Haven’t really announced it yet but we are going back to this year’s Senior Bowl down in Mobile, Alabama from Monday, January 23rd to Thursday, January 26th. Last year was my first experience. Little nerve-wracking, I hadn’t even been on a plane since I was three years old, but it was an absolute blast.
Now I’m back with a good feel for how everything works (including the airport). And really excited for the season. Know we’re all focused on the Pittsburgh Steelers’ playoff run, and rightfully so, but the draft process is about to really kick off.
Last year was one of my favorite trips ever. Phil Savage and the rest of the staff at the Senior Bowl do an amazing job. Everything well organized, everything efficient, and they do a great job of giving us access. It’s a football Mecca and I’m not sure if anything rivals it. Every team there. Coaches and the media mingling together. I don’t know if there’s another place where you can pull into the parking lot and see Keith Butler making his way across the gravel and into the stadium. Or sit behind the Steelers’ scouting staff – including Chidi Iwuoma (I nearly fainted) – during Tuesday weigh-ins.
So it’ll be tons of fun. We’re asking for donations, you can donate here, but first, a couple things.
1. As I always say when we post these things, we’re going no matter how much we raise. Doesn’t matter if we don’t get a penny. Flight is booked, I’m heading down there. So don’t feel pressured into donating.
2. We’re stopping the campaign at $250. I didn’t realize how much and how quickly we would raise money last year. I literally think I stopped things after 24 hours because we definitely had enough money to cover everything. Keep in mind that doesn’t mean I’m expecting $250, I’m not expecting anything, because hey, who the heck am I to expect anything from you guys. But that’s the cap – that should roughly cover the hotel costs. We have our sponsor, Touring Plans, returning, and they’re paying for part of the trip.
So if you click on the GoFundMe and see it past $250, don’t donate! Seriously. Don’t. Don’t need it.
3. You don’t miss out on anything if you don’t donate. Donate nothing, donate something, the coverage will all be the same for you. So again, no obligation to give. You’ll get the same coverage and read the same things no matter what. Just want to make that clear. Love us, hate us, whatever, it’s all the same.
4. There are so many other great causes out there. I just want to make that clear, even if it should be obvious. This isn’t the most important thing in the world – again, duh. I don’t want anyone to think for a second otherwise so I wanted to point it out. Feel like your money is better used elsewhere? Totally hear you, brother. No worries.
Now that I think I’ve sufficiently undersold this thing – because I didn’t want anyone to feel mislead or cheated if they donate – any donation is absolutely appreciated. It’s a help to us to cover costs. I just hope our content is justified enough.
If you’re not familiar, here’s what we’ll actually be doing down in Mobile.
1. Daily practice reports from the North and South teams. If you didn’t see it last year, here’s an example. They are similar to our training camp reports though we don’t break things down into a play-by-play method like we do for St. Vincent. We focus a little more on the big picture and individual players/traits that stick out. And primarily, positions the Steelers are likely to be interested in for April’s draft. Yes, outside linebackers will be a focal point.
That’s the pretty cool thing. Sometimes, I get my first eyes on someone who becomes a Steeler. I remember seeing Sean Davis for the first time last year, first practice, in warmup drills. And his footwork, how good his feet were, was immediately notable. And something that’s still stuck in my mind right now. Seriously, this is what I wrote in my notes that day.
“Maryland cornerback/safety Sean Davis is one I didn’t know much about, despite looking at as many DBs as possible, but he jumped out to me today. Built at 6’1/1 201. Quick feet, no wasted motion on his transition downhill, and as noted, has played two positions. One Browns’ scout that stood near me was very open on how high he was on Davis. Excited to watch Davis progress the next two days.”
Today, he’s a Steeler, a starter, and enjoying a great rookie year. Come full circle.
2. Interviews with players and articles during the week and throughout draft season. Tuesday is media night there where players become available. So we’ll get to talk to these guys, ask them about their background, their thoughts on this experience, and maybe something Steelers-related. Bought myself a fancy new voice recorder and everything.
The Senior Bowl also has press conferences daily with select players and the two coaches who will be leading these teams – Hue Jackson for the Browns and John Fox for the Bears.
3. Weigh-ins. Which is basically the first thing that happens, bright and early on Tuesday. We’ll log everything that gets announced. Height, weight, arm length, hand size. Men in their underwear – a proud draft tradition.
4. Senior Bowl recap podcasts. Hopefully. It’s contingent on having a good enough Internet connection and some free time. Can’t guarantee either but we did one or two during the week last year and that’s the aim again. If not, or even if we do, we’ll have a podcast when I get back to put a bow on everything.
5. Anything else cool that happens. With this still my second year, I probably don’t fully know what all is going to happen. So any storyline that breaks, or anything I think that’s worth writing about, it’ll be here.
6. Anything you want to see. Let me know. Maybe there’s something I’m glossing over or haven’t thought about. I’m all ears. And as always, I’ll be as responsive as I can in answering your questions on the comments section and my Twitter account (@Alex_Kozora).
7. I’ll be sure to get some gumbo. Because it’s delicious. And you can’t top Louisiana gumbo. They sure don’t sell that at Sheetz or Wawa.
Of course, any donation I’ll be grateful for and I will always send a personal thank you to anyone who donates. Those who have in the past can attest. I’m not saying that my thank you is “worth it” and matches the monetary amount, it definitely doesn’t, but I don’t want to just ignore anyone who donates either.
So yeah, that’s the scoop guys. Always want to be as transparent as possible, not just with this, but with anything we do. Our training camp coverage, our film breakdowns, the occasional story we get to break, you all know the deal. But if you have any questions at all, hit me up in the comments below, and I’ll be glad to answer.
Again, if you’d like to make a donation, you can do so here.