Right after he spent four days at the NFL's third annual "Broadcast Boot Camp" in Mt. Laurel, New Jersey, 49ers offensive lineman Tony Wragge felt like he had just gone through a week of training camp.
"I cannot tell you how mentally drained I am after the experience because of all the information that came at us," Wragge said after the camp's final day. " I guess that's why they call it 'Boot Camp.'"
The program, which ran from June 22-25, was put on by the NFL's Broadcasting Department. It covered a wide range of football-related topics with instructors from each of the NFL's broadcast partners – CBS, ESPN, FOX, NBC, NFL Network, SIRIUS Satellite Radio, Westwood One Radio, plus local radio and TV.
"I didn't know what to expect when I came out here because I had never done anything like it before, but it was a great opportunity to broaden my skills," Wragge said.
The players learned a number of details of the broadcasting business, including hands-on work in areas such as: tape study, editing, show preparation, radio production, control room operation, studio preparation, production meetings, field reporting and game preparation.
"I would venture to say half of us were flying by the seat of our pants," Wragge said.
But Wragge and others learned a great deal on what it takes to be a successful broadcaster.
With their backgrounds in professional sports, their hard-working attitudes fit perfectly with the many similarities between being a football player and a broadcaster.
"It's like a craft. You have to hone your craft just like playing football," Wragge said. "You have to loosen up and have it be natural.
"I don't pass block while I'm all tight and nervous. I do it because I'm confident because I've done it in the past and there have been repetitions with my body and my mind."
Wragge went even as far as to compare broadcasters to athletes (which many of them were).
"Broadcasters are just like pure athletes. They train their minds to have their mouths say what they want to while controlling their body movements," he said.
Wragge also developed a close eye for evaluating television news anchors after boot camp concluded while watching TV in his hotel room.
"I was watching the headline news channel and I noticed after awhile I stopped watching the news and I was focused on the news anchor's delivery the whole time and how he was reading the telemprompter, what he was looking and how his delivery was."
After his rewarding experience Wragge would easily recommend the boot camp to some of his teammates who might also have broadcasting interests.
"I would tell anyone to try the boot camp. Now I have a huge interest in broadcasting because of my experience here. I have a deep respect for it now, more so than I did before. It takes a lot of work and effort to present the story correctly in an enjoyable way."