The 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp from My View

By Bre Moorer

Bre Moorer is a senior at Bowling Green State University where she pursues a major in Sport Management with a specialization in General Business.  She is originally from Akron, Ohio, about forty miles south of Lake Erie.  Her primary sport interest is basketball – at the amateur and professional level.

Since my first day on campus at Bowling Green State University (BGSU), I have been inspired to “put myself out there.”  From interviewing for a manager position with the women’s basketball team, to earning a spot on the Sport Management Alliance’s professional development committee.  Whenever someone asks me why I call BGSU home, the answer is clear.  The students come first and have endless opportunities.

This spring I received an e-mail telling me I was selected, along with 7 of my peers, as a student ambassador for the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp.  It feels good to know that faculty members thought of me when presented with this once-in-a-lifetime experience.   This year was the NFL’s 12th annual Boot Camp, which is just one of the Player Engagement’s many educational programs offered to active and retired players (also known as legends).  There were 36 players in all, but some high-profile faculty also came to educate them.  On the first day, I was paired with a fellow student ambassador, Mitchell Bailey, to supply players and faculty members with credentials and the week’s itinerary as they checked into the hotel.  Later on, the players were divided into 4 groups in order to make the sessions more personal and engaging.  My group of 8 consisted of Rahim Abdullah, Bobby Brown, Donald Willis, Tori Gurley, Joselio Hanson, Fred Jackson, Jerry Porter, and Carlos Rosado.  I guided the most fun group, in my biased opinion, to breakout sessions around campus in a timely and low-profile manner.  I found shortcuts to keep the players “safe” from the infamous Bowling Green wind.  Most of them live down south and reminisced on the days they had to battle a cold campus.  The first day of rounding the legends and active players up was not easy.  I had a hard time telling men who are over 6 feet and 230 pounds what to do, where to go, and when to stop eating for a walk across campus, until Rahim Abdullah said, “You have to speak up”, he continued, “and know that we trust you to look out for us”.

I have to admit, as a sport management student, I am not the most passionate about journalism.  Therefore, I sat out some sessions and updated the group on the time they had left with the faculty members from the hallway.  However, I found myself extremely interested in the “Ethics in Broadcast Journalism” and “Sports Media Coverage of Social Issues” sessions.  To show just how sweet the guys are, I will share a story.  During the “Ethics in Broadcast Journalism” session, the players had discussions about protesting the anthem and domestic violence in the NFL.  After they all shared their views and learned how to communicate them properly on camera, a couple players checked to make sure I was comfortable during the domestic violence conversation since I was the only woman in the room.  I knew then that they had my back.

The highlight of my time as a student ambassador was watching sportscaster James Brown (J.B.) in action.  His first interaction with us was when he interviewed past participants of the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp.  We all marveled at his smooth transition from topic to topic and knowledge of the panelists.  J.B. stopped to talk to everyone who wanted a word and was just as kind as he seems on television.  He was open to giving out advice and sat in on some sessions to give his expert input.

In conclusion, the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp was an exceptional experience that I will remember forever.  I grew professionally and personally.  It was a chance to network and I learned to take charge as the leader of my group.  Future student ambassadors for this program will definitely enjoy it and I hope they happen to be BGSU Falcons!

The King’s Court?

By Don Collins

(Collins – below left, with Bre Moorer and Randy Norman)

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Sheesh. I was wrong. Not about LeBron James. He’s been his usual brand of excellence. You could argue this is the best he’s ever played. No, I was wrong for another reason: the state of the Cavaliers. I want to issue a public apology to the Indiana Pacers. On my podcast, Can’t Be Stopped, I was making predictions and I chose the Cavaliers (like any normal human being outside of the Hoosier state would) and I said they would dispatch them in the minimum four games. I never would have imagined what would happen next.

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Bankers Life Fieldhouse, Indianapolis, Indiana

I was able to get a first-hand look at the Cavaliers’ first attempt to eliminate the Pacers. I was fortunate enough to be in Indiana for Game 6 and from the beginning it was clear that Indiana would not be going quietly. The mere fact that it was even in a Game 6 was unfathomable going into the series.

Indiana did not get swept. In fact, they were the better team the entire series. How is it possible, you ask? It was a continuation of what they had done all year. Indiana was 3-1 against the Cavs going in and I was blind to the fact that they had handled them up until LeBron used his powers to somehow will his team to victory.

