A Week on the NFL Beat
Redskins wins are great for locale morale, but they can put a hurtin' on the media schlubs assigned to cover the team. Here's a quick breakdown on our access - the windows in which we have time to conduct interviews and catch up with players and coaches - depending on the outcome of a game, should anyone be interested (and I'm far from certain you all are, but here goes anyway).
Mondays we talk to Coach Joe at his 5 pm-ish press conference. Most of the players show up at the facility - and anyone needing medical treatment would be there, obviously - but after losses attendance generally is more mandatory for meetings and such. In those cases, the locker room would be open to the media for 45 minutes or so in the afternoon as well (otherwise on Monday we get players in the parking lot entering or leaving Redskins Park). After a win, Monday becomes more of an off day for the team.
Tuesdays are essentially always off for players, but you see more guys hanging around The Park after a loss. Again, those needing treatment stop in at some point.
During Wednesdays after a loss, the locker room is open for an hour in the afternoon around lunch, and players and coaches are also available leaving the field after practice (around 4 pm.) But after a win, there are usually meetings crammed in during the open locker room period to make up for lost time on Monday and Tuesday, so it can be tough get anything done from our perspective.
Thursday we get an open locker room period in the afternoon, and then people talk coming off the field, win or lose. That's always a crowded day with Portis doing his weekly presser Thursdays and Gregg Williams also talking for the only time all week, after that practice.
On Fridays Gibbs talks for maybe 5 minutes - he's usually in no mood to chat with his game face already on - and the locker room is open after practice, but guys are scampering to get out of there - and rightly so - eager to begin their truncated weekend. All of our material for the Sunday paper generally has to be filed by Friday morning.
Saturdays are dead. Facility is closed to the media. No access and no practice. That's daddy and Chloe day at the homestead, unless of course, there's a road game. Then I'm traveling.
Sunday is game day, most of the time.
The first two weeks of this season were screwed up because of the Monday and Sunday night games, but this sked is the norm. Not complaining in any way, and generally everyone is more talkative, more approachable and in a batter frame of mind after wins (although some people on any team in any sport are always more forthcoming in defeat, so it's also conducive to the job. I'm just putting it out there for those who might wonder when, where and how we do the job.
While it is difficult to get players and coaches alone on the NFL beat, now that I'm all grown up (allegedly) with a wife and family, it's great to have a routine to each week and a cadence to the season, unlike if when I covered hockey or baseball, in which you never knew where you would be any given day and the rigors of travel could get pretty brutal. There are tradeoffs to everything, but covering pro football is a blast.
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