10/17/10 – Colts vs. Redskins
So, I got to think about where I can start, I guess I will start by saying thank you. Without you, I wouldn’t have these tremendous opportunities or even manage the “Events” page.
Here is what I will say next, my parents told me that they are coming up to visit me for a weekend in October. Instead of coming to school, I was going to meet them in Washington D.C. on Friday, October 15 through the 18th. My parents know that I’m a huge football fan (WAIT… I AM?), so for them to tell me that the game was in DC, they accompanied, by saying there’s a Redskins game too. Now, first, I was awfully excited to hear this news, however, I had a JV football game that Monday at my school. So, my parents said that they might get be able tickets to the Redskins game, sounds like a great weekend. So… this is mid-September.
I definitely gave it some thought about calling the Redskins organization and seeing if I can qualify for a press pass. So, I go by the motto, honesty is awesome, and never be afraid to ask. So, I pick up the phone and call. I’m connected through, however, I really don’t know how to talk to them on the phone, so I really do not get anywhere. I was told if I wanted to get a press pass, they might be able to help me out with one for practice, but to truly get in the press box for the game, I had to work some magic, and find some way to do it. Where can I start? Who follows me on twitter? Have I interviewed any Colts or Redskins player? (No). Can I bend that statement and use that to my advantage? It probably won’t help though. Time to think about how I’m really going to actually get a seat in the press box during a primetime Sunday Night game.
I call up my parents a day later, and tell them, that getting a press pass will most likely not happen, but I am still thinking through some ideas. I also tell them that I am going to try to be creative in some other ways, and maybe find a way to get one. My mindset, like always, is… “I’m not giving up.” and “Never be afraid to ask.”
So, I figure I’m going to call the representative I spoke with, back up and show him that I am relentless and dedicated. It seems to work, but it still does not get me the press pass. So, as I’m looking through twitter, I realize Jason LaCanfora (@JasonLaCanfora) and I have become buddies over recent weeks, he has told me that he sees my dedication. I look up some of his biography information, and then it clicks!! One plus one equals two! I tweet him and ask if he will call me up, and he tells me that he’s on Air at a radio station, but he will call me up after. I finally convinced him to call me. I’ve been trying to talk to him before, but not related to this news that has recently been presented to me. My roommate is in the room, so I kindly kick him out, hoping that Jason will really call, and I will be distraction free when it happens. He gets off the air, and he gives me a call. We talk about Syracuse, I was there this summer, while he graduated from there in ’96. But more importantly, I talk to him about getting a press pass for the Redskins’ game, and if he has any connections still, since he was a beat writer for the Redskins for six years. He tells me that if I tell the representative I talked to that I’m “Boys with LaCanfora”, that the representative might be able to squeeze me in. Jason told me to keep him updated.
I send a tweet that night, “Jason LaCanfora is the MAN!!” I really believed that he would help me out. He re-tweeted this, and it actually became a little popular thread. He sent tweets replying to what he did, “Couldn’t resist mate. This high school kid asked me to call him and try to get him a press pass to an NFL game and I did.” Now, when I saw this, I became exuberant, I was so excited, and sadly, I had no doubt that I would be able to get in. He also tweeted, “This kid is a worker. I checked out his website. He’s hustling to interview players and coaches and doing more than some actually working journalists.” I slept well that night. But, I had to call up the Redskins tomorrow.
I left them a message, but did not mention Jason LaCanfora, because I feel it’d be better tell live and hear the reply. I told him I called and no message back for a couple days… Jason told me to forget about it then. I told him I didn’t mention that we’re “Boys” and he said, why not, and I told him, it’s an added element. I call back up and get through, and the representative tells me, “We’ll see what I can do.” Now I hang up smiling, realizing that this is closer, and not a big no, like last time.
