B/R Exclusive: Ryan Michael Talks One on One With NFP's Matt Bowen
After having written my post-game report regarding the public's future perception of Tom Brady, I was excited when B/R administration told me that my article had been linked in Matt Bowen's post-game report for the National Football Post .
I remembered Matt from when he played strong safety in the NFL from 2000-06; and decided to contact him to see if he had interest in doing a one on one interview.
I've interviewed a number of current NFL players; but I figured it might be interesting to talk football with a former player whose pursuit of journalism reflects the same passion for sports coverage that I have.
Thankfully, Matt responded quickly to my proposal and our interview was completed just a few short hours later.
Without any further adieu, this is what Matt had to say about his NFL career, his passion for journalism, and more.
RM: Before we get started, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to do this interview.
MB: No problem.
RM: For those of the readers who may or may not know, you played strong safety in the NFL from 2000 to 2006 and you are now a current writer for the National Football Post . What is it that motivated you to make the transition from playing in the NFL to your pursuit of a successful career in journalism?
MB: It was something that I was always interested in.
I studied journalism as an undergrad at the University of Iowa and I wrote for the school paper there. When I was playing, I did a lot of writing too. I wrote for a number of different outlets: Pro Football Weekly , The Washington Times , and the Niagara Gazette . So with every team I went to, I approached the editor and said, “If there is an opportunity, I’d like to do some writing for you”.
When I finished my career, I went right back to school and got my masters at DePaul University in Chicago in writing and publishing. So it has always been something that I’ve enjoyed doing and I think I’m a writer by trade and that’s what I’m going to be.
RM: Can you explain what it has been like to go from having journalists cover your performance on the field, criticizing you during times that they felt it was necessary, to now having the power and duty yourself to cover other players currently playing in the NFL? How have you adjusted to the role reversal?
MB: I feel a little different because I know a lot of players still in the NFL and I have to come down on them sometimes; but that’s part of the job.
As a football player, you get paid to perform on the field on Sundays and as a writer, you get paid to critique that production or that lack of production.
I’ve had the understanding of being in the NFL that it is every journalists’ right to give their opinion and that’s what makes this sport so popular.
RM: Is there anything you have learned since your playing days about journalists and the media in general that might differ from the perception you had years ago?
MB: No, I just think that it has changed a lot with the Internet.
I think that everyone’s fighting for one story and you should always put your best foot forward because you never know who is going to be reading your stuff for the first time. It’s not much different as a player because you never know who might be seeing you play for the first time.
It’s the approach that I’ve always taken that whenever you sit down at the computer; make sure you’re doing it for a reason.
MB: Brett’s press conferences were classic.
I like players like that.
I like Rex Ryan a lot.
I like players and coaches who say it like it is instead of giving you something that everyone else has.
You know what I mean?
MB: They are charismatic with the media and treat the media like they have a purpose there, too.
Too often players think that the media is always trying to “throw them under the bus” but that’s not true. They’re just trying to get the story out to the fans.
The fans are a big part of this league and you have to understand that as a player.
RM: If I could put you on the hot-seat for a moment and ask you to pick one current player in the NFL whom you would choose to build your team around, who would it be and why?
MB: One player to build a team around?
Without a doubt it would be Peyton Manning.
Just because the NFL is so quarterback-driven. You have to have a quarterback to win.
Running backs don’t win Super Bowls.
Running backs might take you to the Super Bowl but quarterbacks have to win on Super Bowl Sunday.
I don’t think there is a better quarterback in the NFL right now than Peyton Manning. I know there are a lot of great quarterbacks, without a doubt, but I’d put Peyton Manning at the top of that list.
If I’m going to build a team around one player, it would be Peyton Manning for sure.
RM: Our readers don’t know yet but I came into contact with you after being notified that you linked my latest “Tom Brady” article with your own playoff post game report. How is it that my article grabbed your attention and why did you decided to include a link to it in yours?
MB: Because I like people who take a chance.
When you link stories, you’re not going to link something that is written in every publication. That’s why it is so hard at times to cover the NFL because every Monday morning, you have everyone writing the same thing.
Some of my favorite writers such as Michael Wilbon from The Washington Post and back when Tony Kornheiser used to write, those are the guys that I look for; people who take a chance and kind of walk a different line than everyone else.
That’s what you’re always looking for; people who have opinions and people who aren’t just playing to the masses.
RM: I really appreciate that and while we’re on the subject, how familiar are you with Bleacher Report and what do you think about the website?
MB: I think it’s a great website.
I think it provides opportunity. Anything on the Internet that provides writers with an opportunity to make their voice heard, not just in sports as it could be in poetry and it can be in literature or whatever it is, you have to have a forum and you have to take advantage of that forum.
No different than a player who gets into the game, you’ve got to take advantage of it.
Any place that offers that forum and that opportunity for writers to have their voice heard is alright with me.
RM: Since we’ve covered the website that I write for, I’d like to give you the opportunity to plug yours. What can you tell us about the National Football Post ?
MB: Well, we try to make it the “one stop shop” for football.
It’s built on people who have been in the NFL.
Myself as a player, an ex-general manager, an ex-front office executive agent, and we try to hit it from all angles to get readers inside the NFL and show them what’s really going on.
Some of our opinions are pretty stern and we take some chances and speak our minds.
It’s a great place for football fans to read about the NFL, but also to learn about the NFL. That’s the key. You want to teach just as much as you want to entertain when you’re doing your own writing.
And so brought a close to my interview with Matt Bowen.
I would like to personally thank Matt for taking the time to do our interview and I would like to credit him for being a class act every step of the way.
If you are interested in checking up on Matt's writing, you can visit www.nationalfootballpost.com to follow his exclusive coverage of the NFL.
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