The T.O.-To-Chicago-Bears Rumor That Won’t Die

And so Twitter’s takeover of the human race begins like this. It started as a simple comment by Adam Schefter on Tuesday morning, as he casually typed in ESPN’s Rumors Central section that, hey dude, wouldn’t it be cool if Terrell Owens were a Chicago Bear? Schefter was just pretty much thinking out loud, listing a few reasons why such a trade would make sense.

Terrell Owens on Twitter

He may as well have been thinking that scientists could use fossil DNA to bring back dinosaurs to fight for us in Afghanistan. It has just as much basis in reality as the Owens-to-Bears rumor. But Twitter often doesn’t deal in reality.

In case you hadn’t noticed, Twitter can take an idle rumor and jump-start it into the world’s consciousness. Twitter wants Terrell Owens to be a Chicago Bear. Just look at Google trends right now, where “Terrell Owens traded to Bears” is the No. 12-most popular search, and climbing.

And people are reacting. Can Twitter actually will a rumor into existence?

That’s a frightening thought. Twitter users are absolutely going nuts with this Owens-to-Bears notion today. Some are taking it as gospel, checking the Bears’ site hourly for No. 81 T.O. jerseys. Some are having fun with it:

T.O. Twitter

Meanwhile, actual Chicago Bears are perplexed. From ESPN:

Asked what he would say if Bears management approached him about Owens, quarterback Jay Cutler responded: “I don’t think they’re going to. I think they’ll do that upstairs.”

Asked if he’s texted or tweeted Owens, Cutler simply said he doesn’t know him.

The Bears (3-1) play at Atlanta (3-1) this weekend.

Owens himself has not addressed the situation. But the rumor has spread from ESPN to Twitter, to blogs, to newspapers such as the LA TIMES, to sites like FOX SPORTS and even THE HUFFINGTON POST, to radio; such as Mike Francesca’s WFAN show. All from a comment that had no basis in fact.

Twitter is like a giant game of “telephone,” where one person’s “It’s not polite to be throwin’ pears” eventually becomes “Did you hear Owens is going to the Bears?” It can be a great tool, but also as we can see, an application of evil. Either people are blurting out information they shouldn’t, tweeting at inappropriate times, or starting information brush fires that are very difficult to contain.

If Owens is indeed traded to the Bears (not likely), Twitter will have won. And I will surrender peacefully, kicking my cell phone ahead of me. But watch your back, Twitter. I hear that Kindle is planning a coup.