Now a weekend goes bye, and I ask Jason if he will talk to the representative, and see if I’m in, since I haven’t heard back from him in a while. In their conversation, both of them agree that I am, “Relentless,” easily, “Bugged the **** out of people,” and yet, “Enthusiastic.” Jason tells me that it’s a “probably” unless the rep, gets disapproved by someone higher on the chain of commands. Now, as much as I love hearing this from Jason.. I am really worried. Why won’t he call me and tell me that I’m in? Am I going to just show up at FedEx Field and they won’t have my pass. We went out of our way to go to the stadium, and apparently, I won’t have it.
I leave the representative another message, but this time, as I’m being coached by Jason, I am told not to call back, take it easy, and relax. I keep talking to Jason daily, he keeps me breathing, relaxed, and excited, and I ask him stuff, and he’s just amazing that he can have 40,000+ followers and still manage to reply to me, and most other followers! Yet, he still won’t give me a shootout, it’s like he ignores those tweets… I don’t get it.
Anyways, it’s a week before the game, and I tell my parents, I’m in. They’re happy and they told me that they knew I would get in. I don’t even know how I got in.
So, the week of school goes by so slow, but it’s finally Friday, the day I’m on my way to D.C., not much else to say, but really excited for the weekend. And, now, magically, somehow, writing this, we’ll move forward to Sunday.
So, sunday comes along and it’s pretty relaxed… I’m really excited for the game tonight and I hope the game is good and exciting until the end. Hopefully, I’ll be able to convince my parents to let me stay later, and then, there might be a chance to take a taxi back or something, but at least I’ll be in the press box during the game, even if I can’t get post-game interviews. I have spent some time trying to contact some Redskins and Colts players with not too much luck actually. Speeding up throughout the day, I find out we’re going to take the Metro… where can I start? Actually, pretty enjoyable scene, especially when you see the numerous lanes of traffic. For those that have never been to FedEx field, the station is set up, so it’s still almost another mile walk to the stadium. Poorly planned, however this walk, might have been the fastest mile I ever did, it was clocked in at 23 seconds, well…so… it seemed. But, I know it was really only a twenty-three minute walk.
So, when we get to the actual stadium, I see the big words, “FedEx Field” and I smile. I’m here, I’ve made it. Time to start on the right foot… or left. My parents and I walk down to Gate C where I pick up my press pass, and they leave to go to their seats, while I find my way around and go to the Press Box. I see entrances to the field, and it’s pretty cool. Oh, and there are literally boatloads of security swarmed around the place. I go upstairs, and then, up an elevator, take through glass doors, that are right outside the Owner’s box, and then, I make it into the Press Box.
Walking into the Press Box, I had no idea what to expect. Would you expect 50 reporters walking around minding their own business before the game, while some take notes? However, there were nearly two hundred tonight, somehow I’m in. Awesome. I see people wearing Public Relations department for each team, it’s pretty fascinating. There’s a table set up with stuff printed out by the department. I take a copy of each, just so I can see what they give the press. I take a copy of “Press Box Notes”, “Washington Redskins Feature Clips” , “Flip Card”, and finally “Washington Redskins Supplemental Biographies”. It was pretty cool to get all this information. I walk over to get some food, but I don’t know where I’m sitting, but I know I have an assigned seat, so I ask, how do you know where your sitting to someone. They point to a list and I find out where I’m sitting. I walk over, Row 4, Seat 16 it says Max Strauss. I find the seat, and although I am high up, I get to see most of the field, and then there’s a TV in front of me, as well as three other rows in front. I set stuff down. I walk around, and I see there are about fifty seats in each row.
I go to get some food, and I find out, it’s basically pretty good food, for all you can eat, must be frustrating for reporters to deal with the “game food” all the time. However, there is a private chef, and everything, so it’s actually pretty good. I eat my dinner finally since I have some time. I text my parents and tell them that I’m in the box, and it’s crowded.
So, I decide that I’m going to take notes during the game, and send some tweets. I’m also going to observe what other reporters are doing. Before the game, they announce depth chart changes, and right then, I start thinking about who I’ll be able to interview after the game. But for now, I figure what the game is going to be like. I know I can not cheer or root for any team, I could not even wear specific NFL licensed stuff in the press box. As the game starts, I see people taking out laptops, and getting their last bites to eat.