I was able to see just how poorly this Cavaliers team can perform. Game 6 ended with a final score of 121-87. LeBron finished with 22 points, 5 rebounds and 7 assists. The benefit of going to the game live was that I was able to see plain as day that no one else contributed statistically. On television, you often just get to focus on the bottom line. LeBron is producing, and they will show a graphic totaling the rest of the team’s stats. Being in person, I was able to see the whole scope of how Indiana attacked them and vice versa. Reading the program for the evening showed the disparity of the series: LeBron was averaging 34.8 points per game and the next highest was Kevin Love with 11.8. That is insanity.

The other thing that makes going to an NBA playoff game in person so special is just the atmosphere. Most 34-point blowout wins on television are causing me to change the channel. Being present changes so much due to the energy level of seeing the home team destroying the other team. I had never been to a Pacers’ home game and I can say that while I still love Bulls’ home games the most, Indy was an excellent venue.

LeBron did his job, however, in the long run and they sent the Pacers home for the summer, but I will not underestimate them in the future. I learned that just because a team isn’t in the regular rotation of TNT games doesn’t mean they can be taken lightly.

Indy coming to play for 7 games has repercussions going forward. I normally do not doubt LeBron but seeing how much energy he spent while getting hounded by Indy makes me worry about the chances he keeps his Finals appearances streak.

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Is LeBron getting beat up too much?

Lebron is functioning at the height of his powers and I don’t know if he can keep this pace up. Or if it would even matter as the teams get better. Especially with the Raptors looking legit this year. Time will tell.

2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp

By Randy Norman

The NFL Broadcast Boot Camp is an annual professional development program put on by the league’s Player Engagement division. The boot camp is three days long and it provides the opportunity for current as well as former NFL athletes to gain broadcasting experience as they attend a number of educational sessions that are taught by experts in the industry. This year marked the 10th annual NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, and for the first time ever, it was held at our very own Bowling Green State University. In previous years, the Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project has collaborated with the NFL Player Engagement department to host a Journalism Boot Camp. However, the Broadcast Boot Camp differs from those in years past at BGSU as it exposes the players to a wider variety of on-air job functions in television and media.

I was honored to have been selected, along with seven other students, to serve as an Ambassador for the 2018 NFL Broadcast Bootcamp. As student ambassadors, we were responsible for guiding the players and visiting representatives to each of their designated sessions and assisting them as needed. There were roughly 36 players who attended this year’s boot camp, and they were split into four groups in order to make the breakout sessions more personal and engaging. Two student ambassadors were assigned to each of the four groups, which allowed us to get to know the players very well.

I was pleasantly surprised at how approachable and down to earth all of the players were. It was very easy to strike up conversation and I found that I had a lot in common with many of them. From having a conversation about Madden and 2K with Green Bay Packer legend Ahman Green, to joking with Jerry Porter about how big his earrings were, I enjoyed every interaction;  engaging with each of the players was definitely a memorable experience.

Not only were the players very approachable, but the NFL staff and other representatives at the boot camp were also extremely friendly and personable. I had the pleasure of speaking with Lya Vallat, who is the Senior Coordinating Producer at NFL Films; and Marcus Smith, who is the Senior Director of Talent Relations at FOX Sports. Both Vallat and Smith were congenial, and they each provided me with valuable insight into the sports industry. I also had multiple encounters with Gerry Matalon and J.B (James Brown), and I had the opportunity to hear them speak in several of the sessions at the boot camp. Though my encounters with Matalon and J.B were brief, I could sense that they were sincere and their knowledge and expertise was evident as they spoke in the sessions and gave impactful messages to the players.

The most significant experience throughout the course of the boot camp was without a doubt being able to sit in on the sessions with the players. One session that stood out to me in particular was the mock press conference with longtime football official, Gene Steratore. In this session, Steratore sat in the front of the room and talked about his experiences as an NFL official. Once he was finished speaking, the players had the opportunity to stand up and ask questions as if they were reporters in a press conference. This session was intriguing to me for two reasons. For one, I was able to hear about football from a completely different perspective than what I am accustomed to hearing. I am used to hearing takes from players, coaches, and sports analysts. However, it is very rare, if ever, that we hear the official’s point of view. The second reason why I enjoyed the mock press conference is because it was cool to see the players switch roles, and have to be the ones asking questions rather than answering them. A memorable moment from the mock press conference session is when Bobby Brown stood up to ask a question and referred to himself as “Bobby Brown from New Edition News.”

