Last Sunday, I had one of the most amazing experiences of my life. I was a credentialed member of the media for the San Diego Chargers vs. Cleveland Browns game in San Diego. I got to the stadium about an hour and a half before kickoff and walked to media will call, and picked up my credentials. I took an elevator up to the press box and found my assigned seat. (All members of the media have assigned seats)
As I settled into my seat, I read the game program and the information provided by the Chargers for members of the media.
I had some time to kill before kickoff, so I decided to take a walk and check out Qualcomm Stadium. It was interesting for me to see the differences between Qualcomm, one of the oldest stadiums in the league and Levi's Stadium one of the newest (where I covered the Redskins vs. 49ers game last season).
As kickoff approached, I made my way back to my seat. Even though I had done this once before, I was still just as shocked about how different the press box was from sitting in the crowd. Everywhere I looked there were working adults with computers and tablets surrounding me. Just like my prior experience, since I was the youngest person in the press box I can't tell you how many times I got weird looks from people wondering what I was doing there. At the end of the first quarter, I got to meet Bill Johnston, the Director Of Public Relations for the Chargers; he was beyond helpful with the whole experience.
It went back in forth the whole game until it looked like the Chargers were just about ready to take control of the game with an 8 point lead in the 4th quarter. But with 3 minutes left, the Browns drove the ball all the way down the field and got down to the 1-yard line off a huge crazy one handed circus catch by TE Gary Barnidge. Two plays later Barnidge would catch a 1-yard touchdown pass from Josh McCown. To no one's surprise the Browns went for 2 and converted off a quick slant route tying the game at 27. But 2 minutes was more than enough time for Rivers (23-38 358 yards 3 TDs O Int) to lead his offense down the field. With 2 seconds left rookie kicker Josh Lambo came out to try a 36-yard attempt... and he kicked it wide right! It looked like the game was headed for OT when the refs threw a flag for offsides on the Browns. Lambo didn't miss twice as he nailed the 31 yarder and sent Chargers fans home happy.
After the game was over, I took the elevator all the way down to the field level and waited for the coaches to finish up their post game speeches.
Finally, they opened up the doors to the locker room and I was free to interview the players. Even though I had had some experience in the locker rooms it was extremely overwhelming with camera crews and other reporters running around trying to do the same exact thing I was. I finally got my bearings and got to work. I got interviews with Danny Woodhead, Ladarius Green, Dontrelle Inman, and John Phillips.
I asked Dontrelle Inman who had 3 catches for 88 yards, "With the 2 injuries today to Malcom Floyd and Stevie Johnson, how did you step up in the passing game and be so effective today?" His response was, "Preparation, I learned last year you just got to be ready and that's why I was able to step up today."
Then, I asked Ladarius Green, "After you had 2 big injuries today what was the mindset for the rest of the game?" He responded, "We just knew everyone had to step up with people going down and somebody had to make a play and luckily the whole team did."
Next, I headed to the press conference room where Philip Rivers was. Unfortunately, I came too late and there were only about 2 more questions asked and mine was not one of them. Even though the day may not have ended, as I would have hoped, it was still an unbelievable day. Thanks so much to the Chargers organization and especially Bill Johnston.
-Kid Reporter Jake