During the game, most reporters have their laptops out, and write their reports during the game. I listened to our commentator. Yes, the press box has a commentator and every play, you hear this as an example, “That was a six yard run by Ryan Torrain tackled at the Redskins 46 yard line.” After every quarter they passed out stat sheets, which I found pretty cool also. They also transcribed the interview with Hall of Fame player Russ Grimm and passed a copies of that out to anyone who wanted one. I took one, but I did not participate in that interview. The press box was quiet most of the game, and most of the time I was contemplating between taking my iPod out or not. I feel I needed some audio or something, so I decided to talk to the reporter next to me a little bit. He works for a local DC station that is based in Virginia though.
During some big plays such as Pierre Garcon’s one-handed catch, the press box, actually exclaimed and made gestures. But to be honest, watching reporters on their laptops in front of me, then having a television screen of the game, and on top of that, to watch the live game with almost sound-proof windows, I almost expected more. It was really funny during big hits to see the play, and hear the crowd, and then, wait five seconds and watch it again on television.
Anyways, so the game is almost over, but I text my parents on my way downstairs to the locker rooms. I tell them, I’m in the locker room, and they reply, “Great, have fun. Take your time, we found something to do.” So… I smile and put the phone away, last thing I want is an answer interrupted by a parent’s text. And, when I finally got a chance to go downstairs to get ready to go to the locker rooms, I was so excited. Seriously, so much fun. I waited on line for the Redskins locker room. I start talking to some of the Redskins PR team and ask them where they go to school, pretty interesting to see college part-time interns, seems like a fun job. They were on their way to the locker room because they record some interviews as well.
So, they open the locker rooms up, and I don’t know what to do. Nerves and anxiety runs in me, that I get so nervous, I don’t know what to say to a losing team. I figure, why not just go and see what some other reporters ask, and just record their conversation too, but I get actually am told to leave. Oh well, I’m on my own. I see Coach Mike Shanahan, but I have don’t have much interest in spending the time when locker rooms are open, to actually attend the press conference. I decide to leave the locker room, because I feel maybe a change to the winning environment will help me. It’s true, it does. Unfortunately, leaving the Redskins locker room, I didn’t get to meet Anthony Armstrong, a stud, who has replied to me on FaceBook a couple times.
[Just so you know, I’ll share the way this is organized. With a little paragraph to start, the audio player will be below the paragraph, then the translation of audio, and then the section that repeats for each player.]
I walk down the hall, turn left, right, then I’m right outside the Colts’ locker room. Exciting. I look inside and I see a bunch of pads and jerseys, and people checking off numbers and making sure the players turn in their equipment. I look around a bit, and first up, I see Gary Brackett who did not play (was inactive for the game), and I figured, he’ll be a great place to start. In fact, he was.
Strauss : What’s it like to see your team here come away with a big win?
Gary Brackett : Oh, I think any time you get a road win, in the NFL, against a very tough team, I think we did what we needed to do to go out here and get a win.
Strauss : What is it like to see Pat Angerer, rising as a rookie? People are starting to take notice of what he’s doing, and do you have a mentor role with him at all?
Gary Brackett : Yeah, absolutely. Definitely want him to go out there, perform well, think he did pretty good tonight. He just has to keep on working.
Strauss : Alright, thank you.
So, after asking Gary Brackett about Pat Angerer, I decide, it can’t hurt to go find the rookie and see what he sees in his mentor. I look behind me, and I see the defensive star of the evening, he had 11 tackles, and one sack in his first NFL start, along with two pass deflections. I saw it was his first start, because he’s made such impact while rotating in other games. He was originally listed third on the depth chart at the start of the season, and to make his first start, I figured people would talk about him. So, here’s what I talked to him about.
Strauss : People have said that you’re rising in this league…
Pat Angerer : Who’s been saying that? My dad?
Strauss : What’s it like to have Gary Brackett as a mentor for you at linebacker?
