Crispy dessert for the sports world

During a previous career as a newspaper sports editor, I often watched reporters settle for a cookie-cutter approach. Most were never athletes at a high level themselves, so they couldn’t understand why public competition is usually messy and rarely ends up how you expected.  Just like S’mores.  Since my campfire experience proves no two S’mores are alike, they seem the perfect metaphor for talking about related issues – such as music, movies, children, religion and sex. (No, it won’t be just a personal blog in disguise.) I’m blogging for three reasons:

  • As a former reporter, columnist and editor who covered many major sporting events, I still enjoy and follow athletic competition – and try to keep a balance in my life between watching and doing.
  • I also know that to stay sharp as a competitor or a writer, you must practice regularly.
  • As a marketing executive and wanna-be songwriter, I figured the best way to understand blogs would be to write and publish one. Who knew?

In my first post tomorrow, I’ll compare the current crop of young NFL quarterbacks to the fabled Class of 1983 – which had six QBs picked in the first round, including three future Hall-of-Famers. Impact: A quarterback from the ‘83 draft won 11 of the next 16 Super Bowls. However, I think just the combined last two draft classes will rival that group’s success, and I’ll explain why tomorrow.

First, why read anything I have to say? Answer: I have a broader experience and perspective than most sports pundits. And I haven’t just been an observer. I also have been active myself – including mountain-climbing, tai chi, tennis, swimming cold lakes, playing guitar in a band, and throwing or kicking balls with kids.

I spent almost 20 years in newspapers, many in sports. But I saw their demise coming and left in the late 1990s for global marketing and communications, including HP – a subject for a rainy day. Still, newspapers were a valuable experience on many levels. Most important: Content ruled way before the internet. A great story always trumps great prose. That’s why I hope to look at trends and people, not just stats.

Jerry Rice (jerryricebiography.com)

For those who insist on serious cred: Two careers ago I worked on five newspapers in four U.S. states – spending most of the 1980s as sports editor of The Sacramento Bee. That period included the San Francisco 49ers’ Montana-Rice-Walsh dynasty. I was at Jerry Rice’s first day of practice as a rookie and later covered their Super Bowl victory in Miami. Though I have written about many kinds of sports over the years (international soccer is a guilty pleasure), I admit to having a special fondness for the NFL because my big break in journalism was becoming a beat reporter for the Minnesota Vikings in the late-1970s. Call me sentimental. Later I also covered other teams and sports (including climbing Mt. Shasta), and I even won a few writing awards along the way from the AP Sports Editors.

After a stint as sports editor of The St. Louis Sun in the early 1990s, which included a season of locker-room access to my beloved Cardinals, I got out of the newsroom – and eventually left the newspaper industry altogether. (However, friends and family know I still dream of a songwriting career.)

Over those years, I’ve remained a reasonably informed and interested sports fan, much to my family’s chagrin. I hope my broader background brings a different perspective from the hard-core purists. It will be fun to do on a regular basis again, starting tomorrow.

— Stan Johnston

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