By Lisa Zimmerman, Player Engagement Insider
Bowling Green State University provided the backdrop as the 2016 NFL Sports Journalism and Radio Boot Camp commenced on Thursday evening April 14th. More than a dozen current and former NFL players gathered for the four-day weekend to learn about these areas of media and explore their own talents in each realm.
On hand were longtime professionals prepared to impart their knowledge and experience. Among them were Howard Deneroff of Westwood One Radio, Jason Romano of ESPN Digital Media, and talent coach Gerry Matalon.
Dick Maxwell, who spent 36 years in the NFL with the Denver Broncos, Tampa Bay Buccaneers and as an executive at the league, has overseen the boot camp, which is now in its fourth year, and gave an introduction to the upcoming three days. He laid out the primary objectives for the participants, including the need to recognize the changes that have taken place in journalism in recent years and how to work with those changes to become best positioned to take advantage of job opportunities.
Romano highlighted the importance of being aware that mobile devices are the present and future for journalism in all realms. “You have to be where fans are,” he said. “Most people have (a cell phone) and are consuming their content through this device. Content is content, it’s just going to be read differently and it’s more immediate.”
Matalon who was a long-time journalist with ESPN, emphasized the importance of being able to be proficient at more than one skill in the new world of online and mobility.
“Journalism has changed dramatically,” he said. “You’ve got to do a little of everything. It’s near impossible to be great at all of it, but you’ve got to be good at it.” And he added the most important thing of all to achieve success: “Preparation never goes out of style.”
Demeroff counseled the importance of both on radio and in other forms of media that being who you are is critical, simply because any attempts to change that won’t last. By being true to yourself and being good at what you do, you give yourself the best chance to be a sought-after commodity.
As for the boot camp itself, Maxwell explained why he feels factoring in writing is such a critical element
“Writing is the basis of all communication,” he said. “It’s helping give these players an edge. Today you have so many things that involve writing, not just newspapers, but blogging and social media.”
Maxwell also discussed how the NFL has evolved over the decades in terms of the resources and support it provides players, based on the climate at the time and how the current boot camps and continuing education programs play an important role in that.
“The league has always felt an obligation to its players. [These education courses] are just an extension of player development. Things have changed dramatically and the league has changed.”
Lisa Zimmerman is a long-time NFL writer and reporter. She was the Jets correspondent for CBSSports.com, SportsNet New York’s TheJetsBlog.com and Sirius NFL Radio. She has also written for NFL.com.