I know, I know. I probably do the "peek behind the curtain" post too often for it to be interesting anymore. I don't care. Consider this an unofficial BFTB FAQ (Frequently Asked Questions), because I feel the need to answer stuff when it gets asked a million times. Actually, I'll even organize it like an FAQ.
John, you're so handsome, why aren't you at the Chargers facility every day like Kevin Acee and Marty Caswell?
Good question. The answer is simple, and yet complicated. The simple part of it is that I'm shy and I'm busy. Unlike the Silver Fox and Ms. Caswell, I can not spend 40+ hours a week on Chargers related stuff. Heck, I'm usually writing these blogs posts during lunch breaks, on weekends and at night. In addition, I'm not exactly the type to stick my nose in the middle of everything right away and demand to be let into the community.
This is, I suppose, where it gets a little complicated. I have no degree (seriously), am 26 years old, and I consider myself more of a writer than a journalist or a reporter. Call me mini-Nick Canepa. I enjoy doing research and sharing thoughts more than I enjoy working a rumor or trying to get a quote.
I have been writing about the Chargers, with absolutely no background or buildup, for almost exactly two years now. I want to continue to write about the Chargers the way that I do. This is not a stepping stone towards a job in radio or TV or with a newspaper. My main goal here is the same as yours. I am a fan and I enjoy talking about the Chargers. If I got an offer to blog about the Cowboys for twice what I get to do BFTB, I'd turn it down. There'd be no point. My heart wouldn't be in it and, therefore, it wouldn't be worth it. I enjoy the freedom I have to write about my favorite sports team in my current role, and it's a statement that I'm not sure any of those other writers can make.
Wait, you get paid?
It's true! All of the SBN Blog Managers get paid something. It's really not much, but sometimes those sponsored posts put enough money in my pocket for me to go see a Chargers game or five Padres games (see what I did there?).
Does that make me a professional? To a certain degree. Because I get paid, I probably take this thing slightly more seriously than I would otherwise. I don't make up rumors, so I'm at least two steps ahead of Hacksaw. However, if I weren't getting paid....being Hacksaw would probably be fun. I'm hopeful that 1090 pays him in expired bags of peanuts or something.
If I were you, I'd be knocking on the Chargers door to get just as much access as the other guys. Even Trotter is allowed in, and all he does is talk smack about the team and A.J. Smith!
If I told you how many times I've heard this exact phrase, you'd be surprised. If I counted, it'd be a big number. Anyway, here's why I don't do that: I haven't earned it. Trotter, Acee, Caswell....hell, even Craig Elstern to a certain degree. These people have earned that right to get through that gate on a daily basis. They've spent years in the business learning the rules and perfecting the craft. They have degrees that say they know things about journalism! They've invested loads of time building relationships with players, coaches and members of the Chargers front office. I've done none of those things.
It doesn't matter than BFTB is the biggest unofficial Chargers blog on the interwebz. It's still a blog and I'm still a blogger. Maybe one day I'll be afforded the time that other San Diego sports reporters have to cover the team, but until that day we'll continue to link to their stories/videos/tweets and laugh from afar. Good? Good.
So, what are the benefits of being "just a blog"?
I'm glad you asked. You know those BFTB Meetups we do? NO?!? Well, we do them. Sometimes. A bunch of us will get together at a bar, sometimes with a Chargers game on, and drink until our hearts are content. The last meetup ended with a very large round of tequila shots in celebration of the Chargers beating the crap out of Peyton Manning yet again. Oh, these things are a ball if you don't drink also....I'm assuming. We're doing one in July that involves more physical activity than booze, so that's a step in the healthy direction.
Anyway, things like that aren't done by the real reporters. They can't be. They need to be professional and all that. It's a weird time, because journalists used to be the ones at the bar with the players and coaches but now they're not really allowed to. Now it's the bloggers that have taken their seat at the bar, because there's not a ton of rules as to what we can and cannot do. Which, of course, is a scary proposition for everyone who isn't me.
Also, I can report things that are unofficial and without sources. Remember when I reported Ryan Mathews' contract signing like 3 days before anybody else? They all knew it was coming, and were actually tweeting about it, but couldn't write about it without official word. Put another check mark in the box marked "blogger".
What will change with BFTB over the next year?
I have no idea. I don't. Maybe another player will promise to do a weekly Q&A with us, only to get injured, disappear and get arrested for being drunk and walking through a crime scene (karma!). Maybe KA will host the weekly BFTB Podcast with me (no, not really, he's not allowed to). Maybe Evil Marty Caswell will join the BFTB staff and start stealing stories out from under the real Marty. Maybe there won't be any NFL and I'll be forced to start writing about the UFL, CFL and the LFL (Lingerie Football League....I really wouldn't mind).
However, one thing that will remain the same. This will continue to be a hobby, for me and all the writers (who, by the way, don't get paid unless I give them sponsored posts to do...so be kind to them). This means that we're allowed to have fun here, it is not 100% business. This is our escape from business. If we get a little silly and it bothers you....I don't know, ignore it or something. There's probably a Chargers blog out there that doesn't allow fun and silliness, but it's also probably terrible. They probably want Marty back.
So accept us for who and what we are. If BFTB is going to become a serious operation at some point, with daily visits to Chargers practice and a seat outside their draft room and paid writers, I'll give all of you guys a heads up. We'll probably need a better name too.
If I didn't answer your question, feel free to submit it here. If you sent me a question before the draft and I never answered, it's because I know very little about college football. Sorry about that.