Pat Angerer : I couldn’t ask for a place. I mean, He’s just a great guy, and you know all the guys, they’re unbelievable. They always got your back. They are always answering questions, no matter how dumb they are. You know, I love it here, the older guys are great.
Strauss : You’ve been taking more of a leadership role with helping players adjust to plays, and with alignments, and the Redskins tested you a lot, by running the ball at you.
Pat Angerer : Well, I mean, they put us in some challenging spots and you know my job is to sometimes to make adjustments, that’s not me being a leader, that’s me doing my job. But they’re a good team, and we’re very happy to come out of here with a W.
Strauss : Best of luck to you.
Pat Angerer : Thanks man.
After meeting and talking with Pat, I had a mission to meet Jerraud Powers. I’ve talked to him on twitter once or twice, and a while ago. Plus, he had one of the best games in his young career, he accumulated 11 tackles, 2 pass deflections, and had a major interception in the beginning of the game. I found him. Now, before the interview started. I remember him with some friends questioning me, saying something like… “Wait, before we start, you look like your in high school?” I told them that I am. I reference that I’ve talked to @JPeezy25 on twitter before too. He asks me what I remember him saying on twitter, and I mention his free-style raps. His teammates ask me if I’m for real, and I tell them… well, my bad, Jerraud thinks he can rap, but he appreciates that I remember him for his raps. We talk a little bit, he asks me if I like them, and I tell him yes. Anyways, I ask him if we can start the questions, and well, we do.
Strauss : What was it like to intercept one of the first passes in the game, what did it do for the Colts?
Jerraud Powers : It definitely means that you get to a good start for the defense to get a turnover early, get the momentum going fast. It makes it a good a way to start, whenever you get a turnover early, it makes a good way to start for the defense and overall.
Strauss : What about in the final quarter, you made a clear stop?
Jerraud Powers : I mean, whenever you can get a rhythm going, get a little confidence, it will always help you out. Washington has a great football team, a lot of great guys over there, and you definitely got to be sound because you know Donovan McNabb, if you make mistakes, he’s definitely going to capitalize on them.
Strauss : How’d coach put you in position to make plays?
Jerraud Powers : With every call, the only thing coaches can do on GameDay is call the play, it is up to us on the field to actually execute them. But, we had a great week of preparation, they did their best giving us a game plan to make plays, and that’s what we did.
Strauss : Alright, thank you.
I really appreciate that chat we had. It was good, and it was pretty fun also. I was thinking about going to find Peyton Manning or a wide receiver, but when I saw Mike Hart, there was something about him. It might have been the black and blue mark on his forehead, but something just drew me in to talk to him. After Addai got injured, he filled in with eleven attempts and had 43 yards. I enjoyed talking to him. It was pretty cool, and he was a pretty nice and friendly guy.
Strauss : What was it like to step in for Addai and carry the offense towards the end of the game?
Mike Hart : Any time you get in there, it’s fun. You know, I just try to continue on, not make any mistakes, and try to make some plays.
Strauss : What’s the difference between your capabilities on offense compared to Addai’s?
Mike Hart : I mean, I’m a little more downhill kind of guy. Joe is explosive. Joe is going to make you miss, get the big run. I just try to get three or four yards a pop. That’s what I try to do.
So, after talking to Mike, I see Pierre Garcon [@PierreGarcon85] and tell him briefly, what a phenomenal catch that he had. He gave me a short thank you and left. I saw Austin Collie [@Austin_Collie17], and I decided I’m going to talk to him as well. He was sitting down on the bench, so I asked him if he would answer some questions. He told me sure, and it was great. His final statistics for the game were seven receptions, 57 yards, and a touchdown.
Strauss : So, your touchdown put your team up ten points, allowing the team never to look back since that, can you take me through that play?
Austin Collie : Yeah, basically, what we were wanting to do is kinda suck em, suck the defense up on the run, and just dump it off over the top. I think we ran three consecutive runs, and I think they were looking for run, and it was a great job by Peyton throwing that ball, and it was a great play call by Clyde.
Strauss : So, you are actually one of the top performers in fantasy football week in and week out, what’s that really like? Do you follow that at all?
