Tonight he's in San Francisco for Super Bowl 50, not for the actual game, which kicks off tomorrow, but to kindle a legit romance, which, to him, is the Big Game. Or Instagram, Twitter, Facebook, Snapchat, Vine ...
His field of play: the Maxim party, the wackiest Super-soiree any of the regulars can remember. And all around are runway models, Instagram models and fresh faces bused in from across the Bay Area. Mobile dating overtook online dating in 2012 and, based on a 2015 study by Global Web Index, now claims more than 91 million users, but that number doesn't include platforms repurposed for romance.
Show me," says big man Timofey Mozgov, snatching my phone. And that number spikes during spring training, when regulars can punch out by the fifth inning.
From the stage, Lil Wayne and his joint command a dance floor of hundreds. When they're not milking the open bar, they're arm-tackling stars like Marshawn Lynch. "Twitter and Instagram are basically dating apps now," says hockey journeyman Paul "Biz Nasty" Bissonnette, a professed app player. If you consider the pros' distinct advantages, including fame, fortune and sculpted bodies, and factor in the atypical challenges, such as long days in a unisex workplace and a life on the road, is it any wonder they press a screen when they want to press up against somebody?
Now imagine how a guy who is often mistaken for an NFL star's bodyguard would find a match in this crowd. But at the moment, the lineman is dancing with a pretty lady, who's very much into him. "Every athlete uses them to hook up, and if they say they haven't, they're lying."Some 80 other athletes interviewed for this story support the claim -- jocks of all sports and stripes are using social media to search for a Ms. "It's not like we need help, but social media makes women so accessible," says Washington receiver De Sean Jackson, who has used Instagram.
Of his five Tinder winners, he estimates he has a real shot with two. "A girl I was with last week," he says, "I met on Twitter."WHEN THE HISTORY of the early 21st century is written, it will kick off like this: All the world can be had on an app. Social media is an awesome dating tool."Meanwhile, sprinting bobsledder Lolo Jones has flipped Twitter-connects into many i Dates. "It's big in younger locker rooms," guard Joe Harris says. Swipe left if you don't dig her; swipe right if you do."I see, just random girls ..." Mozgov says, swiping rapidly, 10, 15 times, all to the right. Tinder's location-specific search makes an athlete's road game easier, and longer stays increase the chances of consummating a match, so for MLB players, in particular, scores come in bunches.
And that, in part, is why I'm not allowed to use his name or even true position. "Great-looking guys are all over social media," says the Olympian, who also dabbles on Tinder. "We're older, so Tinder is probably foreign to these guys.""Teender? "Tinder is better for an area you're not familiar with, so that's how a lot of guys meet people," says Royals first baseman Eric Hosmer, who's off the market but estimates that a third of his single colleagues are right swipers.
More than 100 million people use social networking to find love - or lust. Take a look inside the world of digital dating for athletes, where options are plentiful but possible pitfalls are just one click away.()This story appears in ESPN The Magazine's May 9 Fame Issue. ADVISORY: THIS STORY CONTAINS MATURE CONTENTTHE SINGLE MAN with the sexy job is stuck.Unlike the majority, he must go to extreme lengths to stay afloat, deploying an arsenal of tricks developed by the stars for the stars. "Thirty photos can give you a pretty good idea of a person's personality and interests," says motocrosser Bruce Cook. "If you know girls like you, you don't need to do the dirty works! I wish they had it before I got married."UPON LANDING AT an airport, pros can trumpet their arrival on Twitter, and by the time they reach the hotel, they have a virtual black book at their phone-side without having to venture into a foreign bar scene.But the qualities that make him an extra-large catch to virtual predators also come with outsize benefits. "It might even be more organic than meeting a stranger at a bar," offers Olympic freeskier Nick Goepper, who tells the story of his recent journey down IG friends' tags. "I thought, 'Huh, similar interests and friends.' Now we're planning a date over Face Time. "If you don't have to be at the club all night, you're not drinking as much," Cook says. "If you're looking for girls on social media, nobody's gonna see you out, which keeps you out of trouble," says Sacramento Kings rookie Willie Cauley-Stein.The kicker: She knew she was into him before she knew how he earned a living. "Tinder -- it's the best invention ever," he says with a hearty laugh, as if he can't believe his good fortune. "I'll send a comment, and if they reply, you ask for a date.Like 50 million other fish in the dating app's sea, he swims the murky waters in search of companionship, if not lasting love. It's easy."Like Jackson, most athletes prefer Instagram for its wealth of intel. '"The cavalier cupid is beside himself with laughter.