Welcome To The Show

My view from behind the Indianapolis Colts' sideline before the start of Super Bowl XLIV in South Florida (Chris Pika photo)

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.

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