At one point during the mock press conference session, Cameron Lynch of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers reflected upon a time when he was in training camp and his performance on the field that day was so outstanding and he was so excited, that he felt compelled to milly rock (for those who don’t know, the milly rock is a dance that emerged into popular culture in 2015). Lynch referred to that particular moment of jubilation as his “Milly Rock Moment”, and he asked Gene Steratore what his Milly Rock Moment was in his experience as an official. As I was reflecting back upon my experience with the NFL Broadcast Boot Camp, I thought about what my Milly Rock Moment would have been.

I decided that my Milly Rock Moment was watching the players apply what they had learned in an on-air setting. One of the sessions required the players to actually go into the studio and debate a given sports topic as they would if they were on a sports television show. This moment was noteworthy for two reasons: not only was I witnessing NFL players’ debate who was going to be the top pick in this year’s NFL Draft, but also they were all extremely talented. In my opinion, each of the players in my group would make great on-air personalities and I am excited to see what the future holds for their broadcasting careers.

Overall, the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp was an amazing experience, and I have memories that I will cherish for the rest of my life. I am grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of such a wonderful program, and I hope that they continue to host the boot camp at BGSU so that future students will also have the opportunity to be a part of something special.

 

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2018 NFL Broadcasting Boot Camp Through My Eyes

By Don Collins

Bowling Green State University (BGSU) is like my second home. Ever since I first set foot on campus, I have loved my time here. One of the deciding factors for my enrollment at BGSU was how much like home it seemed and this spring I had an experience that felt like Christmas to me.

Bowling Green was the host of the 2018 NFL Broadcast Boot Camp that was put together by the NFL’s Player Engagement department. I was absolutely honored to be chosen as an ambassador for the four-day event. The event was an opportunity for current and former players to practice and develop their skills in the world of sport media.

As an ambassador, I was tasked with assisting a group of players with getting to and from sessions in a timely manner (which I found out was wishful thinking!). I was assigned a group by way of randomly drawing from sheets of paper. Usually I have bad luck picking things randomly. Not this time.

My group was awesome, but I’m getting ahead of myself. I must start at the beginning. The first day, I had to round up the troops prior to their first session. I can’t lie, I was a little nervous meeting 8 former players who all had on suits that made me feel like I needed a major wardrobe upgrade.

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Over the course of the day, I was able to sit in on all the sessions but also get to know more about them. This part of the Boot Camp for me was one of the best in my opinion. So much of what we see as consumers of the media is filtered through somebody else’s viewpoint. Without getting too detailed, I feel like everyone has an expectation of what professional athletes are like due to what we’ve been told, not what we’ve experienced.

My number one goal prior to the Boot Camp was something I tend to always do: Treat people as people. Granted, the people I was with for four days were giants compared to my stature, but at the end of the day, pro athletes are people as well.

One highlight of the camp was getting to know the individual personalities that each player possessed. Particularly in my group, each guy had something that I thought would serve them well in their future careers. The camp offered them a chance to see what medium best delivered that side of themselves to the consumers of sport media

The actual Boot Camp sessions were cool too. I attended almost every session and took detailed notes since this is going to be my profession as well! If the NFL Player Engagement office ever reads this, I want them to know that every session was very informative, and I learned a lot. Hopefully that means that if I took a lot away from the camp, then so did the players.

Two memories stick out to me from the Boot Camp. First was sitting down with Jerry Porter, Fred Jackson and Joselio Hanson on the set and discussing the upcoming NFL Draft and other football tidbits. For me, I am very conscious of the fact that nothing is guaranteed and that may have been my only time to share a set with these gentlemen, so I cherished the opportunity.

My second favorite memory took place on the last day of the camp. Talking to the players throughout the entire process of their culminating color commentary of this year’s Super Bowl was awesome. Seeing how they applied what they had been learning was great, but also the fun time taking pictures and sitting in on some of the sessions was a treat.

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On a personal note, this semester has been a blessing because everything seems to be happening right on time and perfectly. Ignoring the bumps along the road that come and go during a semester of college, I have never felt more comfortable with my career path and outlook. The Boot Camp literally brought tears to my eyes when it was over. Not because I was overcome with sadness that it was over, but because for four days, I felt like I was right where I needed to be. I am forever grateful to the people who gave me this opportunity, but also to the players for being the good people they are. Finally, I must shout out to my mom and dad. They have taught me the lessons necessary to be ready when the opportunity arises. It won’t be the last time that I’ll be ready.

Defying Expectations

By Don Collins

The month of March has provided the upfront and in your face approach to shattering what conventional wisdom says is possible. Every year around this time, millions of brackets are filled out in anticipation of the annual tournament. Every year, the games provide thrills, chills, sometimes spills, but above all else, entertainment.

