ENGLEWOOD – The problem was Patrick Smyth got to the kids before I did.
Broncos rookies have so much to learn, including how to deal with the media. This is where Smyth, the Rozelle Award-winning public relations boss, invited me to offer the media’s perspective on covering the team as part of the Broncos’ rookie minicamp.
And not just any team. The biggest beat in town, no matter how the folks at the Avalanche, Nuggets, Rockies or city hall think they’re doing.
My presentation included mock interviews with outside linebacker Bradley Chubb, inside linebacker Josey Jewell and running back Phillip Lindsay.
I asked Chubb, the Broncos’ first-round and No. 5 overall draft choice, if had a sack total goal for his rookie season.
“Yeah, I have goals but I want to keep that personal,’’ Chubb said. “I don’t want to say one thing and have everybody be disappointed if I don’t reach that goal. I just want to come in and be the best player I can be.’’
I know Smyth. And I know he talked to the rookies a good hour before I was allowed into the makeshift press room at the Pat Bowlen Fieldhouse. Clearly, Smyth warned the rooks about the dangers of proclaiming goals.
Jewell, a three-time captain at Iowa, answered questions about his playing time and imposing his leadership will on the team by always deferring to whatever the coaches decide.
Lindsay, one of the eight undrafted rookies in the media class, was asked if he would be disappointed if he started the season on the practice squad.
“I’m here to compete and just enjoy what I’m doing right now,’’ said the former University of Colorado star. “I have great teammates, a great rookie class, and I just want to learn from the veterans.’’
OK, guys. Those were great answers for Channels 2, 4, 7, 31 and websites. Now let’s break out the headline-grabbing answers for 9NEWS.
Seriously, this was the fourth consecutive year I had the privilege of addressing the team’s rookie class on behalf of the media.
They are not in Kansas anymore, where even the lowly Jayhawk players primarily receive positive stories.
This is the pros, where the reviews are balanced. You get the good and the bad.
“I guess we consider ourselves critics,’’ I told the group. “You guys go to the movies. You never acted.
But you know what a good movie is when you see one. You know a bad movie when you see one.
“Even though most of us, me included, never played anywhere close to the level you did, we think we know how you’re supposed to play.’’
A couple of points I wanted to convey: Respect us, and you’ll get respect back. And be available whether you’re the hero or the goat.
I used Rahim Moore as an example. Even though Moore’s final-second stumble was the pivotal play in the Broncos losing a second-round home playoff game against underdog Baltimore to finish the 2012 season, he stood in front of his locker afterwards and answered all questions, took all blame, and generally received as much sympathy and respect as he did blame.
“There’s going to be times when you don’t necessarily like us because of our critiques,’’ I said in front of the room. “But if you stand there in good times and in bad -- and especially the bad times is where you gain the respect of the media and the press.’’
After my 7-minute talk and before the mock interviews, Smyth stepped in to review some ways the media can position a question that can lead a player into saying something regrettable.
One of his points was on, “off the record.’’ Every journalist goes off the record in hopes of attaining information without the source worrying about attribution.
“Your name won’t be used, but what you say may be,’’ I told the Broncos rookies. “You can trust me with ‘off record’ but nobody else.’’
What? The rookies might as well learn it can be just as competitive in the press box as the game we cover.