Austin Collie : You know, I hear that from my buddies, but I’m really not concerned about fantasy football.
Strauss : There are people that keep appreciating your hard work and competing day in and day out.
Austin Collie : That’s the goal, right? You got to keep performing.
Strauss : What’s it like to come to DC and come out with a win, against a tough home crowd?
Austin Collie : It’s huge. I heard, we haven’t won here in 43 years, so to get a W, it’s obviously a tough place to play, a tough team, they played really well, and fortunately, we came out on top. It was a good environment.
Strauss : Thanks.
So, after I interviewed Austin, I figured five interviews that went well, will be perfect. Now I got to go interview some Redskins players. As I leave the Colts’ locker room, I see players getting ready to leave, and so I come to the conclusion and decide that I have to hurry to get some final interviews. I make my way back over to the Redskins’ locker room. I get there and it’s almost empty. I walk over to three lone Redskins across from the entrance. There are others in the locker room, but I go to the three linemen. It turns out, they are Artis Hicks, Stephon Heyer, and Trent Williams. I first talk to Stephon.
Strauss : What’s it like to homecoming game come out and be so close?
Stephon Heyer : Wish we would have won, and did more to win. It was a big game for me and different reasons. It was homecoming, we had the defending AFC champs in our backyard, a chance to go 4-2, still lead the division, we came up short. We’ll go out next week, swinging against the Bears.
Then, I ask Artis Hicks the same question.
Strauss : What’s it like to come out with a defeat against the defending AFC Champs?
Artis Hicks : It’s tough, I feel like we should have won. Things happen. We should have scored more points, we had opportunities with our offense in the red zone and came out with field goals. So, we put that on our offense. But, I believe as a whole, we played good enough to win, but we just didn’t win.
As they leave, I get a great opportunity to talk with the last person in the locker room, Trent Williams. We talk about where I’m from, and that I’m in high school. It’s pretty nice to talk to him, I can tell he’s exhausted, wow. After lining up against Dwight Freeney on every offensive snap, there is not one person who wouldn’t be tired.
Strauss : What’s it like going against a former Pro Bowler and All-Pro player and actually stopping, not allowing a lot of development from him?
Trent Williams : Man… Freeney never got tired. Everybody told me how good he was, he actually played better than I thought he would. He brought it every play, didn’t take a play off. It was a great challenge for me.
Strauss : How is this going to help you for the future?
Trent Williams : It gives me a sense of feeling that I belong. To stop one of the league’s best, it gives you a feeling, you know maybe I can play this game, because it’s my first year, I’m still trying to make my own ways in this league.
Strauss : What’s been the hardest challenge for you so in your first year?
Trent Williams : Freeney, he’s been the hardest challenge. I knew he was good, but I didn’t dream of him being that good.
I decide it can’t hurt to ask a question about his draft day experience.
Strauss : What was your whole draft experience like?
Trent Williams : It felt like a dream. It was a dream to me. It was a lifelong goal of mine to do it. You know, and to go number four overall, it was a dream to me. It still feels kind of surreal, sometimes, when I think back.
We say our good byes, but not before I see him turn in his playbook. If you want to define a thick notebook, well I had no place further to look. That would take up my whole backpack, but then again, I would be honored to have an NFL playbook in my backpack. lol. Anyways, I text my parents, saying interviews are done, and I go over and I find out shortly that Donovan McNabb is finishing up his press conference. As I leave, I stop, and sit down on the ground, and just take it all in. Reflect on the day, and all I can really do is smile.
My parents say, we’ll meet at the stairs in between C. I tell them, that sounds like a plan, so I walk over there, and within five to ten minutes, I see them. We leave FedEx Field, but not before I send a quick text to twitter, I tell Jerraud, it was great meeting him, and sorry to mess with your pals about you rapping, but, I later find out, that replied telling me that it’s all good.
Now, this Redskins-Colts experience was plenty of fun, and I hope you all enjoyed reading this story. Hopefully I can get the opportunity to have more experiences especially ones that I’ll be able to share with you.