NFL players come to BG for bootcamp

Alan Marrs and Alan Marrs

A total of 23 current, and former, players from the National Football League will come to the University this summer.

The activities provide information on the state of the industry, giving the players steps to take for finding a job in the field and making them better writers. It is taught by a team of instructors from the University and professionals from the sports media industry.

The second annual NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Bootcamp will take place on May 12 to 15.

The list of players includes former BG and Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Steve Sanders, former Detroit Lions Linebacker Barrett Green, son of BGSU Hall of Famer Joe Green and former Cleveland Browns Wide Receiver Donte’ Stallworth.

The players in the Bootcamp participate in panel discussions, mock press conferences, covering a Toledo Mud Hens game, breakout sessions, writing sessions and homework assignments associated with sports media.

“We’re excited to have 24 players coming in this year, eager to learn more about sports media and communications,” said Terry Rentner, coordinator of the academic program and professor in the Department of Journalism and Public Relations.

Select students studying sport management and media and communications are given the opportunity to be involved with the bootcamp. Those students are able to sit in on the sessions and interact with the players and professionals present during the program.

“It is the experience I’m looking for,” said Garett Mansfield, a senior telecommunications major. “Being one-on-one with players that either had a good career or looking for something else that I have knowledge in is a tremendous opportunity.”

Kelsey Rentner, a senior public relations major, recalls her experience as student assistant last year in preparation for the program a second time.

“[Networking]’s definitely the best part about it and the most beneficial,” Kelsey Rentner said. “Yes, you’re learning in the breakout sessions, but with the networking, that’s what will get you further. Like, I’ve heard so many times, it’s not all about what you know, but who you know. So I’m going to definitely maximize my networks at this Bootcamp.”

Dick Maxwell, retired senior director of broadcasting for the NFL and University alumnus, is an integral part of the Broadcast Bootcamp’s success. The NFL approached him in 2012 about the idea of creating another bootcamp focused in writing and other sports media opportunities that are not present in the broadcast program.

He agreed to do it if the event would be hosted at the University and be a part of the Richard A. Maxwell Sport Media Project and if it was a collaborative program between the Sport Management program and the School of Media and Communications.

The 2013 NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Bootcamp provided 22 current and former players the first run of the program.

Last year’s program received overwhelming support from last year’s participants, Terry Rentner said.

“It was done almost flawlessly by the folks at Bowling Green,” Maxwell said. “It has been good for the NFL to have it at Bowling Green.”

Kendall Gammon, a long snapper with a 15-year career playing for the Pittsburgh Steelers, New Orleans Saints and Kansas City Chiefs, participated in last year’s Bootcamp and expressed a lack of knowledge about the program due to its infancy.

“I really had no idea,” Gammon said. “I expected a lot of writing. I went in blind since they never did it before.”

He was one of six former players, including former Pittsburgh Steelers Quarterback Charlie Batch and three-time Super Bowl Champion Wide Receiver Troy Brown, who previously participated in the Broadcast Bootcamp and experienced a program completely different than their first bootcamp.

“It was night-and-day,” Gammon, a sideline reporter for the Kansas City Chiefs Radio network, said. “You could sit down and contemplate, whereas with broadcast you had to be immediate with your ideas.”

“I could translate the written word to my broadcasts and make it sound better,” he said.

This year seeks to improve on last year’s success, using player feedback and some minor alterations to the program.

There will be a greater focus on the radio aspect in the breakout sessions, particularly in the stylistic difference of writing for radio instead of print.

A new element to the Bootcamp this year is the addition of a blogging session, helping the players utilize digital media as an avenue for their writing. Players will learn how to set up a blog and begin posting during the program.

The program is likely to continue with the success of last year into the years to come. All programs are reviewed annually in August by NFL Player Engagement to determine the relevance for the players.

“As long as I’m involved, it will stay in Bowling Green,” Maxwell said.