Wow. The glamorous life of a Redskins beat reporter was...ummmm...revealed today. Let's just say those precious words we read each day on our favorite Redskins news sources are hard-earned. Reporters from the Washington Post, Washington Times, Washington Examiner, Comcast Sportsnet, Red Zebra, ExtremeSkins, and of course Matt Terl all joined us on Sunday in the driving, steady rain to watch the team go through their workouts. It was a great way to get our feet wet in the world of covering the Redskins. I had no idea that my ass and 85% of the rest of my body would get soaked as well.
Our efforts to obtain a pre-minicamp Bloody Mary were thwarted by the fact that there is NOTHING out by Redskins Park. Not a T.G.I.Fridays, not a Chili's, not even a Denny's. It probably worked out better for us since we were unwittingly entering the world of professional sports coverage (for a few hours) and the combination of a 9 AM buzz and the lack of any idea what we were doing could have been disastrous. As it was, we still wore our amateur status on our sleeves. There we were, in the same room as David Elfin, JLC, Kelli Johnson, Rick Snider, getting ready to go to work and a quick inventory of what we brought was just ridiculoulsy sad. I reached into my very fashionable leather satchel that I dusted off from about 10 years of sitting at the bottom of my closet. (Sidebar...if you have a knapsack, or manbag, or backpack that has gone unused for at least 5 years, you simply have to dig it up and go through it. Mine was crammed with distractions, most notably an issue of Modern Drunkard magazine, a Post-It signature dispenser, and a ripped out page from Robb Report's 21 Ultimate Gifts. This particular page featured the Phoenix 1000 luxury submarine, priced at $80 million, which DOES include the minisub but does NOT include the services of a trained crew. It requires (or required) three years for delivery. I also had a Free Hug Coupon. Wait...hello Kelli Johnson. How I ever got any work done carrying that bag around is beyond me.)
I also had a notebook in there but NO PEN. Unbelievable. Then Kevin reached into his bag and pulled out the smallest computer you have ever seen. Seriously, it is straight off of Mugatu's desk. At approximately the size of Paris Hilton's dog--nay, the size of that dog's babies--Kevin's computer is SCREAMING for some time with the Bedazzler. Sure, the size lends itself to better portability, but it also looks like it might be made by Fisher-Price.Needless to say we were pretty well-respected among the other members of the media from the get-go.
Thankfully, we were rescued from the embarrassment of being able to do next to nothing by the PR guy telling us it was time to walk out to the field. Due to the driving rain, our lack of "reporting" materials was a non-issue. We all stood around on the sidelines and watched the players go through their drills, making mental notes of guys who made catches, guys who made drops, and guys who looked like they belonged on the sidelines with us. (Nobody is going to confuse me with a professional athlete, but nobody is going to confuse a couple of those guys with professional football players either. Ouch.)
Mercifully, practice ends ahead of schedule. Imagine the internal dilemma I faced: On one hand, I was soaking wet, freezing my ass off, shivering and doing nothing but getting wetter and colder. On the other hand, I was at a professional football practice, probably the only place you could be where the slightest complaint would be met with the greatest disdain and disgust. The Special Teams coach's young son was out there. Most of the players were in shorts and short sleeves. It was a second-by-second battle to keep my trap shut and pray for the final whistle or death. At least I had a little rain protection. Kevin was about as prepared for the weather as Lindsay Lohan was for life without alcohol and drugs. I tried to keep his shivering in sight at all times, as his obvious anguish and despair warmed me to my core.
We walked up to the locker room to wait for the players to make their way from the field to the building. We were free to call out the name of any player we wanted to talk to and they would come over and talk to us. Except nobody told us this, so we literally stood there like we were at the front of a receiving line, just kind of watching the team go into the building. We finally caught on when Kevin yelled to Stephon Heyer, and he gladly came over to answer some of our questions. It was about to get real professional (not by us though).
Kevin holds out our newly purchased audio recorder, and we peppered Stephon with questions about the offensive line, his fellow Terps on the squad, and his thoughts on the upcoming season. Let me say that Heyer treated us like we were Woodward and Bernstein. He answered our questions in the most professional fashion, and made us feel like we were seasoned reporters. He shook our hands and walked off to the locker room. When he was gone, Kevin looks at me, looks at the audio recorder and says, "Oh yeah, this thing wasn't on at ALL." Really? Jeeeeez...all I could do at that point was laugh. Next question I thought to myself was, "Can you please escort us off the property, because if we stay for one more minute, we just might do permanent damage."
So I start feverishly scribbling everything I could remember about the Heyer debacle. As I am doing that, Zorn is conducting his press conference about 2 feet away from me. Kelli Johnson gets center position and everyone positions themselves around her in a cross between a really awkward family portrait and decently executed Hokey Pokey, with microphone hand in and the rest of the body out. As Kevin is a bit taller than the rest, he ends up being right in the line of Zorn's sight. So it literally looks like Zorn is lecturing Kevin, which is even more odd when you consider at this point Kevin looks like he just washed ashore and is holding a useless piece of plastic (the recorder) that he is not even remotely close to being certified to use.
After a few questions from the major papers, Kevin interjected with a question to Zorn asking about Jansen's progress and if either him or Heyer has emerged as the starter yet. On May 2nd...at the first minicamp...in May. Coach JZ had pity on Kevin, though you could SEE him take a second and fight back the urge to yell, "SECURITY!" Instead, he says,"We haven't even put pads on yet. The competition starts in training camp."
Things got better from there as they let us into the building where we could pick off players better between the locker room and the weight room. Conversations with Mike Williams, Randy Thomas, Andre Carter, and Brian Orakpo went well. Exceeeeeeeeeeept for a little video where Kevin tried to film Orakpo and ended up filming his chest. I had to give him a little slack...after all, the poor guy at least turned it on and had it functioning properly. He showed some initiation there so I didn't bust his balls.
As we made our way back to the media room to collect our belongings and call it a day, we made quick observations to each other on all of the day's preceding events.
Sugar: "I think we sufficiently rocked this minicamp."
KevinE: "Oh yeah...we're definitely 100% ready for next time since there probably won't be one."
We stopped just short of preparing our resignations from our day jobs. For those that missed it, here's the link to our coverage of minicamp.