Let me tell you a little bit about the media’s schedule here at Redskins Park. For just about the last month, every day has been more or less the same: the players would practice from 8:30 until 10:30 in the morning. After that, Coach Zorn and one or two players are made specifically available to the media on a podium, while other players are available as they walk off the field. This is when most of the information-gathering portion of a beat reporter’s day is done. Most afternoons, the whole thing repeats after afternoon practice.
It’s surprisingly entertaining to watch. You can get a sense of what sort of story someone’s working on by watching who they grab off the field: all the players with local ties, for example, or all the rookies. And even if you knew almost nothing about the team — not who the stars were, not who performed well recently — you could figure that out, too, by watching the size of the crowd that gathers when the player comes to a stop.
If Clinton Portis stops to answer a question, he’s immediately surrounded by a mob, but, under ordinary circumstances, Justin Geisinger doesn’t inspire the same kind of reaction.
But training camp has come to an end, which means that the schedule here changes, but it doesn’t go to the regular season schedule just yet. In the regular season, there is open locker room time before practice, where the media can go into the locker room and ask questions of the guys they need to speak to, in addition to the quick availability off the field. But the locker room is currently holding 27 extra guys, and there’s no room to squeeze in an entire media throng.
So we’re in a weird holding area of the season, and the solution for this year is to have the media wait out back, and bring out players for them to talk to as availability develops. As the media waits, their appetite for any sort of information increases — all of these people have jobs to do, of course, column inches to generate or minutes of TV time to fill.
The media waits patiently for material.
The net result, though, is that they pounce on whoever is offered en masse, leading to enormous crowds around, for example, Jason Goode.
Jason Goode, mobbed.
This wouldn’t be that unusual, this week — he did score the game-winning touchdown, after all — but the sheer numbers were somewhat overwhelming.
(Goode, incidentally, came out with his foot in a boot from a case of turf toe. “My priority is my health,” he said of the injury affecting his fight for a roster spot, “being sure that my foot is okay. At the same time, I have to prepare for Carolina.”)
Marcus Mason received a similar reception. Again, not totally unusual, as he’s having an excellent preseason and is making a fierce case for the team to keep four running backs, but watching the crowd converge as he came out of the building was startling.
Marcus Mason, surrounded.
(Mason, on whether his performance might help him catch on with another team if the Redskins don’t keep him: “Maybe, but my first hope is to stay here. I really couldn’t see myself anywhere else.”)
And so it went, with Justin Geisinger and Rock Cartwright also taking turns facing the mob.
(Rock on his big run: “That big run was the only good thing I took from the game. I missed a lot of reads, some other details.”)
The schedule will shift again when cuts start, to something that everyone is more familiar with, but this was a very prominent example of how different things already seem around here now that training camp is over.
Filed under: Training Camp 2008 | Tagged: Sports Media | 3 Comments »