When I decided to become a sports writer as my profession, I knew that one of the things I had to do was not get too attached to the people I was covering. In order to maintain an unbiased approach, I couldn’t try to gain any kind favoritism or fanfare with certain people. I had to keep my distance.
But even if I did keep my distance, I still tended to have favorites. I enjoyed interviews with certain players and made an extra effort to interact with certain people. Certain players give great quotes and I preferred those people.
This past season was the first time I had a free schedule to cover the San Francisco 49ers on a full-time basis. I had a chance to go to every practice and attend every home game. Through that, I had an opportunity to talk with almost every player on the roster. I ended up having favorites.
Every player on the roster that I talked with and covered have all been professional with me. In fact, I can’t pick out one bad player I’ve interviewed. Every one of them was good to me.
In the NFL, however, not every player stays with one team. It’s like a new school year in elementary school. You can’t expect the same students from last year’s class to still be around. Some classmates relocate or transfer to another school. There are new faces that also become part of the class. Most of the students remain the same, but there are a few changes that occur.
That’s the same feeling that hit me on Monday when the free agent period began and players started to move on to new teams. I would never get a chance to interview certain players again.
When the news broke of Joshua Morgan and Blake Costanzo’s departure from the 49ers, I was a little sad not because they were great players on the team, but more importantly because they were great people in the locker room.
My perception of the players on the 49ers roster has very little to do with what they do on the field. Since I see them every day, my perception of them is of their attitude towards the media. That’s the time I see them the most and that’s how they know me.
Morgan in particular in my opinion was one of the classiest men on the team. Despite being soft-spoken, he had a great smile and treated every member of the media with respect. He never danced around tough questions and it was very clear that he cared about all of his teammates. He was also a great man within the community.
Costanzo was a different kind of person but was still loved by teammates. Instead of being quiet, Costanzo was loud and fun to be around. Teammates always played jokes with him and whenever he talked with the media, he would always provide us with at least one or two juicy quotes to work with. He just liked to have fun and enjoyed talking with the media.
As the reality of their departure started to sink in, I had to realize that it was a new school year and that some of my classmates just had to go. But it also meant that there would be new faces.
I don’t know if Randy Moss and Perrish Cox will provide the same kind of attitude that Morgan and Costanzo brought. Those two are irreplaceable.
But from my observation of the two new 49ers during their conference calls, I think they’ll both be just fine with the media.