Welcome to BlogAndTackle.net. As you can see, I am still decorating the place and seeing if the pieces fit together for those will come to read news, notes and opinion as the 2010 NFL season gets going.
I had been playing with the idea of doing this blog for over a year. Some of you visiting know of my work on WNST.net in Baltimore either on the web or during my weekly Friday interview spots. That work will continue, but a lot of what I observe — and want to write about — is more national in scope and sometimes doesn’t fit the Baltimore-centric theme of WNST.net (although you will see those pieces here too).
As a Baltimore native, my eyes are on the Ravens, but my professional life took me to two other NFL teams, the Saints (2000-05 seasons) and the Falcons (2006). I worked on the Saints’ PR staff, and later ran the club’s website as a one-man operation. When I came to Atlanta, I produced the Falcons’ website as part of a crew of five dealing with the site’s operations.
Those experiences of seeing life on the other side of the field is nothing new, as I had also worked in college athletics and minor-league baseball. What was different was the singular nature of working in pro football. It was all that mattered 365 days a year. You didn’t switch sports as the calendar changed, like in college, or work on the outside-the-lines business while the parent club controlled everything inside the lines, like the minors.
It was football, pure and simple, every day. And it was a pure joy to be a part of it. I still am involved in the game as I volunteer for the NFL’s PR staff each year at the Super Bowl. I’ve worked eight (36-39, 41-44), and there is no bigger one-day sporting event in the world to be a part of. I also do stats work for college football (among other sports) as a freelancer for ESPN and occasionally for NFL radio crews that come into Atlanta.
Blog And Tackle came from the name of my columns on NewOrleansSaints.com and AtlantaFalcons.com. I was trying to come up with a catchy slogan, and one of the Saints’ coaches always talked about doing the little things right every time — blocking and tackling. The thought stuck when it came time to figure out what to call opinion pieces. When I left the NFL in 2007, I used the moniker for my WNST columns, and later as my Twitter handle. And so it continues here.
With this intro out of the way, I invite you to take a look around. There are plenty of my favorite links. If you are an NFL fan, you know most of these, but some, like this site, are under the radar. I also have my Twitter feed here. Feel free to follow (@BlogAndTackle) as well.
I will try to give you info on the league, and I’ll look at it from a PR angle. There will be plenty of on-field drama, culminating with one team on the podium with the Vince Lombardi Trophy in Cowboys Stadium next February. The off-field drama is just as important as the NFL and the NFLPA negotiate a new CBA, with potentially a lot of public pain before the deal is done.
There will be big changes in the wake of that, and I will do my best to cut through the PR-speak to give you a peek behind the curtain and connect some of the dots.
Even though I am a veteran of pro and college sports (and their websites), I feel like the rookie who is stepping on the field for the first time. I have no problem carrying the helmets of the vets after practice, and hopefully my talent and drive will make this endeavor successful. I invite you to participate through your comments and questions, and I appreciate your readership.
With that, let’s get going …
— Chris Pika
Photo: My view of the stands behind the Indianapolis Colts’ bench just prior to the start of Super Bowl XLIV. My in-game job was to help the Westwood One sideline reporter Mark Malone and his producer on the field during the game. This photo was picked up and re-tweeted by NFL.com as part of their social media blitz during the game.