NFL players take shot at journalism

Boot camp gives crash course in being in media

Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch will be among the players in attendance when the NFL opens a three-day NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Boot Camp at BGSU.
Steelers quarterback Charlie Batch will be among the players in attendance when the NFL opens a three-day NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Boot Camp at BGSU.

When Dick Maxwell retired as senior director of broadcasting for the National Football League in 2006, league officials weren’t ready to let him walk out the door.

As Maxwell prepared to retire, the league came to him with a proposal: To stay involved with the NFL’s player engagement department in its career outreach and transition programs, and to offer current and former players consultation in his area of expertise.

For the next six years, Maxwell, a Fostoria High School and Bowling Green State University graduate, spearheaded the NFL’s broadcasting boot camp, a four-day seminar that introduces current and former players to the broadcasting industry.

Last year, the NFL asked Maxwell to create another program, one that focused on social media and digital media with a writing component. That program comes to fruition today when Maxwell and the NFL open the three-day NFL Sports Journalism and Communications Boot Camp at BGSU.

“The sports journalism one made a lot of sense,” said Maxwell, who worked in the NFL for 36 years and who established the Maxwell Center for Sport Media at BGSU. “The players want to stay involved, if possible, in sports somehow, either as a full-time second career or as a career that could complement what they’re doing as a second career. Some players own their own companies that have nothing do with with sports, but they want to keep their hand in sports, and they can get involved in media.”

The 23-person class is made up of current and former NFL players and includes former Eastern Michigan quarterback Charlie Batch, who spent last season with the Pittsburgh Steelers; former Nebraska quarterback Eric Crouch, who owns a recreational equipment company and is a college football analyst; and linebacker Brendon Ayanbadejo, who won the Super Bowl in February with the Baltimore Ravens.

The sports journalism boot camp is the most recent addition to the NFL’s 10 career transition programs, which includes offerings in coaching, the business of music, and hospitality and culinary management.

In April, the University of Michigan hosted a four-day seminar on franchising and small-business administration at the Ross School of Business, whose namesake, Stephen M. Ross, is a Michigan graduate and the majority owner of the Miami Dolphins.

Dan Masonson, the NFL’s director of corporate communications, said current and former NFL players apply for a limited number of openings in each program. While he did not know the initial number of applicants for this week’s program, Masonson said the NFL’s player engagement department selected 60 participants from 400 applicants for its coaching academy in February and 20 participants from 120 applicants for its broadcasting boot camp in June.

Terry Rentner, a BGSU associate professor and the director of the School of Media and Communication, explained that the boot camp will include working with Bowling Green faculty, staff, and students, and journalists from different platforms (print, radio, and television). The boot camp will host sessions that cover social media training, column and opinion writing, ethics in sports journalism, and crisis management preparation.

The participants will interview Toledo Mud Hens and Toledo Walleye general manager Joe Napoli and BGSU football coach Dave Clawson in mock news conferences, and will cover Tuesday night’s Mud Hens game at Fifth Third Field against Scranton/Wilkes-Barre.

“If they’re interested in a career in this field, it’s a great opportunity to see how the other side works, and how to work in print media, social media, and careers in public relations,” Rentner said. “And it may help them, those in football, to encourage them to appreciate what the other side [in the media] goes through.”

Contact Rachel Lenzi at:, 419-724-6510, or on Twitter @RLenziBlade.