As a fledgling sports journalist commonly known as a blogger, I struggle with the limitations of being part of the fringe media. Sure I have opinions and I feel like my years of playing, watching, reading (voraciously), and analyzing sports in bars, cars, and sports message boards give me a unique perspective. Simply put, I feel like I have something to offer the casual fan as well as the diehard who can’t get enough to read about their favorite team.
A good writer in college, I always received praise by professors, friends, and colleagues for being able to put a coherent sentence to paper, I think I’ve got the writing part down. At least I’m getting better at it anyways.
What I don’t have in my position, and it’s probably the most frustrating part of being a fringe writer, is access. Plain and simple. I don’t have access to players, to recruits, to press conferences (at least not directly), to the very thing that legitimizes sports writing.
Sure I can break down an offense, a defense and I can relate the impact of gaining or losing a recruit, a player, a coach. All that is well and good but there’s that one other thing that readers want that I can’t get: quotes. Not directly. I don’t have the necessary access to set up and conduct interviews. At least not yet. Soon hopefully, but not yet.
Why do I tell you this? Well, if I haven’t already bored you, imagine the frustration of knowing one of your teams best players is so close he could hear you screaming but there’s nothing you can do. You can’t say hi, introduce yourself, or even ask for an autograph much less an interview.
You know that such an interview could increase your page views for a day by a thousand percent. It could lead to new followers, new readers, but, alas, there’s nothing you can do.
So in that spirit I will conduct a mock interview of one such player: Dominique Easley.
So Dominique, you’re in town having that knee checked out as you recover from the season ending knee injury. How’s the recovery and rehab going for you?
Wonderful. Much better than expected. I’ve worked hard in rehab and the staff at Florida is just super. I couldn’t be happier.
Fantastic! I see they’ve got you put up in some nice digs, how are you enjoying your stay in town?
It’s great! The view from my hotel room is majestic. The staff at the hotel is great. The Institute takes care of everything. I feel like a king.
You came back for your senior season when you might have been a high draft pick last season. You were playing at a high level before your injury, some might even say dominant. Any regrets?
None. I came back because of my love for the University of Florida, my teammates and coaches, and the fans. I’m proud to be a part of Gator Nation, the best fans in the world, and I just wish I could have done more this season to help. Once a Gator, always a Gator and I look forward to representing Gator Nation at the next level.
I’m pretty sure Gator Nation loves you as well. Off the top of your head what do you feel was the best part of your stay in Gainesville.
I loved everything about it. Gainesville is a great town, Florida is a great university and everything about being a Gator is wonderful. My teammates, the coaches, the fans, everything is wonderful. I have so many memories on the field and off that I will take with me forever. Gator Nation baby! That’s where it’s at. Go Gators!
Are you ready for the draft?
I’m as ready as I can be coming off knee surgery. Could I suit up today? No. But you can believe I’ll be ready for training camp.
So no concerns that the injury will hurt you in the draft?
Well I didn’t say that. Will teams have concerns? Certainly. I’ll just have to do my best to assure them that I will be ready and worth the risk. And believe me, I WILL be ready!
Speaking of the draft, any idea where you might be drafted or have you been in contact with any teams?
Well, coming off the injury they say it’s very hard to project but I’ve heard anywhere from middle of the first round to end of the second. As far as contact, yes.
That’s it? Just yes? No hint of which teams have contacted you?
That’s it. Just yes. (breaks out into one of his trademark chuckles and we share a laugh). No really, teams don’t like to tip their hand so to speak so I’m not at liberty to say right now.
Alright, well, you’re a fun guy to be around. Your teammates and coaches have great things to say about how fun loving you are and that you’re prone to pranks. Much has been written about it and the media loves your dancing. How do you think that lightheartedness will go over in the NFL?
I think I’ll be fine. I have to be me. I love to have fun and it shows. Don’t get me wrong, I know how to be serious when it’s time. I’m a hard worker on the field and a cut up off. (We share another chuckle as I say he’s a cut up on the field as well). But really, I work hard, I play hard. I get the job done. I just make sure me and my teammates have fun while we’re doing it.
And Chuckie? (for those that don’t know, Dominique keeps a Chuckie doll with him for every game). Where’s Chuckie and will you take him with you to the league?
(Another trademark chuckle) Yeah, Chuckie is safe back in Gainesville and yes I will take him with me at the next level. He’s my good luck charm. (Another chuckle from both of us)
Have any of your former teammates talked to you about what to expect with the draft, training camp, what it’s like when you get to the NFL? If so, who, and what info did they share?
Certainly. I’ve talked to Shariff (Floyd his former linemate at Florida), Jon (Bostic), and Matt (Elam) mostly. They talk a lot about the interview process, being prepared to answer a lot of questions particularly about your past and any issues even the most minor of issues. As far as training camp and preparing, they said it’s a lot similar to what we went through in Gainesville only a lot quicker. Everything is at a much quicker speed especially the games. I feel like coach Muschamp, coach Quinn, coach Durkin, coach Lawing have done a fantastic job of preparing me for the next level. I’ll be ready. I’m prepared.
What’s your favorite ice cream?
Chocolate chip cookie dough.
What song gets played the most on your ipod?
“The Man” by Aloe Blacc
Nice! Well you are the man Dominique and I’m sure Gator Nation would agree. You’re by far one of the fans most favorite players of all time because of your personality and dedication and loyalty to the University of Florida. What do you see yourself doing once your playing days are over?
TV. I’ve thought a lot about one day being a coach but I think that I’ll try my hand at being a broadcaster first. Like, you know, ESPN or Fox or something like that. I think I’m a natural. And I’m good looking. (We share another long hard chuckle after that one)
Well, alrighty then. Dominique you’re a real stand up guy and I’d like to thank you for taking the time to give a little guy like me an interview. You have no idea how much it will help me as I try to build my audience.
No problem. I’m glad to help. I hope you do well and feel free to contact me in the future. If I can help you in any way I certainly will.
Wow! That’s fantastic. One last question. If you could put the whole of Gator Nation into a room and address them, what would you say?
I would say, thank you! Thank you for letting me become a part of the greatest university in the world, to become a part of the greatest club anywhere. Gator Nation is everywhere and they are truly the best fans in the world and I will always be a part of it and I will do everything in my power to represent Gator Nation with honor and respect. I love you all and Go Gators!
Well there you go. My mock interview of a Gator great. As I sit here at my night job, typing away on a computer knowing that this Gator great is literally across the street and there’s nothing I can do about it because my employer forbids, I find catharsis in creating this mock interview. Of course, if it were a real interview, it might be a little different. I would probably ask a few more probing personal questions. Ask about things that fans might not know about Dominique but might be interested to find out. Things that I won’t even pretend to know the answer to. But for now, this is all I have. A computer, a night job, a singular little blog that will soon be a full fledged website, and my imagination.
Dominique, if I ever get the privelege to have you read this post, and you’re still in town (get ready for the shameless plug), I’m right across the street from 11-7 and I’d LOVE to be able to get a real interview with a Gator great. I know my readers would love to read it. Hook a brotha up and help out a little guy that’s a huge fan. Good luck to you in the NFL, I know you will make Gator Nation proud and Go Gators!