It doesn't look like the major networks will stop employing former pro athletes in studio-type roles anytime soon, but at least they're continuing to ramp up efforts to train them.
For the seventh straight year, the National Football League will host a "broadcast boot camp" at NFL Films in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, June 17-20, with James Brown of CBS headlining the hosts for this year's event.
Twenty-four current and former players will take part, including four past graduates — Chad Brown, Kevin O'Connell, Takeo Spikes and Roland Williams — who will participate in an "advanced" program that the league says will offer "extensive training in speech and vocal techniques, getting the most out of production meetings, and studio and play-by-play analysis."
More on the entry-level program comes from the league's Monday press release:
It will include hands-on work in areas such as tape study, editing, show preparation, radio production, control room operation, studio preparation, production meetings, field reporting and game preparation. Each player will tape segments as a studio and game analyst and take part in a networking session with television executives. Each player also will serve as a live guest host on SiriusXM NFL Radio.
Seven players currently signed to NFL contracts will take part: Ramses Barden and Steve Weatherford of the Giants, A.J. Hawk of the Packers, Seattle's Charly Martin, Buffalo's Bryan Scott, Arizona's Drew Stanton and Benjamin Watson of the Saints. John Saunders, Ron Jaworski, Kenny Albert, Solomon Wilcots, Dick Vermeil, Ross Tucker and Brian Baldinger will work as instructors.
According to the NFL, 48 of the 128 players who have graduated from the program in the previous six years have landed broadcasting jobs. Not a bad ratio, but not strikingly good when you consider that anyone prone to taking part in a program like this would presumably be gung-ho about joining the media. There are a lot of jobs out there for former players, so that job placement rate of 38 percent isn't mind-blowingly high.
Still, it's nice to see that some of these guys are making meaningful efforts to actually learn the craft before trying to dive into a field that is more complex than many assume. Some don't have the big names required to simply walk into a studio without doing their homework (think: Deion Sanders, Michael Irvin, Warren Sapp), but some probably want to commit to the next phase of their lives in a non-half-assed fashion.
Good luck to them all.