The 2018 version of the tournament has been difficult to describe in my opinion. On one hand, the lack of a clear-cut consensus team to pick as the favorite can make some deem this year a “weak” tournament. This sentiment was never more present than the impossible coming to the forefront of not just plausible, but reality when the University of Maryland, Baltimore County upset #1 overall seed Virginia. The better team doesn’t always win, but the advantage Virginia has over UMBC should have resulted in a 30-point victory for UVA. But it didn’t.

Instead, opening weekend was a tone setter for defying expectations. That brings me to the now solidified Final Four. This year it consists of Michigan, Villanova, Kansas and Loyola-Chicago. It is not hard to pick which school doesn’t belong with the rest. The Ramblers have been on a war path so far in the tournament, but they represent for me a very interesting scenario.

By all accounts, this magical run has been what I consider the greatest sporting story in the city of Chicago since the Cubs won the 2016 World Series. At a time when the winter teams from the area are the worst they’ve been in quite some time (looking at you Bulls and Hawks), Loyola has stolen the show. When a Chicago team goes on a run, the only thing for a native to do is to cheer for the hometown team, right?

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The Ramblers picked an awesome time to go on this run. This coincides with my favorite college basketball team making their run at the chip. Yes, if you didn’t know, I am a Kansas fan. My bracket every year has those Jayhawks winning it all. Yup, you read that right, every year since I filled out my first bracket and got every Final Four participant right along with the champion, I’ve picked them to win the whole thing.

Unwavering faith and belief in my team has become something of a running joke both in society and amongst my friends. Kansas is one of the few teams whose only goal in a season involves winning a title. Fair or not, anything less is seen as a disappointment. So, the future Hall of Fame head coach, Bill Self, has had his legacy called into question and many players leave “less accomplished” somehow because they didn’t survive until the very end in the past decade.

Kansas, in a weird twist of fate, has become an underdog of sorts when it comes to March Madness. Not a true one, of course, because they have the talent to go on a run every year. No, they defy much different expectations: the impossible ones that deem your successes failure simply for failing to hoist a trophy.

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On a personal level, these two being in the Final Four is nothing short of exciting. My best friend, Gia, is a Loyola alum and to see her alma mater’s history altering ways bring pure happiness to her has been flat out amazing. Normally, anything that’ll put a smile on her face is pre-approved in my book. So, even though it’ll eliminate the team I had facing Kansas in the championship game, I’ll be pulling for Loyola to upset Michigan this weekend. But if Kansas then takes care of business against Villanova, a respected bunch of guys with championship pedigrees themselves, things get interesting.

The duality of the situation is so intriguing to me. Basketball is not the thing that Gia and I usually bond over, but here we are in the middle of March dedicating time to discussing this highly improbable event. Both of our teams, for wildly different reasons, aren’t supposed to be here. Loyola, an 11-seed, was supposed to be bounced a few games ago. And Kansas? Oh, they were supposed to choke around the same time, wilting under the pressure of March.

But, here we are. What was deemed the worst group Bill Self has had in the past decade is knocking on the doorstep of doing what none of his other teams have done since 2008. And the little team from Chicago is still on their path to making history.

Sports are truly one of a kind. They have the power to connect in ways you never thought possible. So, G, I hope that Sister Jean’s team continues this wonderful run. I also hope my team wins it all, but we can cross that bridge when we get there.

Canelo & Clenbuterol

By Randy Norman

Boxing fans around the world may be disappointed come May 5th, as one of the most anticipated fights of the year could be at risk of being canceled. Gennady Golovkin and Canelo Álvarez were scheduled for a middleweight title bout in May – a rematch that many are looking forward to, in light of their fight last September which ended in a contentious draw. However on Friday, the NSAC (Nevada State Athletic Commission) ruled that Canelo Álvarez will suffer a temporary suspension for testing positive on two accounts for the substance clenbuterol.

Clenbuterol is an extremely strong substance that increases metabolism and helps burn fat while retaining lean muscle. For these reasons, the substance is a common performance enhancement drug used by bodybuilders and athletes alike. However clenbuterol is not only used by athletes, the substance is also very widespread in the meat industry as it can be used as a growth steroid for livestock. While clenbuterol is illegal in the United States, it is very common in other countries such as China and Mexico, where laws regulating meat production are not as strict. Canelo Álvarez, a Mexican fighter, claims that the positive test results stemmed from eating contaminated meat. While Golovkin and his camp believe that Álvarez intentionally injected the substance, Álvarez’s claims are not necessarily implausible.

