Being here at New York Giants' training camp -- down on the sidelines, no less -- is a very surreal experience for me.
Understand that I spent 20 years working for newspapers, most of that as a sport writer or sports editor. I have covered plenty of events, been on plenty of sidelines and interviewed plenty of players and coaches. Though, admittedly, my experience dealing with professional athletes at this level is limited.
The whole thing is surreal for me, though, because it feels in many ways like I jumped in a time machine and went back 20 years to a previous life, or at least a previous part of mine.
I left the newspaper business about 10 years ago, seeing the writing on the wall that I was working for a failing newspaper in a shrinking industry. Before leaving, I was mostly desk-bound for about 10 years.
So, though I have stood on tons of sidelines making observations and taking copious notes, it's really been about two decades since I have done this.
So, yes, there were some butterflies for me Monday morning.
This 'blogger journal' will likely be a regular part of what I bring you throughout the month. I will try to give you a little flavor of what this is like for me, in addition to the practice reports you will get whenever I am here.
So, I showed up here Monday morning not really sure what to expect. I knew where the press workroom was after picking up my credentials on Sunday. I didn't know if I could park near the practice field, though, so I arrived early in case I had to hoof it across campus.
Turns out I could park right next to the field, so I ended up being the first reporter at practice -- 45 minutes ahead of time. How's that for Coughlin time?
There are a lot of things I quickly remembered about sports reporters.
For the most part, they dress like slobs. Lots of shorts, flips flops or sandals and baseball caps. I am a tad over-dressed in my full-length slacks. Not Tuesday, though.
TV people bitch wayyyy too much. Monday morning was the first practice, so of course there were more media than there will be pretty much any other day of camp. The sideline was crowded. But, how can the guys carting around the big TV cameras (and the tripods they aren't supposed to have) be the ones complaining that there isn't enough space on the sideline to get good shots? Guys, you're the ones making it crowded.
Some people ask dumb questions, and won't let them go. If the coach didn't answer your question yesterday, why would he answer it today?
Sports reporters eat a lot of food. Shoot, when it's free, stuff yourself!
I spent part of the morning trying to find people I recognized, and actually trying to hide from a few local media types I used to work with around here. I really don't want to have to explain what I'm doing here to some of the folks at my old newspaper.
As for the star-gazing game, let's see. They might not be stars, but who did I recognize? Sal Paolantonio of ESPN was at camp Monday. How does he rate a cart to drive around in while the rest of us have to walk? I recognized Gary Myers of the Daily News, who looks like his column mug shot. I also recognized Ralph Vacchiano, who apparently uses an old column photo. Ralph, baby, that big patch of what I think is gray hair on your head isn't visible in your column photo. I met Mike Garafolo of the Star-Ledger during the afternoon session, and maybe he and I will do a Q&A for you at some point during camp.
Other than meeting MG, the afternoon session was pretty uneventful for me. Except to note that I'm getting old for all that standing and walking. My back is killing me!