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#029: An Insiders Look Into Sports Journalism and Covering the NFL for ESPN & Pro Football’s HOF – Jim Trotter

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Jim Trotter – NFL reporter for ESPN, Howard Alum, PFWA president, NFL Hall of Fame voter, ESPN


Junior Seau – Life and Death Book:

NFL Insiders:


Leaving Sports Illustrated:

Jim Trotter Joining ESPN:

Jim Trotter on Twitter:

YouTube Jim Trotter Dan Patrick Show:

Ole Hickory Pits:

Grill Grates:

Weber Grills:

Spring Valley Tailgate & BBQ Festival Photos:

Upcoming BBQ Events and Competitions:

Thank you to Jet West Band for our epic Intro Jingle!

Jet West:

Shawn met Jim through Twitter for fight night back in the day!

Jim loves the Tri Tip at Cali Comfort

Shawn and Derek work hard to raise money for underprivileged youth and to provide them with things like football pads

Jim admits how many things have been taken away from kids these days, and we wonder why we have some of the issues we have today

Derek says because there is “no funding anymore”

Derek and Shawn like to teach lessons, put on events, NOT just give out money (teaching lessons)

Jim has an epic career in journalism

We talk about “clickbait” articles

Jim explains clickbait worked during the Tim Tebow time and the Johnny Manziel time as people continue to click on the articles that keep gaining traction

Jim on football venues “Qualcomm was a dump” “Oakland Raiders had a dump”

Jim was taking a tour in Qualcomm before writing a piece on it and was just amazed at how behind the infrastructure was and how poorly it was constructed, was just a “dump”

The piece on Qualcomm was a column, so Jim gave his opinion and wrote it easily because of how familiar he was with the “stadium”

Jim wrote the book on Junior Seau and it wasn’t as tough because he knew Junior well

Jim met Junior Seau in ’95

Jim credits his success to Rodney Harris and Junior Seau, and learning what its really like to be in the locker room and write about it

Jim notes the importance of building relationships

“listen” & “acknowledge you don’t know everything”

Jim used to cover the Gulls back in the day – says how he had most fun doing that vs any other sport

It was fun for Jim because “it wasn’t a thing where every little detail was dissected” “you could actually have a good conversation with others and not have to worry”

As a beat reporter for the Chargers, he wrote on a daily basis

Reporting for Gulls wasn’t daily for Jim

Reporting daily was interesting for Jim because he didn’t feel like he had a mentor to get help from everyday so in his first couple of years he was just operating on fear, stressing over every little thing, (1996) pre social media, jim would have a lot of anxiety on the job

“in sports journalism you are never off the clock – anything can break, even after you filed”

Jim can’t imagine being a beat writer today in 2017 – notes how the pay is still the same but with 2x more responsibilities

Jim notes how it used to just be 2 main stories a day, now its that, updated blogs, digital components, sometimes ESPN, sometimes radio spots

Jim covered the Chargers for 8 years, and he said “I’m not getting off this beat until they [Chargers] have a winning season, always was a non-winning season” because Jim wanted to prove the losing records weren’t because of him (Jim)”

Finally in 2004, the Chargers had a winning season and went to playoffs

A bonus in journalism “Christmas bonus’ could be an extra 5k or 10k depending on who it is

Jim explains in the sports journalism profession in the 2006 era, Sports Illustrated was the place to be!

Jim says “when you get to a certain age, quality of life is more important than the company name or paycheck”

Jim is traveling more now, than at any point in his career and he deeply values staying close to family, dog and bird in SD

Jim says he feels like he has a guardian angel always looking over him

Jim ended up getting let go by SI, but Jim had some other offers and companies interested in him so was able to get another job soon after being laid off

Jim gives the following advice:

  1. do the best work
  2. always have a plan b (or try to have a plan b)

When they told Jim about Twitter at SI for the first time, Jim asked, “Whats twitter?!”

On Twitter, Jim said “I’m not interested in this,” then he realized he had to adjust unless he wanted become a dinosaur

Derek has 8 documented concussions but probably 20 undocumented

football players are taught: “Be tough”

Concussions are referred to this slang “you got your bell rung, you got a dinger”

The big question in the NFL, Whats more important? this game or the guys playing it?

People are starting to take concussions in the NFL a lot more seriously

Jim reports there are more self-reported concussions than ever before:

One thing takeaway from Junior Seau book, “if you are hurting, its ok to ask for help, athletes are told that any site of vulnerability, weakness, will hurt you.”

Junior Seau never wanted to be seen like he was hurt or injured and would go into the training room way before practice or games or had the trainers go to him

Junior’s Breakfast Club (article talks about Seau):

“Junior didn’t invite you to Breakfast Club, you would just show up if you were serious about football and training”

Junior was so giving but would never reached out to anyone for help when SO many people would have dropped everything to help him

CTE – Chronic Traumatic Encephalopathy (CTE) is a progressive degenerative disease of the brain found in people with a history of repetitive brain trauma (often athletes), including symptomatic concussions as well as asymptomatic sub concussive hits to the head that do not cause symptoms.

Shawn speaks about removing alcohol from his life and how its impacted him in a very positive way

Derek remembers his time partying hard at K-state, now a days there are “cocktails” with opiates/pills to take away the pain from football and hitting

The K State trainer told Derek he was one of the toughest guys he has ever worked with

Derek explains about 5 different pills that make you feel great before the game, multiple pain blocker shots

Derek doesn’t even like taking tylenol these days because it reminds him of his football days

“You have to communicate when you are having problems”

Eddie George says “When you come to the NFL its a birth, start of a new life, and when you are let go, it is a death, that life is over, but players don’t know how to grieve, and the players won’t ask for help because they are not used to asking”

Eddie had these problems and finally went to counseling for help and then found passion in other places, found out that he was only playing football because of his father

Junior Seau taught Derek about the grieving after being done with NFL “its extremely hard because that’s WHO YOU ARE what you are known for” how do you move on after NFL?

Juniors induction to the hall of fame for Jim Trotter:

There are 48 voters for Hall of Fame (some tv some radio some media) new members Dan Fouts and James Loften now

CS Keys and Junior Saeu were really good friends

Jim and Jerry Jones – helicoptering around Dallas:

“Business is about relationships”

Jim has been working on social justice stories with various players

Jim laughs, he is “trying to stay relevant, and stay employed”

Sports Journalism advice: ‘have think skin, be versatile, read write as much as possible. Be willing to listen, always

Jim says “you should always listen twice as much as you speak”


“You will never know everything in the business”

ESPN stands for Entertainment and Sports Programming Network

Jim came into journalism without internet/ cell phones / people were just transitioning from typewriters to old laptops!

Jim is busy writing books

Jim is willing to get on Snapchat if his work required him to

Get in Touch

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Shawn Walchef –

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Valley Farm Market – –

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About the author, Shawn Walchef

Cali Sports Entertainment Entrepreneur, Tailgating BBQ Event Specialist, Owner @CaliComfortBBQ, Behind The Smoke Podcast Host

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