FLORHAM PARK, N.J. - Leger Douzable tried to warn them.
Armed with broadcasting experience of his own, Douzable knew what he and his Jets teammates Willie Colon and Antonio Cromartie had gotten themselves into when they signed up for the NFL's four-day broadcasting boot camp.
"I knew it was going to be a grind. I told them," Douzable said with a smile, recounting their experience last week.
The program, directed by the NFL Player Engagement and NFL Broadcasting departments, gave 24 current and former NFL players hands-on experience in areas such as video study, editing, field reporting, radio production, studio preparation and production meetings.
And when it was all over, they walked away with an added appreciation for how hard members of the media work.
"Totally," Colon said. "I just have so much new respect for you guys and what you guys gotta go through. Because, essentially, you guys have to dig for nuggets. Nobody's giving you nuggets. You've constantly got to dig and dig and build relationships.
"And if I'm a former [NFL] guy, especially, can I come in here and really dig [for information] without guys saying, 'Wait, are you still with us or . . . ?' Those are the issues that I have to fight with."
Boot camp participants were selected through an application process based on their NFL playing experience, essays and their level of interest in media as a second career. Of the 188 players who participated in the NFL's broadcasting program over the past seven years, more than a third have earned broadcasting jobs, according to the NFL.
"From 7 [a.m.] to 8:30 [p.m.] every day. I told them, this is work. Like, real work," said Douzable, who has emerged as a frequent guest on the SNY set. "You put just as much into that as you do playing football. You've got to study film, you've got to know the opponents, you've got to know what school they went to, you've got to know almost everything because when you're writing a column or essay, people don't want to read what they already know. So you've got to dig deep."
Colon, known best for his gregarious nature and tell-it-like-it-is honesty, called the boot camp experience a "good gut-check."
"The broadcasting boot camp was amazing because it was real," said the Bronx-born Hofstra alum. "If you really think you can sit on a desk and talk football for two hours, you're kidding yourself. 'Cause the preparation and time that it takes setting a story piece, and being able to be a presence and know what you're talking about all goes into it.
"I think sometimes we do little [team website videos and interviews] in here and think, 'Oh, man, I could do this.' Like, field reporting. I thought I could do field reporting, but I [stunk] at it because there were so many technical things. They ask you to be engaging and to be yourself, well shoot, you don't know who you are in that field because you've never done it."
Said Douzable: "This stuff is not easy. Not easy at all . . . I definitely respect what y'all do. And for the most part, most of y'all are good."