Every year in the NFL there’s change. It’s what keeps the butter churning. Turnover is the ultimate constant in this league.
Yet for me, I had been in the same place — Pro Football Weekly — for more than a decade. Oh sure, I’d worked for a few other freelance gigs on the side. But my NFL home was Chicago, and PFW was my one professional home since the 2002 season.
But this season might be my favorite yet, before it has even started. That’s because as of today, I am a Yahoo! employee. This brings with it a mixture of excitement and terror, and maybe not in equal doses.
But assuming I didn’t forget everything I know about football in the past 24 hours, I figure I’ll be all right.
The only things I can promise you is that I’ll be as honest and unmerciful as I know how, as well as funny, when it’s called for and when I can muster it.
So here’s a little primer to my football credentials, so to speak (warning: it veers off the tracks a few times) and how I got to this point:
1. The first football game I remember attending was in 1984, Boston College at Holy Cross (seriously), a few weeks before my ninth birthday. More famously, it’s known as the game sandwiched between Doug Flutie’s Hail Mary at Miami and the Eagles’ Cotton Bowl victory. Flutie on one sideline, Gordie Lockbaum on the other.
Two of my favorite college football players ever.
2. My first NFL game … it too has been roundly forgotten. Patriots 23, Colts 20, overtime, Week 8, 1989. Steve Grogan threw for 355 that day. Eric Dickerson was contained. Game-winning field goal from Greg Davis. And some guy named Eric Sievers had 113 yards receiving. I have no earthly memory of who that is.
3. My favorite Tecmo Super Bowl players growing up: Bo Jackson (of course), Gil Fenerty, Christian Okoye, Stanley Morgan, Lawrence Taylor and, of course, QB Eagles.
4. My first NFL interview was supposed to be with Jim Harbaugh, in 1999. Sporting News sent me to a Chargers-Rams preseason game, and the 36-year-old Harbaugh was the Chargers’ starting QB. But a certain injury derailed those best-laid plans for a 23-year-old cub reporter. Trent Green went down in a heap, leaving the Rams’ starting duties in the hands of a man with 11 regular-season pass attempts: Kurt Warner. But many of us wanted to talk not to Warner, but the guy who delivered the hit on Green — the defiant, recalcitrant Rodney Harrison, whom I figured would deliver a fine quote on the matter. He did, but I always wondered what it would have been like that day had I gone to the other locker room to visit the new starter.
5. The best NFL game I ever attended was the 2009 NFC championship game, Vikings at Saints. The noise in the Superdome was several decibels beyond the threshold of pain. The press box shook for most of the game. A sportswriter sitting in front of me who shall remain nameless (Alex Marvez) was asking everyone in semi-panic where the closest exits were. It was an incredible environment to say the least. The hardest hitting I have ever seen. Watching Brett Favre limp to his postgame press conference, getting water dumped on him by a Saints fan on the way, I was convinced Favre’s career was done right then and there. Of course, I was wrong.
6. The best Super Bowl I ever attended was XLIII — Steelers-Cardinals. Incredible first half. Springsteen smoking the halftime show. And what a fourth quarter. The Boss also took my question at his press conference a few days earlier, which also was one for the personal scrapbook. (Although Prince took the cake a few years earlier for both his halftime show and his epic “press conference,” which basically was just him shredding through a three-song set for the media.)
7. The best football game I’ve ever attended — besides my high school team blowing a 20-point lead with 10 minutes to go, losing the division championship 42-41 because of a missed extra point — was Nebraska at Missouri in 1997. You know, the Flea Kicker Game, otherwise known as my life as a tortured Mizzou fan summed up in one Youtube clip. I’ll never forget that day.
8. I think Redskins head coach Steve Spurrier wanted to throw his visor at me after I asked him a question he didn’t like in what would be his third-to-final NFL game. Alas, he did not. Wonder if he regrets that.
9. Some of my favorite moments as a football writer … then-Cardinals defensive coordinator Billy Davis sketching out his team’s defensive scheme on my notepad three days before the Super Bowl against the Steelers … sneaking into Michigan’s Pro Day to watch Braylon Edwards work out and then listening to him talk to me for 10 minutes about the products he one day hoped to sponsor … line dancing with Will Shields, Ruben Brown, Casey Hampton and other players at 2 a.m. in a Baltimore hotel bar … stepping on Olin Kreutz’s foot after the 2006 NFC championship, feeling his fiery death glare but then breathing a sigh of relief when he let me off the hook … watching Steve Smith make pancakes for his kids.
10. Every day I realize how lucky I am to get to do this. And now I get to do it here, for you. Pretty awesome.
Follow me on Twitter: @Eric_Edholm
Monday also marks the first day on Shutdown Corner for Anwar S. Richardson. Learn all about him here.
Eric Edholm is a contributor to the Shutdown Corner. He spent 11 years at Pro Football Weekly, and before that three years at Sporting News. He graduated from the University of Missouri and lives outside Chicago with his wife and 95-pound mutt. He won’t be golfing anytime soon.