the re­main­ing 340,000-plus lost to the purge, there is no ev­i­dence in­di­cat­ing how many were bought by Lewis. In Jan­uary, the Times un­cov­ered an email ad­dress from Lewis’ per­sonal as­sis­tant, Ash­ley Knight, listed on an or­der of 250,000 fol­low­ers, which costs $1,799, ac­cord­ing to the com­pany’s rates.

Even so, it’s prob­a­bly a good thing that, per De­vumi’s web­site, the com­pany has a “money-back guar­an­tee” pol­icy.

Other ac­counts that lost a siz­able chunk of their fol­low­ings were those be­long­ing to for­mer ESPN re­porter and Fox News con­trib­u­tor Britt McHenry, who saw her fol­low­ing shrink from 362,800 to 223,000, and NBA leg­end Shaquille O’Neal, who re­port­edly lost 1 mil­lion fol­low­ers. Mur­ray re­tires: DeMarco Mur­ray is re­tir­ing from the NFL.

The 2014 Of­fen­sive Player of the Year and seven-year vet­eran made the an­nounce­ment on ESPN on Fri­day, four months af­ter be­ing re­leased by the Ten­nessee Ti­tans.

Mur­ray, 30, lost his job to Der­rick Henry last sea­son and was due to make $6.25 mil­lion in 2018 be­fore the Ti­tans let him go. He ran for 659 yards and six touch­downs last sea­son, dealt with a knee in­jury late in the year, and missed the Ti­tans' fi­nal reg­u­larsea­son game and two play­off con­tests.

“I think you just wake up,” Mur­ray said. “I've al­ways heard the say­ing ‘When you know, you know,’ and one day that day will come, and for me, it was the last year or two. I've been con­stantly think­ing about this. Work­ing out still, in great shape, feel great and it's time.

“I just woke up a cou­ple weeks ago and it started to burn and burn and trig­ger and it got deeper, so this morn­ing I de­cided to call it a ca­reer.”

The Ti­tans ac­quired Mur­ray in a March 2016 trade with the Ea­gles. Mur­ray had spent one year with Philadel­phia af­ter play­ing four sea­sons with the Cow­boys. Mur­ray played for Dal­las in 2014 when he won the NFL rush­ing ti­tle. Safety stud­ies: The NFL has three new win­ners of a re­search com­pe­ti­tion aimed at im­prov­ing equip­ment and player safety.

The league an­nounced the re­sults Thurs­day along with Foot­ball Re­search Inc. and Duke Uni­ver­sity’s Clin­i­cal and Trans­la­tional Sci­ence In­sti­tute, which op­er­ates the TECH Chal­lenges.

Field­Turf, Cor­sair In­no­va­tions and Yo­bel Tech­nolo­gies cap­tured Head­HealthTECH Chal­lenge IV. The goal is to stim­u­late re­search and in­no­va­tion in pro­tec­tive equip­ment, in­clud­ing hel­mets, turf sys­tems and shoul­der pads.

The TECH Chal­lenge has awarded more than $1.3 mil­lion in grants to help ad­vance the devel­op­ment of 11 new tech­nolo­gies.

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