The ingestion of clenbuterol by athletes has been a recurrent issue for over a decade. During the 2008 Beijing Olympics, in efforts to eliminate the possibility of athletes consuming contaminated meats, China prohibited their athletes from eating meat that was not prepared by designated chefs. Also, in 2011 at the U17 FIFA World Cup held in Mexico, over half of the athletes who competed in the tournament tested positive for clenbuterol (Sidiki, Connors, Krstic, & Lee, 2016). Even the NFL has had experience with athletes testing positive for the banned substance. In light of the NFL’s decision to begin playing games internationally, in destinations including Mexico City, the league issued a memo to players, advising them to be conscious of the foods that they are consuming as the risk of contamination is higher in foreign countries.

In a statement issued to ESPN, Golden Boy Promotions spokesman Stefan Freidman reported, “Over his career, Canelo has tested clean more than 90 times and would never intentionally take a banned substance” (Rafael, 2018, para. 9). Intentional or not, Álvarez will have a hearing with the NSAC on April 10th, where the board will question Álvarez and decide whether or not to extend his suspension.

References

Rafael, D. (2018, March 28) Canelo Alvarez to have April 10 hearing as Gennady Golovkin rematch in jeopardy. ESPN. Retrieved from http://www.espn.com/boxing/story/_/id/22889219/canelo-alvarez-temporarily-suspended-nevada-state-athletic-commission

Sidiki, A., Connors, R., Krstic, Z., Lee, J. (2016) Feeding the athlete. SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/a/2016-olympics-rio-food-athletes/steroids

Lamar Jackson, Quarterback

By Don Collins

It’s officially NFL Draft season. No doubt every prospect will have every aspect of their game pored over in a manner like never before in their careers. There will be some risers and fallers at every position, but none will be more criticized than the quarterback (QB) position. Every QB comes with a perceived risk in this upcoming draft class and teams will be looking to see how to navigate their shortcomings and groom them to become franchise carriers.

My issue comes with how the media is handling one NFL prospect – Lamar Jackson from the University of Louisville. Maybe you’ve heard of him. Maybe not. Just in case, here he is during his Heisman Trophy winning 2016 campaign. Surely, he deserved a shot to play QB in the NFL after this impressive campaign, right? Unfortunately, Lamar had to return to Louisville for another season to fulfill his required three years in college. What did he do to follow up his sensational season? He improved on it!

One of the rumblings circling through the media during the buildup to Day 2 of the Combine was that Jackson had been asked to switch to wide receiver (WR). This isn’t a particularly odd thing for teams to do for fringe QB prospects that have struggled with mechanics or inconsistent play. What’s odd is that Jackson is a bona fide prospect who even declined to run at the combine.

Take a second to let that sink in. A player who is projected to go late first/second round is being asked to switch positions after not catching a single pass in college. This narrative of denigrating an African American QB’s ability to do what he’s done his entire life is something that seemingly always lurks in football. The NFL has a documented history of slighting Black QB’s, but this is something truly strange.

Bill Polian, respected retired General Manager, has been adamant about his belief that Jackson is best suited at WR at the next level. In an ESPN appearance in February, Polian said “I think wide receiver. Exceptional athlete, exceptional ability to make you miss, exceptional acceleration, exceptional instinct with the ball in his hand and that’s rare for wide receivers. That’s *AB, and who else? Name me another one, Julio’s not even like that” (Lyles, 2018, para. 3). Polian continued by saying, “Clearly, clearly not the thrower that the other guys are. The accuracy isn’t there.” (Lyles, 2018, para. 4)

Are you serious??? Lamar was more accurate than consensus top 3 QB Josh Allen. He’s taller than Baker Mayfield. He is, in my opinion, the player who did the most ‘backpacking’ of his University in the past few seasons (Backpacking = putting the team on his back and carrying them further than they could have gone without him).

I am not clamoring for Lamar Jackson to be picked first in the draft. I’m simply asking him to be given the opportunity to continue playing his position.

*AB = Antonio Brown of the Pittsburgh Steelers.

 

References

Lamar Jackson. (2018). Sports-Reference.com  Retrieved from https://www.sports-

reference.com/cfb/players/lamar-jackson-1.html

Lyles, H. (2018, February 19). Bill Polian has a bad opinion about Lamar Jackson (again!).

     SBNation. Retrieved from https://www.sbnation.com/2018/2/19/17027762/bill-polian-lamar-

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