I walked into AT&T Stadium (Cowboys Stadium) at 3:06 PM on Saturday, a little over four hours before kickoff between Wisconsin and Alabama in the Advocare Classic. After developing Sconnie Sports Talk over the summer, this was our first big event that we would be covering with media access.
The stadium is huge as you know, and there is no way I entered in the correct media gate. Instead, I walked around Cowboys Stadium for 15 minutes asking how to get to the press box, but secretly enjoyed all of the viewpoints and pictures I was able to take for SST on the lost journey. After speaking with several employees, a nice usher finally helped me locate the press box elevator, which was actually the initial elevator I went to.
I entered the press box fully not expecting to have a seat or anything equal to the more established media, but found Sconnie Sports Talk on a list indicating my seat would be Seat 57 in the front row of the press box. I settled in, enjoyed the free food and soft drinks provided by Jerry Jones and everyone else that keeps that enormous place running, and did some work.
Around 3:30 PM, I decided to head down to the field with the photography pass I received since I did not have a photographer for the game. With a Go-Pro in hand, I started down to the field elevator. I ran into a cameraman from WISN-12 in Milwaukee, and he told me that he was heading down near the Badgers’ locker room to record the players and coaches getting off the bus at 3:45 PM. Needless to say, I walked down with him and took some footage for Twitter of Coach Paul Chryst and quarterback Joel Stave walking off the bus. Then, I headed for the tunnel.
Imagine working hard on something for so long, and then suddenly, you are basically living the exact vision of what you wanted your “something” to be. That’s exactly how I felt as I approached one of the Wisconsin end zone tunnels, and headed onto the field to capture some footage on the GoPro and additional photography and video for SST. I saw the mini Goodyear Blimp, all of the ESPN camera men and women, and everything else in between as I did a few laps around the field.
Growing up, I dreamt about being able to cover sports, walk onto the field, and meet all of the players, coaches, executives, and personalities I looked up to. After interning for the Washington Nationals in the summer of 2014, I know what it is like to be on the field, see the players and famous people, etc. But, walking alone onto the field, as an entrepreneur of a sports media organization, felt different and way more meaningful.
After taking in the field experience, some Badgers came onto the field to warm up, but I decided to head back up to the press box. I settled in once again, preparing for the game with all of the materials they handed out. Eventually, my friends that were sitting in section 118 entered the stadium, and I went down to experience being a student spectator for 10 minutes as the Badgers ran back into the locker room. Feeling the energy of the student section and the other Badger faithful that made the trip helped me remember why I loved my school so much, and what made me decide to cover all of the Wisconsin teams I love on this website.
It was time to go back to the press box if I wanted to make it in time. The elevator operator started taking us down to the field instead of up, and I was thinking there’s no way I’m going to make it up there in time if this is going to happen. Little did I know, the trip downstairs would be well worth it.
The elevator opened, and several security guards walked in. I look behind them, and there is none other than Wisconsin alumnus J.J. Watt, DeAndre Hopkins, Brian Cushing, Duane Brown and others. Again, I’ve seen plenty of famous athletes up close and personal, including Watt, but this was different. All of these big guys walked in as I said hello to Watt who said what’s up back. To break the ice, I decided to say something funny. “I’ve never felt so big in an elevator,” I claimed, in front of all of these multi-millionaires who could care less. The man to my right, Brown, started chuckling, while the rest of the elevator was silent. I turned to my left after feeling sufficiently awkward, and the camera guys next to be were wearing HBO logos. Yup, I was that close to being part of a Hard Knocks episode.
After that encounter, the Texans’ representative affirmed to be that those were the Hard Knocks guys as we walked into the stadium. I covered the game then for the next three plus hours, fishing through statistics, tweeting out enough information to write a book, and learning on the fly. By the end of the third quarter, everyone knew the game was over, so I began to write my recap of the game.
Every kid dreams about being where I got to go last night; in the press box, on the field, in the tunnel, and in the interview room. At the age of 21, I was sitting in my favorite team and college’s head coach postgame interview, tweeting out what he was saying for the world to know. But, the most important part was that I was able to give the same opportunity to another person. With my additional credential, I was able to get my roommate and future SST writer Martin Weiss to accompany me to the interview room. I gave him the opportunity to use his phone to record the interview, although I had to restrain him from asking a question. We walked out of the interview room once it concluded, deciding not to do any one-on-one’s. And of course, Martin was able to walk by Joel Stave, Corey Clement, and more on our way back up.
The goal of SST, the organization, is to give college students that love sports and want to work in sports media and journalism a chance to gain experience. I was happy that somebody else was able to experience the media access with me, and I have a duty to share my experience with as many people as possible on a forum like this.
All images taken by Sconnie Sports Talk.