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23 former players set to participate in an NFL-sanctioned journalism boot camp

The NFL continues to do its damnedest to give current and recently-retired players a chance to stay employed in the sports industry by holding boot camp-style media training sessions each offseason. You’re probably familiar with the popular “broadcast bootcamp,” which takes place at the NFL Films headquarters in Mount Laurel, New Jersey annually in June, but the league also has made its “Sports Journalism & Communications Boot Camp” a yearly tradition at Bowling Green State University in Ohio.

The NFL communications team confirmed on Tuesday the roster for this year’s camp, which will take place over four days in mid-May and will involve 23 players, 22 of whom appear to be retired. The other, cornerback Dunta Robinson, currently does not have an NFL contract.

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What makes this a little more unique than broadcast boot camp is that it seems to cut to the core of journalism. Unfortunately, it’s easy for outlets to throw former players on air and ask them to blab on about the importance of getting pressure on the quarterback and establishing the run, but those who have worked in this industry from the get-go know first-hand that the ability to write well is probably the first asset a good media professional brings to the table.

From the league’s release:

The four-day program will focus on improving each player’s writing skills for newspapers, radio, and the expanding digital media industry. Industry professionals and Bowling Green faculty will lead players through panel discussions, breakout sessions and writing labs covering everything from press conference prep to ethics in sports journalism.

Participants will attend a Toledo Mud Hens baseball game and put their skills to work by interviewing Mud Hens executives in a press conference setting and writing a follow-up column. Players also will write for their individual blogs, which can be followed at NFLPE.sportsblog.com.

Bucky Brooks and Peter King from Sports Illustrated will act as instructors, so these guys are in good hands.

The goal in all of these boot camps is to prepare players for life after football, which is an enormously important task. Too many former players become lost, which is dangerous for the mind and body.

But it’s also nice to see an emphasis placed on the real core skills of journalism, because the current group of former players working in the media has room to improve. And as consumers, we’d appreciate a better product on the air, online and in newspapers (whatever those are).

“The feedback from players who participated last year was extremely positive, and we’re thrilled to be hosting the boot camp a second year,” said Dr. Terry Rentner, a journalism and PR professor at Bowling Green. “We have talented BGSU faculty who will share their expertise in digital media, journalism ethics and writing commentaries for both print and radio.”

Here’s the roster for this year’s camp, which takes place May 12-15:

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Brad Gagnon

About Brad Gagnon

Brad Gagnon has been passionate about both sports and mass media since he was in diapers -- a passion that won't die until he's in them again. Based in Toronto, he's worked as a national NFL blog editor at theScore.com (covering Super Bowls XLIV, XLV and XLVI), a producer and writer at theScore Television Network and a host, reporter and play-by-play voice at Rogers TV. His work has also appeared at Deadspin, FoxSports.com, The Guardian, The Hockey News and elsewhere at Bloguin, but his day gig has him covering all things NFC East for Bleacher Report.

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