We are starting a new series (hopefully) today, in which we will try to introduce you those sportswriters, who are the ones, we get our information from. We will try to take a look into a world, what is so unimaginable from here, or we are only able to watch it in films.
In the first part of our series, we present to you Ian Rapoport, who was the employee of Boston Herald for two and a half years, and who is the Dallas based correspondent of the NFL Network from this year’s spring.
When did you start writing about the NFL? Did you play football?
Ian Rapoport: I started writing about the NFL in 2009 after I was hired by the Herald. Before that, I wrote about the University of Alabama for the Birmingham News, focusing on college football and college football issues. I did play football, but it was in high school. Definitely a different world. It's almost like a different sport.
When you were at the Herald we referred to your articles and information frequently on patriots.hu. As of now, you are not just writing about the Patriots anymore, and you are not at the Boston Herald, you have become an employee at NFL Network. How different is your work now?
Ian Rapoport: It's definitely different. Essentially, I need to widen my view. Previously, I would intently focus on every single detail of the Patriots. I scoured the roster, I tried to know the ins and outs of every single issue, I dove into the Patriots. Now, it's changed. Instead of focusing on every single minute issue of one team, it's the big issues on every team. My view has necessitated a step back, a softer focus. Still a lot to keep track of and report on, but the scope has been altered. I've also seen things through a Patriots prism, focusing on how teams affect the team I cover. Now, teams stand on their own. My view has changed.
What is your advice to an aspiring sportswriter? What someone needs to become great in this profession?
Ian Rapoport: My best advice to an aspiring sportswriter is to write a lot and read even more. Try things. Figure out what works and what doesn't and take chances. There is no right way, and it takes years and years to hone your voice. The only way to do it is through trial and error. So, write a lot. And read a ton. Think about writers you like and read stuff by them. Why do you like them? What styles or methods do they use? Try those and find a happy medium for them in your repertoire. Also, love what you do. That's important. I work a lot, but it rarely feels like work because I love my job. That's how you sustain.
Do you have some experiences which stayed with you from the time when you covered the Patriots? Something which surprised you or shocked you about the team, players, etc.?
Ian Rapoport: The thing with covering the Patriots is that you need to learn to adjust on the fly. Players aren't always into sharing every detail of practice or whatever you want to know, and they are trained to not do so. So, you must adjust. And so much is secret, it makes you work incredibly hard as a reporter to find out even small details. That's what sticks with me, how hard it is to find out information. But the process you go through to find it out makes you better.
Which was the most memorable Patriots game for you? (positive and negative)
Ian Rapoport: Most memorable was definitely fourth-and-2 in 2009. It was a late-night game, I had written my story with them up 17 points in the fourth quarter. I needed it ready on deadline, and it was. Then it all came apart. And then Bill Belichick went for it on fourth-and-2, making you clear your eyes and make sure you were seeing what you were seeing. Craziest and most unpredictable call I've ever seen. I liked it, but it didn't work out. Needless to say, I wrote a pretty fast game story that night. And most positive memory was standing on the field after the Patriots won the AFC title game, watching them stand on the float and receive their trophy. It was 30 minutes after the game, no one had left, and it was all so surreal. Couldn't believe they were going to the Super Bowl.
Which were the three most memorable games for you? (all-time, not just Patriots games)
Ian Rapoport: Well, I've covered three Super Bowls, and those were definitely the ones that stick out in my head. Nearly shouting in surprise when Peyton Manning got picked off driving to win the game, watching Aaron Rodgers' mastery as the Packers won it, and then seeing Eli Manning do what he does under pressure... three straight Super Bowls, all great.
What do you expect from the Patriots in 2012? Do you expect them to get back to the Super Bowl?
Ian Rapoport: I would never say I expect them in the Super Bowl. But in my mind, they are the clear favorites. I don't think they'll go undefeated, but I think 14-2 is in the mix. The offense is the same, the defense is younger and better... I think the Patriots have retooled perfectly. I think they'll have a chance to write a wrong from last year.
Which team had the best offseason in your opinion?
Ian Rapoport: I think the Bills had the best offseason, though the Bucs and Rams also did a great job. Buffalo added the best defensive player, had a nice draft, and got guys like Fred Jackson back healthy. They'll have a great shot at the wild card. Meanwhile, the Bucs remade themselves with a coaching change and some big-ticket players, while the Rams are rebuilding with youth incredibly quickly.
Who do think will be a better NFL QB? Andrew Luck or Robert Griffin III.?
Ian Rapoport: Gonna have to wait on this one. I would've said RGIII a few weeks ago, but seeing Andrew Luck look as poised and savvy as he has makes me take a double-take. I think both will be great players.
Which teams will play the NFC and AFC Championship Games in your opinion?
Ian Rapoport: I'd say, Patriots-Ravens in the AFC and Eagles-49ers in the NFC. Thank you for the interview.