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in the locker room

Discussion in 'Journalism topics only' started by Rusty Shackleford, Oct 2, 2006.

  1. Rusty Shackleford

    Rusty Shackleford Active Member

    Covered my first NFL game today. One question I've come away with: when is it appropriate, and when is it not appropriate, to go up to a player at his locker and ask him questions?

    Being as it was my first time covering a game, I just tried to follow the crowd and not do or say anything dumb. But there were some people that I would have liked to talk to, but the crowd never made its way to them and I wasn't sure about going over to them by myself because I'm unfamiliar with postgame locker room decor -- naive, I know. Have a good laugh, but I'd appreciate any real responses.
  2. lantaur

    lantaur Active Member

    It's been a few years for me, but, generally, as long as the guy is done showering, you just walk up and say, "(name) do you have a minute?" or something like that. Trust me, they'll let you know. You might want to get the skinny on the team from a regular media person, just to make sure that person doesn't have some sort of "no talking" policy.

    The exception would be for any player who has a separate press conference - usually the quarterback.
  3. Norman Stansfield

    Norman Stansfield Active Member

    Unless you're talking about the quarterback or some other mega-star player, pretty much everybody should be fair game in an NFL locker room.

    If you're in there after a game, I'd suggest sidling up to the players where the gang-bang ISN'T. If you can spot key players alone (a lineman who blocked for a guy who had 175 yards or something), grab 'em. Some will want to wait until after they're dressed, some don't care either way.

    Just be polite and ask. Nine times out of 10 you'll get something useful. And if you need something specific from a player who's being accosted by the horde, hang back and listen to what's being asked and then make your way toward him when all the cameras and such have dispersed.

    I've gotten some of my best stuff doing it that way, for instance some great stuff a star defensive player accused an opposing offensive lineman of doing in Week 1. Players are more apt to open up in a 1-on-1 setting.
  4. Point of Order

    Point of Order Active Member

    Smile and try to be superoverlyfriendly when you ask the guy:
    "Hey, mind if I sidle up to you now, or would you rather wait for a gang-bang?"
  5. outofplace

    outofplace Well-Known Member

    If you do wait until the crowd thins out some, you might want to avoid mentioning you were waiting for him to be done getting gang banged. ;D

    Seriously, it is a good idea to ask another reporter before you head to the locker room if there are any rules, official or otherwise, unique to that team.

    One NFL team I have covered used to have a small room off to the side where some of the fringe players dressed.

    I was doing a notebook and one of those guys had made a key play in the game. I went to get his attention and every guy in there started telling me to step back. Apparently, nobody but the guys with lockers in that room was EVER allowed to take even a step inside.

    They weren't assholes about it and the player I needed to talk to came out to do the interview, but it was a mildly embarrassing moment that could have been avoided.
  6. slipshod

    slipshod Member

    First, go for it. They're only players and you're doing your job, and be prepared to elbow a TV camerman or two while you're at it.
    While it is true every player is fair game, the crowd usually gathers around the big names and/or the player who did something significantly good or bad in the game. I like to get players one-on-one, of course, but since I am extremely pressed for deadlines, I often have to wade through the pack. Even if I'm waiting to get him later, I still want to listen to what he has to say for the crowd. You don't want to miss the best stuff just because everyone else is getting it, too.
    Not a lot of exclusive material comes out of a post-game locker room.
    Some guys just don't talk, some are too pissed to talk, some are so pissed they will say something that's great to use, and some are adept at streaking out of there so fast you wonder why they weren't that quick on the field.
  7. Tom Petty

    Tom Petty Guest

    not making this personl, by no means, but really, who gives a fuck. march in, do your job. march out and go bang mrs. shackleford once for me.

    you'll know what's right without asking.
  8. hondo

    hondo Well-Known Member

    I hate this fuckin' routine a lot of the players have where they want to get completley dressed, oiled, coiffed, perfurmed and powered before they talk. It's all Michael Jordan's fault. Before him, guys didn't care if they got interviewed while still in their uniform, half-dressed, not dressed, or dripping wet out of the shower, boys out.

    Now they gotta get that GQ look. It's not like the entire cadre of FOX News blonde babes is there to interview him. It's us, for crissakes.
  9. scalper

    scalper Member

    Your job working a pro locker room is the same as a guy putting together a pro team. You need to find out who the go-to-guys are. You have to go to do some of those one-on-ones and throw some different questions out there to know which guy is good for getting which kind of quote.

    One guy might be great for saying something borderline inflammatory, but be totally unable to offer any real insight and vice-versa. Follow your instincts and avoid asking a guy who dropped a touchdown pass why he dropped the pass. Ask him about anything else first to break the ice then carefully ask him if he thought he had it. Ease into it, and a lot of times even a game's goat will open up.
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