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NFL players broaden horizons (05-13-12) PDF Print E-mail
Written by JACK CARLE Sentinel Sports Editor   
Tuesday, 14 May 2013 09:22
In recent years, the National Football League has been making an effort to help its current and former players have success in life after football.
The NFL's player engagement department prepares and supports players in making the transition through 10 different programs.
One of those programs is making its debut this week as part of the Maxwell Project at Bowling Green State University.
Dick Maxwell, a former resident of Fostoria, is a BGSU graduate who worked in the NFL for 36 years, including 29 years in the league office. Maxwell was the senior director of broadcasting when he retired in 2006.
He founded the Maxwell Center for Sports Media at BGSU to help sport management and media and communications students.
''It's always a pleasure to come back and most importantly to do a little to help the university and give back for the opportunity I had here,'' Maxwell said Monday evening.
Maxwell has worked with the NFL's broadcast boot camp since 2006, but this week at BGSU, the first NFL sports journalism and communications boot camp is being held. A total of 20 former and current players are participating.
Among the areas to be covered at the camp are a mock press conference with current BGSU head football coach Dave Clawson; the opportunity to interview Joe Napoli from the Toledo Mud Hens and cover a Mud Hens game; writing a sports opinion column; writing a radio commentary; learning how to create a blog; and building a personal brand.
There are college instructors and media members working with the players in the boot camp, which ends Thursday.
Maxwell said the goals are to help the participants recognize changes in sports journalism; learn how to become better writers; and have a much better idea about job opportunities in sports journalism.
Brandon Ayanbadejo, who was a linebacker last season for the Super Bowl champion Baltimore Ravens, is 36-years-old and currently without an NFL job for next season.
''I am really not concerned about football right now, I am concerned about Brandon right now,'' Ayanbadejo said. ''I have been playing football since I was 14-years-old. So if a team comes along and throws me an alley-oop, so be it.
''But in the meantime I have to still develop myself and find a way to put food on the table for my family,'' he continued. ''I'm going to be a busy guy regardless if I'm playing football or not.
''It's just a chance to spread my wings and do things that really interest me ... Now it's time to really conquer the challenge of life after football.''
Ayanbadejo is currently finishing his MBA at George Washington University and is using the boot camp to help him prepare for a job in the media.
''There is a potential for me to get into broadcasting and for me to develop my own content, journalism plays an important role,'' Ayanbadejo, who made national news recently with his stance on same-sex marriages. ''Even though I haven't been to the broadcast boot camp yet, the journalism boot camp is a supplement to that.
''I just want to be well-rounded. I want to hone the craft. I understand it's an art,'' Ayanbadejo continued. ''The wider your bandwidth, the more valuable you can be. I just want to be able to add to my tool box.''
Eric Crouch, who was a Heisman Trophy winner at Nebraska, has worked in several different areas of the media and had his first full season as a commentator for Fox Sports last fall.
The 34-year-old Crouch is also looking to broaden his horizons.
''It's a great opportunity to hone some skills that as broadcasters and radio personalities you kind of forget about and that's writing,'' said Crouch. ''When you can write and articulate, it really helps you get your words and your point across even better.
''I knew that these transition programs are becoming available,'' he continued. ''They are engaging the players much more than they have in the past; taking care of the history of the NFL and the players that actually make the league.''
Crouch said there are media opportunities for former players, but they have to be willing to put in the time and the work.
''That's what the people are doing here,'' Crouch said. ''They are committing, their time, their money, their investment, to come here to learn and get better at the careers they want to have.''

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