It's July, and Sports Illustrated's Peter King is on vacation. As he sometimes does this time of year, King has recruited someone from the NFL ranks to pen his weekly column. This week, he roped Colts rookie TE Coby Fleener into the job.
It should come as no surprise that Fleener was asked to cover for King while the veteran S.I. scribe works on his beach tan. Fleener wrote a pretty good story on Peter King back in May for the Peninsula Press, and he just completed his masters (yes, you read that right) in Media Studies at Stanford.
It would be interesting to know if Fleener was paid for his little fill-in job at SI. I doubt he was, but it's worth asking. The magazine is reportedly set to lay-off sixteen people, including one senior editor and three writers.
Anyway, Fleener does a good job filling in for King at a time when NFL news is pretty much non-existent. Two weeks from now, it will ramp up big time, but for now it is fun to read little fill-in stories like Fleener's.
The rookie tight end, drafted 34th overall by the Colts after they used the No. 1 pick on his friend and former-Stanford quarterback Andrew Luck, starts off the article by talking about how he was named after former Redskins great Joe Jacoby (Jacoby Fleener is his full name). He later writes something that is quite profound for someone in his profession.
You see, more often than I would like, athletes are pampered, spoiled jerks who do not understand or appreciate that, without media, there is no sports for them to be pampered and spoiled in. If a game is played, and they was no one there to record the action, nobody cares about it. Without media attention, the NFL does not generate the billions of dollars in revenue that it does, and players are then not given $30 million dollar deals to play a game for a living as opposed to, say, shoveling coal at a local mill for less than minimum wage (something John Unitas did before signing with the Baltimore Colts in 1956).
More often than not, it is extremely hard to write about sports because, for whatever dumb reason, sports writers are often viewed as "the enemy" by teams, players, and sometimes fans. and, unlike the NFL and its players, sports writers don't makes millions of dollars doing their jobs.
To Fleener's credit, he is intelligent and humble enough to understand that, just like playing football, covering it is almost just as difficult:
Playing pro football and covering it have more in common than I'd realized.
I encourage all of you to read Fleener's guest spot on MMQB. Among the topics he covers:
- Life at the Rookie Symposium
- At the symposium, Adam 'Pacman' Jones spoke to the rookies, and what he said (which Fleener details in his article) has changed my perception of Jones.
- Ten Things Fleener Plans To Bring To Training Camp
- The college playoff system
- Mets pitcher R.A. Dickey
Take the time to read the piece. At the end of the day, Fleener will be judged in the NFL by how many receptions and touchdowns he hauls in on a seasonal basis. He is also replacing, arguably, one of the greatest TEs in Colts history in Dallas Clark. The kid has his work cut out for him.
However, should this football gig not work out, Fleener seems to have the brains for life after football. Hopefully, he can stay healthy enough so that he can apply those brains to better and brighter things once his playing days are done.
P.S.- I take full credit for the Colts drafting Fleener because I took him and Luck in the 2012 SB Nation Writers Mock Draft. The last time I was 100% correct on who the Colts would take was 2006. I said they'd grab Joseph Addai, and ten months later the Colts were World Champions!
So, yeah. Fleener. All me.