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Mitchell native sees NFL intricacies up close

It's not very often that The Daily Republic interviews one of its own. But it's also not very often that one of our own ends up working for the National Football League and regularly spends time with some of the greats of the game. Mitchell nativ...

It's not very often that The Daily Republic interviews one of its own.

But it's also not very often that one of our own ends up working for the National Football League and regularly spends time with some of the greats of the game.

Mitchell native Brooke Cersosimo, who worked at The Daily Republic from August 2012 to May 2015, took a job earlier this year with NFL Media, working for NFL.com and with analysts on NFL Network as a digital content producer.

Home for the holidays, Cersosimo filled us in Wednesday on her job and how she's gained a better appreciation for both the players and teams that make up America's most popular sport.

The following interview was edited for length and clarity. Here are excerpts:

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Q: You moved to California without anything really in mind for a job, so how did this job with NFL Media come about?

A: Before I moved out there, I applied for a research position. I didn't get the job but the research coordinator there offered to help me network and potentially find a job, either at the NFL Network or elsewhere. I didn't think there was anything there for me but there was a position for a ghostwriter, for a lack of a better term. I had an interview for that position and the research coordinator had given my resume to the person hiring that same day and it kind of all fell into place. I was qualified for the job but I was thankful to have made that connection.

Q: What does a typical day look like for you at the NFL Network?

A: I'm usually there for seven to eight-hour shifts. I'm part of a group of four people and I'm part of the original content team. We are editing a lot of stories from our employees around the country that go to the games and are physically meeting with the teams and coaches. The other part of my day is spent working on weekly articles that I write. I go over to the television sets and I talk to the analysts and get their take on the topics of the day and what they think. We work with former players like Willie McGinest and former Viking Nate Burleson and former coach Steve Mariucci.

With Odell Beckham Jr. being in the news this week, we talked to the analysts to get their thoughts on it but also to see if they've ever been in a similar situation. That way you can get a first-person perspective, which is really interesting. We see the game through a TV and we can perceive it all we want about what happens in the game but to hear the people who were actually there, they didn't think it was that big of a deal. They thought the Beckham situation was "just football."

I've done a couple of features talking to active players, talking to the Jets' Chris Ivory and Gary Barnidge, of the Browns, and Rodney Gunter, of the Cardinals. Those just happen sporadically. If we can get them on the phone, we'll take them.

Q: When you're working with the analysts and writing for them, did you find it hard to convey the thoughts and messages of those players into a story that appears on the web?

A: You're caught a little off-guard on the first day when Deion Sanders comes up and shakes your hand but after a few weeks pass, you're not starstruck. They're coworkers before too long. This is a new position they created this year. It's challenging because you want it to have their voice, rather than just listing things off. You have to make sure it's what they want and you want to portray them in a good light because they know more than anyone talking football. That was challenging but the more you get to know them and they know me, there's an important level of trust that you build.

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Being around them, it hit home to me. We watch at home and we think we know what we're watching and we say 'That guy on TV doesn't really know what he's talking about.' But it becomes very clear why they're on TV because they've lived football for a long time and it comes so naturally to them. The analysts are very bright in their knowledge of the game and the way that they handle themselves to bring that knowledge to viewers.

Q: Because your subject matter is so broad and there's 32 teams all across the country, do you like the aspect of your job where you're reaching a worldwide audience and there's so many people that care so much about this particular sport?

A: It's a lot of fun. I like that's there not actually a team in Los Angeles right now. If we get one, that will make it easier to go see teams in person. There are probably 70 people that work in the newsroom and of the cubicles in the room, they go 'Packers, Browns, Eagles' and these people are clearly from there. Everyone has a voice and we're not all fans of the same team. As far as the capacity of the people we reach, it's not really something you see until you realize how many people are there and see how many people it takes to run that company. We take live TV for granted because we press a button and it shows up at home. The amount of production that goes into TV and the time that behind-the-scenes people put in is incredible.

Q: You are a Vikings fan. Have you become a bigger fan now that you spend more time closer to the sport?

A: I'd say I've become a bigger fan of the sport itself. As a fan of the Vikings living in South Dakota, you mostly see that team and less of the league as a whole. In that setting, you see the Vikings and some of the Packers and a little of Tom Brady and Peyton Manning and you don't really care about Jacksonville. Now being a part of it, it's really interesting to view the league as a whole unit and you really delve into it. I don't hear much about the Vikings sometimes until I watch them until Sunday. The analysts really break down each team and they really know how the coaching staffs work or they know how this player is getting better on a particular team.

Q: Is there a team that you've gained more appreciation for, now that you've watched so much more football this season?

A: Unfortunately, yes. I've always hated the Patriots but watching what Tom Brady can do with the little help he has is incredible. He doesn't have an offensive line. They finished the game with 18 active offensive players in one game and they still won. What he's able to do is phenomenal. Yes, there's been all of the Spygate and Deflategate and all of that, but when you break down the one player, he makes it so easy. And he's 38 years old. He can probably play another five years if he wants.

Related Topics: TELEVISIONFOOTBALL
Traxler is the assistant editor and sports editor for the Mitchell Republic. He's worked for the newspaper since 2014 and has covered a wide variety of topics. He can be reached at mtraxler@mitchellrepublic.com.
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